§ As from the first day of July, nineteen hundred and nine, there shall be charged, levied, and paid on the licences for the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquor specified in the First Schedule to this Act, the duties of excise specified in that Schedule, and the provisions expressed in that Schedule to be applicable to any such licences shall have effect with respect to those licences.
Mr. G. D. FABER
moved to postpone the Clause.
This is by no means, or in any sense, a dilatory Amendment; neither, I hope, will it be necessary to carry the matter to a Division. But it gives me an opportunity of calling attention to a difficulty which I 442 think will arise on the discussion of the Clause. I wish to say a few preliminary words to clear up if possible that difficulty. The Clause lays down that certain duties on Excise Liquor Licences shall be established. No more is said, and it is only when you come to the Schedule that you are able to discover what these new duties are to be. I need hardly say, therefore, that the whole gravamen lies in the Schedule. I have been looking up precedents in this matter, and I would call attention to two. The first is an old one, the Excise Licence Act of 1825. In that case the whole list of duties, which is a long one, are set out in Sub-section (2) of that Act. The advantage of that will be patent to all Members of the Committee. It enables one discussion to be taken, both upon the enacting part of the Act and also on that part setting forth the duties. I 443 can give a much nearer case, that of Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1880. There a scale of Licence Duties was set up. You have not to go to the Schedule to find out what they are. They are set forth in the body of the Act. Anyone taking the trouble to look at Sections 40 to 45 of that Act will see the whole scale of duties set forth specifically and categorically. There is no Schedule in the matter at all. Mr. Gladstone put the duties in the body of the Bill in order that when discussion was taken upon it there should not be a wide interval separating the enacting Clause and the duties specified in the Schedule— that the whole discussion should be taken then and there, at one and the same time. What some hon. Members on this side are afraid of is this: that when we come to the discussion, as we shall directly, on the Clause, and we desire, as we shall desire, as we must inevitably desire, to refer to the Schedule, you, Sir, in the exercise of your discretion in the Chair, may point out to us that there is some difficulty in following out that course. We may be driven back upon the Schedule, the discussion upon which may not be for many weeks. We shall be driven, shuttlecock fashion, between the two battledores—the Clause and the Schedule. I am the more anxious and nervous in the matter, owing to an ominous phrase used by the Prime Minister not so long ago outside the House. He spoke of the discussion on these licensing clauses being "short, sharp, and decisive." I have tried to exercise my fertile imagination, and I am unable to discover the procedure which we are to be subjected to. I cannot imagine to what more cruel and inexorable treatment we can be subjected. With your kind concurrence, Mr. Emmott, when we are on the discussion of the Clause, we may be allowed to refer generally to the Schedule. That will make the task much easier, because it seems absolutely necessary that we should have a general discussion somewhere upon these new duties. It would be more convenient if, in accordance with the Rules, the Prime Minister can see eye to eye with us in this matter, so that we may have a general discussion on the Clause. Therefore for that purpose more than any other, I beg to move the postponement of the Clause.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
The hon. Gentleman has quoted a phrase which I appear to have used outside the House, and to which he attaches a signifi- 444 cance which I never intended it to have. I did hope, I do still hope, that as compared with the discussion on the Land Clauses, there might be much greater brevity and more rapidly arrived at conclusions than we have hitherto been able to have. Beyond that, I hope the hon. Gentleman will not attach any more importance to that particular phraseology of mine. In regard to the point of substance which he has made, I have one or two observations to make. In the first place, we are acting quite in accordance with precedent in putting in a particular scale of duties in the Schedule, and having an enacting Clause of the Bill. I have got a number of precedents here, some of quite recent years. It is sufficient to quote two in the Act of 1902 passed by the party opposite when in power, and —to come to more recent times —a precedent of my own, the Finance Act of 1907, which dealt in the same way with the scale of Estate Duties—a very complicated scale—which referred to, and had validity given to it, by an enacting clause in the body of the Act. The procedure adopted is quite in accordance with precedent. With regard to the other point, that if we do not postpone this Clause we may curtail freedom of discussion, it seems to me that exactly the opposite is much more likely to be effect of the course which the Government have taken; that we shall have a discussion on this Clause, and we cannot altogether dissociate it from the Schedule. Then when we get to the Schedule we shall have a second discussion in regard to the duties as they come seriatim. So far as from our curtailing opportunities for discussion, we are multiplying them, and the course, as I have shown, is entirely in accordance with precedent.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not desire in the least to lay down a general principle or any general rules against schedules. I regard the precedent which the Government is setting in this Bill as in some ways a very valuable precedent. It may be required before long in connection with very different financial proposals from those which are now under discussion by the Committee. Therefore I shall confine myself particularly to the procedure adopted in this Bill. I do not propose to run a tilt against schedules in general. I think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman's precedents hardly cover such schedules as are included in this Bill. It is one thing to fix in schedules the rates of duties which are to be levied in accord- 445 ance with the provisions of a clause. It is another thing to introduce into a schedule a number of provisions which are in fact a series of new clauses, such as are incorporated in the schedules in this case. If the right hon. Gentleman or any Member of the Committee will look at Scale (2), and see the series of provisions which follow —a scale of provisions applicable to manufacturers' licences and to wholesale dealers' licences, and under Scale (6) provisions applicable to retailers' licences, and to "on" and "off" licences—he will see that in fact the Schedule is not in any sense what may ordinarily be described as a schedule. It is a Licensing Bill complete! Perhaps "complete Licensing Bill" would be giving a too high comprehensive name to it, but it is an elaborate Licensing Bill, which indeed ought to find no place in a Finance Bill and which has no reference proper to the work of the Finance Act. But if such provisions as these are to be included in the Finance Bill at all, it is a great inconvenience that they should be placed in the Schedule, and that the discussion on the Schedule should not come till, it may be, weeks after the discussion on relative Clauses are finished. I think the right hon. Gentleman referred to a Finance Bill as one of his predecents.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If you apply the kind of test I am seeking to apply it will be seen that it gives no sanction for the action taken here. In the Bill of two years ago, dealing with the Estate Duties, there was nothing like the extreme, the complicated provisions, introduced between the Clause and the relative Schedule or the amount of new matter involved in the Schedule, which is imposed here. It is not merely an inconvenience to the Committee, but it is some injustice to those whose interests are at stake that a discussion on their fate should be heard between Clauses and Schedule; that the discussion on the Schedule should not follow the Clauses, and that the Schedules themselves should contain all kinds of matter wholly foreign to a Finance Bill, and wholly improper to be put into schedules. On all these grounds I join in the protest which my right hon. Friend has made against the employment of schedules for purposes and in the circumstances in which they are employed in this Bill.
§ Mr. GEORGE YOUNGER
I desire to join in the protest made against the manner in which this Bill is put before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire laid very necessary stress upon the fact that the Schedules in this particular case — very long Schedules, extending to more than eight pages —contain in number what I should call a long series of governing enactments. A Schedule involving a scale of duty is one thing, but a Schedule involving a complete rearrangement of the manner in which a trade should be carried out is quite another thing. I think our difficulties in discussing the Clause and not discussing the Schedules at the same time may possibly tend to curtail our Debates unfairly at this stage, and still more unfairly when we come to the Schedule Debates. I do not place a great deal of confidence in the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister so far as discussion of the Schedule is concerned, because in the Licensing Bill of last year he only gave one day to discuss seven Schedules, and although we are taking this Bill under a different system, and without guillotine Closure, and although I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be fair to us, still time is an important element in this Bill, the season of the year is an important element, the tired condition of the Committee is another, and the Committee will be sick of the whole thing before they come to the Schedules. They are sick of it now, but they will be more so then, and the difficulty will be whether intelligent Debate will take place where we have melo-dramatic changes from day to day. I do not know whether any more melodrama is in store; whether we are to have in-and-out grocers' scales as we had in-and-out grocers' licences in the Bill of last year. I do not know what is to follow. The changes are sufficiently marked not to know when discussing the Clause and the Schedule what we are to deal with. I am only making these remarks in order, if possible, to get some undertaking from the Prime Minister that he will not at all unfairly or unnecessarily curtail the Debate upon the Schedules. There must be considerable discussion; it is extremely contentious, and I hope the Motion which is being made will give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of giving us some undertaking upon that point.
May I, on a point of Order, and for the convenience of the 447 Committee, ask you, Mr. Emmott, what your view would be as to references to the Schedule in connection with this Clause? It is quite obvious that a detailed discussion of the Schedule would be quite out of place and out of order. I do not know whether in your view more general reference to the Schedule would be permissible on this and subsequent Clauses? Of course, we should be entitled to make these general references, because it is not merely the nature, but the amount of the taxes, that comes in as necessary and valid arguments.
In the case of a Bill drawn, such as this is, with enacting Clauses and Schedule, with all the scales, of licences, I think the discussion and Amendment of the Schedule ought to take place on the Schedule; but it would be obviously impossible to keep out general references to the Schedule in the discussion of the Clauses. I do not think I can give any more precise ruling than that now.
§ Question put, "That Clause 29 be postponed."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 186.449
|Division No. 581.]||AYES.||[8.9 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Fletcher, J. S.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Golding Edward Alfred||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gretton, John||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Cave, George||Hill, Sir Clement||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hills, J. W.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Hunt, Rowland||Stanier, Beville|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Joynson-Hicks, William||Starkey, John R.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||MacCaw, Win. J. MacGeagh||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Du Cros, Arthur||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Captain||G. D. Faber and Mr. Younger.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Byles, William Pollard||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Agnew, George William||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cleland, J. W.||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Allen,, Charles P. (Stroud)||Clough, William||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Clynes, J. R.||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Glover, Thomas|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Collins, Sir Wm J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gulland, John W.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crooks, William||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Beale, W.P.||Cullinan, J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Curran, Peter Francis||Harwood, George|
|Bonn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brace, William||Duckworth, Sir James||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bramsdon, Sir T. A.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bright, J. A.||Dunn, A. Edmund (Camborne)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Elibank, Master of||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Evans, Sir S. T.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Everett, R. Lacey||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Falconer, J.||Hudson, Walter|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Fenwick, Charles||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Jenkins, J.||Paul, Herbert||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Summerbell, T.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Phillips, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pointer, J.||Tennant, H J (Berwickshire)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lamont, Norman||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Raphael, Herbert H.||Tomkinson, James|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rees, J.D.||Toulmin, George|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rendall, Athelstan||Vivian, Henry|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wardle, George J.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Waring, Walter|
|Maclean, Donald||Robinson, S.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Waterlow, D S.|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Watt, Henry A.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rowlands, J.||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Massie, J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Williams, Sir Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Seely, Colonel||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Mond, A.||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Winfrey, R.|
|Myer, Horatio||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Napier, T. B.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Snowden, P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|O'Grady, J.||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)|
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Mr. Watson Rutherford) is not in order. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Hicks-Beach) and those which follow are not in the right place.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY Of LANCASTER (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
moved to leave out the words "as from the first day of July, 1909." Later, an Amendment will be moved to add at the end of the Clause the words, "The said duties shall be charged on any licences which shall have been granted after the first day of July, nineteen hundred and nine, or may hereafter be granted."
This is purely a drafting Amendment to make clearer the intention of the Clause. Some people have read the Clause as though the new scale of duties would date back to 1st July. That has not been the intention of the Bill, which is that the new duties will be chargeable not from 1st July, but from the date of the next grant of the licence, whenever that may be. That will be effected by the Amendment I have moved.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
According to some of the Amendments we read it that it was intended to make these duties retrospective from 1st July. Does the right 450 hon. Gentleman say that is not a right construction?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The new scale of duties does not date back to 1st July, but to the date of the grant of any licence after 1st July. Certain licences are granted on 5th July and some in October and upon different dates during the year. On the grant of any licence after the 1st of last July the increased duties will be charged.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
Then our fears are well founded, because it is intended to make these duties retrospective. I wish to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a certain answer which he gave early in the month of July. I will read the answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Manchester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks):Mr. Joynson-Hicks asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state when the increased Licence Duties for publicans and beer retailers commence; and upon what date the duty has actually to be paid?Mr. Lloyd-George: In accordance with the provisions in Clause 39 of the Finance Bill, existing licences for publicans and beer retailers will cease to be in force on 30th September next, and the increased Licence Duties will commence and be payable on 1st October next.The answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that the increased duty shall date back from 6th July.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
I have a list of these licences, and they were granted on 5th July. They include rectifiers of spirits, dealers in spirits, manufacturers of sweets, retailers of sweets, and dealers in beer, and all those expire on 5th July.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong, because they are the licences referred to in the question. On 1st July my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the duties I have specified would expire on 5th July next. The hon. Member for Rutland also asked the Chancellor of the Exchequerwhether the existing Excise licences held by rectifiers of spirits, dealers in spirits (including the additional licences to retail), manufacturers of sweets, retailers of sweets, and dealers in beer (including in England the additional licences to retail), would expire on July 5th next; and if so whether on renewal of any and which of them the duties specified in the Budget Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means would be payable?Mr. HOBHOUSE: The licences referred to in this question, except the licence to a dealer in beer in Ireland (which expires on 10th October), will expire as stated in the question. Upon the renewal of the licences on 6th July next, the duties would be charged for the year at the existing rates.That was the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but now we hear they are not to be charged at the existing rates. The right hon. Gentleman is going to make new duties and charge them from the 6th July. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought not to go back upon his word to these people who have taken out their licences on the face of his promises that the existing rates only shall be charged. Now it is proposed to make these new duties retrospective, and charge them by the new machinery under Clause 29 with the additional amount which will be paid for the new licences. Now the Government are postponing the date from the 30th September to the 30th November, and thus they are going back upon the word of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that they should be taken out at the old rates.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I want to know what the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster meant when he used the phrase that this was "a drafting Amendment." It is no 452 drafting Amendment at all. This is an Amendment which will take tons of money out of the pockets of the licensees, and why it should be recommended to the Committee as a drafting Amendment I am totally unable to understand. This is an Amendment as far as I can see to be read in conjunction with an Amendment which stands much later on the Paper and reads as follows: "The said duties shall be charged on any licences which shall have been granted after the first day of July, nineteen hundred and nine, or may hereafter be granted." So that the intention of the framers of the Bill when it was introduced was that they assumed these licences would be before 1st July. But finding that the men whose licences are payable in July have already taken out their licences, I presume at the old rate, this is a proposal—one which is to my view entirely repugnant to the ordinary practice of this House—to make an ex pod facto charge for a thing already granted. This is what the House of Commons is coming to. We are told that ex post facto laws are hateful to the Constitution. But surely it is all the more hateful to attempt to raise revenue by ex post facto legislation. Hundreds of men have commenced their business on a date in July and taken out their warrant, which is the piece of paper they get from the Excise, and they have paid their money and made all their arrangements upon the faith of getting that piece of paper. Months have passed, and now, on 1st September, the right hon. Gentleman proposes this change by what he calls a drafting Amendment, which will draft thousands of pounds out of the pockets of these licensees. I really think the Committee was entitled to be informed what the real position of affairs was by the Minister who is in charge. The Committee has undoubtedly been misled in the matter, not only by the Amendment, but by the prior guarantee which the House got as to the intentions of the Government. This Amendment, taken in conjunction with the subsequent Amendment, is a breach of faith with the House of Commons. The Government made up their minds when they brought in this Bill, and made a definite statement to the House that only when this Bill became an Act should any subsequent licences bear the higher duty. That was the statement.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The words have been read out by the hon. Gentleman above the 453 Gangway (Mr. S. Roberts), and I have them clearly in mind. The statement was that until the Act came into force you would not levy these duties. The Resolution of the House of Commons does not affect the Licence Duties like it does the Beer and Spirit Duties. You are able to enforce them, because you have the whisky under lock. A man has to submit to them; he cannot get his stores out of bond because you hold the key. That is your only means of enforcing the extra duty upon beer or spirits, as the case may be. There is no such power in the case of a licence, which is a mere piece of paper. Here are men who have made their arrangements and taken out their licences months ago imagining they were in security and that they would have nothing more to pay for the next 12 months and until they came again for their licences. The right hon. Gentleman, by a drafting Amendment, proposes to do what has never yet been done in the history of England. The Prime Minister referred to precedents for his refusal to postpone this Clause, but I venture to say he cannot quote any precedent for this kind of legislation. There is no such precedent. If you take Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1880, and all the Acts which regulate licences and impose increased charges, not one of the increased charges became payable until the Statute was passed enabling the authorities to carry them out.
The Committee has been placed in this position. First, there has been an absolute breach of faith with the House, an absolute departure from the position taken up by Ministers. Secondly, having made that departure, an attempt is made to cloak it not only from the House of Commons, but also from the people interested under the disguise and pretence that this is a drafting Amendment, and in the dark and behind their backs you are putting upon them charges from which they believed they had escaped. Lastly, a wholly unconstitutional position is taken up, which I think will be best illustrated in this way. Supposing a lease is taken out with an existing charge of £1 for Stamp Duty, would any man like to have his lease invalidated by a Section passed through the House of Commons declaring forsooth that he would have to pay another £20 on it? That is the position the Government occupy. These men had their charter and their title and the whole thing clear. They got their licences on 1st July, and they took them up on the faith that no charge would be payable against them until the Bill was 454 law. Now we have a wholly different state of things. The Government say they will collect these Licence Duties as from a date in July. Such a procedure takes me completely by surprise, and I believe it will take all these people by surprise. Before this House enters upon this idea of legislation and of finance, at least some authority connected either with licences or with Stamp Duties or with some matter of that kind should be referred to to show that it is the ordinary course which is being pursued. I am not dealing with the matter as one affecting Ireland only, but as one affecting vitally the House of Commons and its procedure, and I think we are entitled to some better explanation than that this is a drafting Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Samuel Evans)
The hon. and learned Member objects to this being called a drafting Amendment, and says that people who took out their licences on 5th July this year did so without any knowledge at all that higher Licence Duties would be payable in respect of them. I submit, in the first place, that there has been no breach of faith at all in this matter, and, in the second place, I assert without fear of contradiction that this is a drafting Amendment. I say that all the more boldly because I myself suggested the Amendment in the drafting, some people having come to the conclusion wrongly that we intended that all the Licence Duties should date back to 1st July this year. That never was the intention of the Government. All we intended was that whenever a licence was taken out, whether on 5th July, 30th September, or 10th October, then and only from that date should there be any increase in the Licence Duty. It was entirely in order to make that clear that I suggested the Amendment in the Clause now before us. I say further, if the Clause was allowed to stand as first drafted, there would be no alteration whatever in the law. It was merely to clear up a misunderstanding under which many hon. Members were naturally suffering that we made this Amendment. Was anybody taken by surprise or has there been any breach of faith? My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) has not been so careful in getting up his facts as he generally is. He was not here on 10th May when the Resolution upon which this Amendment is founded was passed by the House of Commons. If I may I will just read the Resolution: —That on and after the 1st day of July, 1909, in lieu of the duties of Excise now payable in respect of 455 licences for the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor, there shall be charged throughout the United Kingdom on the licences specified the following table of duties of Excise specified in that table.Then they are set out in the Schedule. So far from being taken by surprise, those who subsequently took out their licences— not only those who took them out on 5th July, but also those who intended to take them out on 30th September and 10th October—knew that they would be liable to pay the duty from 1st July. I might enumerate the licences affected. In the first place, all the manufacturers' licences other than brewers' licences expire on 10th October. The brewers' licences expire on 30th September. The wholesale dealers' licences expire and are regranted on 5th July. They, of course, will be affected. The wholesale additional retail licences are granted on 5th July, but it is proposed to abolish those licences under the Bill. The wine retailers' and passenger vessels' licences are not affected at all. The sweets retailers' licences in England and Ireland are taken out on 5th July, and therefore they will be affected. The table-beer licence is granted on 5th July, but it is intended to do away with that licence also, and all other licences—publicans' and retailers' licences of whatever description— are granted on 10th October. I have shown there has been no breach of faith, and it is perfectly clear this is only a drafting Amendment. It is perfectly clear also that nobody who took out their licence on 5th July could have been taken by surprise by anything that has happened, and, as I have shown, the number of licences which have been taken out on 5th July are comparatively few and unimportant.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am afraid I cannot congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman on having succeeded in doing that which he set out to do. He claims he has proved there has been no breach of faith and that no one who took out licences on 6th July could have been under any misapprehension as to what would happen. I make this admission. I am in agreement with the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the effect of leaving out these words. But that is only important because the Government propose to leave them out in order to put other words in. Even if the words stood in and the Amendment were not made, the grievance would still arise. That is almost the only point on which I am agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman. How does he rebut the charge of breach of faith and of broken 456 pledges? By reciting to the House the terms of the Resolution upon which the Bill is based. But what are we told when we raise any question upon these Resolutions? We are told that they "are necessarily drawn very wide. We can give away anything we like afterwards, but we cannot impose any fresh charge without a new Resolution. Therefore, these Resolutions have a tendency always to express more than it is our intention to do. They are drawn wide enough to cover the uttermost we can possibly wish to do, and you must not suppose that because something is included in the Resolution it will therefore be put into the Bill." Therefore, the value of the notice given by the Resolution is singularly diminished, but the Solicitor-General forgot to refer to one speech. He forgot to refer to the pledge which the Government gave. That pledge is perfectly explicit. I think I am justified in reading it again. An Hon. Member on this side of the House (Mr. Gretton) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the existing licences held by rectifiers of spirits, dealers in spirits, manufacturers of sweets, retailers of sweets, and dealers in beer would expire on July 5th next, and, if so, whether on the renewal of any and which of them the duty specified in the Budget Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means would be payable. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has answered questions on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and has, of course, been acting with his full authority, replied that the licences referred to, except the licences to dealers of beer in Ireland, would expire, as stated in the question, and upon the renewal of the licences on July 6th the duties would be charged for the year at the existing rate. That is a perfectly definite and explicit pledge. The Solicitor-General has not attempted to deal with it. He passed it by as if no reference had ever been made to it. But it was a notice given, not merely to this Committee, but to every man interested, two or three days before he applied for his licence on July 6th, as to the rate at which he would be charged, and it was on that assurance from the Government that the applications were made. I am not here to say of these people in the mass, or of any particular individual, that the determination to apply for the licence would have been altered if the pledge had not been given. I am unable to say what was passing in their minds, or what action they might feel called upon to take under such circumstances, but I do say that when the 457 Government have given a perfectly definite pledge of this kind they cannot recede from it. We heard a good deal in the Debate, on some of the earlier Clauses, about breach of contract. The Government professed to be sensitive on that subject, and to have carefully safeguarded all existing contracts—to have undertaken that existing contracts should not be affected. Here is an existing contract—not a contract between two individuals, but a contract to which the State is a party. It has granted a licence on certain terms announced by the Financial Secretary, and now the Government, ex post facto, are seeking to alter those terms, and are breaking the contract to which they themselves were a party. The strongest ground for requiring the Government to alter their intentions in this matter is the pledge they themselves gave. But if any additional reasons were required, it will be found in the fact that the Bill as it stands, or as they propose to amend it, involves a breach of contract with the existing holders of these licences. I have only one further observation to make. Quite apart from the fact that to do what the Government propose—to break their pledge— what are the equities of the case? You intend to propose—I think wrongly under the circumstances — to impose large new taxes upon the licensing trade and upon licences. Surely it is only fair that that charge should take effect at the same time upon all the people affected by it. Why, because certain licences happen to expire three or four months before other licences, are these particular individuals to pay a higher tax for a so much longer time than the rest? It does seem to me, on the equities of the case, and on grounds of logic and justice, if these new charges are imposed at all, they should take effect everywhere at the same time. Existing licences could be renewed on the old terms up to a given date, and then the Government could apply to all the interests concerned the new charges at the same time without inequitable treatment of one as compared with the other. I do not, however, rest my case upon that. I rest it upon the ground which I am assured the Government cannot reject—the ground of the pledge made on their behalf in question and answer across the floor of this House.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very inflammatory attack. He has accused the Government of something nearly approaching a, deliberate breach of faith
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No. I said that to leave the Bill as the Government proposes, or to leave it as it stands would be a breach of faith, and that is the reason why the Government cannot do it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I much prefer the way in which the right hon. Gentleman now puts it to his former method. As far as I am concerned, I have no doubt I shall be believed when I say I never knew of this answer given by my right hon. Friend until it was read out just now. Of course one wishes to give the strictest possible interpretation to any pledges given on behalf of the Government, but may I point out that this is a purely drafting Amendment. Everything said by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) might have been said equally if the words had been allowed to remain. My second point is that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, has made it clear that by the Resolution on which the Bill is framed the new Licence Duties were expressly stated to be duties which will come into force on 1st July. That was quite within the discretion of the House itself. It is quite true that we often make modifications and concessions, and get very small thanks for them, but to have it said that we make concessions, and do not act upon them is extremely unpleasant. Those two observations are, I think the Committee will agree, thoroughly well justified, I come now to the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have only the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury before me, and what he said is this. I am quoting the answer given on 30th June, which the hon. Member for Sheffield referred to. It states:—The licences referred to in this question except the licence to a dealer in beer in Ireland (which expires on 10th October) will expire ns stated in the question.That is, on 5th July:—Upon the renewal of the licences on 6th July next, the duties will be charged for the year at the existing rates, but it is provided by Clause 39 of the Finance Bill that these renewed licences shall cease to be in force on 30th September next.That is a perfectly clear intimation that at the outside they could not have their new licences at the old rates for a longer period than 30th September. That is to say, that having paid for a year, and having enjoyed the licence for three months only, they would be refunded the 459 amount of duty for the other nine months. That is quite clear. I come to the other answer—
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Will the right hon. Gentleman quote the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a question on 9th July? It is reported as follows:—Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state when the increased Licence Duties for publicans and beer retailers commence; and upon what date the duty has actually to be paid?Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE: In accordance with the provisions in Clause;39 of the Finance Bill, existing licences for publicans and beer retailers will cease to be in force on 30th September next, and the increased Licence Duties will commence and be payable on 1st October next.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is dealing with the publicans' and retailers' licences. I come now to the point. Having read that answer and carefully considered it, I can conceive that it is quite possible that some persons may, notwithstanding the financial Resolution, which clearly indicates that the 1st of July was to be the date on which the new Licence Duty became payable, and notwithstanding the Bill which was then printed—I can conceive that some persons may have, in consequence of that answer, applied for a licence who otherwise would not have done so How many such persons there may be we do not know, but if there is only one it is enough for my purpose; and I do not think that advantage should be taken of an error of that kind. Therefore, I should be disposed, the facts being brought to my attention on behalf of the Government, to say that in regard to people who have taken out these licences on 6th July that up to 30th September they shall continue to enjoy them and to be charged at the old rate. That, I think, will be a complete fulfilment of the pledge given in the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury. Let me make it perfectly clear that this only applies to persons who may be supposed to have acted on the faith of the assurance which was then given, and has no relation to those who have subsequently taken out licences, and who knew perfectly well that the increased Licence Duty will be payable for them. I hope that that will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, and that the Committee will agree that that will meet all reasonable, requirements.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I certainly did not intend to make a very offensive charge against the right hon. Gentle- 460 man of deliberate breach of faith, and that is a charge which anyone would be reluctant to make against a fellow worker, and we should only do so on what we thought the clearest evidence. If any language of mine implied that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had broken faith, I withdraw it. In fact, my whole argument and the strength of it was that the pledge was certainly given, and I was perfectly certain that the Prime Minister would honour a pledge given on behalf of the Government by any of his colleagues. I think the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman has met the case, but I am not quite certain what he means by the reservation or exception, that he put in at the end, and the licences he had in mind.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
All the licences which have not up to this time been granted, because it is perfectly possible that the Bill may not come into force until after the 30th September, and I do not want anyone hereafter to be able to say that he was misled into taking out a licence on the basis of the old rate.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It means only this, that a man who took out his licence on October 10th after the deliberations on the Bill should not assume that he escapes the new duty.
§ Mr. GRETTON
I think if I may say so that the Prime Minister has taken the right course, by the announcement which he has just made to the Committee. The question which I asked, and which has been referred to, was put deliberately, and at the request of persons in the trade, and there are a very great number of them interested in this question. It was not an isolated question, nor was the answer of the Government made on the spur of the moment without consideration, because I asked a similar question on behalf of persons dealing in beer, both by wholesale and retail, on 22nd June, and exactly a similar answer was given. These dealers were interested in licences which would expire on 5th July last, and were thoroughly well aware of the Resolution of this House which was passed on 10th May. The 1st of July had nearly come, and they were extremely anxious as to what their position would be, and I asked for and obtained an answer from the Secretary to the Treasury at their 461 request and on their behalf as to what their position was and the intentions of the Government in the event of the Bill becoming law. There is no doubt that if any other course except that taken by the Prime Minister had been pursued, a most serious breach of faith would have been committed. Before I part from this subject I want to point out that the concluding words of the answer to the question are extremely important, and I am quite sure the Prime Minister will adhere to them and the rest of the answer given on that occasion. The words I refer to are, "The Commissioners of Customs and Excise shall repay or allow the holder of any such licence an amount of duty proportionate to the time by which the period covered by the licence was diminished." That was the most important part of the question, and it was on the faith of the whole of that answer that these licences were taken up by the persons interested in this part of the trade.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
On the question of the charge of breach of faith there is one piece of evidence which shows that there was no misunderstanding at all in the matter. The brewers, as the fatal day, 1st July, was approaching, issued circulars to their tied tenants in the following terms. They stated that the new financial burdens which were to be imposed upon them by the Budget were such that they could no longer continue to supply beer on the terms which had existed hitherto, and they went on to say:—Under the financial Resolutions passed by the House of Commons the new scale of Licence Duties will come into force on the 1st July, 1909, and on and after that date it. will be necessary that our prices should be increased.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
That was 25th June. Such was the clearness with which the Government had communicated their intentions to the traders that they thought it necessary to raise their prices as from 1st July. They did so, and those prices have been charged as from 1st July. If they received any subsequent light upon it from the question which was asked in the House that did not in any way alter their intention to raise their prices to their tenants, and the prices are still being charged. Under the circumstances, in the interests of those tied tenants, and as the Prime Minister has given a wholly gratuitous concession on account of a misunderstanding which never really existed in the 462 minds of the parties, I trust they will see in their turn the necessity of being generous to their tied tenants and drop their prices. But I think the fact I have referred to entirely clears away the idea that there was any breach of faith or any misunderstanding.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Might I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the circular referred in any way to any licences which expired on 5th July 1 Are not the 5th July licences of a totally different character, not affecting in any way those to whom the circular was issued?
May I draw the attention of the Committee to the words used in the Sub-section? It uses the words "licences granted," and I understand that term only refers to new licences. It is a term generally applied to the renewal of licences, and if the right hon. Gentleman leaves out these words at this stage of the Clause he may find himself in some difficulty when he comes to the end of the Clause, because then he will find that he will only be able to charge the duties upon the new licences granted. I do not want to improve the Clause or to help the Government out of their difficulties, but it seems to me they will have to bring in a redrafting Amendment.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The consequential Amendment on the Paper will have to be remodelled to carry out the concession of the Prime Minister.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROBERT DUNCAN
I do not suppose there is any Member of the House who will expect absolute infallibility from the Front Bench, but we cannot forget that the Front Bench men are paid solely by the State, and we really expect they will do their work. When the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer allow what may be called the office-boy of the party to make statements before the House and the country to which they do not adhere, I think we are well justified in supposing that we are in a parlous state. If we do not get business men who will at least look over the headings of the Debates printed every morning at our expense, we and the people of England and Scotland and Ireland will give them short shrift.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
There is one point on which I should like an explanation. The right hon. Gentleman said there were certain classes of licences which would be 463 abolished, and among these there were two or three classes of 5th July licences. They presumably have already been taken out. What is their position in case the Bill passes? Will they be entitled to hold the licences for the year, or will they be cut short in their career the moment the Bill passes?
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
Early in July I addressed a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to what was the position of those persons who bought their licences on 5th July. The answer I got was substantially similar to those which have been read. I was assured that they need be under no apprehension, as their licences would expire on 30th September, and if they did not wish to continue them they would get a rebate for the unexpired portion. As far as that part is concerned, I am quite ready to admit that the Prime Minister, in marked contrast to the special pleading of the Solicitor-General, has done that and that only which was consistent with his position as the representative of the honour of the Government in this House, and I for one acknowledge that nothing more could have been done. But there was one observation made by the Prime Minister which is still ringing in my ears, and which the Committee seems to have allowed to pass unnoticed. It struck me as remarkable. The Prime Minister, we understand, is practically now taking charge of the interests of this portion of the Bill. The Prime Minister told us that he knew nothing whatever of these answers which had been given. What I want to ask is, Who is running this Budget so far as the Licence Duties are concerned? Who is responsible for the answers given to serious questions in this House on this important matter? The Member for Appleby (Mr. Leif Jones) smiles, as if to indicate by his self-contented expression that some of the answers were due to him.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I do press this point, because I think it is important. If the Prime Minister is not told of the answers given in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this important part of the Bill, it seems to me to indicate that this House is not so much at the mercy of the Treasury Bench as in the hands of certain permanent officials and clerks, who give whatever answers to questions they like, 464 and that these answers are read out parrot-like to the House. At this early stage of the discussion of this portion of the Bill the prestige of the Government has received a severe blow.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask how this new duty is to be imposed. What machinery exists for collecting this money? We know the way in which the seller of dutiable articles has hitherto been charged when selling without a licence. These July men have got a licence, and I wish to know how the extra duty which this Bill imposes is to be collected from these men. Surely it will not be sufficient for an officer of the law to go and say to one man, "I want £10 from you," and to another "I want £20 from you. There is the Budget Act." The man may say in reply "There is my licence. You cannot fine me for selling without a licence because I have got a licence." Of course, I assume that you could sue him under one of the old writs of the Revenue, but that would be a cumbrous method of collecting duty of this kind. There may be something in the Bill that I am not aware of, and I wish to be referred to it.
§ Mr. REMNANT
Are we to look to the Prime Minister as taking charge of this part of the Bill, because it would undoubtedly help us on this side of the House if we felt that we were dealing with him in reference to this matter? When some question at the beginning of the Budget Debates was mentioned in this House his absence was referred to, and he then said that this Bill was entirely under the charge of another Minister, who took the responsibility for it, and that there was no occasion for him to be present. In fact, he strongly deprecated two Ministers taking charge of the same measure. From all accounts—and the Press seems to get the first information on these matters —the Prime Minister is now to take charge of this part of the measure. Personally I hope that is so, for, while he has been pretty hard on the trade, he has never let himself go in the same way as the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Herbert Samuel), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other Members of the Treasury Bench, who have accused the trade and everybody connected with it as almost belonging to the criminal class. If we felt that we had to deal with the Prime Minister we would be better satisfied. After all, it is a serious 465 matter for the country if we have to trust to Ministers who have accused the trade of robbery and swindling and all sorts of disagreeable things. I do hope the Prime Minister will let us know now to whom we are to look to in this matter.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That is a question as to the conduct of the Bill. We are dealing now with an Amendment.
§ Mr. REMNANT
I hope I am not out of order. Other Members have dealt with the same question. I hope the Prime Minister will forgive me for asking the question.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I confess I cannot see what relevance these remarks have to the question before the Committee. It is only out of courtesy to the hon. Member that I will answer the question. I disclaim the compliment the hon. Member has paid me. We are one and indivisible. I hope my right hon. Friend and I speak with the same voice. So far as I am concerned, and so far as my other duties permit—and they are pretty heavy—I mean to look after this part of the Bill. It is a matter of which I have some previous acquaintance. I shall do so to the best of my ability, and if I am not here at any particular moment hon. Gentlemen will know that the pressure of other duties keeps me away. I take that course in order to relieve my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer whose labours in this matter are arduous to a degree almost beyond precedent.
§ Mr. J. S. ARKWRIGHT
May I ask the Prime Minister whether he expects to be in charge of the Bill when we come to the Schedules at the end. He has made tonight a very definite promise that we shall be allowed to discuss on the Schedules things which cannot be discussed on a clause.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question as to persons who took out July licenses which are to be abolished. Was it made clear to them when they took out these licences that they would be abolished? They expected to enjoy the licences for a year, and now apparently they are to be abolished altogether. I ask whether there was any information given to them by the Excise authorities that the licences would cease and determine on the passing of the Finance Act.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It is the same case precisely. I think the hon. Gentleman is a little unreasonable in quoting one part of my right hon. Friend's answer. They cannot act on one part of the answer and then claim not to have read the other part. He said that these licences will come to an end on 30th September. Therefore, if they took out licences and paid their money they knew perfectly well that on 30th September the licences would come to an end, and that they would receive repayment of a proportionate amount of the money.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
In reference to the question raised by my hon. Friend, I desire your ruling as to whether — the Prime Minister having stated his intention of dealing with a certain portion of the Bill—it is not in order for us to inquire if the Prime Minister intends to deal with another portion of the Bill which correlates and corresponds to the portion now before the Committee. Am I not in order in asking this question?
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
moved, after the word "paid" ["charged, levied and paid "] to insert the words "except in Ireland."
The purpose and effect of this Amendment are perfectly plain and therefore it is not necessary to waste any time explaining the meaning of the Amendment. It is one to which the Irish Members attach the greatest possible importance. I wish to commence my remarks by saying that I do not intend to base this Amendment upon what I may call the financial relations ground. I would have been glad if it had been possible in connection with this Budget to have had a full Debate on the question of the taxation of Ireland, in connection with the Report of the Financial Relations Commission, but I was precluded from the possibility of doing that, first by the action of the regular Opposition of this House, who moved an Amendment to the second reading of the Bill, which prevented my raising this question, 467 and, secondly, by a ruling of Mr. Speaker with reference to an Instruction which I put upon the Paper, and which I. hoped would have enabled me to raise this matter. I do not think it is desirable from our point of view to raise such a matter of vital and far-reaching importance as this question of the general taxation of Ireland on what I may call a side issue, such as would be the case if I raised it on this Amendment. Therefore the Committee will understand that I put that ground absolutely upon one side for the purpose of my argument here this evening, and I am the more willing to put it on one side, because I think, quite apart from the financial relations argument, I can put before the Committee a complete case for the exemption of Ireland from the operation of these Clauses. That case rests upon the difference which exists in the circumstances of the country, and in the conditions of the trade between Ireland and this country. That is a distinction and a difference which is practically admitted by everyone who professes to know anything of the conditions of the two countries. It has been admitted by both parties in this House; it has been admitted by successive Governments, Conservative and Liberal, and it is embodied in the whole of your legislation dealing with liquor licences in connection with Ireland.
I believe I am correct in saying that, with the single exception of the recent legislation dealing with the sale of intoxicating liquors to children, there has been no liquor legislation passed applying to Ireland which applies also to England and other parts of the United Kingdom; and, even in the case of the Children Bill of last year, the Government —when the facts were put before them—had to differentiate between the treatment of Ireland and England and to insert a special Clause, Subsection (29) of Section 133, giving different treatment to Ireland from that which was accorded in the matter of these children in England and the other parts of the United Kingdom. In 1880, when Mr. Gladstone was dealing with the subject in his Bill of that year, he drew the distinction between England and Ireland, and he put in special provisions in his Act providing that the whole system of valuation for the purpose of licences should be different in Ireland from what it was in England. I will return to the question of Mr. Gladstone's valuation of 1880 in a moment, but I just want to go on briefly to show that the dis- 468 tinction bétween the conditions in England and Ireland has been admitted by all parties, and in every legislative Act that has been passed by this House. In 1904 the Conservative Government introduced a great Licensing Bill, but they admitted that the conditions were so different in Ireland that they did not apply it to Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen will understand that if I do not refer specifically to Scotland it is because I want to confine myself to the Irish case, and also because I am not as familiar with the Scotch case as with the Irish case. But the Tory Government of that day admitted that the conditions of the trade and the circumstances of the country were so different in Ireland and England that they did not attempt to apply the Licensing Act of 1904 to Ireland; and in 1908 the Liberal Government introduced their Licensing Bill, and again they admitted that the conditions were so different that they did not attempt to apply their Licensing Bill of last year to Ireland. And it is admitted by everybody, if you mention the matter casually, that if the licensing question had to be dealt with in Ireland it should be dealt with by separate legislation based upon different principles and in a different way. Therefore the difference between the conditions of the two countries has been recognised by everybody, and I may say by no one more completely and explicitly than by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in connection with this Bill. I have here a report of the right hon. Gentleman's reply to an influential deputation which I had the honour to introduce to him on 14th June last, when the case was put before him, and he said:—I agree with you. you have a special case for consideration in Ireland with reference to the Licence Duties. There are two statements made to-day which support that view. One of them is the fact that you have not got in the English sense of the term a marketable asset in your monopoly. It is not the same thing, not by any means. Whereas in England, Scotland and in Wales the number of public-houses is steadily diminishing and the population is increasing, and therefore the remaining public-houses are becoming more valuable year after year, and you have a market value because they are more valuable, and therefore the monopoly value in English public-houses has gone up enormously during the last few years: but in Ireland you have the converse. You have an increase in the number of public-houses and a diminishing population.Then he goes on to another difference between the conditions of the trade as to mixed trading, to which I will refer again. Then he concludes in this way:—Therefore I think you have a special case for consideration in regard to Irish public-house Licence Duties.Therefore I bring the evidence right down to the present moment, to the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exche- 469 quer himself, to show that the conditions and circumstances between England and Ireland are so different that it would be impossible and most unjust to apply to Ireland exactly the conditions that may be suitable, for aught I know, to England. What are those differences, briefly? In the first place, we have no such thing, practically speaking, as the tied house system in Ireland at all. In Ireland the man who pays the licence is not the brewer. The man who pays the licence is the owner of the house. In the next place, the legal status of the publican in Ireland has been for very many years entirely different from that of the publican in this country. So far back, I think, as the year 1877, what is known as Clitheroe's case was decided, to the effect that so long as the character of the publican was good and his premises were suitable he was entitled to a renewal or transfer of the licence. In England the law is entirely different. In Sharpe v. Wakefield, a case quoted here in this country, it was specifically decided that it did not apply to Ireland, and for all these years in Ireland the publican has had a different legal status altogether from that of the publican in this country. These are some of the differences. Let me give another. The overwhelming majority of publicans in Ireland are not publicans in the ordinary sense of the phrase, as used in this country, at all. These licensed premises in the overwhelming majority of cases in Ireland are not public houses as you understand the phrase in this country The overwhelming majority of them are houses where mixed trading is carried on, where all sorts and kinds of things are sold as well as liquor. I gave some figures when I spoke on a previous occasion, and I have investigated them since, and I find they are substantially correct.
I find that 71.2 of all the houses licensed for the sale of liquor in Ireland are, according to the most recent Returns, houses in which mixed trading is carried on. In some of the counties the percentage of these houses is as high as 95 per cent., and in large cities, with the exception of Belfast and Cork, the custom is also general. In the city of Dublin the mixed traders hold 80 per cent, of the licensed houses. In the county of Cavan there are 80 per cent.; in the county of Clare, 95 per cent.; Donegal, 70 per cent.; Down, 56 per cent.; Galway, 89 per cent.; Monaghan, 80 per cent.; Westmeath, 90 per cent.; and so on. I need not go through all the list, but they work out at 71.2 per cent, of all the licensed houses in Ireland where mixed 470 trading is going on. Hon. Members may think that the system is an unfortunate one. They may not like the system of mixed trading. I had a document sent to me on the question yesterday or the day before, in which I was requested as a Member of this House to support the Budget because it would have the effect of destroying those houses. Why is it that such a large proportion of these houses in Ireland are houses where mixed trading is going on? The reason is the reason which lies so much at the bottom of Irish affairs, namely, the poverty of Ireland. It would be quite impossible for these men to make a living from the amount of drink they sell. They have general shops, where soft goods, groceries, and all sorts of things are sold, and liquor is only a small part of their business; and if these men attempted to make a living out of the sale of liquor alone they would find it absolutely impossible. Under this Bill, as it stands, I really do not think, after the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and after the matter has been investigated by the Prime Minister, that they will deny the statement that this Bill, without change, will undoubtedly absolutely exterminate thousands of these places. Ought they to be exterminated? There are hon. Members in this House, and many of them I believe, who not only object to mixed trading, but who object to small houses. They think that the small houses ought to be put down and ought to be destroyed. I am not concerned to deny that an excessive number of small public-houses in the country is a bad thing. I daresay, if you look forward to 30 years hence, Ireland will be all the better if the number of these small houses be smaller, and in saying that I think that the benefit would not only be to Ireland, but the benefit would be to the liquor trade itself, in the diminution of the number of these very small houses. But that diminution must come about gradually, and it must come about by natural means.
At the present moment, as the Committee is aware, no new licence can be granted in Ireland, and owing to natural cause, and owing to the depression in trade and the poverty of the country these licences are gradually dropping off. Although there has been an increase of 3,000 licences in Ireland, if you take the period extending over a great many years passed, but in recent years I am glad to think by a natural process some of these houses are dropping off. But what this Bill proposes is by a wholesale and violent 471 process to destroy thousands of these houses, and if it is permitted to do that it will undoubtedly inflict the greatest possible suffering, misery, and injustice upon thousands of people in Ireland. To make these licence Clauses tolerable in Ireland, I say the minimum limit should be entirely abolished. That limit works injustice in every city, town, and hamlet of the county. Let me give some figures. Though mixed trading will be seriously affected, as I have pointed out, in the country parts of Ireland, in the larger cities, where perhaps the struggle is not so great, the minimum limit will also seriously operate. That remark applies in a special way to places like Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Londonderry, and it applies also to the cities of Dublin and Belfast. In these latter cities the minimum limit means an absolutely crushing blow. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is aware how this works out. The minimum limit as applied to Dublin will mean an increase of over £12,000 a year. In Belfast the case is a peculiar one, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact. Belfast recently has been revalued, and the Licence Duties in Belfast after that revaluation have been increased by £5,000 a year. Now this new proposal will mean £14,000 a year in addition, if the Clause be left as it is. In the city of Cork the figures are between £10,000 or £11,000 a year. In Limerick, £3,566; Waterford, £2,543; Newry, £1,167; Dundalk, £1,351; Galway, £1,386; Sligo, £906; Drogheda, £800; Kingston, £978, and then you come to the smaller towns all through the country. These may seem small amounts to you who are accustomed to large figures in connection with this matter in the big towns and the middle-sized towns of England. Though the figures are small in amount, they will cause the greatest possible misery and suffering in Ireland. It will mean in all those small towns that the minimum Licence Duty which would have to be paid by those small people will be increased three, four, five, or six times by the addition that will be put upon them, and it hits Ireland far more in proportion than this country by reason of the fact that the proportion of those small houses is much greater in Ireland than it is here. The figures have been given already to the Committee when we were discussing the Resolution. The total number of houses paying the minimum duty at present in the United Kingdom is 7,952, and of those 472 7,190 are to be found in Ireland. Therefore, I say that this minimum limit of population, as provided in the Bill, hits. Ireland far more in proportion than this country. I would like to say to the Prime Minister that on this point the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his statement to the deputation was quite explicit. Speaking of the minimum limit to which I have been referring, he said:—The minimum has had the effect of increasing enormously the Licence Duties in some parts of Ireland where there is a small population. I have already promised to consider how this affects Ireland. I agree that a population limit, suitable to this country, would not be equally applicable to Ireland at all.Therefore, I take it for granted that some proposal will be made on this question of the minimum limit of population. I want to say to the Prime Minister that simply a mitigation of this minimum limit will not meet the case. The only way the case can be met will be by exempting Ireland from this minimum limit altogether, and I have given my reasons why. It hits Ireland in a proportion which it does not hit England, and the cases are entirely different. If the Prime Minister simply alters the present minimum limits in the Bill, and proposes a new scale with a different population, he would not settle the question, and will not satisfy anybody in Ireland. He may give some little relief in some of the small towns; he will not give it in the larger towns, and will not remove our objection to this Clause, and injustice would be done to Ireland by a course which I certainly hope he will not take. I urge the sweeping away of this minimum limit altogether in Ireland on the ground of the difference in the two countries.
Let me revert to this question of valuation. What exactly happened in 1880 when Mr. Gladstone settled the valuation for Ireland. Prior to 1880 the amount of Licence Duty was fixed by the local officers of Excise, but in 1880 the point was raised by representatives of Ireland that the system was an unfair system. A further point was made in favour of a fixed charge. In relation to both those points Mr. Gladstone, who was at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, yielded to the demand that was made by Ireland. The way he yielded was he agreed that the existing valuation in Ireland—that is, Griffith's valuation—should remain the basis. It was argued in the House at the time that Griffith's valuation was too low, and Mr. Gladstone, in the first instance, to meet that argument, provided that there should be an addition of 20 per cent. in every case of Griffith's valuation. After 473 further discussion of this matter with the Irish Members on the floor of this House Mr Gladstone became convinced that Griffith's valuation, where it was not a fair valuation, was very often an excessive valuation, and instances were given to him to show that there were many cases in which Griffith's valuation was 10 or 20 per cent. too high. This case so impressed itself on Mr. Gladstone that he altered his hand again, and instead of making Griffith's valuation with compulsory 20 per cent, addition in every case, he made it Griffith's valuation with power to raise it 20 per cent. as a maximum in any case that the Excise officers so desired. That was settled in 1880, making an entire distinction from the case of England. It was settled for Ireland by Mr. Gladstone on different principles and for reasons set out by him at that time—Ireland's poverty, difference in the condition of trade, and so forth.
That has remained the system of valuation up to the present moment, and licensed traders in Ireland are seriously alarmed by Clause 30 of this Bill. They are alarmed because they do not know exactly where they stand, and they do not. know exactly on what principles the new valuation would be made. They make a strong claim, and I make a strong claim on their behalf, that the valuation should be left as it was fixed by Mr. Gladstone in 1880; that is to say, that it should be Griffith's valuation plus a maximum of 20 per cent. in certain cases if so decided upon by the authority. It may be argued although that valuation would be right in 1880, that it must be wrong now, because the value of property has increased in Ireland. Let me remind the Committee of a fact I have already mentioned, which shows that any increase in the value of property in Ireland cannot apply to licensed property. In 1880 there were 17,000 licensed houses in Ireland, while to-day the total number is over 20,000, although the population of Ireland has diminished by one million people in those years. The competition, therefore, between those traders has enormously increased, and where Griffith's valuation was considered a fair basis for assessing licence duties in 1880, certainly it is not less fair or as fair, a basis to-day. Therefore I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can, in addition to giving us some considerations with reference to a minimum limit, and as I hope a satisfactory declaration, I ask in the second place whether he would not give 474 us, at least so far as Ireland is concerned, the exception which Mr. Gladstone made in 1880, and continue it so that the basis shall remain Griffith's valuation.
There are two other matters to which I wish to allude shortly. One is the question of brewers' licenses in Ireland, and the other is the question of the grocers, sealed bottles, and the quantities they can sell. With reference to the brewers I should like to remind the Prime Minister of the history of the brewing trade in Ireland. At one time there was a number of small breweries scattered throughout the country, carrying on a small but wholesome trade, giving employment to a considerable number of people, and incidentally promoting agriculture. They have almost all been swept away, and why? Chiefly because there has grown up in Ireland an enormous monopoly in Guinness' brewery, which has slowly squeezed out nearly all the small breweries in the country. The figures were given in answer to a question recently, but I will repeat them. Excluding Guinness' brewery, there are 28 breweries in Ireland, of which 14 brew less than 10,000 barrels each, five less than 20,000 barrels, five less than 100,000, and two less than 150,000. Taking the mean of the figures for all the 28 small breweries, less than 800,000 barrels are brewed altogether, whereas the number of barrels brewed by Guinness' is close en 3,000,000. I think an exception ought to be made in the case of all these breweries, but taking the 14 which brew less than 10,000 barrels each, this impost will undoubtedly mean the closing up of every one of them. What do you gain by that from the point of view of temperance, or from the point of view of revenue? What gain is there at all? The only gain is by the great monopolists Guinness, who, of course, will profit by the destruction of these smaller breweries. The monopoly exercised by Guinness' brewery is the main cause why this fairly successful small brewing trade has almost entirely disappeared. I said earlier in my speech that we had no tied houses in Ireland. That statement requires to be qualified. Guinness' have no tied houses, in the ordinary sense of the phrase, here; but, in effect, they have tied their customers through their registered label and their enormous prestige. Before they give any bottler their registered label he must sign an agreement to bottle no other stout than theirs; thus no other brewer has a chance of getting his-liquor put before the public, no matter how good an article it may be. I do not want to attack Guinness' in any way. 475 Everyone is proud of seeing in Ireland one of the greatest industries in the world, and I do not want to injure it; but I do say that it is a little too much that, in the name of temperance and of getting revenue you should extinguish these small breweries, incidentally destroy local employment, and diminish the assistance which breweries give to agriculture, all for the purpose of inflating the property of Guinness' monopoly. I therefore make a strong appeal to the Prime Minister to do something for us in reference to these small breweries in Ireland, to enable them to continue to exist, as they will not be able to exist if this Bill is passed in its present form.
One, word with reference to grocers' licences, and the liquor which is sold in small quantities and in open vessels. I was not at all surprised at the fate of the Amendment which through some strange chance appeared on the Paper. I can quite understand that it was put on the Paper by mistake, because no one could conceive any Government proposing to create an entirely new trade in England as that Amendment would have done. At present the law in England is quite different from the law in Scotland and in Ireland. In England spirits cannot be sold except in quart bottles, and, I think, in the case of wine, in pint bottles. But there is no limitation in Scotland or Ireland, either as to the quantity or as to the sealed vessels. The deputation which I have already quoted brought this question as it affects Ireland before the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There are only a thousand of these cases in the whole of Ireland, but in certain places the injury to them will constitute a very great hardship. I am told that in the City of Belfast there are 400 of these cases. [An HON. MEMBER: "500."] They are a poor struggling people, and if you forbid them to sell except in fairly large quantities you will actually shut up their houses and destroy their trade. They are catering for very poor people, who are not in a position to buy a quart or a pint, or even a half-pint, of whisky. The: limitation proposed in the new Amendment of the Government will not meet this case at all. When the matter was put before the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the deputation, the answer he gave was that he had met the Scottish people a few days before, that he had made a proposition to them to which they had agreed, and that he was willing to give the same terms to Ireland. 476 These were the terms: "I met the Scottish brewers who had practically your case. I am disposed to think that they put in an important provision with regard to open vessels. Therefore, I will put it to you that if you sell in small quantities you have got to sell in sealed bottles. If you are prepared to meet me in that regard I am prepared to meet you." Then a member of the deputation interrupted and said, "We close at once." I remember the pleased look on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's face when he found himself in the presence of a deputation of brewers, distillers, and publicans, received with loud cheers by the whole assembly. What was the meaning of that promise as it was understood by us? It was that if the Scottish and the Irish brewers would agree to the sealed vessels he would give up the limitation of quantity. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in his Amendments to this Bill, to redeem that promise. These men are quite satisfied with the sealed vessels, but we ask him to take the limitation as to quantity out of the Bill as regards both spirits and wine. I confess I do not see why he makes a difference between Scotland and Ireland as to wine. That, I think, is another mistake in the Amendment. The proposal of the Government with reference to Ireland enables dealers to sell half a pint of spirits and a pint of wine, while in Scotland they are allowed to sell half a pint of spirits and half a pint of wine. Why there should be that difference against Ireland as compared with Scotland I do not know. What I press on the right hon. Gentleman is that the fulfilment of his undertaking to the deputation is not achieved by the Amendments on the Paper. We must ask him to remove the limitation on quantity altogether, and to keep in the sealing of the vessels. The poor trade done by these dealers in Belfast is. largely in glasses of whisky or even smaller quantities, while as for wine, I am told that they do a large trade in single glasses of port wine and other wines for invalids, the whole of which trade will be struck at if the right hon. Gentleman does not carry out in his Amendments the spirit of the promise he gave to the deputation. Now, Mr. Caldwell, I ask the right hon. Gentleman confidently for the exemption of Ireland from this Clause. I say to him if he cannot give us the complete and absolute exemption that I am asking for, will he accept the Amendment which we have upon the Paper? I have got an Amendment to the Clause a little lower down to exempt Ireland from the minimum limit. 477 My hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin has an Amendment on the next Clause preserving Griffith's Valuation as the basis of the valuation for the assessment of licences. Will he agree to that? If he is not prepared to go the full length that I ask, as I think he ought to go—and I think I have made a case for it—is he prepared to accept these Amendments? At any rate, let us know definitely what he is going to do. If he is going to propose Amendments, let them be put down on the Paper immediately. In this matter I respectfully assure the right hon. Gentleman that he ought to be guided by the experience, judgment and opinions of Irish Members. It is not with us a question of the interests of the trade on one side or the interests of temperance reformers upon the other. We are concerned in this matter with the interests of Ireland. I need scarcely remind the House that there are in the ranks of the Irish party in this House some most ardent and—if they will forgive me for saying so—some of the most extravagant temperance reformers in Ireland. We have always made it a rule not to bind Members of the party in any particular way on purely temperance questions. The result has been that on ordinary liquor questions in this House you have generally found a certain number of Irish Members voting on one side and a certain number voting on the other, and a third body abstaining from voting altogether. But in this case we do not look upon it as merely a liquor question, but as a question of justice to Ireland. We make an absolutely united demand—that is, all the Members of the Irish party —temperance men as well as those who do not share their temperance views—upon the Government to accede to the request that has been made. It would, if I may say so, I think, be an extraordinary thing if this Government, whose Members very properly tell us that they believe in the principle of self-government, if they, in a purely local question of this kind were to take upon their shoulders the responsibility of throwing over and flouting the opinion of five-sixths of the representatives of Ireland and the entire Irish party, drawn from every quarter of Ireland—North, South, East, and West. I hope and believe the Government will not do so. There is great anxiety on this question on these benches and in Ireland. I hope at any rate that we will learn after the right hon. Gentleman has spoken exactly where we stand, and that we will be able to decide what course we will take with refer- 478 ence to these Licensing Clauses. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to be candid with us, and I invite him to be sympathetic with the view we put forward. I ask him to be generous in the concessions that he makes. I beg to move.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has proposed this Amendment proposes to omit Ireland altogether from the scope of this Clause. That proposition I am sure he does not put forward with any idea indeed that it will be accepted. The Government could not possibly entertain it. I gather his real purpose is to find an opportunity, which no doubt will be afforded, for a discussion on what he conceives to be the necessary variation of the treatment in the application of this Bill to Ireland rather than to exclude Ireland altogether from its scope. It is quite true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that Parliament has always dealt, in licensing measures especially, with Ireland on a different footing to England. The same is true of Scotland. But this is not a Licensing Bill; this is a fiscal Bill. As I have more than once pointed out in relation to this matter, this part of the Bill is a fiscal measure, what I may call, in the full-blown sense of the term, a measure which has for its object and effect the bringing in of a very considerable addition to the national revenue. I therefore cannot accept the contention that Ireland, and Scotland also, who are normally excluded from our purely licensing measures, should be excluded from a Bill in which Liquor Duties are imposed as a source of Imperial revenue. When this matter was last touched by Mr. Gladstone in 1880, not only did he not exclude Ireland from the purview of his measure, but he applied the same scale to Ireland as he did to England and Scotland. It is quite true, by way of concession, a very fair and just concession, he recognised the need to deal with the problem of valuation in Ireland on a different footing from the same problem in the United Kingdom. But he treated Ireland as equally with Great Britain liable to the payment of the duty, and the actual scale with the same for all the three kingdoms. What are the points which the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to impress upon us as differentiating the case of Ireland from that of England, and, to some extent, Scotland? I agree that they axe all well founded in point of fact, whatever be the argumentative conclusions to be 479 drawn. He says that, whereas in England and in Scotland the number of licensed houses to the population has for some years past been steadily diminishing, exactly the reverse is the case in Ireland. There we have had a dwindling population, accompanied by an accelerated growth in the supply of drink to public-houses. That is true. Whether it is a thing upon which those who are interested in the welfare of Ireland can congratulate themselves is, of course, another question. But it certainly does not afford any ground — that public-houses have multiplied in Ireland in proportion to the population rather than decreased, as in Great Britain—for the exemption of Ireland from the operation of these Clauses. What is the next difference which the hon. and learned Gentleman discerns? The undoubted fact that, in point of law, the publican in Ireland has a less precarious tenure than the publican in Great Britain. The decision in the Sharp v. Wakefield case that a licence in point of law was nothing but an annual licence, and that there is no right to a renewal, is not the law in Ireland. That the publican has a more secure tenure in Ireland than in England would not seem to be an argument for withdrawing the subject from taxation. So much for those two points. The third point of the hon. Gentleman—here, I think, what he said was more relevant—was that the business of the publican in Ireland is carried on in the vast majority of cases—I believe in proportion to the whole country to the extent of 70 or 80 per cent.—by mixed traders. That is to say, the shop where drink is sold is not as in this country, a public-house, and nothing but a public-house. The shop is a general store where groceries and almost every article that poor people need can be bought. That I agree with the hon. and learned Member does create a distinction and a valid distinction between the case of Ireland and the case of Great Britain—by valid I mean for the purposes of the present argument. What does it mean? It means that whereas in the case of England the annual rateable value under the Act of 1880 of the premises represents the whole value—that is to say, the only trade carried on there is the publican trade—in Ireland the publican trade is only a fraction of the other trade which is carried on side by side with the selling of drink on the same premises. That is a matter which I think is entitled to consideration. There is one other point, and it is 480 an important one, that I do not think was dwelt upon very much by the hon. and learned Member. Out of the 17,000 publicans licensed in Ireland— I am using round numbers—less than 1,000 licences, I think about 900, are granted in respect of premises the value of which is over £50. In other words, 16,000 out of the 17,000 so-called public-houses are valued at under £50—a very striking and significant fact. Now in the scale proposed in the Schedule to this Bill the Licence Duty on houses up to £50 remains practically intact. The changes are very small indeed, the difference is very slight, and the great majority of Irish public-houses, apart from the question of the minimum, would pay no more under the scale proposed by this Bill than they are doing at present. That is clear. The real grievance—the real points put forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman which seem to demand the most serious consideration are founded upon the following facts: first, that the effect of applying the same minimum in Ireland as you do in England and in Scotland will be to throw an immensely disproportionate amount of taxation upon the Irish public; and next that having regard especially to the fact to which I referred a few moments ago, of the mixture of trades, and having regard also to other circumstances connected with the machinery and procedure of valuation, the system of valuation that might be perfectly appropriate to the conditions that prevail in England and Scotland might not necessarily be appropriate to Ireland, and ought not to be transplanted there. That is a fair statement of the hon. Gentleman's argument on these two points. I gather from the quotation he has made that the Chancellor of the Exchequer some time ago promised to give consideration to these matters, and such consideration has been given. While, of course, it is quite out of the question to accept the Amendment that would altogether exclude Ireland from the scope of these Clauses when we come to deal with them, and the Government will be prepared to recognise so much as they consider to be reasonable in the two points to which I have referred. What we propose to do, in effect, is this— I do not pledge myself to the precise form the Amendment will take—in the first place, as regards the minimum, I cannot agree with the hon. and learned Member that there ought to be no minimum, nor do I think it necessary—and I think perhaps he is under some misapprehension as to 481 the minimum—to alter the scale of population. We leave the scale of population as it is, but I think we might very fairly substantially reduce the minimum amount of Licence Duty payable in respect of public-houses in areas with a given population in Ireland as compared with houses in areas with the same population either in England or Scotland. That substantial reduction of the minimum on that basis would, I believe, have a most appreciable effect in easing the burden, and would get rid of most of the cases of serious hardship. Upon the other point, the point of valuation, I have carefully considered what Mr. Gladstone said in 1880 in the provision which he inserted in the Act of that year, and I should propose when we come to Clause 30, which deals with valuation, we should provide that in. the case of Ireland, instead of there being an assimilation, as that Clause proposes, of the valuations of the two countries, that in the case of Ireland the valuation should remain as it is.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
There is an Amendment to that effect on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for North Dublin.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I thought there was an Amendment on the Paper, but what I meant was there was no Government Amendment. I am disposed to think that this is the best way of dealing with the matter. As regards the bulk of Ireland, the amount of the valuation would be Griffiths' valuation plus a possible 20 per cent., and in the case of Dublin and Belfast it would be the revaluation which has recently taken place. These are rather special cases. In substance we shall continue as regards Ireland precisely the same system of valuation as at present prevails. I think that entirely meets the hon. and learned Member's objections. [OPPOSITION cheers.] I do not know what is the object of those ironical cheers. We are not proposing to alter the system of valuation in Great Britain.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Because if I make the concession we shall be preserving the status quo exactly as regards both countries. England will be the same as before; 482 Scotland will be the same as before. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Well, substantially the same—I am speaking now of publicans' licences. Of course, I quite agree we extend them to other licences. I say, as regards publicans' licences, England and Scotland will be in the same position as before, and in Ireland, therefore, there will be no change. No doubt, in the opinion of those who framed the Clause in its present form, it was desirable to have uniformity as far as possible in the three countries. I do not think that would work. Now, in regard to the other points which the hon. and learned Member raised, the one in regard to breweries is, I confess, somewhat new to me, and I will give it consideration, but I am quite sure he would not like to see the Irish brewers as a class altogether excluded from the scope of this taxation, although his Amendment, if carried in its present form, would enable Messrs. Guinness to escape in the future as they have done in the past by the payment of an annual fee of £1. That is the most gigantic brewery operation carried on in the civilised world. I do not think the hon. and learned Member fully realises the effect of carrying an Amendment which would confer that exceptional boon upon such a distinguished Irish firm. I cannot go so far as he does in that respect.
As regards grocers' licences, sealed vessels and the quarter of a quart, that is a proposal which does not affect Ireland only, but it affects Scotland also. I do not think this matter is strictly relevant to the Amendment now before us, and, even if this Amendment were carried, this question would remain unaltered. Consequently, I prefer to postpone any statement on that point to a later stage, and I promise due consideration to the arguments which the hon. and learned Gentleman has brought forward. The sum and substance of my statement is that while we cannot possibly accept an Amendment excluding Ireland from the scope of this Clause, we are prepared to make the alterations which I have suggested, and, with regard to the other points, we will reserve consideration.
§ Mr. JOHN CLANCY
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman has practically agreed to accept the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper. I do not intend on this occasion to argue the question. It is sufficient for me to know that the Prime Minister admits that to extend the system of valuation for licensing purposes which are applicable to 483 England to Ireland would be altogether absurd and unjust. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is willing to accept the Amendment standing in my name, or words substantially to the same effect. This concession will leave the system of valuation as it stands in Ireland at the present moment, and as it has stood since the year 1880. It is the system of valuation adopted by Mr. Gladstone after very serious consideration and after several days' Debate in this House. I note with satisfaction that the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to disturb the present system and has decided that the new system proposed for England shall not be extended to Ireland. I think any other conclusion or action on the part of the Government would be almost absurd. Under the new system of valuation the new basis of assessment for England is based upon the Compensation Act of 1904. That Act applied only to England and it provided compensation to the publican for the deprivation of any licences. That Act did not extend to Ireland, and at the present time no publican in Ireland can be compensated for the loss of any licence. Therefore to extend to Ireland a provision based upon the compensation clauses of the Act of 1904 would be absurd. I think the right hon. Gentleman has acted with great propriety, and with a recognition, not only of the differences of the conditions of the two countries, but also of the differences in the laws regulating licensing in England and Ireland. With regard to the more important question of the minimum, may I say we must reserve our judgments? It is impossible for any hon. Member offhand to consider a schedule which is not before us. The right hon. Gentleman proposes a new Schedule, and it is impossible for us to say until we see the figures whether they will be satisfactory or not. My own conviction, and it is also the conviction of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Bedmond), that no alternative for the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend will be satisfactory. I desire respectfully to inform the right hon. Gentleman that his new Schedule will be very jealously scrutinised and critised from that point of view.
I do not know really how much the right hon. Gentleman means by the statement he has made in regard to the brewers. I think, in regard to that matter also, we must wait until we see his Amendment on the Paper. The case for the small brewers seems to be overwhelming. Very little 484 revenue is derived from them at present, but it seems to me a great pity, seeing that the intersts of temperance cannot be advanced by their abolition, that they should be abolished. Nothing in the world can be gained by their abolition. Supposing for a moment you do abolish them, what do you gain from the temperance point of view? Guinness would supply all that is wanted, Guinness now supplies nine-tenths of all that is wanted, and it is inconceivable that they would not be able to supply all that is now supplied by every brewery which would be abolished in Ireland by this Bill. Then why should you abolish the small breweries, which in various parts of Ireland, although they are already struggling for their bare life, still do give employment to hundreds and perhaps thousands of people? It seems to me that you would add to the monopoly value of Guinness, the very thing you profess to wish to destroy in England. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether any proposal which tends to sweep away the small breweries in Ireland would not be inconsistent with the general position of this Government. The only remaining point was as to the quantities that can be sold in sealed bottles or otherwise. I am afraid as to that matter the right hon. Gentleman has not given any very satisfactory explanation of the statements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer two or three months ago. Probably, as the right hon. Gentleman has said in regard to another matter, he has never heard this statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But in an earlier speech he asserted that the Government was one and indivisible, and that, if he is satisfied that the Chancellor of the Exchequer really did make a promise to the effect given by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, he will not hesitate to redeem it. Although we are gratified by the concession made by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the basis of valuation I am bound to say I think our claim to be exempt altogether from these Licence Duties still holds. It is not for me now to argue the financial relations question, but may I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he himself has been among those who have made declarations upon this subject on our side of that question. He has admitted the justice of our case on more than one occasion. He has admitted we have been overtaxed, and he must admit that we are overtaxed now. I think if I could meet him in a room by himself, apart from some 485 of the Gentlemen who now sit around him, he would be as ready to admit as we are to maintain that the proposals of this Budget aggravate the injustice, the existence of which he has admitted in past years. But neither my hon. and learned Friend nor myself desire to argue that question now. We would rather go on the special circumstances of this licensing question. We say we have made out a complete case. The right hon. Gentleman has met us on one point—the basis of assessment—satisfactorily. On the other points we do not know exactly what he proposes, and, in order to enable us to determine whether or not the concessions promised are substantial, it is desirable that, at the earliest possible moment, the Amendments should appear on the Paper. Let that be done with the least possible delay. Can they not be put on the Paper to-morrow or the day after, and then we shall be in a position to say whether or not it is worth our while to accept the offer which has been made? In the meantime I am expressing my own opinion, and I think the opinion of my Friends, that under the present conditions we are entitled to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. H. SLOAN
I am sorry that the hon. Member is not in his place, but it is rather surprising to me that he speaks on this occasion for the entire Irish party. Of course, however, there must be discipline in a party, and freedom of will cannot always be exercised when there is the great power and influence behind a question such as there is on this particular occasion. I do not think I am wrong in saying that the majority of the people of Ireland are against the Amendment moved by the hon. Member, and he has given us no indication that any other persons but those in the trade are in favour of it. There is not a single Roman Catholic dignitary but who is in favour of placing Ireland on this question on the basis which exists in England, and why should Ireland have a special exemption in this case, as it does in regard to every other piece of legislation which is introduced into this House through the squeezing capacity of the Irish party? I regret it, as I have been in receipt, and so has the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of hundreds of resolutions in favour of keeping Ireland within the Finance Bill, and not a single resolution has been received for its exemption. I have examined the case from what I believe represents the point of view of the best opinion in Ire- 486 land, both in Ulster and the South and West of the country as well. The question of the spirit grocers has been raised, and a great appeal has been made to the Prime Minister as to the great hardship put upon them if the present proposals are maintained, but I take the police report as regards the influence which these houses have with regard to working class people. I know, as a matter of fact, they are a great danger to the lives of the working men. They are houses in which liquor can be obtained without money at a given time, and they have a book with a weekly account. Drink is purchased and put down in the name of provisions, and at the end of the week 5s. or 10s. is charged by these spirit grocers in regard to facilities for drink which would otherwise not be afforded. The information of the police is as follows:—In Belfast there are practically no public-houses where groceries are sold. The houses are purely for the sale of drink. The public-houses selected here for observation were, in nearly all cases, in thickly-populated centres, but here we have none of the tenement houses so numerous in Dublin. There are. too, an enormous number of spirit groceries in Belfast, and the women order drink there, paying for it as groceries, and in this way most of the drink taken by women is obtained. Owing to the very large number of these houses the number of women frequenting them would not be large at any single house. From a sense of pride women here won't go into public-houses if they can manage to get drink as conveniently from a spirit grocery. From what I can ascertain I don't think there is anything like as much porter drinking amongst women here as in Dublin. There are about 500 spirit grocers and beer retailers in Belfast.I have given some little attention to the financial relations between England and Ireland. I heard in the House the other day in reply to a question an answer given that Ireland was run at present at a loss of £1,100,000 per annum. If the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland are so enormously extravagant in the eyes of Irish Members, why is there this discrepancy 1 It may be through the old age pensions, but certainly if revenue has to be raised those who believe in the Act of Union must stick up for the Act of Union—what is good for the goose cannot be bad for the gander—and if the Prime Minister is to make these concessions I should like to get him to understand that he is making them against the will of the majority of the best-thinking people in Ireland. I have it from representative men from the constituencies of hon. Members below the Gangway. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who are they"?] Dignitaries of your own Church, and there are gentlemen in the Strangers' Gallery this evening who are of the same politics as hon. Members, and who are here to persuade them in this 487 matter, and there are Members of the Nationalist party who in their heart of hearts are in favour of Ireland being included.
§ Mr. SLOAN
So far as public opinion is concerned there is certainly no real opposition to the inclusion of Ireland. In fact, even some Constitutional Associations in the North of Ireland have emphatically declared themselves in favour of this. I do not believe there is an Ulster Unionist Member who will vote for the Amendment. We find resolutions are passed by every religious denomination and every organisation which has the soberising and welfare of the country at heart to an extent that is irresistible, and we are bound to meet the wishes of those who have a real interest in Ireland. I do not say that hon. Members below the Gangway have not a real interest of the welfare of Ireland; I am sure they have—perhaps they would say a greater interest than I have—but they may be the victims of circumstance, which I am not, and, of course, if the trade in Ireland are very strong supporters of the United Irish League, no one can blame them for standing up for their own interests. It is quite a natural thing for a man to use his position in the House to defend those interests Which are really his own, but are there not other people in Ireland as well as the trade, are there not the victims of these local spirit grocers to be looked after? Is it not time that illicit drinking to the detriment of the working men's homes should be restricted as far as the House can do it? I appeal to them in the interest of the welfare of the people of their own country to consider seriously whether the exemption of Ireland will not be sufficient to keep alive the evil which undoubtedly exists? The Report says with reference to Belfast:Legislation is sorely needed to deal with this evil, which brings misery and ruin to the houses principally of the working class, but to be effective it should to a great extent restrict the grant of spirit grocers' licences. This city abounds with spirit groceries which form a training ground for the formation of habits which lead to misery and poverty. The spirit grocers have developed a profitable business in illegal sales, which are hard to detect and still harder to prove to the satisfaction of the local magistrates.That paragraph is worthy of their serious consideration. I quite agree that the poverty of Ireland is very alarming and pitiful, but it must not be forgotten that Ireland drinks over £14,000,000 a year, and that she cannot afford it. For hon. 488 Members to get up in this House and represent that they represent all Ireland when they ask that Ireland should be exempted from the licensing Clauses of the Bill is preposterous. I ask the Government to consider seriously the concessions they propose to make as regards Ireland. I believe that a large majority of the people of the country are against the making of concessions.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I was absent from the House for a very brief period— as we all have to be absent since the dinner hour was abolished—and I find on coming back that there is a new Licensing Bill, which has been born of the prolific brain of the Prime Minister during the short interval between a quarter-past eight and the present moment. It is a most extraordinary position. I have protested more than once against the habit which the Government have of springing new Bills upon us without notice, and making promises with regard to Amendments to be carried out in Bills which are not put into shape until they are on the very eve of discussion, and even then they are probably entirely altered before being put from the Chair. Now it seems that the Prime Minister has thought fit to announce an alteration of the whole, mode of valuation in Ireland under this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I did not hear the Prime Minister's speech, and I was obliged to collect the import of it from those who did hear it. Am I wrong in saying that the right hon. Gentleman announced that the valuation in Ireland is not to be that embodied in Clause 30 of the Bill? On what is that change based? It is based, as I understand, upon the fact that the Irish brewer is a small brewer, that the Irish publican is a small publican, and that the trade carried on by the Irish publican is a mixed trade. All these facts, I presume, were known to the Government when they brought in the Bill. They have had time to discover them if they did not know them at the beginning of April. They have had May, June, July, and August to discover them. They have been peculiarly blessed among other Members of this Committee, if they have not received innumerable letters from every species of affected individual on all aspects of the questions raised by this Budget. They must therefore have been perfectly acquainted with every single subject and with the broader aspects of those problems for months. Why have we never been told that they intended to make 489 a substantial alteration in the shape of their Bill?
I myself put a question to the Government before the last sitting of the Committee as to whether there was any substantial Amendment proposed in this part of the Bill. The Prime Minister, if I remember aright, assured me that there were no substantial alterations to be made in the Bill. When did the Prime Minister become aware of the substantial alterations which he now announces, and which are now vaguely adumbrated, but of which he has given us, as far as I can discover, no very clear or precise account? I have no doubt that all this is a matter of arrangement with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. It is not my business to quarrel with any arrangement which the Government choose to make with their habitual supporters. When they depend, and in so far as they depend, on the support of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, they are perfectly entitled to justify that support by making any surrender which they think their Scotch and English Friends will tolerate. I do not see that it would be my business to quarrel with that Parliamentary diplomacy; but why were the Committee at large not informed that the Government meant to make some fundamental alterations in their treatment of Ireland in respect of these alterations in their Licensing Bill, and, if Ireland is to be specially treated, why is Scotland also not specially treated? I am utterly unable to understand how the Government, knowing all the facts as they must have known all the facts—they were brought to their notice by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and they have known them for months — were able to tell those attending this particular Committee some ten days ago that they did not contemplate any changes or alterations. When did they begin to make these changes and alterations? In what happy moment was it that they discovered that the Irish publican, the Irish brewer, and the Irish distiller had special grievances not applicable to his English or Scotch brother? When did they first learn that mixed trading is so admirable a thing that it should be encouraged by a special relaxation of the burdens put upon those who in this country are practically obliged to carry on a single trade? I listened in this House to the Postmaster-General struggling with some case in Ireland in which he had given, I think, some post office to a man who kept a public-house; and he was very apologetic in ex- 490 plaining that there was no alternative at all before him—that the one person of position in the place was the publican, and that he was the only possible person. There was a case of mixed trading. It was against that that the Postmaster-General was struggling in vain in this particular case, though, according to his own account in the House, he struggled successfully in a great many other cases. But now it appears that mixed trading is a virtue to be fiscally rewarded. The other theory they go upon is that the Irish publican and the Irish brewer are small publicans and small brewers. I have no doubt that is so. But I suppose there are small publicans in England, and I suppose there are small brewers in England. The case may be even the same in Scotland. Why, may I ask, does the small publican in Ireland and the small brewer in Ireland receive treatment different from his equally small brother in England and in Scotland 1 After all you may carry these political bargains too far. You may sacrifice too much for the support of a very able and not inconsiderable party in this House, but you are really going too far when you pay that the small Irish publican or the small Irish brewer is in a wholly different situation from the small English publican and the small English brewer, and must therefore be taxed at a smaller rate, must receive preferential treatment, and must be put on a different scale. That policy, which I think utterly wrong in itself, becomes perfectly scandalous as a matter of Parliamentary dealing when you keep your counsel. I suppose this is an old bargain; it was not made yesterday or the day before; it is an old bargain, I do not know how old, but perhaps the Government can tell me when they made this arrangement. At all events, they did not make it to-day. It was not the powerful speeches of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway which convinced the Prime Minister that he must extend preferential treatment to the small Irish brewer or the small Irish publican. It was not the mere power of eloquence and argument; it was evidently and plainly a long negotiation ending in a treaty. I think we should have been informed of the results of that Treaty. We do not ask to be required to accept it, to condone it, or to give our assent to it. But now we have the fact that the Government asks us to-day to discuss a Bill upon which the draftsmen and the Ministry have had a. holiday for discussion among themselves. For ten days or more they have had it in 491 their power to put down all the Amendments they desire, and they have had leisure to put down all the conditions they meant to introduce; yet they come down to the House, and, with all the airs of a Ministry open to argument, pretend to an amazed, and, I am bound to say, sceptical audience that they for the first time understand where the poor Irish brewer and the unhappy Irish publican stand, and the dreadful condition of these unfortunate people attacked by their Budget, and whose unexpected misfortunes have for the first time been brought home to them at 8.30 p.m. on 1st September, 1909. That is asking for a great amount of credulity from this Committee, and is really drawing cheques upon it which cannot be honoured to the full extent. I make no complaint of any arrangement they choose to make, but I do say the Committee as a whole are monstrously used by the Government, who come down and in this way pretend that for the first time they have got to consider these questions that they have had in their minds all these weeks. Even now they have not got the words in their box; certainly they have not put the words on the Paper which would have embodied the new proposals by which they, as I understand, intend to give a preferential treatment to the small brewer and the small publican in Ireland which they will not, or dare not, extend to their English or Scotch friends.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is quite obvious from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, even if he had not told us so, that he did not hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (the Prime Minister). If he had had the advantage of listening to the statement of the Prime Minister he would not have used such language of such gross and patent exaggeration. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw, withdraw."]
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
To suggest that the alterations foreshadowed by my right hon. Friend amount to flinging a new Bill at the head of the House—
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
A new Licensing Bill at the head of the House was the phrase used, and can only be described as a gross exaggeration. What are the cir- 492 cumstances? The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government propose to give special privileges to the small Irish brewer. No such suggestion was made from the opposite side of the House; and no such suggestion was for a moment contemplated by the Prime Minister. If there is to be any distinction made, and my right hon. Friend merely promised to give the matter consideration, since it was a point, as he himself said, which was raised for the first time, and which had been brought to the attention of none of us before — the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) must accept my statement—no representations, so far as I am aware, have been made on behalf of the small brewer in Ireland, no special representations have been made—
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am coming to the publican in a moment. The point, as the right hon. Gentleman (the Prime Minister) said, was new to him. He promised to give it his consideration, not, of course, solely with reference to Ireland. If any change in the scale is made, and I do not say for a moment it will be made, in the Licence Duty imposed on brewers whose operations are carried on in varying scales of magnitude, of course that alteration will apply to the whole of the throe Kingdoms. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) attacked us vehemently for an alteration which he suggested is to be made for the benefit solely of the small publican in Ireland because he was an Irishman as part of some corrupt or secret bargain with hon. Members opposite, the terms of which were not yet upon the Paper, although we are almost immediately approaching the Clause to which they belong. The alteration that is to be made is in respect of the fact that the Irish publican, as a rule, carries on his business, as the Prime Minister said, under completely different conditions from the English publican. First the rateable value is a rateable value on premises not wholly devoted to the sale of liquor, but the rateable value is on premises the greater part of which is used for the sale of commodities of other kinds, and where you are applying a minimum scale based upon population you are not asserting equality as between two parts of the United Kingdom if in Great Britain, where the publicans devote the whole of their premises to the liquor business, you propose the same scale as in Ireland, where 493 in the vast majority of cases the publican's I premises are needed for other purposes. The Amendment, so far from being soon reached, will not be reached until we get to the Schedule; and before then a considerable time must elapse, during which serious consideration can be given to the matter. With reference to valuation, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that by our new proposals we are making a complete change in the law. Nothing of the kind. [An HON. MEMBER: "In the Bill."] Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman; I should be sorry to misrepresent anything he said. He suggested that we were suddenly adumbrating a new scheme of valuation in Ireland, especially for the benefit of Ireland.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
What I said was that the Bill suggested one scheme of valuation, and the Government now for the first time suggested that we were going to have quite a different scheme—for the Bill.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Precisely, the new proposal is this: in England to adopt for public-houses the present system of valuation; in Scotland, to do the same, and in Ireland to do the same; whereas in the. Bill as it stood, we proposed to apply the English and Scottish system of valuation to Ireland for the first time, making a complete change in the law. In deference to strong representations which have been made from that country—after all, the elected representatives of the people are not to be treated altogether as of no account—the great revolution which the right hon. Gentleman says has been suddenly sprung upon the House of Commons consists merely in leaving the law as it has stood ever since 1880.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Amendment will consist merely in leaving out a single line of the repeal Schedule at the end of the Bill.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Thus the Committee will at once perceive that when reduced to their true proportions the changes which have been made in no way justify the exaggerated language of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I really regret that the Prime Minister has not been here to listen to the defence made for him and his Government by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. H. Samuel). The critics of the attitude of the Government will wish for nothing better than the speech just delivered. I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman's temperance supporters like the principles of morality or policy therein enunciated. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) complained that the Government made great changes in their Bill without notice. What does the right hon. Gentleman say? "All that we have done is this: We proposed in our Bill to apply to Ireland the system applicable to England and Scotland. But the Trish Members do not like it; the elected representatives of the people have a right to be heard; there are some 80 Votes which we cannot afford to lose, but which we shall lose if we attempt to impose upon their constituents a burden which falls upon Englishmen and Scotsmen; therefore we now think it would be better that the burden should not extend to Ireland, but should be confined to England and Scotland." That is the little change which the Government announce at the last moment. At Question time to-day I asked the Government whether the Amendments which they had now placed on the Paper expressed their mind upon the licensing proposals, or whether they had other changes in contemplation of which the House had as yet got no notice? I need scarcely say—I was going to say that they had taken care!—but I will put it differently—by a fortunate accident no Minister who knew what was their mind was present. The Prime Minister was absent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was absent. The Chancellor of the Duchy was absent.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I will not follow the course suggested to me by the interruption from the hon. Gentleman opposite. It would be too invidious if I mentioned all the Ministers who were here, but none of whom had the slightest idea of what were the intentions of the Government. I confine myself to the statement that there was no Minister in the House who could answer that question, and the Government—who, I think, had given an assurance to my right hon. Friend before we parted from this Bill 10 days ago that we should have full notice of the Amend- 495 ments on the Licensing Clauses—have failed to carry out their promise. Here at the very first moment that we approach their licensing proposals they spring an entirely new proposal upon us! The right hon. Gentleman did attempt to offer an excuse in the case of the small brewer. He made—and for that we, at any rate, are grateful—one addition to the statement made by the Prime Minister. He announced that whatever concession was made to the small brewer in Ireland would be of universal application. But why, if the brewer in England and Scotland is to be treated as the brewer in Ireland, is not the publican in England and Scotland to be treated as the publican in Ireland? The Chancellor of the Duchy repudiated with scorn that there should have been contemplated any differentiation of treatment between the small brewer in our island and the small brewer in another island of the United Kingdom. In the next breath he went on to say that the small publican was to be treated differently to the other. Now, he says, the case of the small brewer was brought to the notice of the Government for the first time this evening. I am speaking within the recollection of the Committee, or those who here attended those discussions throughout, when I say that the right hon. Gentleman is misinformed. The Government are managing this Bill by compartments. The hon. Gentlemen who manage one compartment do not attend to the discussions on the other compartments. Accordingly, they do not know what has happened.
But I was on this Bench and heard the case of the small brewer in Ireland put exactly as it was put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North County Dublin who put it this evening. I have heard the full statement of the great growth of Guinness's, and the way it has thrashed out or threatened to thrash out the others. The hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) put exactly the same case several weeks ago. The Minister in charge of the Bill, I think, undertook to consider it. It is quite untrue to say the Government had no notice of these cases when inside this House. The right hon. Gentleman justified the differentiation in the case of the Irish publican from the case of the English publican upon the ground that the Irish publican is a mixed trader. He is not always a mixed trader; he is often, but not always. Hitherto, at any rate, amongst those who profess to speak specially for temperance reform, that has been thought 496 a regrettable thing which should be discouraged and avoided wherever possible. The Government, on the contrary, are going to encourage it, but in Ireland only, and for the publican only. They do not propose to extend the same privilege to the mixed trader who sells groceries in England or in Scotland. They have not the same sympathy with him. I will not say of what character the bargain is, for I think the Chancellor of the Duchy has sufficiently revealed it. Eighty gentlemen whose support he could afford to lose have issued their command. The right hon. Gentleman the Member from the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker) and the hon. Member for Westmoreland (Mr. Leif Jones) and their colleagues are thrown over; they do not weigh 80 votes in the scale. The high temperance principles the Government profess, and which they are ready to fulminate on special platforms, go to the wall at once in face of a little Parliamentary pressure, and this announcement was made at the last moment, singularly ungratefully, as a result of the political necessities of the Government.
§ Mr. R. G. GLENDINNING
I am sorry that the Prime Minister has seen his way to differentiate in this matter of the Licence Duties. I have had repeated letters from leading Protestant denominations which number from 1,200,000 to 1,250,000. The Presbyterians passed a resolution endorsing the action of the Government in their Licensed Duties, the Methodists did the same thing, the Episcopalians in all their temperance associations did the same. I cannot imagine a greater calamity possible to Ireland than that it should be treated in this matter different to the rest of the United Kingdom. Ireland is a poor country, and one of the reasons for that is the consumption of drink. We spend £14,000,000 per annum in drink, and we are to be facilitated by the statement of the Prime Minister tonight to go on in that direction. We have helped Ireland as far as we can in reference to the Land Bill. I want to see Ireland a prosperous and a sober country, and that is not to be done by the statement of the Prime Minister. The hon. and learned Member opposite said that in Ireland there was no such thing as a tied house. Perhaps in the sense in which the term is understood in England that statement is true, but I may point out that in Cork alone three-fourths of the public-houses are owned by two firms. In Belfast half the trade is run by the wholesale publicans who supply the money. They 497 may allow the dealers to participate, in the profits, but I call them to all intents and purposes tied houses. Therefore, to make the statement that there are no tied houses in Ireland is misleading. Mixed trading has been referred to, and the percentage has been given as 71.2. That may be so, but mixed trading in the City of Belfast means that a number of dealers carry on a grocery trade which is carried on as a cloak for selling liquor. There may be two or three of the larger concerns which have legitimate licences, but that is not the general rule in Belfast. I should be sorry to think that Ireland requires any different treatment in this respect than any other part of the United Kingdom. There is at least 1,250,000 of the Protestant population scattered all over Ireland, who endorse the financial Clauses of this Bill, and I hope the Government will think better of their action than to concede any different terms to Ireland to those which they propose to apply to the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. J. C. FLYNN
The hon. Member who has just spoken has dealt with only one portion of this subject. May I remind him that this is not a temperance measure but a Finance Bill. These are fiscal proposals, and it is on that ground that we are dealing now with the proposals of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire came down to the House in a fine frenzy of indignation, and discovered, or pretended to have discovered, after some hours absence, that some terrible conspiracy had been entered into between the Prime Minister and hon. Members sitting below the Gangway. This, however, is capable of a much more simple explanation. As a matter of fact this alleged conspiracy must have been hatched, perfected, and all its conditions fulfilled within about an "hour and a half. [OPPOSITION cries of "Why?"] Because the Liquor Clause of Part II. of the Bill only came on this evening for discussion. For weeks and months the Committee have been engaged in the difficult and laborious work of discussing the Land Clauses. We had only disposed of the, Land Clauses a short time after Questions this afternoon, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford got up at the earliest possible stage. It is really too much to ask the Committee to believe that this terrible conspiracy has been hatched since then. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of drawing on the credulity of the Committee. Is he not inspiring the imagination of his followers 498 in a rather over-sanguine manner? The question is plain. There ought to be a differentiation between the treatment of public-houses in Ireland, England and Scotland, for the obvious reasons enunciated by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). It is at any rate permissible for an Irish Member to call the attention of the Committee to this point, because, whatever may be the difference in the view of Englishmen and Scotchmen with regard to licensing reforms, we Irishmen have nothing to do with any quarrel between this House and the House of Lords, or between one side of the House and the other. For the first time you bring the Irish publican in and impose a tax upon him. Why should that be so? The Leader of the Opposition was for a considerable time Chief Secretary of Ireland, and he has some knowledge—I confess it is limited —of that country. He must know there is no comparison between the small public-house in the county town and scattered rural districts of Ireland which engage in mixed trading and the gin palace or the large public-house in England which retails nothing but drink; and surely you should not carry out the principle of cast iron rigidity and identity of treatment, and apply to the furnishing public-house and to a poor and unprosperous trade in Ireland the same treatment as you extend to the gin palace and a powerful and wealthy trade in England.
I cannot complain of the right hon. Gentleman wishing to obtain an obvious advantage. But I can assure hon. Members that the Irish representatives, in the action they are taking, are acting in the interests of Ireland and not in defence of any particular interest. We hold no brief for the trade—for brewers or for distillers. There are in our party men who are as staunch teetotallers as are to be found in any part of this House; men who have worked and will continue to work for the temperance cause. Others among us take a different view. We are all quite as sincere in our views as the hon. Member for Worcester; but we stand independent of all sections of the trade. It is a matter of common knowledge that among the leading distillers of Dublin and Belfast are men who have proved themselves out and out opponents of Home Rule, who are bitterly opposed to the national demands which we are voicing; therefore, how can it be for one moment suggested that we are actuated by any desire to serve the trade? The 499 Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has the support of the whole Irish party; I hope it will also have the support of those who believe in fair treatment. We are voicing popular opinion in Ireland; we are protesting against further attempts to impose fresh burdens of taxation upon our people.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. Member who last spoke, with considerable simplicity seeks to repel the charge that he and his friends have entered into a conspiracy with the Government; he denies that there has been a deal which has secured for the Irish publican, and to some extent the Irish brewer, advantages which are not extended to English and Scotch publicans and brewers. How does the hon. Member seek to meet that suggestion? With a simplicity which, I confess, astonishes me, he says: "How can there be any such conspiracy? Why, the liquor clauses have only been under discussion since eight o'clock this evening!" But it has never been suggested on these benches that the deal was made during the progress of the Debate in the House of Commons. If the persuasions embodied in the speeches of hon. Members for Ireland had been effective in extorting concessions, there might have been adequate justification for the omission of the Government to put the Amendments on the Paper at a time which would afford a reasonable opportunity of examining them. The deal has been made, not during these perfectly spontaneous harangues to which we have listened, but at some earlier period, and the only reason we can assign for the omission of the Government to place on the Paper the results of the deal in the form of Amendments is that they thereby deprive us on this side of an opportunity of discussing them with some knowledge of their meaning and tendency.
A conclusion, if I may say so, about this category of the hon Gentleman's arguments, is not assisted by his observations as to the precise moment when the so-called conspiracy was hatched. The hon. Member, in dealing with the fact that these small houses in Ireland were apparently to secure some special treatment, said they bore no really great relation to the great gin palaces which existed in England. That is no doubt true, and as far as I am able to appreciate the argument of the hon. Gentleman, it 500 comes to this, that there may be some special reason why we should impose some special restriction upon our gin palaces in England, but you ought to grant an exemption when you are dealing: with small houses in Ireland; but surely the Prime Minister, in one of his illuminating expeditions into the Debate in regard to the purely financial character of this Bill, has dealt with this. The right hon. Gentleman said the Chancellor of the Exchequer was perfectly justified in regard to his Liquor Licence Duties, considering whether the effect might not be to discourage the growth and existence of some of the worst class of small houses. What is the effect of that? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is prompted and encouraged by the Prime Minister, in a Bill which the Prime Minister has said is purely a Fiscal Bill, and is said to be entitled to discriminate in order that small houses may be destroyed at the same moment at which the party which has just made the alliance with the Government comes forward and says the arrangement is to be justified, because it spares small houses in comparison with large houses.
The Chancellor of the Duchy in the speech which he made a short time ago accused my right hon. Friend of gross and patent exaggeration. The Chancellor of the Duchy invariaby, in every proposal that he recommends to the House, is in the habit of doing so in a manner which, if I may use the expression, is too cocksure, that is, if he will allow me to say so without offence, not very far removed from offensiveness. Having commenced, with the assigned purpose before himself of saying that my right hon. Friend had been guilty of gross and patent exaggeration, how did the right hon. Gentleman proceed to establish that proposition? He complained of the statement made by my right hon. Friend that when he entered the House he found we were discussing a new Licensing Bill. I should have thought my right hon. Friend was abundantly justified in that misconception, considering that the two speakers who spoke after his entry into the House were concerned with no subject at all, except as to whether the natural and inevitable, consequence of this purely Fiscal Bill would not be to encourage the drinking habits of women, or the closing of a certain number of public-houses. If that does not justify the description of a new Licensing Bill I cannot conceive what 501 would be an adequate defence of the remark of my right hon. Friend. Throughout this discussion the remark has been made frequently as to how it is that this new Amendment is not on the Paper, and the Chancellor of the Duchy says it is not on the Paper because so far as he knows the suggestion has never been made before, and the exception has never been suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think that he is much in error on that point, as gentlemen who are in the habit of stating their opinions so confidently, not infrequently are, because I find, if one looks at the proceedings of a deputation of the Irish trade to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on June 14th, that Mr. Russell had an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the Irish trade, and he said:—In 1880, in response to representations made, Mr. Gladstone inserted in the Act of that year a section which provided that annual value in Ireland was to be Griffith's valuation, plus a sum not to exceed 20 per cent. Mr. Lloyd-George, after hearing this suggestion made to him, promised the deputation that he would reconsider the case of the mixed trader, with the full licence hours and also the question of the population limit in respect of the minimum duty in Ireland.So that on June 14th every specific point and every individual argument which has been used from these Benches in the course of this Debate, and which were relied on by the Prime Minister as a justification for his spontaneous concessions, were most fully placed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is under a misapprehension. I was referring to the brewers—to the particular point about the new Licence Duty on the small brewer.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
Of course, that part of the speech of the hon. Member which the right hon. Gentleman purported to be answering was in no way so confined, but contained a general complaint of the failure of the Government to put their Amendment on the Paper. While I fully accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to the intended scope of his own observations, that the small brewer was at that time before him, I assure him that he conveyed the impression very clearly to me, and I think to many around me, that the whole of those representations, which had elicited the promise of the right hon. Gentleman, were new to him and had never been raised before. Every one of those representations had been made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he promised to give them considera- 502 tion. If there had been a misunderstanding in anything that the Chancellor of the Duchy said, it is fortunately at the hours at which we conduct our protracted discussions, no irreparable objection to further explanation on the part of the Government with the full facts before them. I may, therefore, now, perhaps, ask that some other member, either the Prime Minister, or, perhaps, even some of those right hon. Gentlemen who are more eloquent in the country than in the House, will take an opportunity of explaining how it was that having had every one of these grievances, of which the Prime Minister quite obviously had never heard before, before them, having known since June 14th that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised to reconsider the case of the mixed trader and also the case of the population limit, the House of Commons is kept in complete ignorance of the whole proposal until the conclusion of the speeches made from below the Gangway.
It is no part of my duty to teach the Irish Party with what arguments they could commend the suggestion that it was reasonable to differentiate the case of Ireland from the case of England. I do not assent to the force of the contention at all myself, but I think I could have found a better argument had I been a Member of the Irish Party than I have yet heard. I will tell the House what I conceive—[An HON. MEMBER: "Don't."] The hon. Gentleman's own contributions to our Debates are not of a particularly articulate description, and we are glad to welcome even a monosyllabic contribution from him. There was considerable reason why the case of Ireland should be differentiated, and I will tell the committee what I conceive the justification to be. It has never been concealed from either the House of Commons or the country that the real justification of these licence duties is, that they are imposed as a punishment on the licensed victuallers' trade because the Licensing Bill was thrown out by the House of Lords. I do not need to quote the expression as to "swingeing duties" of the Lord Advocate, and the phrases which were expressed with so much elegance and taste by the President of the Board of Trade. The House will recollect the phrase in which he advised the members of the licensed trade when assembled round the flowing bowl drinking the health of the House of Lords, to remember that Budgets are beyond the control of that assembly. If I were an Irish member, and wished to develop a reason why Ireland should be 503 differentially treated from England, I should put the case in this way: "Here you have the admission of every minister who has spoken that the intention is to punish the licensed trade because the House of Lords rejected the English Licensing Bill. We in Ireland did not reject the Licensing Bill. Not only did we not reject the English Licensing Bill, but it did not even apply to us. Why is Ireland, which has never rejected anything, to have these duties imposed, which by universal admission are only to be imposed to punish the licensed trade because the Licensing Bill was rejected by the House of Lords?" I do not pretend that that is a very good argument. [Nationalist cheers.] I will tell hon. Members below the Gangway who cheer my modest argument that it is incomparably more cogent than any advanced by them, or any that has received the adhesion of the corrupt, in the political sense, Government of Ireland.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
After the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith), I doubt if the front Opposition Bench or the party above the Gangway can any longer claim that they did not know what the intentions of the Government were in respect of the Amendment before the Committee to-night. We now know, at all events, from the hon. and learned Member, that on 14th June he knew well what we were leading up to, and I have not the smallest doubt that his leaders were equally well apprised of what our intentions were at least. I should have wished indeed that my hon. and learned Friend and his leaders had offered some serious answer to the speeches which have been delivered, not only by the Government, but also by those who sit around me. We have not had any serious answer from his quarter of the House. We have not had any argument except that advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, in which he himself feels no confidence whatever. He has stated in his last words that his reasons were not sound or good. He has endeavoured to lecture us as to the grounds on which we ought to base our position, and then he has stated that they were not good grounds. Instead of serious speeches this evening we have heard a great deal of indignation from the Front Opposition Benches because, for- 504 sooth, the Government pay some attention to the representations of Irish Members. Is the present Government the only Government that has paid attention to the representations of Irish Nationalists? Do we not remember—it is not so long ago—in the year 1903 when the representations of Irish Members in respect of the settlement of the land question were accepted and agreed upon by those who now occupy the Front Opposition Bench? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. A. Chamberlain) blamed the Government very seriously because by their acceptance of the suggestions this evening they were seeking to get 85 Irish votes. Is the present Government the only Government that sought the assistance of 85 Irish votes? I remember many years before 1903 that I myself and other Members that sit around me were upon Tory plat-forms up and down the country trying to get a majority for the poor Tory party that were seeking then to come into power. They held out high hopes to us at that time of a Home Rule Bill if only they could get a majority. There was no objection then on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcestershire—I suppose he was too young— but there were those who are sitting round about him now who accepted our aid and who would accept it again, I am sure; and it may come to pass before I die, or before I leave this House, I may have the peculiar satisfaction of standing upon the same platform with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, and probably with my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down, endeavouring to get them returned to this House by the aid of the Irish vote in Great Britain, and the support of the 85 Irish Nationalist Members will not be despised then as the hon. Gentlemen have despised it this evening. I listened to two very similar speeches this evening. Those who delivered them are not now here. They have retired after their great labour.
The hon. Members for South Belfast (Mr. T. Sloan) and North Antrim (Mr. R. Glendinning) delivered two very powerful speeches, but they were entirely out of place. They were temperance speeches. They were speeches that have been delivered" upon scores of occasions that I remember in this House. They were speeches which I have heard before and probably shall hear again, and they will be in their proper place when we are discussing temperance. They are 505 entirely out of place when we are discussing the fiscal question and the taxation of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Antrim said that Ireland is a poor country, and it does seem most illogical that he should follow that up by saying that because she is a poor country we will tax her more and drag more money out of her. We were told by the hon. Member for South Belfast that all our supporters in Ireland—bishops, priests and our Constituents—have come over here, and on their bended knees almost have begged us to support the proposals of the Government, saying that we were going outside our mandate in seeking to alter those proposals. It stands to reason that, if we are opposing those who have come here to bring pressure to bear upon us, we are in a very false and insecure position in making the suggestions we have made. It has also been stated that no representations have been made by public bodies in Ireland in support of our attitude and our suggestions. That is not a correct statement. I have here a printed resolution which has been passed by every county council, every district council, and every corporation in the south and west of Ireland. That resolution protests in the strongest manner against any further taxation of Ireland; against any further dragging of money out of an over-taxed country, a country declared by the Royal Commission to be over-taxed. This resolution having been passed in the manner I have described, I am surprised that the hon. Member for South Belfast should make a statement so far from the real facts of the case as that which he has made to the Committee. I would suggest one good reason why there should be differentiation in respect of the valuation of public-houses in Ireland and in England. Has there not been already differentiation? Has there not been a Licensing Act passed by the Leader of the Opposition whereby compensation is given in respect of Irish licences suppressed? What is the use of compensation? Why, like charity, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. It is a blessing to those licencees whose licences are not suppressed, because their trade is increased by reason of the suppression of other licences. It is also a blessing to those whose licences are suppressed because they are sent away full-handed. In Ireland there is no such provision. In Ireland there is differentiation, and if in all the licence proposals and Acts that have been passed for Great Britain and Ireland there 506 is great and wide differentiation, why should not there be differentiation in the future, if such differentiation be just?
We all know in Ireland, those of us who are intimately acquainted with the social and commercial condition of the country, that the public-house in Ireland is a different institution from the public-house in Great Britain. The licensed house in Ireland is not merely a public-house, it is very often the very smallest part of the house that is devoted to the sale of liquor. The other parts of a long shop, perhaps, are devoted to the sale of ironware, soft goods, groceries, or it may be a bakery, and one small corner is devoted to the sale of liquor. How can you treat the valuation of that house as you would treat the valuation of great gin palaces in London, in Manchester, or in the constituency of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just engaged the attention of the Committee with so much pretty badinage and persiflage, for which the hon. and learned Gentleman is remarkable since he came-into this House. I wish he had devoted himself to the consideration of the subject in a more profound manner than that in which he did. I do allow that I am very much pleased, very much amused, to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman from time to time, just as I am pleased and amused when I hear my favourite actor or my favourite actress. The hon. and learned Gentleman always excites my sense of amusement and pleasure in that respect, and I trust that whatever fortunes may befall his party in the future it will be my lot to hear him very frequently in many Parliaments to come. I rose to make these few observations, not because I intended to address the Committee at all or at any length, but the-observations I have made have been provoked by the speeches that I have listened to, by the want of argument that has distinguished and characterised those speeches, and to express the very great disappointment that I have felt because the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who endeavoured to answer the speeches that were delivered this evening failed to do so in any measure that would bring conviction to any reasonable mind that the Government were wrong in accepting the suggestions that have been made from these Benches on this matter of immense importance to the Irish people.
§ 12.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HORATIO BOTTOMLEY
I do not propose to follow any of the previous speakers into any attempt to further 507 elucidate the mystery of the alleged compact which has brought the Committee to its present position. So far as I have been able to observe the working of the machine I imagine some such compacts always will be in course of being arranged at the back of Mr. Speaker's chair. I did not understand the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to express any disapproval of such compacts per se. His complaint, I think, was that the result of this particular one was not placed on the Paper of the House in order that we might have the opportunity of considering it before it was sprung upon it. I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John O'Connor) was really in error in attributing any such complaint on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to the compact itself. So far as the Amendment itself is concerned, I intend to vote with the Irish party. I do so for two reasons. First of all, because in all matters exclusively Irish, whilst under party government, knowing nothing more than a mere observer can learn of the actual facts, I feel in safer company with the accredited representatives of the country than in that of other people. I do not know whether from the point of view of Ireland or of temperance it is a good thing that the mixed trade should go on in connection with the licensed trade. It may be that to value premises which are only to a small extent concerned in the trade at the entire annual value would be a gross injustice to the licensee. On the other hand, it may be an advantage that men carrying on any section of the licensed tirade, finding themselves with burdens suddenly imposed upon them in connection with that trade, should have an opportunity of recouping some of that burden by other portions of their business. It may or may not be a good thing that the Irish grocer should be permitted to sell whisky in thimbles or any other infinitesimal measure which the peculiar and moderate tastes and habits of the Irish people demand. In all these things, like the Leader of the Opposition in regard to other matters, I am a mere child, and I shall follow the Irish party.
But I have another motive in following them to-night. They have succeeded in convincing the Government that where there is hardship under these provisions of the Finance Bill there shall be concessions; and I am not without hope that, 508 when we get away from Ireland and come to England, and we are able to show similar cases of hardship, the Government will feel bound not to refuse to the Englishman engaged in the same trade the treatment they have extended to Ireland. I noticed with qualified satisfaction that the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Samuel), when replying to the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the small brewery, took upon himself, in. the absence of the Prime Minister, to say that if any concession were made to the small brewer in Ireland, it would be made equally to the small brewer in England and Scotland. I hope that that will not be one of those unauthorised declarations made in the absence and without the knowledge of the Prime Minister. In the absence of any disclaimer—I notice the Prime Minister has an expression of curiosity on his face just now—I take it that any concession to the small Irish brewer will be made equally to the small English or Scottish brewer. If that be so, any concession to the small publican in cases of hardship in Ireland must be given to English and Scottish small publicans. The mixed trader we have not over here. He may be a necessity in Ireland; again, I do not know. But throughout these licensing discussions we have always been told, whether under the Licensing Bill or under the fiscal edition of the Licensing Bill, that the object to be aimed at is to eradicate and annihilate the small, irresponsible, and more or less uncontrolled members of the licensed trade. But now, because a man is a small man in the trade he is to be entitled to special consideration. I do—and with this I conclude—urge upon the Prime Minister to prepare himself for the many appeals which will come to him before this discussion is over for consideration of an equally generous character towards the small brewers and small licensed traders in this country. I hope when the time comes that we shall not be told that that particular speech on the part of the Chancellor of the Duchy is not binding upon the Government. I hope that we shall not also be told that what may be a political party consideration in that section of the House counts for nothing when it comes from this unauthorised quarter.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 250.511
|Division No. 582.]||AYES.||[12.8 a m.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Healy, T. M. (Leuth, North)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Hogan, Michael||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Boland, John||Hunt, Rowland||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Joyce, Michael||O'Malley, William|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kavanagh, Walter M.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Kilbride, Denis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Reddy, M.|
|Crean, Eugene||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lundon, Thomas||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Doughty, Sir George||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacVeiqh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||M'Kean, John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|Field, William||Mooney, J. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Muldoon, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ginnell, L.||Murphy, John|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Nannetti Joseph P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nolan, Joseph||Patrick O'Brien and Mr. Havlland-|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid)||Burke.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Agnew, George William||Crooks, William||Hill, Sir Clement|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Curran, Peter Francis||Hills, J. W.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol S.)||Hudson, Walter|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duckworth, Sir James||Jenkins, J.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Elibank, Master of||Johnson-Hicks, William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Kelley George D.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Everett, R. Lacey||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Beale, W. P.||Falconer, James||Keswick, William|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fenwick, Charles||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lambert, George|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lamont, Norman|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Forster, Henry William||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Brace, William||Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham)|
|Branch, James||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fullerton, Hugh||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Bright, J. A.||Furness, Sir Christopher||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Glendinning, R. G.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Glover, Thomas||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lupton, Arnold|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Byles, William Pollard||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edm'ds.)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gulland, John W.||Maclean, Donald|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hamilton, Marquess of||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Cecil, Eveyn (Aston Manor)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Clough, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Harwood, George||Mond, A.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hedges, A. Paget||Morrell Philip|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Helmsley, Viscount||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Myer, Horatio|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Tomkinson, James|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rowlands, J.||Toulmin, George|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Ure, Rt Hon. Alexander|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Scott, A. H (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Waring, Walter|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Shaw, Sir Charles Edward||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Pointer, Joseph||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pollard, Dr.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Watt, Henry A.|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Radford, G. H.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Starkey, John R.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Renton, Leslie||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||Summerbell, T.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Winfrey, R.|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Roberts. S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Robinson, S.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
§ Mr. WILLIAM PEARCE
moved, after the word "paid" ["paid on the licences "], to insert the words "except on licences for sale within the County of London."
Unfortunately, I do not possess the Parliamentary experience or the powers of persuasion possessed by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, but I appeal to the Government to make the same concession which they have just made to Ireland to London. I think it will be admitted that London in this matter is in an exceptional position. I only need to quote the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, who said he did not believe that annual value in the provinces represented anything like 50 per cent. of the real value, but in London annual value approximated to its real value. With regard to the assessment, the proportion of trade is not in proper relation in London to the rest of the country. Besides, in London it is quite clear that the expenses of general management are very much higher than in the rest of the country. So that really London is on a different plane to the rest of the United Kingdom. Under the old duties on beer-houses and public-houses alone, leaving out hotels, London paid £195,951, and that happens to be about one-tenth of the total sum paid in the whole of the United Kingdom. The population may be calculated on the same basis. The population of the area of London I am referring to is 4,500,000, and, roughly, the population of the United Kingdom is about 45,000,000. I am aware that it is proposed to institute a new valuation to take the place of 512 annual value, and this will get rid to a large extent of the hardships I am describing, but for the first year it is evident that this new valuation cannot obtain, and the duty in London will be levied on the annual value.
The London County Council have a return of the annual values for London, and from this it is perfectly evident that, when the annual value is the basis of the duty, London's share for public-houses and beer-houses alone will amount to £836,000. That means there will be a difference between the old duty and the new duty of £640,000, which will fall upon the County of London. I am aware that these figures are to some extent alleviated by concessions the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made in regard to public-houses of high rental value. Originally, this concession only applied to houses of £700 value, but the Government have decreased this to £500. I am, as a London Member, very grateful for that concession, but it does not go very far, because no account is taken of the sums to be raised from hotels, restaurants, and theatres. These amount to a very considerable sum, and, when that is taken from the figures raised on the high rented houses, it still leaves a total sum for London of something like £800,000. There will, therefore, be a difference between this Bill and the old duty, so far as the County of London is concerned, unless the Government see fit to consider the hardship of this case of nearly £600,000. Roughly, it is only desired to raise £2,000,000, and, unless the Government see fit to make some new 513 concession, London's share of that will amount to £600,000. This only applies to the first year. These figures are striking, and a hard case is certainly made out, and I appeal to the Government that in some form or other the position of London should be reconsidered. The heavy burden on the London trade, altogether out of proportion to their right share, should in some way be relieved. I am quite aware the brewers have not responded to the overtures of the Chancellor, and that has made it very difficult for anyone on these benches to speak in support of their case. At the same time, being a London representative, and knowing that the bulk of the London representation is in Liberal hands, I do think, when there is really an actual case of hardship as exists under the present proposal, it is the duty of a London member to put the case before the Government in the hope that in some way they may see fit to reconsider the position and alleviate this burden, which I am quite sure will be a crushing one on the trade of London as it at present exists. I do not think, if they are able to meet my point, they will be accused of having made a party bargain. That is not the case. I can only appeal to that consideration. I believe they have all through the Debates been prepared to give to a case which is really substantiated, and in the hope that they will do something to alleviate the London position I beg to move.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Amendment which the hon. Member has moved is intended to raise a discussion on the subject; it is not, of course, in a form which the hon. Member can possibly expect the Government to accept, for the proposal is to cut out not merely the new duties, but all Licence Duties affecting licensed premises in London. There is a difference between the case for London and that for the rest of the country, and it is due solely to the fact that in London, as compared with the rest of the country, there is a remarkable number of highly-assessed public-houses, and in the case of many of the public-houses the trade done is not altogether in proportion to the assessment which is placed on the licensed building. If it were the case that we were charging on highly assessed houses a Licence Duty equal to one-half of the annual value, there would be an undoubted hardship. Under the Bill as it stood, the licensee of a house of over £700 annual value had a right to have the compensa- 514 tion value assessed and to pay one-half of the equivalent of the compensation which, in the majority of cases, would be considerably less than if charged on the annual value.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
My right hon. Friend has stated, in reply to a deputation, that he is anxious to meet special grievances that may still remain in the case of London in respect of the new Licence Duties, and that is done by an Amendment which the Leader of the Opposition will be glad to know has been on the Paper some days. Licensed houses which have a value of over £500 may be assessed on their compensation value, and instead of paying one-half of the compensation value yearly they will only be required to pay one-third. This concession, according to the estimate of the Board of Customs and Excise, will, in itself, involve a loss of revenue to the extent of something like £300,000 a year. This is a very considerable concession, therefore, to the owners and licensees of the more highly assessed houses.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
No, to the country as a whole. But in the case of the 2,023 houses above £500, more than one-half are in London, and more than one-half of the benefit of the concession goes to the Metropolis. The next clause proposes that the valuation shall be made on similar lines for the whole of the public-houses of the country and it is probable that in the case of many houses in London of £200, £300, or £400 annual value some reduction of the Licence Duty payable will be found to accrue to them under this new basis of valuation. Further than that the Government cannot go, and they cannot accept the suggestion embodied in this Amendment, which would involve a still greater reduction.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It is a great relief to find that on one occasion, at any rate, the Government believe what they have put upon the Paper is right. It is not merely a relief but a surprise, as far as Parliamentary procedure is concerned, but when you come to the merits of the case, I confess I am not satisfied that the decision of the Government is right. I think it is an extraordinarily difficult question, but it does not seem to 515 me that it is confined to the house over £500 in value. If it were, we want a great deal more information before we could accept the obiter dictum of the Chancellor of the Duchy that there the case is fully met, and they have all the relief to which they were entitled by the alternative which the Chancellor's scheme affords to such houses. We have not had the official information of the Government, and we have had to gather it from other sources, but such information as I have had leads me to doubt the view taken by the Chancellor of the Duchy, that the concession of the Government will be at all as widespread in its effect or as available to the bulk of the individuals concerned as he thinks it is. But my object is not to discuss that now, but it is rather to say that even granting what the Chancellor urged upon that point, surely it does not meet the special case of London. The special case of London is that the assessments there are higher than the assessments of similar houses doing a similar trade elsewhere. The fact that a house over £500, whether in London or elsewhere, has an alternative method which it may adopt at its discretion, on which it is to be taxed, does not meet that case at all. The assessment of London is uniform throughout the whole district. It is carried out on uniform principles practically throughout the whole district.
I think it was admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Prime Minister that the assessment in London was a good assessment and a fair assessment from their point of view, but they contended that the country assessment was not, and I think it is generally admitted that the country assessment is not generally at as high a level in the case of like houses doing a like trade. If that be so then I do say that a simple proposal of the right hon. Gentleman to omit London would be feasible, if you are to have these new duties at all, but I do say that there is a case which the Government do not appear yet to have considered, for special treatment of London—special treatment for London, not of the kind which was promised just now to Ireland, and which was to put an Irishman in exactly similar circumstances to an Englishman, in a better position because he was an Irishman, not special treatment of London, which puts a man in a better position than any man doing business outside London, 516 but special treatment to prevent the Londoner being put in a different position, and to keep him in the same position as he would be if he were doing a similar trade outside. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deal with that point and did not disclose that it had ever occurred to him. There was a further observation which the Chancellor made as to which I should like a little information. He says the next Clause provides for a new valuation of these premises, and that that may become effective in future years. I am not quite certain what is the object of these provisions in the next Clause. Are they intended to supersede the existing valuation, and, if so, where is the provision in the Bill for that supersession? I see that this new valuation has a certain reference to the alternative, and is, in fact, the basis on which alone the alternative is offered to assessment on the present valuation. But did the Chancellor of the Duchy intend to inform the Committee that this new valuation was to supersede the old valuation in all cases after a short time, and was not merely to be an alternative option offered to the licensee?
§ Mr. JOHN GRETTON
The discussion this evening, first on the question of Ireland, and then on the question of London, appears to be a very excellent illustration of the extraordinary applicability of the system which the Government have introduced into the Bill for the taxation of licences. The Irish grievance was that the Government proposal places an extraordinary hardship on the small license-holders of Ireland. Now we have supporters of the Government saying this scale introduces extraordinary hardships in London because it presses so heavily upon the heavily rated and more expensive premises in the Metropolis. I believe there is substance behind those complaints, and they show that the Government is working on entirely wrong lines and that their system of the taxation of licences is not to be applied at the top or the lower end of the scale. But we have this great difficulty in discussing the case as regards London. No one has yet been able to fathom exactly what is the meaning of Clause 30, which is the alternative on which the London houses and those above £500 annual value have to rely for some relief against the overwhelming pressure of the increased charges proposed in the Schedule of the Bill. We ought to have 517 some indication of the nature and extent of the relief which the Government intend.
I have to the best of my ability gone into this question, and I have made a calculation as to how the proposals of the Government would work out, though it is not possible to ascertain on 48 hours' notice what will be the precise effect on licence holders. I have taken at random certain London houses which appear to be representative houses, without any previous bias as to what the result of the calculations would be. I find that in each of these cases the alternatives proposed by the Government under Clause 30 work out very much higher than under the scale of charges proposed in the Bill. I mention the case of one representative house which has an annual value of £500. Of course the scale proposed in the Schedule of the Bill would take the license value at £250. On the scale which the Government now suggest—one-third of the annual compensation value, whatever that may be, as ascertained under the Kennedy judgment, and as divided by some factor, say eleven or twelve—I have worked it out and the amount would be £472 instead of £250. That house is paying a Licence Duty of £60. I worked out another case where the annual value was £800. Of course, under the proposal which is adumbrated, the charge will be £657 against the present licence charge of £60. That is nearly eleven times as much. The charges certainly worked out rather lower in the case of the smaller houses. Every case which I have had the opportunity of investigating, under the scale of compensation value, works out higher than the overwhelmingly crushing charge of the scale which the Bill proposes. It is very clear that the relief which the Government are suggesting for the licensed trade of London, so far from being relief, is merely a cruel addition to the overwhelming burden which the London licensed trade is to be called upon to bear under these proposals. I think before we can go into the question before us with any accuracy, before we can attach the slightest value to the undertaking given by the Government, we should have some definite indication of what the Government mean by annual compensation value in Clause 30. The sooner that explanation is given the better the position of the Government will be in defending their proposals, and the better we shall be able to understand on this side of the House what the proposals are.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
It must be admitted by anyone who has given attention to the subject that the relation between annual value and the amount of liquor sold is nothing at all. We can have a house in a manufacturing town rated at £100 and paying a duty of £50, and a house in London at £500 paying £250, and the house in the manufacturing town might be selling three times the quantity of liquor. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his Budget speech, "We have therefore come to the conclusion that it is essential in order to ensure fair treatment as between one publican and another, that there should be a valuation based upon the principle on which publicans have been receiving compensation, and therefore generally acceptable to the trade as a basis for appraising the value of the monopoly. This assessment, when it is complete, will be translated into terms of annual value, and the licence will be levied accordingly." I gather from that that my right hon. Friend is adhering to the Kennedy judgment. I should protest most strongly against that valuation. I do not think it would be right at all, but this is not the proper place to discuss that. But I put this case: Suppose a London publican pays this year £250 Licence Duty, and when you have got the compensation value next year you find that the duty should only have been £150, are you going to give him any remedy for his over-payment this year? It would not be right because of the exigencies of time to charge him 50 per cent, on the annual value this year and then come next year and say, "There was a mistake; your Licence Duty should be only half." If we could get some reasonable adjustment of over-payments it would influence me with regard to the vote I should give.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
Really I am puzzled at the view that the Government themselves take of their own Bill. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment based it on the fact admitted, I believe, in all quarters of the House that the assessment in London is higher in proportion to the real value than in most other parts of the country. I believe that in Scotland also it is based upon the full annual value of the house. I would like to know what view the Government take of their own proposals? They are assessing a new and very heavy duty on a certain basis. As far as I can discover they admit themselves that their basis is an unfair basis. They admit that it will hit the London publican and the Scotch publican, and 519 may here and there hit other publicans throughout the country whose licences are at their true value. They admit that it will do a great deal to favour the publicans in the greater part of the area of England in which licensed houses are valued at something below the full annual value at which they are valued in London and Scotland. If these are the admitted facts, the tax stands condemned as admittedly, clearly, and grossly unfair. What is the only palliation brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy in defence of the Government? He points to the extraordinarily obscure and difficult Clause which we are next going to discuss, and he says under that Clause there will be a great relief in the case of houses of over £500 valuation. The amount and the very reality of that relief are denied by my hon. Friends behind me and others. I am not competent to give an opinion upon it as yet, and I shall wait to hear the question discussed before expressing my view. But whether it be true that it gives relief or not, does it give proportional and accurate relief? And the next question is, does it give relief to the houses under £500 value?
Manifestly, it neither gives relief nor does it profess to give relief. We are therefore left in this position. Even if Clause 30 does all the Government say it does, it only gives relief to houses over £500 value, and it does not give that relief in any very accurate or proportional manner so as to make it just. But as regards the houses below £500, as are the great mass of houses throughout the country, the plan does not aim at fairness, and even the Government do not claim fairness for their proposal. It is a strong order in a great fiscal arrangement like this, which it is admitted weighs most unequally on publicans in different parts of the country, that Ireland, I regret to say on far more flimsy grounds, is to be taken out of the general purview of the Bill and given quite different treatment. Here we have a much clearer and much grosser case, admitted by the Government, and it is urged by one of their supporters, and not denied by the Minister momentarily in charge of the Bill that for that injustice, as far as I can make out, there is no remedy at all. That is a most extraordinary position to take up. Though I support the Amendment, I hope an attempt will be made on the part of the Government to frame their Bill so that it 520 will do justice to all publicans in England and Scotland. I think we ought to have some explanation from the Government as to how they view the situation, because even in the short Debate we have had, it is admitted that the Bill is left grossly unjust as regards the largest number of publicans in this country. I have not got the figures by me—I am not sure that they are in existence—but it is admitted by the Government themselves, that a number of publicans in Scotland and in London under £500 valuation are in a worse position than publicans in other parts of the country. I hope the Government, on a general view of the facts of the case, will explain how they reconcile the provisions of their Bill with what we are accustomed to think are the elementary principles of fiscal justice.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman criticises the scheme of valuation as if it were proposed for the first time by the Government, though it has been in operation in this country for over a hundred years, and publicans have been assessed unfairly upon it and publicans have paid unequally upon it. Men who ought to-day probably to pay £60 are only paying £20, and men who ought only to pay, on the basis of their trade, £20 are paying £60. At the present moment, in the course of five years, there is the difference of £200, and there are publicans, who, in the course of twenty years, have paid three or four hundred pounds more on the licence than they ought to pay. On the other hand, there are publicans who have got small houses with a very considerable trade and who have paid hundreds of pounds less than they ought to pay. You have got that unequal system now, and let the right hon. Gentleman remember we are the first to recognise that and we are the first to make a real effort. We put down and submit at any rate to the House and Committee definite proposals to redress what we admit to be a real grievance and inequality. The right hon. Gentleman says, Why will you not do it at once? We do not, for the simple reason that it is impossible to get a valuation of all the houses only in the course of four or five years, and before the end of the financial year it is absolutely impossible. With regard to land it is admitted that it will take five years. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thirty days was the first idea."] The hon. Gentleman must have entirely forgotten facts. I do not want to go back on 521 the proposals as to land, but the proposal was that each man should value for himself. That is not the proposal here. The proposal is that the Government should value; that there should be a monopoly valuation taken of all the houses in the Kingdom. I am putting it to the hon. Gentleman that that could not be done in the course of two or three months with a view to fitting it in with the financial proposals of the Government this year. We thought it could be done for houses over £700, but it could not be done for all the houses of the Kingdom. Next year it can be done, and I believe it will be a fairer basis to the publicans throughout the country. We are the first to make an effort to treat them on what is an equitable basis as between one publican and another. My hon. Friend says, "Supposing you find a publican is paying £100 too much, will you restore that sum?" Will he come to another case where a publican is paying £100 too little and say that he should pay that. [Mr. J. M. HENDERSON: "Certainly."] That is a totally different proposal, and I do not think he will find the publicans of the country will subscribe to that doctrine. On the contrary, I do not think they are in a hurry; certainly not in the provinces, to get a valuation by any means. I agree as between London and the provinces it may be in favour of London; and in Scotland, so I was assured by the deputation of the representatives of the trade, the assessment there represented very fairly the real value of the premises—the annual value of the premises. Therefore, any provision applicable to London ought to be applicable to the case of Scotland. We are the first to make a real effort as to the system which has been in existence for over one hundred years, and as that cannot be done in the course of the current financial year; therefore, the only thing we can do is to take the basis which has been accepted by the trade for so many years for this current financial year, and then to proceed next year.
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Mr. J. F. REMNANT
As a London Member, I do urge the Government to try to meet the case which has been so strongly put forward for the relief of the London trade. If I may say so, it seems to me the effect of this new system will be to ruin absolutely many of the houses in London. That effect is what the Government have been wishing to bring about. All their speeches have 522 said that extra taxation must be put on with the sole object of decreasing the number of licensed premises. As a London Member, may I urge a point which, perhaps, has been lost sight of during these Debates, and that is the extraordinary effect which this taxation will have in London upon the rates. Not so long ago the London County Council had before them a report as to the likely effect of this new licensing proposal of the Government, and it was stated that the County Council would be a loser of £30,000 a year, and the borough councils of £45,000 a year. On the 29th April the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if the new valuation when made so raised the duties as to make the contribution required from the publican appear oppressive the scale would be reconsidered. In view of his many allegations of the inadequacy of the present arrangements, he need not be surprised if we are considerably doubtful as to the likely result of the new valuation under terms and conditions as to which the Government have not vouchsafed to give us information. In speaking of the increase of the present duties it seems to be forgotten that the sum of £195,951 does not include the Licence Duties to-day. Under Clause 30 no Licence Duty may be deducted before arriving at the annual value. Therefore you have to add to that sum £96,930, which is the present amount deducted, before you can arrive at the likely result of the present proposals of the Government. I venture to say that the result will be that instead of London producing, as has been submitted, £836,664 out of the proposed £2,000,000, it will produce considerably more than 50 per cent, above that. Instead of over-estimating, the Government have considerably under-estimated, and I believe in a good many cases the Chancellor of the Exchequer has boasted of having under-estimated the result of the proposed taxation. I think the right hon. Gentleman said at one of his meetings that he had taken good care to provide a sufficiency over and above what he wants.
§ Mr. REMNANT
I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement. I want to give a few instances of the effect of these taxes upon some licensed premises in my own Division of Holborn. Here is one, and it will be well known as the site of a very festive occasion when a lunch or dinner was given to the Prime Minister. I refer 523 to the Holborn Restaurant. At the present time the duty is £60. Under this Bill, after making all allowances it will be increased to £3,110. Could the right hon. Gentleman say for a moment that that place is a badly conducted or badly managed place? It is one of the best, if not the best, in London, and is recognised as such by the frequency with which right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen go there for their festive occasions. I have picked out as impartially as I can eleven licensed premises in Holborn. Their present annual value amounts to £17,926, the duty on which is £558. Under this Bill they will have to pay £8,963, or 16 times the present amount. The Leader of the Opposition gave instances such as that of Whitbread's, shewing how this taxation is going to affect some of the big London brewers, and these instances can be multiplied. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite really meant what he said when he stated that if cases of oppression were brought to his notice and were proved to be such he would take steps to remedy the oppression, he can have any number of them. I do not profess to be able to put my case fully before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he knows perfectly well that the case for the special treatment of London is far greater and stronger than it was for Ireland, and I do hope he will see his way to meet it.
§ Mr. A. J. SHERWELL
I only wish to express my own personal scepticism as to the legitimate strength of the case that has been put to-night for exceptional treatment for London. So far as I gather, the plea is put forward on the broad ground that in London the assessments of licensed property more nearly approximate to the value of the trade done than is the case in other parts of the country. If the assessments be more strict in London than elsewhere the necessary deduction from that is not that the assessments themselves are excessive, but that the assessments elsewhere may be unduly low. Even the hon. Member for Rutland and the hon. Member who has just sat down suggested considerations which rather point to the fact that these relatively higher assessments in London do not at the present time represent the real value of the licences. The hon. Member for Rutland said that the concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made would be no real gain to the licensee.
524 So far as I and others have understood the clauses of the Finance Bill, the concession in the alterative option represents a real benefit to the licensee. But I altogether dissent from the argument advanced by the hon. Member who moved this Amendment when he proceeded on the ground because London at the present time pays in the proportion of one-tenth of the total licence Revenue of the country and because the population of London represents one-tenth of the population of the country that therefore the revenue from it should be one-tenth. That overlooks the value of the trade in London compared with the trade elsewhere. I confess that the concessions which the Government have put down on the Paper do seem to me fairly substantial concessions. The Leader of the Opposition said why, if it is necessary to make these concessions in regard to houses of £500 rateable value, houses below that valuation should not also claim consideration? The position, as I understand it, is this—that while the basis of annual value is not an ideally perfect basis and is misleading in character, the annual value as a basis tells much more powerfully against the higher rated houses than the lower ones. Therefore, it follows that it is the houses of high rateable value which claim exceptional treatment if exceptional treatment is to be claimed at all. In some quarters the fact seems to be overlooked that London has for a long time past contributed relatively considerably less than it should have done having regard to the contribution by houses in other parts of the country.
§ Mr. YOUNGER
It is not very often that the hon. Member for Huddersfield falls into the mistake he has fallen into tonight. What is the hon. Member's argument? He said that if the alternative suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his new Amendment proves to be higher than the return of the Licence Duty on the existing valuation, therefore it goes to prove that the assessment value at present is too low. The hon. Gentleman forgets that the existing Licence Duty and the new Licence Duty are based en annual rental value, and that annual value excluded the value of the goodwill, whilst compensation value included the whole of that valuable asset. After what the Prime Minister has said it is not unreasonable to suggest that the alternative is a great deal worse than the original proposal. Now I come to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He made a very interesting contribution 525 to this Debate, but a very futile one I thought, if I may say so without offence. He said that this is no new proposal—that we have been dealing for 100 years with these Licence Duties, and the scale was fixed by Mr. Gladstone in 1880, and was full of anomalies. I have admitted that myself before now. I have admitted that the scale was anomalous; but I would much sooner submit to these anomalies than accept the offer of the Chancellor of the Exechequer to set them right. The Chancellor of the Exchequer forgets that these duties as they stand are not Licence Duties in the ordinary sense of the word, they are purely Registration Duties and nothing more. There may be anomalies in the manner in which they fall. The maximum is £60 a year. Mr. Gladstone's principle—a very wise one too—was to take these duties as registration duties, and to get all the revenue that the liquor trade could afford by taxing the liquor itself. Whether drunk in a private house or in a public-house the liquor was to pay its quota to the revenue. Be that as it may I do not think that at this moment we should argue that matter out. We should argue that out on Clause 30, when we shall have a great deal to say on the alternative. I really could not allow the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield to pass without an immediate contradiction of the correctness of the basis on which he put his argument, nor could I allow the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be considered as satisfying us on this side of the House.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
I rise to support the Amendment, and am glad that one hon. Member on the Government side of the House is ready to do justice. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not deny that the incidence of the taxation imposed by this Bill will fall far heavier on London than on any other part of the country, whether he takes it by way of valuation or in any other way. In London it will be £600,000, as against £1,400,000 for the rest of the country. What is the reason for that? London is valued under a different Act of Parliament from the rest of the country, and there is no uniform valuation. I will give the right hon. Gentleman the evidence of the legal adviser to the Local Government Board before a Committee of this House in 1902. He was asked: "Now I believe the English system is not a uniform system?" And his reply was, "No. There are several distinct 526 systems of valuation; and for the purposes of local rates, the general law has set up three principal systems." "What are those?"—"The system set up under the Union Assessment Committee Acts, 1862 to 1880 operates, outside London, with regard to rates for the relief of the poor and rates required by law to be based upon the poor rate. In London the system is that authorised by the Valuation (Metropolis) Acts, 1869 and 1884." The valuation in other parts is by local committees, whereas in London the valuation is revised only by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. He has power to interfere in London in regard to valuations which he has not in other parts of the country. The legal adviser to the Local Government Board was further questioned: "Passing now to the Metropolitan system under the Metropolis Valuation Acts, what is the system there?"—"In that case a different course was taken; for 'Gross Estimated Rental' the Act of 1869 substituted 'Gross Value'; and this it defined as meaning 'the annual rent which a tenant might reasonably be expected, taking one year with another, to pay for a hereditament.'" You cannot impose one system on London and the rest of the country, because London by Act of Parliament must necessarily be valued higher than the rest of the country. Therefore a case is made out for differentiation in favour of London. I ask the Committee to take action at once. If there is a case for differentiation we ought to begin it now, and I, therefore, support the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sherwell) told us that the higher annual value of a public-house in London arose from the fact that superior structural accommodation was required, and that superior structural accommodation meant better and more profitable trade. I venture to say that the higher annual value does not arise from structural accommodation, but from the fact that land in Bond Street or in the City is very much more valuable than land in Huddersfield, and consequently the annual value is very much higher, although the returns of trade done may be the same. In Huddersfield a man may pay £100 a year for a house and sell as much or more drink than a man in London who is paying £500 a year. That is the foundation of the request made by London Members, and I hope by other Members of the Committee, who see the justice of the 527 demand that there should be some alteration in the assessment so far as regards London. I am afraid I cannot support the Amendment in the form in which it stands because it is to exempt London altogether. Having voted just now against the exemption of Ireland altogether I cannot turn round and vote in favour of the exemption of London altogether. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because I hope I am consistent. I did hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have given something in the nature of an answer to the London Members similar to that which the Prime Minister gave to the Irish Members. There are, I believe, some 63 Members for London, and although I am not sure that we are one and indivisible, yet on this particular point I trust we shall be united. Surely 63 London Members are entitled to as much consideration as 80 Members from Ireland. I am astonished at the concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer offered to us. It was no concession at all. It does not apply particularly to London, and will not deal with 82 per cent. of the houses—I am taking the figures of the hon. Member for Hudders-field. According to his own showing this proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's will only apply to 18 per cent. of the houses in London, and it does not touch the Question raised by the Amendment, namely, that the annual assessment in London, partly owing to the quinquennial valuation, and partly owing to the fact that the site value—so dear to hon. Gentlemen opposite—is higher than in other parts of the country, an injustice will be done to the holders of licences in London by the Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells the Committee that one man pays £60 when he ought to pay £20, and that another man pays £20 when he ought to pay £60, and he says: "Look what a fine fellow I am; I am going to remedy all these injustices." But how does he propose to do it? I have here a list of twenty houses, under date August 30th, so I suppose the figures include the concessions which appeared on the Paper on that date. I find that under the old scale of duties they paid £1,185, while under the new scale they will have to pay £9,905. Although I have no interest in public-houses and do not happen to be an owner of a brewery, I would rather have the injustice under the old scale than that under the new scale. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to pose as the 528 champion of lost causes, I hope he will not champion them in that way, or at any rate not champion those in which I have any particular interest. I see the Prime Minister is in the House. He is in a mood to grant concessions. He has granted some to the Irish Members. I am not an Irishman and I am not eloquent, but I hope I have put the justice of my case in such a way as will appeal to the Prime Minister, and enable his ready wit to find a way out of the difficulty, especially as in this particular case the Amendment is moved by an hon. Member who is a faithful and loyal supporter of his own, who is looking forward with hope beaming on his countenance to the rising of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with some proposal which will induce him to withdraw the Amendment and go happy to his constituents. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not really realised the position. The position is that the annual value in London, owing to site value and the quinquennial valuation, is higher than it is in the case of a similar house doing a similar trade and earning a similar profit in Huddersfield or other parts of the country. But while those are the circumstances, it is not claimed by London Members on this side of the House that houses in the Metropolis should be exempted entirely. We do claim, however, that their case should be considered, and that London licensees should not be treated worse than publicans in other towns.
§ Mr. PEARCE
As I do not think it will advance the cause of London to press my Amendment, I should wish to withdraw it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I must oppose the withdrawal of the Amendment moved from the other side. May I say that I do not quite follow the logicality of my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury), because I do not see how he can defend the exemption of London and at the same time dissent from the exemption of Ireland.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I point out to my hon. Friend that that is exactly what I did not do. I said I could not vote for the entire exemption of London because I did not vote for the exemption of Ireland. All I wanted was for some hope to be held out to us that the case of London, which I pointed out was an exceptional case, should be met in a modified form.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I had no wish to misrepresent the hon. Baronet, but, in any case, I think I may claim that my position is more logical than his, because I did vote for the exemption of Ireland with the intention of voting also for the exemption of London, so as, if possible, by a continuous process of exemption to arrive at the exemption of the country altogether from what I consider to be an unjust and vindictive tax. That it is an unjust tax in the case of London has, I think, been amply proved by the speeches made from this side of the House, as well as by the eloquent and convincing speech of the Mover of the Amendment, who now wishes to withdraw. It is easy to see the reason why such a vindictive tax has been proposed, because, going back to the days of the present Government's Licensing Bill, everybody will remember that the trade in London were among the strongest opponents of the Measure and took a most active part in exposing the weakness of the case put forward by its supporters. Bearing in mind these facts, it is not surprising to find that the Government are now disinclined to grant an exemption in favour of London, although such an exemption is certainly justified in the case of the Metropolis, even more than in the case of Ireland. Strongly supporting as I do the case for exemption, I hope the Amendment will not be allowed to be withdrawn, but will be put to the vote.
§ Mr. W. H. DICKINSON
I only wish to add a word on this subject. I cannot help expressing the hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may even now see his way to hold out some prospect that we may expect a certain measure of relief for London. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that in the course of a year he proposes to introduce a reformed system of assessment, and when that system comes into operation undoubtedly London will have no ground for complaint. But so long as the present system obtains London has a grievance, and I cannot help thinking the right hon. Gentleman might find some means in this Bill of allowing the Metropolis temporarily to have some advantage which will remedy the existing injustice. Even if it were decided to allow London to have that advantage only for one year it would go a long way, and if the right hon. Gentleman can hold out some hope that during the further consideration of the Bill he will give some assistance in this direction we shall not 530 wish to divide against the Government on the matter. I would really ask him, therefore, to consider whether he cannot offer at any rate a temporary alleviation of the injustice and thus tide over the time until the new system is brought into operation.
§ Mr. G. D. FABER (York)
The appeal of the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) is almost pathetic. In fact one can hardly believe that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be so hard-hearted as to resist a request from their own side couched in such moving terms. The hon. Member asked for relief for London only to carry matters on for one year until the new method of assessing licences on their annual compensation value is brought into effect. It is temporary relief he wants. Had not the hon. Member better say straight out what is in his heart, namely, that he and his friends want the Government to carry them over the General Election by giving London temporary relief? When once the election is safely over I feel sure their concern will vanish, and they will be prepared to pour their blessings on the new method of basing the assessment on compensation value. The case for London is a strong one. The assessment is very high, and I should like to refer the Committee to some statistics to prove the serious character of the injustice that will be done. I have here a list of 30 public-houses in the Metropolis. Their present assessment is £12,000, and their Licence Duty is £1,285, but under the Bill the duty will run up to £6,000. That means the multiplication of the existing Licence Duties nearly four and a half times, which nobody can pretend to defend as fair.
I have another list which I venture to say is even worse. The present assessment of 20 houses here mentioned is £19,000, and the present Licence Duties amount to £1,100. The new Licence Duties will be £9,900, which means the multiplication of the existing Licence Duties nearly eight and a half times. The teetotal party tell us that under the new system London will come out better, but I am sure that London does not think so. She thinks she is going to come out much worse, and that at any rate, she does not wish to be killed with kindness of that sort. The Chancellor of the Exchequer saw no doubt how unequal it is to base assessment on annual value, but, when confronted with his alternative the trade 531 prefer Mr. Gladstone's system of 1880. Mr. Gladstone did not try to get money at both ends. He taxed the liquor at the source. His methods as regards Licence Duties were not strictly logical, but at any rate they did rough justice. Now comes the new proposal in this Bill of assessing the license on half the annual value. That is going to kill the London trade, and then, forsooth, you hold out this consolation, this olive branch, that under your new system London is going to come out better than she will on the half the annual value basis. We do not think so. We ask you to treat the trade justly in this matter. We ask you not to extinguish the trade in the way that you will do, and extinguish it not for the sake of revenue, but for the sake of revenge.
§ Mr. S. H. WHITBREAD
I really think the Government ought to give some further explanation of their position in this matter. If they do not, and if my hon. Friend goes to a Division on this Amendment I shall certainly support him in the Lobby. I do not know that this Amendment is an ideal way of meeting the question, but it certainly is an improvement on the position as it is at present in the Bill, and I do hope we may have some assurance from the Government that they are prepared to consider the position as it is now. What is the position? I think every speaker who has touched on this question on either side of the House has admitted or maintained that there is a grievance made out on behalf of the London trade. I have heard no contradiction of that. I think it is generally accepted that under the provisions of the Bill London will be exceedingly hard hit. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself is convinced of that, because, if I remember rightly, he issued a kind of invitation to the London trade to come and see him and to discuss this very point, and he held out hopes that he could produce an alternative proposal which might, to some extent, remedy the grievance of which they complained, and which he has more or less admitted to exist. That interview did not come off, and when we begin to
§ understand what is the nature and extent of the remedy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put forward for this grievance it is not altogether a matter of surprise that the representatives of the London trade did not accept his invitation to walk into his parlour. We have now the position of a grievance stoutly maintained by the representatives of the London, trade, admitted on all sides of this House, and, as I believe, admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government. The Government say that they have an alternative proposal, which they put forward as the remedy for this grievance. I am not a brewer, and I have no direct connection whatever with the trade, but, like the Postmaster-General, I have several relatives and friends who are interested in the trade, and I therefore have opportunities of information which I consider I have very good grounds to regard as accurate. I have figures which I do not propose to read at this hour of the morning which show that certainly, in a great many cases, and to a very large extent, this proposed alternative which the Government put forward is worse than the original state of things. Therefore you have this position—a grievance admitted by the Government, a remedy put forward by them which, on examination, turns out to make the matter worse instead of better. That being the admitted position of things, is it not rather lamentable that my hon. Friend should be allowed to withdraw his Amendment without any indication on the part of the Government that they are prepared to re-consider this matter and to bring forward at some later stage of the Bill some improved alternative to their present proposal? I really believe that the case of the London trade is one which merits their attention and which ought to receive their attention. Unless some indication is given that they are really willing to reconsider the case and to endeavour to find some adjustment of this position of simple inequality then I hope my hon. Friend will proceed to a Division, and if he does I shall certainly support him in the Lobby.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 81; Noes, 145.533
|Division No. 583.]||AYES.||[1.45 a.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Banner, John S. Harmood-||Beaumont, Hon. Hubert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hill, Sir Clement||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Clyde, James Avon||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Starkey, John R.|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Newdegate, F. A. N.||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Oddy, John James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Williams Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George||Winterton, Earl|
|Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury St. Edm.)||Renton, Leslie||Younger, George|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Renwick, George|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Whitbread and Mr. Bottomley.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Gulland, John W.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Radford, G. H.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harwood, George||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Barnard, E. B.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Hedges, A. Paget||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)|
|Beale, W. P.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Higham, John Sharp||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hogan, Michael||Robinson, S.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Rowlands, J.|
|Brace, William||Jenkins, J.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Bright, J. A.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Scott, A H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Laidlaw, Robert||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Lambert, George||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Lamont, Norman||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Summerbell, T.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Clough, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Tomkinson, James|
|Clynes, J. R.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Toulmin, George|
|Cooper, G. J.||Maclean, Donald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Macpherson, J. T.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Waring, Walter|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Micklem, Nathaniel||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Mond, A.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Falconer, James||Morrell, Philip||Williams, Sir A. O. (Merioneth)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Myer, Horatio||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Nussey, Sir Willans||Winfrey, R.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Glendinning, R. G.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Glover, Thomas||O'Grady, J.||Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Parker, James (Halifax)|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Thursday).