§ (1) The annual value of any premises for the purpose of the duty on any Excise licence charged by reference to annual value shall be in England and Scotland:—
- (a) the Inhabited House Duty value if there is such a value applicable; and
- (b) in a case where there is no Inhabited House Duty value applicable the Income Tax value if there is such a value applicable; and
- (c) if there is neither an Inhabited House Duty value nor an Income Tax value applicable, the annual value as determined by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise in accordance with the Acts relating to Excise.
§ For the purposes of this provision the Inhabited House Duty value means the value as adopted for the purposes of Inhabited House Duty, and the Income Tax value means the value as adopted for the purposes of income Tax under Schedule A of the Income Tax Act, 1853, and the Inhabited House Duty value or the Income Tax value, as the case may be, shall be deemed to be applicable if the premises to which a value is attached for the purpose of these duties or either of them correspond with the premises the annual value of which is required for the purpose of the charge of the duty on the licence.
§ (2) In Ireland the annual value of any premises for the purpose of the duty on any Excise licence charged by reference to annual value shall be determined by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise in accordance with the Acts relating to Excise, but subject to the provisions of Sub-section (7) of Section forty-three of the Inland Revenue Act, 1880.1494
§ (3) The foregoing provisions of this section shall be substituted for Sub-section (1) of Section forty-four of the principal Act, and that sub-section shall cease to have effect.
§ (4) This section shall have effect as respects licences granted after the passing of the principal Act and in force at the time of the passing of this Act; and if in respect of the period for which any such licence was granted, any sum has been paid as duty on the licence in excess of the sum which would have been paid if this section had been in force at the date of the grant of the licence, the excess shall be repaid.
§ Mr. CAVE
moved in Sub-section (1), after the words "in accordance with the Acts relating to excise," to insert the words, "having regard in all cases to any decrease in annual value, resulting from any increase under the provisions of the principal Act, as amended by this Act in the Licence Duty."
The effect of this Amendment is to give statutory effect to a declaration made by the Secretary to the Treasury in proposing the resolution on which the Bill is founded. The right hon. Gentleman, after dealing with headings (a) and (b), said—There then remained a number of cases which may be outside either one or the other definition, and the Government propose in those cases that the assessment shall be made by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, but adhering to the principle that the Licence Duty should be deducted before the actual valuation is made—shall be taken into consideration.It is very agreeable to have the declaration of a Minister as to what the Government intend, but it is much better to have the words in the Statute itself. I think that recent experience will confirm us in that view. I hope that no objection will be taken to the insertion of these words.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I understand that the Government will accept this Amendment. The Amendment, however, will affect only England and Scotland. I presume that any concessions made on this point to those countries will in the proper place be made to Ireland also.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I accept the Amendment in the form in which it is proposed. The effect of it will be to carry out the recently expressed intention of the Government in respect to this matter. I also agree that the same provision should be extended to Ireland. I am not sure that the exact form of words which have been moved will do for 1495 Ireland; I think there will have to be some alteration. Unless some special Amendment is to be moved, hon. Members opposite may rely upon it that we shall see that due effect is given to this Amendment in regard to Ireland.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I have handed in an Amendment in the name of an hon. Member who is not here, and I will take the liberty of moving it later on.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. YOUNGER
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1) to add the words "except in cases where it is shown to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that in the determination of Inhabited House Duty value and Income Tax value, as the case may be, no regard has been had to any decrease in the annual value resulting from any increase under the provisions of the principal Act as amended by this Act in the Licence Duty."
These words will cover two or three Amendments which appear lower on the paper. They appear to me to meet the two points which we desire to make, namely, with regard to the basis on which the duty shall be charged, and the amount to be refunded which has been overpaid during 1910–11. I have no doubt the Attorny-General will agree, if these words do not carry out those objects, to amend them on Report.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
As to the intentions of the Government in this matter I quite agree with what the hon. Member has said. I think these words give effect fully to those intentions, but if they do not I give an assurance that we will consider them again, and on Report if necessary move a further clause or make such alterations as may be required. The Amendment will give effect as from October, 1910, under the Act of 1909–10, to the decrease in the annual value, thereby reducing the amount of Licence Duty which will have to be paid. By raising the Licence Duty you lower the annual value of the house. A man who has to pay a much higher Licence Duty will necessarily pay a lower rent for the house, and consequently you must give the house a lower annual value. In order to give effect to the intentions of the Government on that point this Amendment has been moved, and I accept it, so that for the future there may be removed by possibility of doubt, we having by Clause 4 made clear provision for the calculation of 1496 the annual valuation in the future. There will no longer be any question raised in regard to this, for if neither of the methods specified apply, then it will have to be determined by the Commissioner under the Excise Act, as it has always been. Having regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kingston, accepted a few moments ago by me on behalf of the Government, the result will be that whenever the Commissioners of Customs have to fix the annual value of licensed premises, they must now have regard to the higher Licence Duty which will have to be paid. This Amendment, now before the Committee, gives full effect to that. It really resolves itself into this that we are going to give effect, by accepting this Amendment, to the intention of the Government, which is to determine the annual value upon which the Licence Duty is to be ascertained. We take into account, for the purpose of fixing the annual value, that the tenant has to pay a higher Licence Duty, and, consequently, will pay a lower rental, and that, therefore, there will be a lower annual value. I hope that will satisfy the House.
§ Mr. GRETTON
Of course we shall accept the assurance the Government has given us that their intentions are absolutely identical with the intention of these Amendments. These licensing matters are complicated by preceding legislation. The whole matter is exceedingly complicated, and difficult to disentangle, and it may occur that these words do not entirely carry out the intentions which the Government have very frankly and fairly expressed. With the assurance which the hon. and learned Gentleman has given us it will not be necessary to move the Amendments, or to move the further Amendments on this point, of which we have given notice.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I would like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether the acceptance of these Amendments which he has just announced to the Committee, increases the concession which we were told was £400,000? I understand that the present is only a technical concession, which does not increase the money allowance allocated to the trade?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The Amendment gives effect to what was stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at an earlier period. It does not go beyond the £400,000. This Amendment which has been introduced simply covers the concession made already.
§ Mr. YOUNGER
I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to "rush us," to run away with the idea that this is a concession. It is a very proper and just revision of the original arrangement, owing to the fact that the Estimates then made and dealing with these Clauses were exceeded. This Amendment was put forward in order to give full effect to the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But let the hon. Member not forget that we have not asked and have not got any new concession on this particular matter. The general tenant on a lease entered into before 1909 will not get the benefit which he should get by a reduction of the local rates, and which he would otherwise get. As the Attorney-General knows, this is not the full concession which really would place the tenant in the same position as the landlord occupies.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2) to add the words: "and having regard in all cases to any decrease in the annual value resulting from any increase owing to the provision of the principal Act in the Licensing Duty."
This Amendment is similar to that accepted by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, and deals with Ireland only. It is for the Government to do for Ireland what they have done for England and Scotland.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I accept the Amendment, which carries out with regard to Ireland what we already agreed to for England and Scotland.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4) to leave out the words "the passing of the principal Act and in force at the time of the passing of this Act; and," and to insert instead thereof the words, "April 30th, 1909." The object of this Amendment is to bring in the licences for the year 1909–10—that is to say, these licences which in England are granted in September, 1909, and in Scotland in the previous May. I move this Amendment simply in order to apply retrospectively the principle admitted by the Government. It has been admitted, and I am bound to say handsomely admitted, that we had in this Clause a principle that worked harshly, and they made the concession. I do not say the concession goes far enough. I only say that the Government has fairly met 1498 us on that point, and I ask that there should be some provision not only against exaction in the future but there should be restitution for the past. The Licence Duties have been based upon what is now admitted to be excess in the previous year, and my Amendment provides that that principle admitted by the Government should be retrospective and that the excess should be repaid not merely for the current year but for the previous year.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The effect of this Amendment is practically to apply the same principle to licences in 1909–10 as the Government are applying to licences in 1910–11. I can hardly believe that the Government will not accept this principle. It is the principle laid down by Mr. Justice Channell in the Wrigglesworth case, in which he pointed out that the only honest way in which the Government could propose to interpret the Act was by the acceptance of such principle. The judge said that the Act was operating "in a way that no body of honourable men could have deliberately intended." The learned judge's contention was that they could not continue to charge these new licences in the way they proposed. All that is asked by the Amendment is that the Government should concede from the beginning and should apply the same principle to the 1909–10 licences that they are prepared to apply in the current year. I cannot under stand how the Government can refuse this. They admit they have received money which honourable men ought not to have received, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his reasons—
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The Chanceller of the Exchequer never said what the hon. Gentleman attributes to him.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
Perhaps not in my words. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he must retain the money for fiscal reasons, and he said:—I should like to say one word in regard to public-house valuation referred to by an hon. Member, who said very properly that we were charging upon a higher value a year ago, and have now decided to charge upon a different principle. It is purely a financial matter.That was his reason, and he went on to say:—That year we wanted certain revenue, and we were strictly entitled to it. This year we are content with less, and we have altered the system, which we are perfectly at liberty to do. It is a financial matter and the Treasury is entitled to choose either method without being open to any reflection that it is anything unfair.The Chancellor says "it is purely a financial matter," but he has admitted that the money has been obtained, I will not say on 1499 false pretences, but on a wrong principle. The Government have admitted that by their action to-day—
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The hon. Member says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated this was done upon a wrong principle. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have said he was making the concession because he was in a position this year to make a concession which he could not make the year before.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The Government, by the alteration they are making in this Bill, admit they were wrong, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted it. Why make the alteration otherwise. All I am asking of the Government to do is to apply the same principle from the beginning that they are applying in the present year. I do not see how they can get out of it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is purely a financial matter, and that he wanted the money last year, and could not do without it last year; but he was taking money upon a wrong principle last year.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
He must admit it, because he is making an alteration in this Bill which shows that he did not obtain the money upon a proper principle, and surely he cannot logically say that he ought not to apply the principle this year to the previous year. I hope the Attorney-General will see that what I am putting forward is reasonable. The Government estimated for an increased Licence Duty in 1909 of £2,100,000. The duty actually produced £2,450,000, so that they got an excess of £350,000, and what we say is that it is unjust that the Government should keep that money. It has been obtained from the licence holders on a principle which the Government now admit was wrong. They could not do anything else in view of the judgment of Mr. Justice Channell.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
I am quoting the words of an English judge which we on this side of the House believe to be worthy of consideration. Mr. Justice Channell said that it was obviously unjust and said that the course was one which no body of honourable men could have intended 1500 After words like that from a judge on the English Bench it was impossible for the Government to adhere to that principle. I do not see how you can say to those who have contributed this money that the principle is a right one when the Government now admit by this Bill that it is an improper principle. I beg to support the Amendment.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think the remarks of the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. S. Roberts) are somewhat ungenerous. He has charged the Government with refusing to admit that they obtained this money on a wrong principle because they are now willing to make the concession in this House—as was admitted at the time very fully and very frankly made in order that these licenced duties might not operate with as much severity as they had done last year, when the Government found they were in a position to make a concession of some £400,000. The hon. Member who has just spoken has called upon us to accept his view not on the ground of any argument he has addressed to us, but because a learned judge who tried the case said that no body of honourable men can have intended this, and therefore there is an end of all argument.
§ Mr. YOUNGER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was not intended to be so harsh, and the judge said the same thing.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he had not intended that they should operate with such severity, or that they had operated with greater severity than he intended. I am not finding fault with the language of the learned judge. What I am objecting to is it being put upon the House of Commons that because the learned Judge had said in his view no body of honourable men could have intended this, that if we accept the duties paid in the previous years we shall be acting as a body of dishonourable men.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The Attorney General is misinterpretating what I said. I said that you ought to make this principle equitable from the beginning and not charge one set of people one price one year and another price another.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am glad the hon. Member has made that explanation, which I accept in the spirit in which he has made it. It now makes it possible 1501 to deal with his argument upon a different basis. This Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield, and he proposes that it should take effect as from the 30th April, 1909. That would cover a longer period than the increase of the duties would affect.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I understand that the Act came into force last May, and it had a retrospective effect upon the licences granted. I have taken the 30th April in order to cover the Scotch case.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I understand the Amendment of the hon. Member is that the same concession should be made for 1909–10 as was made for the year 1910–11. The answer to that is that the Government cannot possibly accept it. We have gone as far as we can in the concession we have made amounting to £400,000 for last year. As the hon. Member showed in quoting the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Government were able to do this for financial reasons. I protest against the motion that because the Government makes a concession when it finds it can do so in a particular year, that therefore it should be said it has given up the principle upon which the Licence Duties were collected in the previous year. If that argument were pursued to its logical conclusion, it would make it impossible for the Government to grant any concessions at all. How does this matter stand? The position is that the Government has found that during last year (1910–1911) we have received £2,450,000, and what we anticipated was £2,100,000. The Government found itself in the position of saying, "Well, we will give back some of this money which has come in excess of what we estimated for the Licence Duties; fortunately we are in a position to do so." There are years in which the Government is not in a position to give back any money which comes into the Treasury, but on the other hand you may have a year in which you can do so. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "This is one of those years. The duties have operated with greater severity than I intended, and I am willing to give back this £400,000." I have had myself the opportunity of being present at an influential deputation on this matter. I was with the Chancellor of the Exchequer when that deputation came to him immediately after the Wrigglesworth judgment, when he made the statement which has been read in the House this 1502 evening, that he would make this concession, and that he would submit the Clause of the Bill. It was submitted. I do not say that that Clause binds this House, but the trade was not dissatisfied with what was done under the circumstances, and it is a little hard, in view of all that has taken place that the Government should now be attacked with some sort of suggestion that we have taken money under false pretences.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
All that the Government has admitted and is admitting is that it has got more money for 1910–11 than it desired or intended from the licensed trade, and therefore it was willing to make a concession. I want to make it quite clear that that is the beginning and the end of the concession the Government is willing to make, and in making that concession we are going quite as far as we ought to go. I am not dealing with the point of any of these licence holders who have paid increased Licence Duty before the 29th April, 1910, getting back any of the money they paid in 1909. That does not seem to me to be the question before the Committee. The question is really to what extent the Government is willing to make a concession in the sense of returning money which it has already received. I have expressed the full extent of the concession the Government is willing to make, and if we had had this kind of argument before we announced our willingness to make this concession I am sure we should have found a considerable body of opposition on this side of the House to making any concession at all. I ask the Committee to rest satisfied with what has been done, and bear in mind what was said on this point by the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Mr. Younger), and the hon. Member for Rutland (Mr. Gretton), both of whom are better exponents of the views of the trade than the hon. Members who last spoke, and who expressed themselves as not being dissatisfied with what the Government had done, and who certainly thought we had met the matter in a very fair, full and frank spirit. I do hope, therefore, those two hon. Gentlemen having expressed that view, that we need not have a lengthy discussion on this Amendment, but that we may proceed with the next Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. and learned Gentleman has based his argument on a false premise. I am prepared to show that, 1503 because I happen to be the hon. Member who had an Amendment down which, if it had been accepted when the Budget was before the House, would have avoided all this dispute. The hon. and learned Gentleman says the Government have made a concession, and that, having made that concession because they happen at this moment to be in a fortunate pecuniary position, it is not right or fair on the part of hon. Members on this side of the House or on the part of the Trade to ask for any further concession. I venture to say the contention of the hon. and learned Gentleman is founded on a misapprehension of the facts. I am prepared to prove it is no concession at all. When the Clause was before the House in the Budget of 1909–10 I moved an Amendment to leave out the words at the end upon which the judge commented, and my Amendment was refused by Sir Samuel Evans.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes. "The duty on the licence is not to be allowed as a deduction." I moved to leave out those words. If the answer of the Government had been that those words meant something, and were intended to impose a tax upon the licensed victuallers, and that therefore they could not accept my Amendment, then the hon. and learned Gentleman would have been justified in coming down to this House and saying they found those words had brought to them a greater sum of money than they expected, and that though they could not return the money they had already received yet, being in a better pecuniary position at the present time, they would be prepared to return the money in the future. But that is not what they did. Sir Samuel Evans got up and assured the Committee that those words had no effect, and did not alter the law. Of course, we were in a difficult position, being only laymen, in arguing with the hon. and learned Gentleman, but we said, "Supposing your contention is correct, and we have no right to assume it is not, that these words have no effect, why will you not accept our Amendment, and leave them out?"
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Baronet is arguing a question which has been already decided. The only question on this Amendment is whether there should be a back reckoning.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is my point. The hon. and learned Gentleman has advanced, as an argument for not allowing the rebate for the year that is passed, that it was a concession on the part of the Government to allow the rebate for the present year. I am pointing out that it was not a concession on the part of the Government, and that, therefore, the contention of the hon. and learned Gentleman falls to the ground. I have got to prove whether or not my statement is correct, and, in proving my statement is correct, it is necessary for me to go back to the original Act and to show that the Government, instead of bringing in the original Act with the idea of obtaining money, brought in this particular Act having stated by their own Solicitor-General that it had no effect. The Solicitor-General advanced the argument that the words proposed to be left out had no meaning whatever, and did not alter the law. If that is correct and they did not alter the law, no concession has been made. That is my point. It is a very serious matter. I do not want for a moment to delay the proceedings. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] If the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who interrupt felt the burden of the tax they would be the very first people to howl. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the trade were satisfied. May I correct that. I happened to be dining with a member of the trade, and he informs me that if this question was raised in the House of Commons, I was at liberty to say that the trade were not satisfied. On the contrary, they took what they could get. They thought they had been unjustly treated on the very ground I have just advanced. It is not a concession; it is a grudging recognition that, having stated in the House of Commons what turned out to be incorrect, they are obliged to eat their words and to surrender to the trade that which they ought never to have taken.
Mr. WORTHINGTON - EVANS
The learned Attorney-General, it seems to me, has given away the defence to this Amendment. He has displayed a certain amount of virtuous indignation and has accused us of having looked what he obviously thinks is a gift horse in the mouth. He admits the Government received £350,000 last year more than they expected or intended when they first put these clauses into the Act. He admits these taxes have pressed more heavily upon the licensed trade than was intended 1505 when they were first brought in. There are two questions: first, whether the Government ought to make the repeal retrospective, as is suggested by this Amendment; and, secondly, whether they can do so? I think it is relevant with regard to the first question to consider what the judge who tried the Wriggles worth case said on the subject. He said he did not think this House could have deliberately intended to make the tax in the form in which it passed into law, and I do not think the House did deliberately intend to make it in that form. "We are not, as the learned Attorney - General said, taking our morals from a judge. We are masters of our own morals, and are entitled to come to our own conclusions. What the judge said was something to support the morality of this House, because he says they have raised by the form deliberately intended, and the Attorney General has admitted it was not deliberately intended by this House, because he said the Government have raised by the form of taxation £350,000 more than they intended. The question whether we ought to make this retrospective seems to me to be disposed of. We now come to the other question whether we can do so and whether the financial position in which we find ourselves permits of the retrospective action of this Amendment. I submit that it does. We do not know, we shall not know until the Budget is brought in, exactly what will be the surplus arising from the taxation of this year, but we do know that it must amount to several millions. I have seen it estimated—the Secretary to the Treasury will probably correct me if I am wrong—I may not, however, succeed in drawing him—but it has been estimated that the surplus revenue will be anything from three to four millions. I am quite modest, because I do not need even one-tenth of that sum to make it possible for the Government to act up to the elementary obligation of justice which requires that when you take money by mistake you should at the earliest possible moment restore it to its original owner.
§ Colonel GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN
I listened with the greatest interest to what was said by the Attorney-General, and I candidly confess I am greatly disappointed at the attitude he took up. This matter can be brought to a simple test. The method under which public-houses are assessed for the Licence Duty at the present time is either a just or an unjust 1506 principle. If it is just why alter it? If it is an unjust principle, then you are surely bound to restore to the people from whom you have exacted this money, money which has been extracted from them on an unjust principle. The real facts which govern the whole situation are these. When this Clause was before the House, and when the Budget was passed, it was distinctly understood by the House, on the authority of the Solicitor-General of that day, that these words had no effect and that they did not alter the existing practice in the least. As a matter of fact it afterwards turned out that they did alter the practice altogether, and the result was that a very large sum of money was collected which it was never intended should be collected, if the words had not had the effect it was found they did have. That being so, it seems to me if you admit the present system is unfair and consequently alter it, you ought, on exactly the same ground, to restore this money which has been exacted from the trade, and which it was never intended to take from it. Let me refer to the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman put the matter perfectly simply in a communication which was sent to the Press after his interview with the trade. He said distinctly that he was satisfied that this decision would operate in certain cases with greater severity than was intended. These are the important words. Why not go back to the spirit of the intention? If you say you did not intend this, you are bound not only to alter the method for the future, but also to make restitution of what was collected contrary to the intention of Parliament. Now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on perfectly different grounds—I heard him the other night when the Resolutions upon which this Bill is based were in Committee of Ways and Means—takes the ground that last year they wanted money, and therefore they collected this revenue. But this year they will be content with less because they have plenty of money otherwise. I venture to say a more shocking financial principle was never enunciated in this House. It is simply the principle of highway robbery. Nobody would be a highway robber if he had plenty of money. It is only when he has no money that a man becomes a highway robber. When he has plenty he simply says, "I do not need to take any more." The proper principle is to restore the money which has been exacted contrary to anticipation and intention, and on a principle admitted by the Chancellor of 1507 the Exchequer to be unjust. I confess that so far as I am concerned I am disappointed that the Government have not gone a step further, and in addition to altering the law for the future have also agreed to make restitution of what has been taken in the past. If my hon Friend goes to a division I shall certainly support him in the Lobby.
§ Mr. GRETTON
I think it my duty to correct a misapprehension which appears to be in the mind of the Attorney-General. He has described the concession of the Government as a concession which satisfies the licenced trade. I cannot allow him to remain under any such impression as that; no doubt the interpretation which the Government have decided to put on this Clause is satisfactory, and I thank them for the way in which they have met us in that respect, but I would inform the Attorney-General that in the licensed trade there is a great grievance still existing; they feel that they have been subjected to unjust burdens, and they will continue to protest against them and do their best to relieve themselves of the overwhelming burdens imposed upon them by this Budget. The Attorney-General made one point which has not yet been dealt with, and that was in reference to the difficulty of making the concession asked for in this Amendment. He says it could be done in this financial year, but not in the financial year which preceded it. I beg to submit to the Government that owing to their own financial arrangements they have combined the finances of two years, and the two years' finance being inextricably interwoven, nothing should prevent them returning out of the surplus which they will have in twelve months ending 31st March next the money which they have taken unjustly from the trade. I think the argument of the Attorney-General therefore falls to the ground, and the Government, having introduced new financial principles, there can be no difficulty in their making arrangements to return the money which has been, according to their own statements, extracted from the licensed trade contrary to their intentions.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I want to enter a protest in a very few words against the "injured innocence" attitude adopted by the Attorney-General. The history of this matter is perfectly plain, and it should be clearly placed on record that the Government did mislead the House—I do not say 1508 intentionally—but in fact and in effect they did mislead the House of Commons as to the particular burden which they were imposing on a certain trade. I think it is only fair that in this matter the Committee should clear from their minds any questions as to the particular trade upon which this burden was imposed. This is purely an abstract matter which we are arguing, as to the justice or injustice of making a particular return to individuals. I hope that hon. Members opposite, in considering this question, will clear their minds of the point whether the trade-affected happens to be one which they like or dislike. The fact is the Government misled the House into imposing a burden which the House did not intend to impose. That cannot be denied, because there are the words on record in which the House of Commons was told that these words would not alter the present administration of the law, and they have been proved to alter it. Can that be denied? That being so, the House of Commons was misled into imposing a tax which it did not intend to impose. The Government, now finding that they did mislead the House of Commons, instead of coming and making confession, and standing in a white sheet, as they clearly ought to do while admitting that they misled the House, and the consequences were not disastrous to them, but on the contrary, they increased their revenue at the expense of certain individuals—instead, while admitting that, of expressing some regret for it, the Government come down to this House and claim some credit for having made a virtuous concession, and having given a grant to the trade out of the goodness of their hearts. The Attorney-General said the trade did not seem dissatisfied, but if the hon. and learned Gentleman looks at it he will see that that probably arose from the impression which the trade, and not the trade alone, have derived of the character of the present Government. The trade remembered whom they were going to, and they remembered the fiscal history of the present Government. Therefore, they were very easily satisfied, and were glad to get any concession at all at the end, although it was not given as a matter of justice. They were glad to get anything from a Government which is past considering the justice of any tax which it imposes. There are certain rules of justice which cannot fairly be departed from, and the moment you depart from those rules you get into these difficulties and troubles. 1509 I feel the Government has not justified an attitude which, indeed, is unjustifiable, and against which I wish to enter my protest.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I understand the position is this. The Government and the Attorney-General have admitted their misdeeds in substance, if not in words. They admit that they have got money during the year 1910–11 which they ought never to have obtained, and from persons who ought not to have been called upon to pay it. They admit that they got it by improper methods, and they say that for that year we pay back what we think we ought never to have received. That is for the year 1910–11, and I say they admit their misdeeds, because if they had not done wrong, surely as custodians of the public purse they would not pay back money which they rightly obtained. Therefore they admit it was wrongfully obtained, and if they profited wrongfully in 1910–11 they obtained it equally wrongfully in 1909–10. But while they pay the sums wrongfully obtained in 1910–11, why should they not, and in candour and honesty also, say that they got the sums wrongfully in 1909–10, and offer to pay them back. I put it to the Attorney-General that he cannot draw any distinction between the two years, and their is every reason why if they pay in one year they should pay in another. I am quite open to conviction if
§ the Attorney-General can convince me, and perhaps he will be good enough to offer some argument as to why this extraordinary, and, on the face of it, inconsistent course has been followed by the Government whose duty after all is not to rob taxpayers, but to collect taxes in accordance with the law.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The hon. Gentleman appealed to me to withdraw this Amendment, but I am sorry to say that I cannot see my way to follow his suggestion. The true reading of his argument is that you need only pay your honourable debts when it is convenient. He admits that it was right to pay for this year, but if the collection was wrong for one year it must have been wrong for the other. The whole trouble arises from Section 44 of the principal Act, and I am sure the Postmaster-General will not get up and say that he intended that section to have the meaning which it did have when it was argued before Mr. Justice Channell. I am sure it was a mistake from the beginning, and the Government having acknowledged it for one year ought to correct it for the other year also.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 237; Noes, 130.1513
|Division No. 45.]||AYES.||[9.50 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Chancellor, H. G.||Field, William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Adamson, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Clancy, John Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Clough, William||Furness, Stephen|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Clynes, J. R.||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gill, A. H.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Glanville, H. J.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Corbett, A. Cameron||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Bernes, G. N.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Goldstone, Frank|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Cotton, William Francis||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Barton, W.||Crumley, Patrick||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Beale, W. P.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Beauchamp, Edward||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Hackett, J.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Dawes, J. A.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Delany, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dillon, John||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Donelan, Captain A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Boland, John Plus||Doris, W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duffy, William J.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furnese)||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Edwards, Allen Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Brace, William||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hayward, Evan|
|Brady, P. J.||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Elverston, H.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N)||Henry, Sir Charles S.|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Essex, Richard Walter||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Falconer, J.||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon Sydney C. (Poplar)||Farrell, James Patrick||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fenwick, Charles||Hughes, S. L.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ferens, T. R.||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Ffrench, Peter||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Rowlands, James|
|Johnson, W.||Nolan, Joseph||St. Maur, Harold|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Norman, Sir Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shortt, Edward|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Keating, M.||O'Dowd, John||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitherc)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Grady, James||Smith, H. B. (Northampton)|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Snowden, Philip|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Malley, William||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Neill, Dr. C. (Armagh, S.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Lawson, Sir W.(Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Summers, James Woolley|
|Leach, Charles||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Sutton, John E.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Parker, James (Halifax).||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Logan, John William||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Toulmin, George|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lundon, T.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lynch, A. A.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wadsworth, J.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Pointer, Joseph||Walters, John Tudor|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pollard, Sir George H.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|M'Callum, John M.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Leics.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Priestley, Sir W. E. S. (Bradford, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Radford, G. H.||Webb, H.|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Rainy, A. Rowland||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Masterman, C. P. G.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Mathias, Richard||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Meagher, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Redmond, William (Clara)||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Richards, Thomas||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Morrell, Philip||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Morton, Alphous Cleophas||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Munro, R.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Robinson, Sidney||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Gulland and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Neilson, Francis||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. F.||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter|
|Ashley, W. W.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kerry, Earl of|
|Astor, Waldorf||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Dairymple, Viscount||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Doughty, Sir George||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lewsham, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Macmaster, Donald|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Fell, Arthur||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Barnston, H.||Fleming, Valentine||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Forster, Henry William||Moore, William|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Foster, Philip Staveley||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Gardner, Ernest||Mount, William Arthur|
|Benu, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Goldman, C. S.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Goldsmith, Frank||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Grant, J. A.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith.||Gretton, John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Boyton, J.||Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Harris, Henry Percy||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Butcher, J. G. (York)||Hickman, Colonel T.||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Carille, E. Hildred||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Cassel, Felix||Hills, J. W.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cator, John||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rice, Hon. W.|
|Cava, George||Hohler, G. F.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Royds, Edmund|
|Clay, Captain H. Spender||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Houston, Robert Paterson||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Sykes, Alan John||Winterton, Earl|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Talbot, Lord E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Spear, John Ward||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Stanier, Seville||Valentia, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Walker, Col. William Hall||Yate, Col. C. E. (Leles., Melton)|
|Stavelay-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)||Younger, George|
|Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Stewart, Gorshom||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Mr. Samuel Roberts and Mr. Pollock.|
|Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.