The first Amendment I propose to call is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) in page 4, line 39. The first three Amendments standing in the hon. Member's name are largely drafting Amendments, but the one I have called and the following one in page 5, line 1, are the substantial ones. I suggest that the general Debate on these and others which concern the date should take place on this Amendment.
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
I beg to move, in page 4, line 39, after the word "for" to insert the words "such financial year as Parliament may hereafter determine not being earlier than."
The alteration which would be effected by this Amendment is that, whereas this Clause provides that the tax shall be charged for the financial year ending the 31st of March, 1934, my Amendment would provide that it should be charged forsuch financial year as Parliament may hereafter determine.My reason for moving this Amendment must be obvious to hon. Members. I think it is undesirable that Parliament should at this date purport to charge a tax for a year three years ahead because nobody knows what may happen meanwhile. No one can say for certain that the machinery necessary to put the new tax into force will be ready. There may be many others reasons for altering the year in which the tax is to be charged. If it were possible to get the machinery at work earlier, Parliament might, in the future, desire to impose a tax for the financial year 1933 instead of 1934. I know that this is an alteration which could not be made except at the instance of the Government and that it would necessitate a further Financial Resolution. I move my Amendment in this 840 particular form because I think it is highly undesirable to adopt a method of charging a tax for several years ahead. The Committee can understand that the Government are proposing the institution of a new form of taxation, so-called, which they cannot make without some years of preparation. That no doubt is a Sufficient justification for passing the necessary legislation to enable the tax to be levied in the future.
The Government have not sufficient foresight to be able to say with certainty that everything will be ready in time to levy the tax in 1934, and there is a possibility that by that time the finances of the country may have improved to such an extent that there may not be sufficient reason for levying this tax in that year. I think it will be agreed that it is undesirable that a tax, which has never been levied before, should suddenly come into operation in one particular financial year without any reference being made to it in the Finance Bill, or in any other legislation before that year. The number of taxpayers who will be affected is very large, and in the case of small landowners I think it is undesirable that a tax should come into operation for the first time as a result of legislation passed years before without any particular notice being given in the year in which it is imposed. I hope that, for reasons of finance generally, the Government may see their way to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
The effect of the Amendments standing in the name of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) is to postpone the date so as to give more time for the valuation. There are as many as 12 months' hereditaments now to be valued due to the break-up of large estates and other causes. I am quite prepared to admit that, when it is a question of the taxpayer being mulcted, it is a more expeditious process when the taxpayer has some claims upon the Treasury, but it is difficult to understand how the valuation can be completed at the date suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The chief valuer of the Board of Inland Revenue, giving evidence before the last Land Valuation Committee in 1919, stated that the valuation commenced in April, 1910, and by July, 1914, only 74 per cent. of the provisional valuations had been completed. It was then stated that 841 a staff of 0,200 was employed at headquarters and 7,000 in the provinces. That is a very large staff. I am aware that it depends on the number of officials employed how long the valuation will take, but surely at a time like this when you should be axing rather than grafting you are creating an unwieldy organisation out of all proportion to any revenue you will collect. There is one other important consideration which arises. If the Town and Country Planning Bill becomes law, and is put into operation, the valuation will have to be made over again. There may be a site assessed as eligible for a factory, but under a town planning scheme, it may be scheduled as an open space. But what is to happen? Suppose that the scheme comes into operation. Is there to be another valuation? That may be a case which will be very frequent all over the country. If so, surely there should be a second valuation, and for that you would require considerable time. If the Government are going to get the valuation done in time, they will have to employ the Guillotine for the valuation as they have done for the Debates in this House.
§ Lord ERSKINE
I wish to support the Amendment. It is an extraordinary procedure and one which has not been adopted in this House before, to bring in a tax in one year and to say that it is not to come into operation for two or three or more years. If the Bill passes as it stands, this House will not again have a chance of considering the tax before it comes into operation. I do not quite know why the Government have chosen this particular method of bringing in the tax. I should have thought it would have been far better to have had an ordinary valuation Bill, and then to have imposed the tax; but for some reason best known to themselves the Government have chosen this particular method. We should support the Amendment because it does allow the House to have another chance of considering whether or not it desires to impose this tax in the financial year 1933–34. The Government really are wrong in saying that the valuation will take such a very short time. The point has already been raised, but I would remind the hon. and learned Solicitor-General that after the land taxes of 842 1909, the valuation took a very long time, and in fact had not been completed on the outbreak of war. There is no guarantee whatever that this new valuation will be finished by the time that the Government propose that the tax should come into operation.
The last speaker raised the point that the Financial Bill clashes with the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Bill which is now before a Standing Committee. It has always seemed to me that the provisions of the Finance Bill and of the Town and Country Planning Bill are mutually contradictory. It will be found when this valuation is made that certain spaces have been scheduled as open spaces under the Town and Country Planning Bill, and when the tax comes into operation it will in many cases prove unworkable, or will be very unfair, because owners of property will be taxed on the valuation when all the time their property will have been town-planned. There are three reasons why the Committee should support the Amendment, One is the time that will be taken to make the valuation; secondly, there is the clash between the Town and Country Planning Bill and the Finance Bill; and, thirdly, there is the present procedure, which I can only stigmatise as improper—bringing in a tax in one year and not imposing it for three years.
§ Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS
I understand that we are discussing various alternative Amendments which deal with the same subject. My preference is for the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), which proposes that the tax should not come into force until 1936. That would ensure that the present Parliament, even if it lasted the full five years, would have ceased to exist at the time when the Budget Resolution putting the tax into force would be brought forward in this House. That is to say, the Noble Lord's Amendment would ensure that the people would have an opportunity of expressing their opinion before being taxed. I feel sure that most hon. Members realise that the question of this Land Tax was not before the country at the General Election two years ago. Personally, I never heard of it at a single meeting or in a single question put at a meeting. The 843 minds of the people were not turned to the subject at that time. A revolutionary tax of this sort ought, therefore, not to be imposed now.
I know that the proposal has been in the cupboard for many years, and that the idea of taxing land values had been discussed for a very long time. I know also that two hon. Members opposite are very enthusiastic on this particular subject, and that probably in their own constituencies they made it the main plank in their platform, but I think that hon. Members opposite, if they look honestly into their own consciences, will not be able to say that this was an issue at the last election. As I say, I prefer the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham, because it would give the people an opportunity of thinking over the matter and of recording a Vote upon it before any such tax was imposed.
§ Mr. OSWALD LEWIS
I wish to make a brief reference to the question of the date from which the tax should be levied. I would remind the Committee that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in making his financial statement used these words:It would be unwise, if not impracticable, to attempt to value and tax concurrently.Later he said:I propose that the valuation should be substantially completed before the tax begins to be levied."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1931; cols. 1409 and 1410, Vol. 251.]It must be obvious to all of us that in the first place, with a view to getting a correct and fair valuation, the valuation should not be unduly hurried, and on the other hand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was indubitably right in saying that it was most desirable that the valuation should be substantially complete before the tax began to operate. So far as I am aware, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not favoured the House with any reasons in support of the suggestion that the valuation can be completed within the time set forth in the Finance Bill. I want to address two specific questions to the learned Solicitor-General on the subject. First can he tell the Committee of any evidence drawn from the experience of other countries with regard to land valuation that would tend to show that 844 the period set down in the Finance Bill is a reasonable period. Secondly, can he tell the Committee on what number of staff the Chancellor of the Exchequer has based his calculation for making the valuation within the period set down in the Finance Bill? If the Solicitor-General cannot satisfy the Committee on either of those two points, or in some similiar way show that there is substantial argument in support of the belief that the valuation can be made within the short time laid down in the Bill, the Committee will be well advised to substitute therefor the period of time suggested by the Noble Lord or that which is now suggested.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I commend this Amendment to the Government because I think that acceptance of it is the only honest course that they can pursue. We all know that this is a sham tax. The Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) said it was a mystery to him why the Government had adopted this particular procedure with regard to land valuation. It is no mystery to me. The Government are not interested in the revenue from this tax. Their motto is, "We could not love the poor so much loathed we not landlords more." The only object they have is to try to break the landlord. The penny tax is just sham. The time may come when it will be 2s. 6d., 5s. or even 10s. in the pound. To impose a sham tax which is bound to operate in a certain year is almost beyond the bounds of what one would expect even from this Government. They try to hide behind the penny in the pound tax, which is to come into operation at the happy time when they go out of office. Such camouflage deceives no one. It is a gross travesty of Parliamentary procedure. It is entirely wrong to impose taxes for other than the financial year in which they are levied. I suggest that the Government drop this sham scheme and at least be frank as to their intentions.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)
In spite of the very welcome and cordial terms in which the hon. Member has invited us to meet the views put forward in the Amendment, I am afraid that we are unable to do so. The Committee will appreciate that the primary object of this part of the 845 Finance Bill is to levy a tax, but as a necessary ancillary to that one has to carry through the valuation. It would be quite idle to set up am expensive machinery and staff for the valuation unless at the same time one came to a determination as to whether a tax was to be levied or not. It would be idle to ask the Committee now to consider the question of the valuation of all the land of the country except the agricultural land, unless the Committee was determined that at some future date a tax should be levied on the basis of the valuation. As to the question whether it is wise and when it is wise to fix the date, there are two considerations which I am sure the Committee will have in mind. The first is that it is obviously desirable to levy the tax as soon as possible if you are going to levy it at all. No doubt those who think the tax a bad tax would like it delayed as long as possible, but I am assuming for the moment that one is proceeding on the basis that this is a tax which should be levied, and one would naturally attempt to levy it at the earliest possible moment. Another matter of equal importance is that it is only fair that there should be as long notice as possible to owners that the tax would be in fact levied. It is only by inserting in the present Bill the precise date on which it is proposed to levy the tax that that notice can be adequately given.
I do not think that anything car really be said in support of one of the arguments put forward, that this tax will creep upon owners like a thief in the night and will never be observed until it is put upon them, for I understand that it is generally known at the present time that there is to be a land tax, and the welcome that it has met with everywhere leads one to believe that everyone is thankful that it is to be imposed so early. The fixing of the date is necessary for these two reasons. The necessary assessments and valuations which will take place in the intervening period will probably keep those who own land in the knowledge throughout the period that there is likely to be a land tax at the end of it.
The other point which was raised as regards the question of date was the valuation and the time that it was likely to take. It is idle, in my submission, 846 to compare this in any way with the 1809–10 valuation. I will not repeat the reasons, which have been set forth so often, but the primary reason is because that was a valuation on a completely different basis, one of vast complexity, involving the ascertainment of as many as 20 different figures for each site in the country, and the consequent delay which could be manufactured by the owners, and which was indeed necessary if a fair valuation on the basis there laid down was to be arrived at, could not be avoided.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. O. Lewis) as to what staff it was contemplated would be required in order to carry through the valuation in the time that has been allotted to it. The figure that is anticipated is somewhere in the region of 2,000 additional to those who are at the present time engaged in the Valuation Department, and it is on the basis of some such number as that—I am not giving, of course, precise figures—that those who are best able to judge, from an experience of very wide valuation throughout the country, say that the period which has been set for the valuation can and will be complied with. I do not think the Government can do more than take the best advice available to them in order to ascertain how long this valuation is to take. In answer to the other question which the hon. Member put to me, I do not know myself of any useful figures of comparison with other countries, where a similar valuation has been carried out for a similar number of units, that could give anything beyond some very general guide, which I think would be of less value than the expert information which has been obtained by the Government. Those are the reasons why I suggest to the Committee that it is essential that this date should be fixed in this first Clause dealing with the land tax, and that it should be fixed at the earliest date possible, in view of the best advice which the Government can get as to how long the valuation will take.
The idea of the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Sir S. Roberts), who suggested that the reason for postponing it was because a future Parliament might take a different view, does not, in my submission, seem to be a very good reason. If this Parliament is incapable of making up 847 its mind, I think it is really rather a confession of weakness. Surely this Parliament is sufficiently capable to say for itself whether or not it thinks it wise that this tax should be imposed. It is well known, I think, that this matter has long been before the country as part of the programme certainly of two parties in the House, and it is impossible to say that this Land Tax is anything which has not been fully and thoroughly discussed, both in theory and in practice, in many parts of the world, including this country. Therefore, I regret to say that we are unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am not altogether surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General is unable to accept the Amendment, but I am somewhat surprised at some of the reasons which he has given to the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that it is idle to have a proposal for a valuation unless you include along with it proposals for taxation. But may I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that only last summer we had a Land Valuation Bill brought in which did precisely what he now says it is idle to do? It is true that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not in the House at the time, but the Government last summer brought forward their Valuation Bill, and they told us they brought it forward at the end of the summer Session in order that the country might have a full opportunity of considering it during the summer Recess. The character of the proposals in that Bill, I may pause to observe here, in relation to what he last said, differed in many important respects from the character of the present proposals, so that not only have the Government modified their own opinion since last year as to what the tax ought to be, but actually last year they were proposing to do that which the hon. and learned Gentleman now says is idle.
We object to this proposal, and we have put forward these Amendments for two reasons. In the first place, we object to prejudging the question of whether or not there is to be a tax without having any estimate whatever of revenue. Is it not a very remarkable thing that the Committee should be asked to impose a tax without having had even the faintest attempt to foreshadow what the revenue of the tax is likely to be—nay, more, after having had a statement from the Chancellor of 848 the Exchequer that he will positively refuse, as long as he can, to give any forecast whatever of what the revenue is likely to be? That is the first reason for moving the Amendment. Our second reason is that it is inexpedient to impose a tax until you have some knowledge that it will be a practicable tax, and until you have at least some opportunity of ascertaining what the feeling of the taxpayers is in regard to it. It is for that reason that I attach importance to the Amendment of my Noble Friend to postpone the operation of the tax for two years, till 1936.
I now come to the other part of the Solicitor-General's speech. I think further that those two years will be necessary, because in fact it will be impossible to carry through the valuation before 1936 at the earliest. The hon. and learned Gentleman is always anxious, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, to prevent us from appealing to the experience of 1909. He is a very fair controversialist. I have great hopes of him during the coming Debates, and I am sure that we shall not be disappointed, but I too should like to be quite fair to him. We did give, at an earlier stage, an estimate or a statement that it took about five years to complete the valuation of 1909 and that the cost was about £5,000,000. To that, the Solicitor-General replied, "It is very true that it took five years to complete the valuation, but in fact the cost was only about £2,000,000, because the balance of the £5,000,000 was spent subsequent to 1915, when the valuation was complete."
I say at once that I accept that correction from the hon. and learned Gentleman, but equally I ask him to accept from me that the statement that the valuation was completed in five years was not strictly accurate, because what was completed in five years was the first office copy of the valuation; that is to say, the office had succeeded in collecting the first valuation in something like 96 per cent. of the hereditaments, or about 11,500,000 of them. But a large proportion of those valuations had never even got to the next stage, of being served on the owners, and after the service the Act of 1909 provided for all the subsequent stages, of discussion between the Department and the owners, of fixing, and of appeal, so that it is certainly not true to say that in 1909, even in five years, had you succeeded 849 in completing anything like more than a fraction of the valuations which fell to be completed.
Nor is it true to say that the valuation under this Bill is likely to be vastly less complicated than the valuation in 1909. A lot of the complications in the 1909 valuation, it is true, arose because, in the course of Debate and in the clash of Debate, various things were pointed out to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon which he and his advisers were so convinced that wrong and injustice were being done, that he had to make alterations in his taxation proposals to meet them. I do not despair of believing that that will be the case with this Bill. I believe that you will be pressed, as indeed is apparent already, further and further as you go along, in the direction of exemption and relief. Already you have six pages of Amendments down to the exemption Clauses, and I believe that you will find that your tax will tend to grow not less but more complicated.
In addition to that, let me remind the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Committee that here, this time, you have a new valuation which you did not have in 1909. Here for the first time you have cultivation value, and you have the whole procedure of cultivation value, with its right of appeal running strictly parallel to the original land valuation. You have these values running parallel, each with their own rights of appeal and their own stages to be gone through, that you did not have in 1909. Therefore, under these circumstances, I do not think it is safe to assume that the process will be vastly less complicated than was the process in 1909.
One word more. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that it is calculated that an extra cost of £1,500,000 will be involved by the employment of 2,000 extra officials. That appears to me to be a remarkable under-estimate. I believe it is a wholly fallacious estimate, and I will tell the Committee why. It is very difficult to say how many hereditaments there are in the country at the present moment, but certainly the number is vastly in excess of that which it was in 1909. Everybody knows that that is true. As I said on an earlier occasion, I am told that half the land of the country has changed hands since the War. It is certain that the number of 850 different owners has multiplied enormously, and if you say that probably something like 12,000,000 hereditaments have to be dealt with, you are certainly not over the mark.
Now you have 2,000 extra officials who are to deal with these 12,000,000 hereditaments, and remember that when I say "to deal with" them, in each case the valuer has to make a cadastral survey of the ground. He has to be so intimately acquainted with the ground that he has actually to know the location of the hedges, fields and trees, and all the rest. Let us suppose that half these 2,000 extra officials whom the Solicitor-General is to employ will be expert valuers, and that' is a large assumption, because it is a large thing to say that only 1,000 will be purely clerical labour. But let us assume that there are 1,000 expert valuers. They are to value 12,000,000 hereditaments under these conditions, and they are to value them, we are told, by the complete process in 18 months.
A little "rule of three" sum may be useful. That means that there are 12,000,000 hereditaments to be dealt with in 18 months, or, shall we say, 16 months, which means about 8,000,000 hereditaments in a year; that means that each expert valuer is to do 8,000 hereditaments in the course of a year; and that means to say that he will have to complete the valuation of 26 hereditaments per day; in other words, that he is to do something like the valuation of three hereditaments every hour. If you reduce it to terms like that—and that is the only way of tackling this question—you perceive that the suggestion that you can possibly get this valuation through by employing 2,000 extra officials, of whom, say, 1,000 are expert valuers, is really to insult the intelligence of the Committee. In these circumstances, I certainly join heartily with my hon. Friends in supporting this Amendment, and I hope the Committee will carry it.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I am bound to say that I do not quite follow the reasons given by the Solicitor-General for resisting this very modest Amendment. Consider for a moment what this Bill is doing. It is setting up a method of valuation, and then proceeding to the quite extraordinary step of devising a tax which is not to take effect until two years from now. That is a very extraordinary and 851 unusual step, and one which, if not without precedent, is almost without precedent in the financial history of this country. There is one very illuminating matter that deserves attention, and that is that the case for this tax has never been put by anyone from the Government side. No one, since these proposals have been printed, has ever attempted to make the case for them. In the course of a few desultory remarks on the Second Reading the Solicitor-General did answer a few observations addressed to him from this side——
I must call the hon. and learned Member's attention to the fact that we are not discussing the tax, but the date on which the tax is to be applied.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
No. I assure you, Mr. Dunnico, that, although I quite understand your impatience, I was strictly in order, because I was going to point out—I do not question your Ruling—that we ought really to consider, in connection with the question whether the tax should be applied two years hence or whether it should be applied after a further Resolution of the House, the reasons why the House is asked to pass this tax at all. The House of Commons is not asked to vote a tax for fun; it is asked to vote it, if at all, for two rational purposes—either to raise revenue or to carry out some social function. As regards the raising of revenue, you do not raise revenue for fun. We cannot know now what the financial needs of the country will be two years hence, or whether it will be necessary to squeeze a further sum of money out of the taxpayer, or, indeed, whether it will be possible to impose upon him an additional burden; so that, if this tax is intended to raise revenue, the proper thing would be to wait until a later period, that is to say, until after the valuation has been made, before deciding whether or not it will be necessary in that year to raise this revenue. The second point is that we have not the faintest conception of what kind of amount of revenue we may expect the tax to yield. Therefore, both from the point of view of the financial needs of the country and from the point of view of the yield of the tax, we ought obviously to wait for a further period before deciding, if revenue is the 852 consideration, whether or not the tax ought to be imposed on or after a future date.
Then there is the second possibility, that this tax may be being Imposed because of some social need, in order to bring land into the market. That is the only credible explanation that has ever been given; the others savour of a kind of malevolence that one does not like to attribute to the Front Government bench. In that case there is an additional reason why we should wait for two years, because we do not know at the present moment what the land demands of the country will be. But is not there another reason, which the Solicitor-General has not given, and which, perhaps, has not been given to him, namely, that it is possible that, if no definite date were harnessed to this Clause, the Clause would make the Bill look still less like a money Bill, and, therefore, the Government would not be able to dragoon and guillotine the House into passing it without further discussion in another place.
If these two reasons which I have given—namely, the sweetening of the revenue or the achievement of some social function—are the reasons why this proposal has been brought forward, I can understand why the Government desire to fix the date in the Bill itself. It is because it is inspired and controlled and achieved by a third reason, which does not vary, and that is the reason of malice and spite, which will be the same two years hence as it is to-day. [Interruption.]
On a point of Order. May I call your attention, Mr. Dunnico, to the remark made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Rhondda (Lieut.-Colonel Watts-Morgan)? He used the words "You impertinent dog," to my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down, and I ask that his words be taken down.
If the hon. and gallant Member made use of that expression, I must ask him to withdraw it.
I will withdraw it. One could not refrain, 853 having regard to the history of the hon. Member, from making use of the expression, but I am very sorry I did so.
May I call your attention to the fact that the hon. and gallant Member, in professing to withdraw his remark, said that he could not refrain from making it in view of the history of the hon. Member? Surely, the hon. and gallant Member is not to be permitted to make a statement of that kind without withdrawing that statement also?
I understood that the hon. and gallant Member absolutely and unconditionally withdrew the statement that he made.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
The hon. and gallant Member referred to the history of my hon. and learned Friend, and said it was impossible to refrain from making attacks upon him, having regard to his history. Has he yet withdrawn that, and will he now withdraw it?
§ Sir W. BRASS
I must say that, when I was listening to the speech of the Solicitor-General, I was amazed to hear his remark that this Land Tax was before the country at the last General Election. I remember quite well the sort of Land Tax that was proposed at the last General Election, and, as has been pointed out by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), it bears absolutely no resemblance to the proposal which is now made by the Government. I can quite understand why the Solicitor-General said it was very important that this tax should be levied at the earliest possible moment, after what has happened to-day at Gateshead. I think the reason why the hon. and learned Gentleman is so anxious that this tax should be imposed at the earliest possible moment is that he fears that between now and 1934, when it is proposed to bring this tax into opera- 854 tion, there might be a General Election, and that the result in other constituencies would probably be the same as at Gateshead, where the Socialist majority has dropped by 15,000 odd.
I do not understand why the Solicitor-General says that this valuation will be much easier than that under the Act of 1909. As has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), the number of hereditaments to be valued is considerably higher to-day than it was under the Act of 1909, and there are other complications which have to be taken into account, and which possibly the Solicitor-General may not have realised. Not only have you to value the site under this Bill, but you have also to take into account the various interests in that site. You have to take into account the actual owner of the site; you have to take into account the leaseholder under Clause 15; and you have also to take into account the mortgagees under Clause 16. They all have opportunities under this Bill, and they are all brought into it.
The real trouble in bringing this Measure forward is this: Why should the Government of to-day presume to know what the financial position of this country will be in 1934? Why should the Government come here and say, "We are going to value the land; we do not know in the least what that valuation is going to be; we have not the foggiest idea of how much revenue a 1d. tax will produce; but we are going to say that in 1934 this tax is going to be applied." Is not that unfairness itself? They do not know whom they are going to tax; they do not know the amount of money they are going to take from them; and yet they are asking the House of Commons to pass a Measure which is going to tax, to the amount of 1d. in the £, a certain number of people in 1934. If they want a valuation, let them have a valuation, but let them wait until the time when the valuation is finished, and let the Government of that day say whether it is necessary to impose a tax of 1d. or 2d. or 1s., as was suggested by some hon. Members opposite, on the site value of the land.
In the City of London there is bound to be a very large number of appeals. I do not want to ask any catch questions of the Solicitor-General, because I know 855 that usually he is not able to answer them, but in the City of London there are many complications in connection with the valuation. It would be out of order for me to go into that question now, and I only want to point out that in the City those complications will occur in connection with the value of sites, the shape of the sites, the heights of the buildings that can be put on the sites, and so on. I think that, when the Solicitor-General assumes that this valuation is going to be easier than the valuation under the Act of 1929, he is not correct, but that he will find that the valuation under this Measure, with the larger number of hereditaments that will have to be valued and the complications that are bound to ensue, will take very much longer, and that even by 1934 it will not be anywhere near completion.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I think that the real cause for anxiety in regard to the Government's refusal to consider any later date for the bringing of this tax into operation is the proof that it gives that they are intending to hustle through the valuation, which will mean very great injustice to those who will have to pay the tax. This tax is going to affect my constituency very considerably. Above all, it is essential that time should be given for a thorough and complete valuation which will be fair to all the various interests concerned. I know it is said by the Solicitor-General and others that agricultural land is not going to be taxed. I cannot, of course, develop that point now, but it is perfectly clear that the valuation of land which is to all intents and purposes agricultural is going to be a very difficult process anywhere in the neighbourhood of big towns, as in the greater part of my constituency.
The point has been made by my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken that the Solicitor-General has said that this tax has been fully discussed, and, therefore, will not require any particular understanding, and will not come as a surprise to anyone. Many things have been said in the past about the taxation of land values, but I can only say that I have never seen this particular scheme suggested. I have heard a great deal about the increment value of land, about the sharks who are speculating in land, 856 and so on, but this particular tax has never been discussed or understood; and the best proof of that is the enormous number of objections which come to us almost every day from bodies who are certainly not dukes or wealthy landowners, but who represent large sections of the population who are deeply surprised and very much disturbed by the prospect of such a tax. The Solicitor-General has told us that he is going to get the valuations in two years' time. To say that valuations of this complexity can possibly be carried through in that time and completed, leaving time for the objections and appeals which will be necessary, is surely flying in the face of obvious facts.
The valuation is not going to be by any means the simple thing that the Solicitor-General suggests. The question of cultivation value in a constituency like mine is going to be very difficult. I know nothing about valuation in towns, but I know a good deal about the value of land in the country. To talk about valuations at the rate of three in an hour is to make a suggestion that is ridiculous. It cannot be done. The question of valuation to me is by far the most important thing. It is possible that no tax may result from it, and it is possible that the many objections and exemptions which will have to be made may make it a comparatively small thing, but, if the valuation, which may have far-reaching effects and cause a very serious position for many people, is going to be unfair and to be hustled through unduly, it is a strong argument against the process that the Government are trying to pursue. Whatever else may happen, let us have a fair valuation, and let the people of the country be fairly treated. Many hon. Members opposite have very little knowledge of country conditions and of this land question. To think that these things can be hustled through at the rate suggested is to suggest a thing which is beyond the limits of possible fact and which may result in very great injustice being done to many of the citizens of the country.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
May I reply to the right hon. Gentleman's point with regard to the delusion under which he said I was labouring concerning the time that the valuation would take. He has completely omitted in his calculations 857 the existing staff who will be able to be put upon this valuation. A great many of them will be able to use for the purpose of the Land Value Tax the valuation that they are now making. Secondly, the exemptions will cut out a large number of the 12,000,000 hereditaments. It is true that no one will value three agricultural hereditaments in an hour. On the other hand, many valuers in towns will value many times more than that. Where you get whole rows of streets, each house on each side being exactly the same, there will be many occasions when valuers can do many more than 26 in a day, and they will not be unfair valuations. They will be perfectly good valuations done by men who understand their business. It has been done for rating purposes at a similar speed. The right hon. Gentleman will remember the amount of revaluation which had to be done under the recent Eating Act. It had to be carried out in a little over a year. It amounted to the revaluation of the whole country for rating purposes. It was carried through in spite of the fact that rating surveyors are supposed to be specially highly skilled men and that there was said to be a shortage of them. There is a further point. A great deal of the information with regard to areas under the 1909–10 valuation is, of course, still available. The subject matter with which the right hon. Gentleman was dealing as to the measurement of the fields is available already to the extent of 96 per cent. in the offices of the Inland Revenue, and it will be very useful for the purpose of the new valuation.
Do I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that it is proposed to make use of the old 1910 valuation? I hope he will make it clear that that is not so. He seems to suggest that it would be correct as regards the size of the fields and things of that kind. He can have very little acquaintance with the changing conditions of agriculture. In the part of the world in which I live, fields have entitrely altered, hedges have been grubbed up, and land has been laid down to grass which was formerly arable land. I have no hesitation in saying that, if a valuer who valued the agricultural land in my constituency in 1910 returned there to-day, he would find his valuation entirely valueless for any purpose whatever. We take the greatest possible objection to any idea that that valuation could be used in any way.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I did not suggest that anyone would use the valuation of 1909–10 at the present date. That would be perfectly impossible. But over large parts of the country where I live we have stone walls which have not been moved and the fields are exactly the same. There have been a few small alterations, but, as regards hundreds of thousands of acres, the particulars that were given in 1909–10 as regards the size of the fields will be able to be used.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 209; Noes, 276.861
|Division No. 286.]||AYES.||[5.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colanel||Broadbent, Colonel J.||Colfox, Major William Phllip|
|Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Brown, Brig.-Gen, H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Albery, Irving James||Buchan, John||Colville, Major D. J.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l. W.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Butler, R. A.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Atholl, Ducness of||Campbell, E. T.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Carver, Major W. H.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)|
|Balniel, Lord||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Davies. Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Chapman, Sir S.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Christie. J. A.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Duckworth, G. A. V.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Eden. Captain Anthony|
|Bracken, B.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||England, Colonel A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High peak)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Fermoy, Lord||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Flelden, E. B.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Savery, S. S.|
|Flson, F. G. Clavering||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Smith, Louis W, (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lymington, Viscount||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Macquisten, F. A.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Meller, R. J.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Grace, John||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Millar, J. D.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Monsell, Eyres, Com, Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Muirhead, A. J.||Thompson, Luke|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Hanbury, C.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||O'Connor, T. J.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||O'Neill, Sir H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd. Henley)||Penny, Sir George||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Power, Sir John Cecil||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Ramsbotham, H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Withers, Sir John James|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Reid, David D, (County Down)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Remer, Jonn R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ross, Ronald D.||Captain Margesson and Captain Wallace.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Burgess, F. G.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr, Christopher||Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Gill, T. H.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Cameron, A. G.||Glassey, A. E.|
|Alexanuer, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Cape, Thomas||Gossling, A. G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Gould, F.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Charleton, H. C.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Chater, Daniel||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Arnott, John||Church, Major A. G.||Gray, Milner|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Cluse, W. S.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Ayles, Walter||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Compton, Joseph||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Cove. William G.||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Barr, James||Daggar, George||Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Batey, Joseph||Dallas, George||Hall, J. H (Whitechapel)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Dalton, Hugh||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Benson, G.||Day, Harry||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bondfieid, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Duncan, Charles||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Bowen, J. W.||Ede, James Chuter||Haycock, A. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edmunds, J. E.||Hayes, John Henry|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Egan, W. H.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr- (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bromfield, William||Elmley, Viscount||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Brooke, W.||Foot, Isaac||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Brothers, M.||Freeman, Peter||Herriotts, J.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Buchanan, G.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Hollins, A.||Middleton, G.||Slmmans, C. J.|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Mills, J. E.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Milner, Major J.||Slnkinson, George|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Isaacs, George||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Morley, Ralph||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B.(Keighley)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Mort, D. L.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Muff, G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Murnin, Hugh||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Sorensen, R.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Naylor, T. E.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Noel Baker, P. J.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Noel-Buxton, Baronets (Norfolk, N.)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Kinley, J.||Oldfield, J. R.||Sullivan, J.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Knight, Holford||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Lang, Gordon||Palin, John Henry||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Palmer, E. T.||Thorne, W, (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Perry, S. F.||Toole, Joseph|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Tout, W. J.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Townend, A. E.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Leach, W.||Pole, Major D. G.||Turner, Sir Ben|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Potts, John S.||Vaughan, David|
|Lees, J.||Price, M. P.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Pybus, Percy John||Walker, J.|
|Lloyd, C. Eills||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Waiters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Watkins, F. C.|
|Longden, F.||Raynes, W. R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Richards, R.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lunn, William||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Wellock, Wlitred|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Ritson, J||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|McElwee, A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||West, F. R.|
|McEntee, V. L.||Romeril, H. G.||Westwood, Joseph|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||White, H. G.|
|McKinlay, A.||Rowson, Guy||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|McShane, John James||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sanders, W. S.||Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Sandham, E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Manning, E. L.||Sawyer, G. F.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Mansfield, W.||Scurr, John||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|March, S.||Sexton, Sir James||Winterton, G. E.(Leicesler, Loughb'gh)|
|Marcus, M.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wise, E. F.|
|Markham, S. F.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Marley, J.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Young, H. S. (Islington, North)|
|Marshall, Fred||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Mathers, George||Shield, George William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Matters, L. W.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Maxton, James||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Messer, Fred||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
I beg to move, in page 4, line 41, to leave out the word "thirty-four," and to insert instead thereof the word "thirty-six."
§ Question put, "That the word 'thirty-four' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 280; Noes, 210.863
|Division No. 287.]||AYES.||[5.50 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Broad, Francis Alfred|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Barnes, Alfred John||Brockway, A. Fenner|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Barr, James||Bromfield, William|
|Altchlson. Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Batey, Joseph||Brooke, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Brothers, M.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Benson. G.||Brown, Bt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)|
|Arnott, John||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Buchanan, G.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Birkett, W. Norman||Burgess, F. G.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bondfield, Ht. Hon. Margaret||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)|
|Ayles, Walter||Bowen, J. W.||Caine, Hall-, Derwent|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cameron, A. G.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kirkwood, D.||Ritson. J.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Knight, Holford||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lang, Gordon||Romerll, H. G.|
|Chater, Daniel||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Rothschild, J. de|
|Cluse, W. S.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rowson, Guy|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Waiter|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawrence, Susan||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cove, William G.||Leach, W.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Sandham, E.|
|Daggar, George||Lees, J.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Dallas, George||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Scurr, John|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lindley, Fred W.||Sexton, Sir James|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lloyd, C. Eills||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Logan, David Gilbert||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Day, Harry||Longbottom, A. W.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Longden, F.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Shield, George William|
|Duncan, Charles||Lunn, William||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Ede, James Chuter||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Egan, W. H.||McElwee, A.||Sinkinson, George|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEntee, V. L.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Foot, Isaac||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shottleston)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Freeman, Peter||McKinlay, A.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B.(Keighley)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|George. Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McShane, John James||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gill. T. H.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Manning, E. L.||Sorensen. R.|
|Gossling, A. G.||Mansfield, W.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Gould, F.||March, S.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marcus, M.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Markham, S. F.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gray, Milner||Marley, J.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Marshall, Fred||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mathers, George||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Matters, L. W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maxton, James||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Messer, Fred||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Middleton, G.||Toole, Joseph|
|Hail, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Mills, J. E.||Tout, W. J.|
|Hall, J. H (Whitechapel)||Milner, Major J.||Townend, A. E.|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Montague, Frederick||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Turner, Sir Ben|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Money, Ralph||Vaughan, David|
|Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Morrison. Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Walker. J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Mort, D. L.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Muff, G.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Haycock, A. W.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Murnin, Hugh||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Naylor, T. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Welsh, James (Palsley)|
|Herriotts, J.||Oldfield, J. R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||West, F. R.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Palln, John Henry||White. H. G.|
|Hollins, A.||Palmer, E. T.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Whiteley. William (Blaydon)|
|Hudson, James H. (Hudderafield)||Perry, S. F.||Wilkinson, Elien C.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Isaacs, George||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Plcton-Turbervill, Edith||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pole, Major D. G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Potts, John S.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Price, M. P.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pybus, Percy John||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wise, E. F.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Richards, R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Kelly, W. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Kinley, J.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Erekine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Everard, W. Lindsay||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Albery, Irving James||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Ferguson, Sir John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Fermoy, Lord||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Flelden, E. B.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Flson, F. G. Clavering||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ford, Sir P. J.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Atkinson, C.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Penny, Sir George|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gilmour, Lt.-Col, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T P. H.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Gower, Sir Robert||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Grace, John||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bird, Ernest Rov||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Held, David D. (County Down)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Remer, John R.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Bracken, B.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Braes, Captain Sir William||Gulnnees, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gunsten, Captain D. W.||Rots, Ronald D.|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Buchan, John||Hanbury, C.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hartington, Marquess of||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Butler, R. A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Savery, S. S.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Haslam, Henry C.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Cattle Stewart, Earl of||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Somerset, Thomas|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Horne. Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sueter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Cockerill, Brig-General Sir Geerge||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Thompson, Luke|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Caurtauld, Major J. S.||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Lymington, Viscount||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Macquisten, F. A.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambrldge U.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Meller, R. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Withers, Sir John James|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Millar, J. D.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kentington, S.)||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hllton|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|England, Colonel A.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Captain Margesson and Captain Wallace.|
The next Amendment that I call stands in the name of the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto)—in page 5, line 2, to leave out the word "penny," and to insert instead thereof the word "shilling."
On a point of Order. It is well that we should understand clearly the Ruling of the Chair on this part of the Debate. I understand that on the terms of the Amendment which you have called there will be a 867 general discussion allowed. If that be so, we should not have a repetition of the discussion on the Amendment to leave out Clause 7. There is, however, one Amendment before that.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)
The understanding is that there will be a discussion on wide lines on the first Amendment, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, and that the remainder of the time will be devoted to the Amendment dealing with the agricultural question. That is an understanding that is entirely satisfactory so far as we are concerned.
I understood at the outset that on this Amendment the question would be discussed generally so far as this Clause is concerned, and that afterwards we should proceed to the agricultural Amendment. When we come to the Question, "That the Clause stand part," there will be no discussion.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I beg to move, in page 5, line 2, to leave out the word "penny," and to insert instead thereof the word "shilling."
This Amendment is connected with the two following Amendments which stand in my name—in line 2, to leave out the word "land," and to insert instead thereof the word "annual," and in line 3, at the end, to add the words, "calculated at five per cent. on the land value." The Clause, as amended by the three Amendments which stand in my name, would read, reading from the last line on page 4:a tax (to be called 'land value tax' and hereinafter in this part of this Act referred to as 'the tax') at the rate of one shilling for each pound of the annual value of every land unit, calculated at five per cent. on the land value.Although it has been arranged that on this Amendment a fairly wide discussion of the whole question of the land tax is to be taken, I consider it to be my duty to confine myself a little more closely to the Amendment itself, and to leave to other abler speakers the wider discretion of dealing on more general lines with the merits of the tax. I will point out what my Amendment does and what it does not do. The first thing that it does is to base an annual tax upon the basis of an annual value. That 868 seems to me to be a sounder proposal than the Government's proposal, which is to base an annual tax upon an arbitrarily ascertain capital or, as it is called, land value. That does not make it into a tax upon the annual income received. Hon. Members will notice that it is to be calculated on the basis of five per cent. on the land value, so that even if my Amendment were carried it would still be the case that people would be called upon to pay this annual tax when they have received no income from which to pay the tax, in many cases.
The second thing that the Amendment would do would be to reduce a tax which is now masquerading as only a tax of one penny in the pound from what, in the case of a capital value of £100, is a tax of 8s. 4d. annually, to a tax of 5s. That would very nearly halve the amount of the tax proposed. I wish to give a good many reasons why I think a smaller tax than that proposed by the Government, if we are to have such a tax, would be a more reasonable proposal for the Committee to accept. My first reason is, that I should be following a good precedent. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when he introduced his undeveloped land duty fixed it at one halfpenny in the pound, and called it a tax only of the smallest copper. But that would not be my only reason. If we are to experiment in this very novel manner at an unknown date, certainly not nearer than three years hence, without the slightest knowledge of what the condition of the country will be or what the capacity of the taxpayer on that date will be, a more modest tax than that proposed by the Government would be wise. We have no estimate of what the Government expect to derive from the tax. Therefore an argument based on the fact that there is a necessity for a certain revenue, and that the Government are budgeting for a certain revenue to be derived three years hence, would carry no weight whatever.
What is the reason that the Chancellor of the Exchequer puts forward for this uniform tax upon land, whether developed to the highest pitch or not, was that it was desirable to be based on a degree of simplicity. He said that he had made it a simple tax, because he wished to avoid the complexity which had wrecked the 869 earlier proposals of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. That may be all very well, but I would remind the Committee, as is stated very pertinently in a leading article in the "Times" to-day, that the Government keep their proposal simply by insisting that it should be unjust. I propose to show, if I can, that while simplicity is no doubt a very charming virtue, a vice masquerading in the white robe of simplicity is a thing which all detest. I want, as far as I can, to strip the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal of its specious white robe of simplicity and to expose it in all its naked vice.
What are the other reasons, or some of them, which induce me to say that not only is it better that the public who will have to pay this tax—which is not one penny in the pound but 1s. 8d. in the pound on an annual land value calculated at 5 per cent., should not be taxed in the way proposed by the Government? This tax was put before the House on the Second Reading of the Budget Resolutions by arguments which were directed towards urging the necessity for a tax on increment value. That is exactly what this tax is not. It does not tax the land speculator but it taxes the man, whether he be an industrialist or a householder, who has to buy his piece of land for his industry or his house from the land speculator. The land speculator gets away with it, but the householder or the industrialist is left to pay annually, and the higher the price he has been charged the more he will have to pay every year. While it does not tax increment values, it taxes every industry in the country. It taxes every householder if the land on which his house is built has a capital value of more than £120. It taxes the investment of the friendly societies and building societies. One friendly society, the Hearts of Oak, have pointed out that it will cost them £5,000 a year, and to that extent reduce the benefit that they are able to pay to their members.
It taxes the universities; hence, it is a direct tax on, knowledge and learning. I am informed that one of the smaller universities, the University of Bristol, with which I am connected as a West Country Member, will have to pay £300 a year. They have no income from which to pay the £300. They are not benefiting in any way but, on the contrary, they will have £300 less from their endowments, 870 which are already far too meagre for the educational and industrial purposes for which the university was founded. It will tax the schools and open spaces. It is therefore a tax upon free air, green fields and trees. Whenever anyone wants to keep a piece of land open for the amenity of the public he will be taxed on the basis that he ought to have covered the land with industrial or residential property of the most appropriate value for the neighbourhood.
It taxes three-fourths of the allotments in the country. We ascertained yesterday at Question Time from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that, from the latest returns, the number of allotments on land owned by local authorities on the 31st December of last year was 207,000, while the number of allotments on land owned by private persons was 729,000, so that out of every nine allotments seven are to be taxed simply because, although the allotment holders know nothing about it, the allotments happen to be on privately-owned land and not on land owned by public authorities. It taxes also the market gardens. It taxes the milk supplies to our great towns, because that milk happens to be produced in dairies which are situated more or less in the neighbourhood where the industrial population has accumulated. Therefore, it is a tax upon fresh milk and vegetables. It is a tax imposed upon everything that ought not to be taxed, and a tax which lets off that which it pretends to tax.
What is the basis of this proposal? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made no bones about it in his speech when he talked about the Creator who had given the land to the people. This proposal is based on the assumption that the ownership of land is in itself a crime and should be penalised. If that is true, what justification is there for taxing urban or semi-urban land and not taxing agricultural or rural land? Why is it less of a crime to own a farm than to own a building estate or a factory? Even if we accept the basis on which the tax is to be levied, it is most arbitrary and unjust in its incidence. Take the ease of a brickfield or a shipyard, both on which industries obviously require a great horizontal space of land for their business, as it is impossible to carry on the business in a building built floor upon floor. They will be charged an enormous 871 amount of tax in proportion to other industries such as the manufacture of gramophones and gramophone records, where you can carry on the' industry in a building eight or ten storeys high and occupying comparatively little land, but yet capable of earning enormous profits. The tax put upon them will be only a tithe of the amount on these other suffering industries.
Take another extraordinary fallacy. In the case of leasehold land the leaseholder is entitled to hand on the land tax to the extent of one-twelfth of the ground rent. Suppose there are two industries, two factories, one is on leasehold land and the other on freehold land; there is no other difference between them. The land in each case is worth £20,000. Land value tax at 1d. in the £ is £83. On the leasehold land the ground rent is £1,000 a year. One-twelfth of £1,000 is approximately £83, which will be the charge on the freeholder, so that we have this position, that in the case of two industries, on land of exactly similar value but one happening to be on leasehold and the other on freehold land, the industrial owner of the factory is charged with the land tax while in the other case he escapes it altogether, and it is the owner of the land who is taxed. What sense is there in such an arbitrary proposal, even if you say that it is right to put an additional tax upon industry?
Another basis of the tax which, however, is not carried out in the Government's proposals, is that certain classes of works like railways, docks, electricity, water and other public works, in the nature of things increase the value of surrounding land and, therefore, should be exempt. They are supposed to be works of such a nature that they create land value. Is not that true of every factory? Why should it not be recognised that industry under private enterprise is just as well capable of creating increased land value on surrounding property as other industries like railways or docks which are owned by public authorities, or industries like electric light and other public works. The most extraordinary argument in all the strange arguments used in support of this tax, most of them inappropriate to the tax itself, was when the Chancellor of the Exchequer said: 872De-rating has added to the urgency of this question. We have had to provide, in this time of national crisis, about £35,000,000 a year to subsidise to local rates."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1931; col. 50, Vol. 252.]That £35,000,000 a year, if looked at as a subsidy to local rates, is equally the removal of that amount of burden from industry. Almost the last thing the Conservative Government did during their term of office was to see what they could do to help the flagging industries of this country to find employment for the people, and that if any additional burden was put on the taxpayer a corresponding burden should be removed from that section of the ratepayers engaged directly in productive industry. The present Government actually propose to justify their proposal to tax land by saying that because the Conservative party came to the assistance of the flagging industries of this country it is therefore their duty and their policy to put back again on to industry, under the guise of a land tax, a new tax which has never been asked for, and which takes away the benefit conferred upon industry by the last Government.
I hold that the arguments I have put forward show that if we are to have this tax at all on this universal basis, this unjust basis, if we are to have this tax which is masquerading as simple while it is really vicious, we at least should not go further than was proposed by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in his abortive experiment in 1909. I can see no reason why the tax should be at double the rate proposed 20 years ago. Industry is far less able to bear a tax now than it was then. Therefore, not only on the ground that it is most desirable that the people should know what this tax means as an annual tax in amount, but also on the ground that if we are to have it at all—this thoroughly vicious, bad and unjust thing—then the less we have of it the better, and a tax of ½d. is half as good or half as bad as that which the Government propose. I commend the Amendment to the consideration of the Committee.
I desire to associate myself very warmly with the Amendment that has been moved by my hon. Friend in such an admirable and powerful speech. He has done good service in suggesting a change of this tax upon the capital value of land into a tax 873 upon the annual value, if only for the reason that it is desirable that the public should understand exactly what it is that the tax proposes to do in its present form. Spoken of as only one penny in the pound, it is calculated to mislead public opinion and to give an entirely wrong idea of its weight and severity. The fact is that the character of this tax is emphasised and exaggerated by the attitude of Government Members towards their own proposal. We are now at the operative Clause of the Bill, and, although no doubt there will be additions later on to the list of exemptions which appear in Clause 19, we must take the Bill as we find it to-day and discuss it.
In the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in explaining this proposal, and in the speeches of the Solicitor-General, notably in the one this afternoon, there is what I can only describe as a deliberate attempt to confuse the mind of the public as to the real nature of this tax. The Solicitor-General said that this proposal had been in the mind of the party below the Gangway and his own party for 40 years past, but it has been shown convincingly by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) that this proposal bears no relation whatever in fact to the proposals which were formerly put forward by the Liberal party; and the fact is that the arguments which are adduced in support of this taxation are entirely and totally irrelevant to the tax itself. The picture which it is sought to impress on the mind of the public is that this is a tax to redress what is Called a social wrong, namely, the acquisition of value in land which has been created not by any efforts or expenditure on the part of the owner, but by the expenditure and, in some cases, the mere presence of the community. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite say, "Hear, hear!" Do they suggest that this tax is directed to the removal of that so-called social wrong? That is what I fear they are trying to make the people of this country believe, but we are determined that the country shall understand that that is not the case, and in discussing the proposals in Part III of this Bill we shall take care to let the public understand that they have no relation to a tax on unearned increment but that they are taxes of an entirely novel character.
874 The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) has pointed out quite clearly that not only is the person who has obtained the unearned increment going to escape from the tax, but that it is the person who has paid the unearned increment who is going to pay the tax upon it. That is the curious result of a tax which is alleged to be imposed to right a great social wrong. The fact is that this tax, if justified at all, is merely justified on the ground that any person, except certain exceptions specified in the Bill, has committed a penal offence in owning land at all. The Members of the Government speak of this offence in terms which might well be applied to some crime. The Solicitor-General, for instance, told us some time ago that universities or colleges which had "chosen to invest their money" in this form of property must take the consequences. Those are words of the sort which you might apply to a man who drank more than he ought to drink. The President of the Board of Trade, speaking I think in Scotland, a few days ago, and alluding to the fact that where the tax payable would not be more than 10s. it would be remitted altogether, said that this provision would cause all working men to escape "penalisation" under the Bill. "Penalisation" therefore was the right hon. Gentleman's description of the effect of the tax as applied to other classes. No doubt audiences who are not going very carefully into the facts and are told that the rich, or the people who have acquired land are to be penalised, while they themselves are to pay nothing, may think that these are very good proposals.
Now that we have come to the operative Clause of this part of the Bill, it is well that we should pause and consider on whom this tax is going to fall and what are likely to be some of the results of its imposition. I take the cases of various bodies or sections of the community which must be affected by the penalisation which they are to suffer under this Clause. I ask the Committee first to remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, some time before introducing the Budget, said that a further tax on industry would be the last straw. What is this but a further tax on industry and a tax of a peculiarly vicious character for industry? I remember several Debates in the House of Com- 875 mons regarding the burdens upon industry imposed respectively by taxes and by rates. I remember declarations from all parts of the House to the same effect, namely, that rates were always more burdensome than taxes, because taxes were imposed upon profits but rates had to be paid by industry whether profits were made or not. In that respect the tax proposed here is in precisely the same position as rates. It has to be paid by industry whether there are profits or not. Therefore not only is it a burden on industry but it is an even more onerous burden in that respect than an increase in the Income Tax.
The majority of factories and industrial concerns in this country are, of course, freehold and the full weight of the tax will fall, therefore, upon the proprietors of such works and factories and warehouses. I do not wish to spend too much time on any particular instance, but I would call attention to the fact that in the past the proprietors of prosperous or expanding businesses have had to look round from time to time, to see where they could obtain land to be used for extensions when the necessity arose. A prudent firm did not wait until it was obliged to expand. It bought the land beforehand and had it ready when it was wanted. In future, such firms will have to take into account the fact that if they "chose to invest their money" in extensions for the purpose of carrying on their work, they will have to pay a fine for the offence thus committed.
One of the features of industrial life characteristic of the last 20 years has been the new interest taken by managers and proprietors of factories, employing large numbers of people in the recreation of their employés. Many firms have purchased land for the provision of sports grounds and recreation grounds for their employés. Naturally, those grounds are not situated many miles away, in the heart of the country, but somewhere near the towns, where they are easily accessible to the people who are to use them. I know many cases in my own experience where such grounds have been provided and they have, I believe, added a great deal to the general good feeling between managers and employés in the works concerned, but in future businesses which are struggling, as many of them are now, to keep their heads above water and look- 876 ing round to see where they can make savings even of a few pounds, will have to consider seriously whether they can afford to keep recreation grounds upon which they will be liable to tax or whether they will be able to pass on to the employés themselves the payment of the tax by asking those employés to make some special contribution. That is only one of many examples which show how this tax—represented by hon. Members opposite as falling upon a few rich people—is going to work, how its real effects will come down to the working people of this country and how it will affect, probably every able-bodied man from one end of the land to the other.
I leave industry for the moment and come to hospitals. This is a very serious matter for the voluntary hospitals, which have been passing through an extremely difficult time. While they have, to their great credit, been able for the most part to keep up with their maintenance costs, yet in practically all cases they have been limited as to extensions, which would otherwise have been carried out, by the increasing difficulty of finding the necessary contributions. Just now it is probably more difficult than it has ever been at any time in our memory to keep up subscriptions to voluntary institutions. Yet I see that St. Bartholomew's Hospital calculate that the tax which they will have to pay, if this Clause is imposed, is upwards of £5,000 a year. Where in the world are they going to find another £5,000 a year? Even if they succeed in finding it, it can only be at the expense of equipment which otherwise would be provided for carrying on their work.
As regards the universities, again there is going to be penalisation of those great educational establishments, which are already in receipt of substantial grants from the State. Those grants, surely, will have to be increased if this tax is levied upon them. Take the case of the Oxford University and colleges. I observed a letter in the Press a few days ago in which it was stated that the margin between income and expenditure, after taking into account the State grant of £120,000 a year, was only £10,000. As the Solicitor-General would say, they have "chosen to invest" in estates—although in fact they had no choice in the matter because the estates owned by them were left to them or given to them 877 under special deeds—and they are to pay the new tax. What that tax will be in the case of Oxford University and colleges I do not at present know, but I do know that they have no margin with which to find extra taxation of this kind and the only result will be that the Government will have to hand out with one hand what they are withdrawing with the other.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple gave the illustration of Bristol. Let me give the illustration of Birmingham which is apparently much worse hit than Bristol. I may say that 60 per cent. of the students of Birmingham University come from secondary schools and 50 per cent. of them began their education in the elementary schools. That university owns a great deal of property, practically all of which was given to it by various munificent donors, and upon that property, if this tax is imposed, it is said that they will have to pay an annual sum of £1,833. That is a sum which is not at their disposal. There, again, it seems ridiculous to try to impose a tax upon a body of this kind while at the same time you are handing out large sums of money to them to enable them to give the education which they are trying to give to the great masses of the middle classes of our country.
When we come to the schools we find the same sort of thing. The non-provided schools, the secondary schools, the training colleges for teachers which are at present maintained by the various denominations, are all affected by this tax. Orphanages, the Bluecoat School, charitable trusts are all apparently affected. I have here a communication from the representatives of some dozen orphanages who say that they are dependent for their support year by year upon public benevolence and that the provision which they are now making for the care and maintenance of poor children, is seriously threatened by the proposals of the Bill. I have also a communication from the National Conference of Friendly Societies. Hon. Members are aware that they represent upwards of 8,000,000 members in all parts of the Kingdom. They state that they have heavy investments in ground rents and other land holdings, and that one constituent society has investments in ground rents alone to the extent of £2,000,000. What do they think 878 will be the effect of this tax upon their finances? It is characteristic of the sort of welcome which, as the Solicitor-General told us a little time ago, has been so heartily accorded to his proposals. They say that the proposed tax will:diminish the resources now available for the payment of sickness benefit, benefit during old age, and payments on members' deaths, and would have the effect of endangering the financial basis of many friendly societies.Those are words which remind one in their tenor of the grave words addressed to the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance about the nation's finances. It appears therefore that the Government not content with wrecking the nation's finances, now wishes to ruin the finances of the friendly societies as well. The Hearts of Oak Benefit Society has already been mentioned. They tell us that these proposals willhave the effect of endangering the solidity of the financial basis which secures the due fulfilment of the society's obligations to its members.What is going to be the effect of these proposals upon housing? We remember the effect of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and how they imposed a serious check upon house building. There is every reason to imagine that these proposals, which are going to frighten off the small investor in house property, and make it more difficult for builders to obtain financial accommodation from the banks, and which, generally, will create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion about all transactions in connection with land, are going to have precisely the same effect upon private enterprise in building as the previous proposals. I ask the Committee to remember that during the last three years private enterprise has been responsible for building over 350,000 houses, against something over 150,000 built by local authorities. If you are going to jeopardise the operation of private enterprise you are going to strike at the most effective means which has yet been produced for providing accommodation for the working classes. I am informed that already the introduction of these proposals has had an effect in checking the operations of the speculative builder, who is the man now engaged in providing houses by private 879 enterprise. I mentioned to the House before that the plan on which these builders work involves their purchasing land several years before they think they may want to use it, and this land is used as the security on which they borrow money from the banks. Now, it is proposed to inflict a charge which begins at one penny in the £ on the capital value, but no one knows where it will end, and it will destroy the value of that security and make it more difficult for builders to carry on their operations.
Then there is the case of allotments and smallholdings. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to an interruption of his speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), said, no doubt inadvertently, that the majority of allotments were owned by the local authorities. We had figures yesterday which completely shattered that statement. We now know that something over 700,000 allotment holders are in danger owing to the imposition of the tax which is proposed in this Clause. The idea that people engaged in agriculture are going to turn their grazing fields into allotments in order to increase their cultivation value is fantastic, but the one thing that is probable is that where allotments have a building value, the owners of them, rather than pay the Land Tax, will give notice to the allotment holders and turn them out in order to get the benefit of the building value of the land. Forcing land into development is not necessarily a good thing. It may frequently be a bad thing to force into development land which would otherwise remain as an amenity in one respect or another for the people in the neighbourhood.
Last of all, I would mention the householder and the shopkeeper. Anyone who owns his own freehold which is worth more than £6 a year will come under the operation of this tax. That ultimately will be passed on to the consumer and, through the agency of the shopkeeper, every person will feel the effect of the tax. I submit that what I have said is accumulative evidence of the widespread damage and injury that will be brought about by the imposition of this tax, and I would like to conclude with a quotation from a report which was recently made 880 upon the effect of taxes of this kind in another country. Referring to the effect of the land taxes in New York, where they are not national taxes but local taxes, but where the effect is just the same, the report says:Again, the tax has led to the most undesirable congestion of building in central areas. There only people of great wealth can afford to have houses with gardens. The tax on gardens is really prohibitive. The private landlord is therefore unable to make any contribution to the preservation of open spaces, and any which exist have to be publicly acquired. Moreover, in suburban areas land is made so dear that only flat dwellings can be erected at a profit. When flats are built in a district the value of their site becomes the basis of the value of adjacent land whether used for small houses or vacant. Thus the tax encourages undesirable density of building in suburban areas also. The tax, in fact, militates against gardens, residential estates, nurseries, playing fields and farms within a wide area around cities. In one city two years ago 10,000 lots were advertised as being for sale to meet unpaid taxes. This shows that the value of the property to the owners had been destroyed.
That is a report which was published in the "Times" of the 3rd of this month. I ask the Committee to consider whether a tax which will have the effect I have described can properly be described as a tax to right a great social wrong, and whether it is not rather to be described as a tax which will be a perpetual burden and irritation, and a menace to the prosperity of this country?
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
It is exactly three weeks since the Second Reading of the Finance Bill was taken——[Interruption.] I am very happy indeed to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer able to come into the Committee. Now that the Debate on Second Reading has taken place, and public discussion has fully begun, it must be plain to most Members of the Committee that objections are raised to the tax which this Clause proposes from a great number of very responsible quarters. That, of course, is not in itself any reason at all why the tax, if it be a just tax, should not be imposed, for all taxes are unpopular and no doubt many people are alarmed at proposals which, actually in working out, are not found to do so much damage as they feared. At any rate, this is the moment 881 in which to ascertain with precision what is the nature of the tax which the Committee are asked to affirm in principle. It is plain that, apart from agricultural land, and with very limited exceptions, this new duty will be imposed on the owners of land merely because it is land which they own. It is nothing to the point to inquire how the owner became the owner; how the land is being used; whether it is fully developed or whether its value has grown or declined; whether the profits on the land or the use of the land are devoted to benevolent purposes or to selfish objects; whether the individual is wealthy or poor, prosperous or struggling with adversity.
Whatever else that shows, it explains why there has been a wide range of anxious inquiry in the last few weeks. I endeavoured three weeks ago to show—and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree with me—that the principle of the present proposal is very different from the scheme of taxes of 20 years ago. Some people may think it better on that account, and others worse, but I think that it is not disputed by anybody who understands the subject that the scheme is quite different. Like the hon. Baronet who opened the Debate and the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I should like to occupy a short time in asking the Members of the Committee to consider a few simple, illustrative instances. I deliberately choose instances which are not such as can call for special exemption, but such as are inherent in this proposal as it stands, and such as everyone who votes for this Clause must be prepared to justify to his constituents.
Take, first, the shopkeeper who has recently purchased his premises. That is an instance which you get all over the country. He may have purchased his premises because his lease was running out, and because he desired to maintain his connection and preserve his goodwill, but whatever the reason, he will have paid good hard money to the former owner of his premises, both for the land and the bricks and mortar. At the time this Bill comes in, therefore, he is the owner of his premises. You would have thought that, if the circumstances were such as would justify a special tax being exacted in respect of that piece of ground, because it has a 882 value which the community has helped to make, the demand would have been made on the person who had been paid for the ground and gone off with the money. This is a Bill, however—and must be if you are going to frame it in the way in which it is framed—in which you proceed to get the tax from the shopkeeper who has paid, because the Bill is based on the principle that it is more blessed to have received than to have given. Such a shopkeeper—and he exists in nearly every constituency—will want to know from hon. Members why they think it proper that this imposition should be put on him.
I want to point out what the circumstances really would be. This special tax is to be put on that shopkeeper as he has become the owner of his shop, without any regard to the question of whether he is making a profit or not. He has to pay because he was so misguided, before ever this Bill was introduced as to exercise the ordinary rights of an Englishman and to pay hard cash for a piece of land. This shopkeeper, if he makes a profit, has to pay Income Tax upon it. When he dies, his property is subject to Estate Duty. If he transfers his business to a company, the company has to pay tax according to the capital. If he conveys his property, whether by sale or even by gift, the conveyance has to bear a stamp. If he sub-lets his property, the lease has to make its contribution to the revenue. The question which occurs to me is why is it that a man who, before ever this law was suggested at all, has acquired for hard cash the shop and premises in which he carries on his business as well as he can, should be, without any regard to any other circumstances, exposed to this special duty? It was to avoid this manifest and palpable injustice that 20 years ago, when land taxes were proposed by the then Liberal Government, we found it necessary to draw a datum line and to begin at the present time and impose the tax in respect of future transactions. A good many members of this Committee will be required to explain to shopkeepers why they think that this is a just proposal.
Take the case of a factory, or mill, or shipyard and so on, where it has been very difficult to avoid closing down, but where, none the less, the place has been 883 kept going and efforts have been made to keep some people at work, even if not on full time. Take, in particular, the case of the premises for heavy industries where often the amount of land occupied is very considerable. Let hon. Gentlemen who represent seaports and shipbuilding towns consider the cost of the premises of the shipbuilding firms. Land undoubtedly has a special value, because it has to be close to the water's edge and close to deep water. It has been common for such firms to try to secure a piece of land round about in case they want to extend. Let the Committee observe what this Bill proposes. It proposes to demand a special tax from that factory, or mill, or shipyard or whatever it is, and it demands it notwithstanding that the enterprise is making no profits at all. Observe, further, that in valuing the site for the purpose of the tax, it will be no answer to say that that particular enterprise is not profitable, for the revenue is to be entitled to the value of the site by reference to adjoining properties, conducted for other purposes, which may show a high value. I find it very difficult, indeed, to understand how hon. Members are going to justify that in the constituencies where these cases will arise. It may be said that, after all, it is only like rates. It was the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, on a famous occasion, expounded the doctrine that "rates are not in themselves a burden at all." I think my quotation is right. Perhaps he thinks this will be no burden either. As a matter of fact, I do not think it has been everywhere observed that the burden which this new Land Duty constitutes will put, in such a case, a hardship greater than the present law of rating, bad as it is, will impose. If you are dealing with the law of rating, it is possible for the factory or mill to obtain a reduction of the rateable value, and therefore a reduction in the amount which has to be paid in rates, when the trade or manufacture is in such a depressed state that the profit-earning capacity of the premises is seriously diminished.
At this very moment in hard-pressed Lancashire and Yorkshire and in other places there are assessments which have 884 been revised and reduced for rating purposes precisely because the premises, fitted as they are for particular purposes, could not in the circumstances be used by the tenant profitably for carrying on business. That is the condition of the law, but is that the condition under the Chancellor's new tax? Not at all. Under the law of rating, the hard-pressed factory or mill may not only apply to have the assessment reduced, but may have it reduced in respect of the current rates that are demanded. Under this Bill we are to wait for five years. You have to pay the tax and in five years' time there will be a re-assessment. When the re-assessment takes place, it will not be in respect of the use of the particular premises which you occupy, which might not be put to profitable use, but will depend on the consideration of what might be paid for land in the neighbourhood. You have this further position, which seems to me to cause a very great hardship not in the least met by present proposals. The man carrying on the factory, mill or yard, though he is doing his best to carry on his industry in very depressing circumstances, is bound by moral obligation to do it if he can, for the sake of his own men if for nothing else, and he is to be taxed under the Bill as if he were a wealthy man holding up and refusing to allow the land to be used. It passes my comprehension how anybody who really considers the contrast between these two cases can possibly justify the proposal that in the name of simplicity you should tax them both in exactly the same measure.
There is a further difference. If it is a case of the burden of rates, the owner-occupier of premises may find himself forced to close his premises and to empty them of his chattels, and, if he does, the rates have not to be paid. He may empty his premises, but under this tax it will not make any difference to the Chancellor's demands. The shopkeeper who is not making good business may shut down his extension. Even if he were to leave in it the plant of his trade, he would have the rates reduced, because, after all, his extension would be merely a warehouse for keeping them in. Not so under this Bill. It is going to demand the tax on that same land whether he is able to carry on his business or not, and if the land is in occupation or not, 885 because it is not a tax which is avoided by ceasing to occupy. It is a tax on the owner. That is so, and staring in the face of the Law Officers of the Government is Schedule A, which though it is called in the Income Tax Act a Land Tax, does not result in the tax under Schedule A having to be paid when the land is unoccupied.
That is the nature of this new tax, and I think there will be many hon. Members who will be required to explain to employers and to workmen, too, why it is so. Then comes the excuse—which, to do the right hon. Gentleman justice, he has not put forward himself, though it has come from other quarters—that, after all, this is only one penny in the pound. There are two observations which might be made upon that. In the first place, if you are making these calculations in the form of a proportion sum, it is just as well to compare like with like. If you say that the rates in a particular case are so many pence, or shillings in the pound, you are comparing an annual charge with an annual value, which is intelligible and simple, but here you are comparing an annual charge with a capital value. If anyone really wants to understand the nature of this new impost, whether good or bad, it is necessary either to capitalise the penny, as an hon. Member behind me has done, or else to express the whole thing on both sides in annual terms. You may call it a tax of 1s. 8d. in the pound or a penny in the shilling; whichever it is, that is the present proposal.
The second observation is this: Where is the guarantee that this is going to stop at one penny? I remember, and I think the Chancellor will remember, the howl that went up in 1909 when a Supertax was proposed at the monstrous figure of 6d. in the £. You could have heard the howl across the Thames. In the whole of Mr. Gladstone's life the Income Tax, even in time of war, was never more than 1s. 2d. If there is anybody who is going to console himself by the reflection that this is only 1d. in the £, I would most respectfully suggest he had better consider what is likely to occur if this system is approved by our votes on the present occasion.
Next I would like to refer to one or two eases which, I agree, have been put forward rather as though they were cases 886 for exception or exemption. I do not regard them as such, but as an illustration, and a very plain one, of the absurdity of the present proposal. It is far more important that we should consider the practical effect of the tax on the ordinary citizen, whether engaged in commerce or industry or in private life, than spend all our time on considering special exceptions. After all, special eases can organise and protest and they always do, but the really important case to consider is the case of the general body of citizens. They cannot organise a protest, and can only look to the Members of this House to consider really seriously whether this tax can be justified.
Let me refer to two cases, which are regarded in some quarters as of exceptional seriousness, and they are undoubtedly glaring cases. May I remind the Committee, though hon. Members will know it quite well, that Schedule A of the Income Tax does not apply, and as far as I know, has never applied for the purpose of exacting any tax on land vested in trustees and held by them for charitable purposes. It is a perfectly well established principle of our law of taxation, and it is for that reason that public schools and colleges, hospitals and charitable enterprises of all sorts, escape the burden of Income Tax or whatever it may be which is put upon the generalities of citizens. That does not merely mean that under Schedule A these colleges and schools, hospitals and other institutions of a charitable sort do not pay Schedule A tax on the actual premises and on the hospital buildings or schools or whatever it may be; it also means that they do not bear taxation in respect of land which they hold on trust in order that the proceeds of it may be devoted to charitable purposes. I have never, until this particular Bill, heard anybody challenge that proposition as a sound canon of taxation.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
Mr. Gladstone did.
§ Sir J. SIMON
He may have done but notwithstanding that, his degenerate successors in all parties have continued that practice. Now for the first time there is the proposal of this new Land Tax, which does not make any difference. You are to exact this tax just 887 the same both from the land upon which these education and charitable buildings stand, and upon the land which is their endowment for the purpose of carrying on their charitable and educational work. Consider what that really means. I take an interest in my own university, and anybody can give an illustration from his own. Is it seriously considered, for example, that Tom Quad, Christ Church, Oxford, or Great Court at Trinity, is to be valued by asking the question how much would a person give for it for the purpose of setting up a motor factory or how much would an American give for it in order that he might have the privilege of erecting his own house in the middle of it? Is it seriously suggested that you are to put that sort of value upon the quadrangles and courts, to say nothing of the land upon which these colleges stand, and proceed to exact this tax upon it? That is what the Bill says. According to the right hon. Gentleman, it is all based on the great name of Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone would be much surprised to learn that that was the fate to which Christ Church was exposed.
The real absurdity of supposing that that can be really done is increased by this fact. Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer provides out of public revenue money which the Board of Education grants under various supervisory rules to these universities because the Government recognises that they are discharging a great national work and cannot discharge it solely out of their own resources. The Board of Education does this every year, and now down comes the Treasury and says it has a grand new plan, namely, to tax the resources of the schools, colleges, hospitals and charitable institutions because, of course, they will then have to pay like everybody else. It does appear to me that absurdity can hardly be carried further. The only answer that I have heard hitherto is the answer which was given by the Solicitor-General, who was pleased to observe that these people have "chosen to invest their money in land," and so they must pay the penalty. Yes, Sir, but may I point out that these are institutions which, to a large extent, hold land because it was an ancient endowment or an ancient benefaction, and that they apply the proceeds to educate— 888 [HON. MEMBERS: "The poor!"] I hope that whatever happens in this Debate we shall not conduct it on a level, which I should have thought a degrading level, of pretending that these great institutions of learning are not applying the greater part of their resources for the assistance of those who otherwise would not be able to go there. [Interruption.] I hear an hon. Member say, "Why not all?" Because there is no reason why a man of reasonable competence or a rich man should not be educated at Oxford or Cambridge—[HON. MEMBERS: "And pay for it!"] I had the advantage of serving on the Royal Commission on Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and I venture to think I know something about it.
Let me take a second illustration, the case of land which has been deliberately marked down, according to a longsighted and public-spirited policy, for purposes which prevent it being built upon. Does anybody seriously want to have the Temple Garden or Gray's Inn Garden or Lincoln's Inn Garden built over? Does anybody really desire that these areas should be penalised because they are not built over? I should have thought that to be a perfectly ridiculous proposition. I should have thought that those trustees who, not for their own personal advantage, but for the purposes of the public, have thought that care should be taken to maintain these places in the crowded parts of the Metropolis were, as a matter of fact, administering the funds in their hands for the public good. And how is it going to be done? Walk down the Embankment and look at the Temple Garden. It is to be valued, I suppose, at so much per foot frontage on the Embankment, and the question will be, "How much would a speculative builder pay for this place if there was a prospect of erecting on it the Grand Babylon Hotel?" I cannot help thinking that those who have framed this Bill have never considered this point. Gray's Inn Garden, which is made available for the poor children in the neighbourhood, which is one of the areas to which these people, many of them quite poor, go for their refreshment and recreation, is to be taxed I do not know how many hundreds or thousands of pounds. Why? Because the Benchers of Gray's Inn are holding it up against its most profitable use! A Bencher of Gray's Inn who had some- 889 thing to do with laying out the garden, Francis Bacon, wrote an essay on the subject. This is what he said:Indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, without which buildings and palates are but gross handyworks.And this Government, the special patron of the arts, with its high-souled attachment to the things of the spirit, is actually authorising the putting forward of a Bill which is to tax open spaces, which are now enjoyed by the poor, thousands and thousands a year!
§ Mr. MARLEY
Why is it that the London County Council have passed a Bill insisting that compensation should be paid to owners of London spaces in order that they may not be built upon?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I cannot answer the question, because I do not know. The instance I have just given is only part of a wider question. Even 20 years ago, when the Liberal land taxes were under discussion, it was necessary to take careful steps—and they were taken—to prevent Undeveloped Land Duty interfering unfairly with all schemes of orderly land development, and there was a Section in the Bill for that very purpose. There is nothing of that sort in this Bill. Since then the garden city movement and the town planning movement have, over large parts of the country, made land which is adjacent to certain buildings valuable just because it has been marked down as an open space to be reserved as such. This land, which has been deliberately marked down by the thrift and good sense of the people concerned in order not to crowd up houses miserably upon a little area, this land, which gets a large part of its value from the very fact that it is in a garden city, is to be valued just like everything else, and taxed accordingly. I should have thought we could not have a more obvious example of the Government, in its Treasury Department, throwing an obstacle in the way of the town planning with which the Ministry of Health is concerned.
Lastly—and this affects an enormous number of people—there is the case of ground rents. In the case of any ground rent now in existence which arises out of a lease of more than 50 years the burden is ultimately to be brought down, in part, to the holder of the ground rent. Ground rents have been the security in which the 890 insurance companies, friendly societies, trade unions, all the beat forms of collective enterprise, have deliberately made investment for the purpose of keeping capital safe, and this Bill, quite deliberately, sets to work to reduce the value of every ground rent by one-twelfth—quite deliberately! The owner of the ground rent cannot control what happens to the land. If the land is put to its best use and becomes much more valuable, the owner of the ground rent does not get the advantage. A more astonishing example of putting a penalty upon the owner of land whose value does not depend upon him, and who can do nothing to avoid it, has surely never been seen; and I would respectfully ask hon. Members to consider what answer they are to give to people, many of them in humble circumstances, who have been provided for by ground rents, and from whom it is thought just to take away at a blow one-twelfth of their income. It may be said "Oh, after all, ground rents come to an end, the leases fall in, and then the ground landlord can strike a new bargain." That is true, and that is why I had no objection 20 years ago to one of the proposals in the then Liberal Budget which dealt with that sort of case.
Let us pass for a moment to Scotland. I do not claim to speak for Scotland, but hon. Members who voted for the timetable were of opinion that three hours would be quite enough to consider the application of this Bill to Scotland. That is their affair, and not mine. Let me point out what I understand to be the position. The common way of developing a building estate in Scotland, a way greatly to the advantage of the public, is by the owner of the land, the fee simple owner, the superior, as I think he is called, granting, not a lease for years, but a perpetual lease, a lease for ever, to the feuar, as he is called. He is paid only a fixed feu duty, like a ground rent, which goes on for ever. That is all the superior has to do with it. Under this wonderful Bill, if in the future anybody attempts to develop building land in Scotland by the process of feuing, the burden of this tax is to fall upon the superior in part or in whole. Does anybody suppose that the shrewd Scotsman will in future take the risk of increases of a duty of this sort when he can do nothing, after having once granted a lease, but sit there taking the fixed feu duty and paying the tax, whatever it may be?
891 There are many in this House who know this subject much better than I do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I hope I have not seriously mis-stated it. No doubt the hon. Gentlemen who know it better than I do will be in a position to explain why it is just to do anything of the sort; and unless it is really desired by this Bill to put obstacles in the way of the established system of feuing land in Scotland it is difficult to understand what is the reason. May it be observed that the plan in Scotland has this great advantage, that it is possible even for a man with small resources to undertake the business of providing houses, because he has not to put down a capital sum, but pays this feu duty, which is really in the nature of an instalment, going on for ever, of what, capitalised, would be the purchase price. I really do not understand what the Government are about in imagining that proposals of this sort can possibly commend themselves to the constituents of Scottish Members, in whatever part of the House they sit. I have taken a number of illustrations which occur to me, not as unusual or exceptional cases, but as being part and parcel of the fabric of this Bill. It has no more to do with the scheme of land taxes proposed 20 years ago than with the man in the moon.
Let us consider whether after three weeks of existence this Bill is in a very happy condition. During those three weeks the Prime Minister has sent four messages to candidates at by-elections, following a well-established precedent. He has, of course, endeavoured to lay stress upon all the most attractive items in the Government's programme. He sent one to the candidate at Ogmore, one to the candidate at Stroud, one to the candidate at Rutherglen and one to the candidate at Gateshead. Really, it almost looks as though the surprising earthquake of the other day, which was supposed to be under the North Sea, has spread westward and exhibited some of its cracks on dry land. In not one of those four epistles does the Prime Minister think it good to say one single word about this famous land tax, and the real truth is that it is becoming quite obvious to everybody that it is getting very difficult torecapture the first fine careless rapture,892 in which a number of people said, "Hooray! Here are the land taxes at last!" The period has now come when that feeling has been followed byCurses, not loud, but deep.We must not suppose that the cursing comes only from the critics, who might be thought to be naturally opposed to this system of taxation. I hold in my hand a communication from the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values. I read it with interest, because we know that if one could look anywhere for the pure milk of the word on this subject it would be to the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values. This is what it says:The present proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will penalise the landowners who are putting their land to the best possible use just as much as it punishes the owners who are holding land idle, or making a partial use of it. This in itself condemns the present proposals, and marks the scheme as a political stunt "—That is the view of the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values, and they go on to say:with little or no relationship to sound schemes for the taxation of land values, and is only associated with such schemas in name.What is the justification for these preposterous proposals? The justification is that they do not want to make a more complicated plan which might break down, and therefore we must have simplicity. O sancta simplicitas. I quite agree that there is an alternative before the Committee, and it is this: You may either try, in devising taxation on this subject, to do what is just and fair, in which case you will be obliged to alter this whole scheme and prevent much intolerable mischief; or else you may seek to get a larger revenue by not caring whether what you are doing is just or not.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The speech which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has just delivered belies all his past on this question. It is wonderful how association with strange bedfellows alters a man's political economy. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted an expression of opinion by the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values, and he knows well enough that in the protest issued by that League they touch upon two points in this Bill which 893 do not go as far as they expected. I agree entirely with the Scottish League on those points. I think this Bill would have been much better if it had included agricultural land and minerals, but surely the right hon. Gentleman knows well enough that on all these great questions it is necessary to go slowly and with caution, and if the, principle is right the ultimate results will be right also. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman misled the Committee on the question of feu dues. Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that the imposition of this tax will induce the owners of land in Scotland to refuse their land to the building trade because they see that if they feu the land they will be liable to this tax? May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that they will be liable to this tax if they do not feu the land.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
But would they be able to get the price that they can get at the present time before the tax is imposed? The whole point about this tax is that here for the first time you say to those owners of land, who are keeping land out of the market on the ground that it is not yet ripe for building, "Every year you keep that land from people who want to work on it you are to pay a tax to the State," the ordinary, necessary, and economic effect of that is bound to be that the owner will be more ready to part with his land than he is at the present time either to sell or to feu. The more the owner is induced to part with his land the easier it will be for those in the building trade to get the land by feuing, or in any other way.
How can it be pretended that this tax is something new, something original, that has never been thought of before, or that it is a wicked device of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that this is a new theory, but may I point out that this is the only form of taxation of land values that has been adopted in any part of the world. It is the form of tax which is in force in Australia. [Interruption.] At any rate, there it is in a British Dominion. It is the only form of taxation known in Canada, and it is a local tax in Canada. It is the only 894 form of taxation in South Africa, and again it is a local tax. In Germany it is known as the Zu-wachs Steuer. In Denmark it is the only form of tax; and the increment duty is now being advocated for the first time by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That scheme included a tax on undeveloped land, and I would like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley if he is in favour of that now?
§ Sir J. SIMON
My right hon. Friend was suggesting that I had not previously approved of an increment duty. I replied that I was a supporter, and afterwards a member, of the Government which introduced it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I remember that when the late Prime Minister was arranging for his taxation on land values that scheme was diverted at the last moment. It was diverted by Mr. McKenna into an increment duty, instead of a straight tax on land values. It was diverted precisely for the reason which I have given, and it was then a new tax. The old scheme was well known before, and it was the scheme outlined and described in detail by the late Henry George. The principal supporters of that scheme in the past come from Birmingham, and hon. Members will remember Mr. T. F. Walker in this connection. This was the only scheme ever advocated by the Nettlefolds, and it was the only scheme advocated by his uncle, Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, a more profound thinker if not even as lovable a man as the right hon. Gentleman's father. This was the only scheme ever put forward, excepting the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whose hands were forced by the Midland Bank.
The reason why all these people in the past have advocated this form of tax, as opposed to the proposal now supported so strenuously and unanimously on the Opposition benches, is that this tax is not a burden upon industry, and cannot be passed on to the consumer while the increment duty can be and is passed on to the consumer. Does anybody doubt 895 that still? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] We all realise now that this is a burden upon the landowner. But can the tax be really passed on to the consumer? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Apparently there are some hon. Members who still think that this tax can be passed on to the consumer. Take the case of a manufacturer who owns the land and a competing manufacturer who has his land on lease and does not own it. The man who leases the land pays nothing but the man who owns it has to pay. Those two manufacturers are in competition and therefore the price of the article produced by those manufacturers will be regulated by the one who leases.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
When the lease falls in surely the man who has held the lease will find a marked increase in his rent?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Under the existing system landlords are getting for their leases the highest possible figure they can. If when the lease falls in the man will have the choice of leasing that piece of land or some other land, and he will find much more land in the market suitable for his purposes at a smaller price, he will be able to renew his lease on better terms. So long as you prevent the landlord having any incentive to allow his land to be used he will be able to have the consumer of land at his mercy; but once you make it clear that the owner will have to pay the tax whether the land is used or not he will be far more ready to meet the consumer half way and allow him to get the land at an easier price. Many hon. Members of this House are owners of land, and every one of them must have calculated exactly what this tax is going to cost. Agricultural land has been unfortunately exempted, but elsewhere the owners know perfectly well by now that the value of their land will be reduced by the imposition of this tax to the extent of a capitalised value of 1d. in the £ on the value of their land. People who wish to use that land will be able to get it cheaper and if that is the case production will be benefited and not hindered.
I will take, as an example, the case of china clay, in which I have a particular interest. China clay is in the hands of a ring and the price is fixed by that ring. China clay is the raw material of a great industry. It is to 896 be found in large quantities in Cornwall and under this Bill it is not subject to the tax. If an Amendment which I hope to get the Government to accept is accepted, china clay will be liable to the tax. What will be the effect. Obviously all those fields of china clay which are held up from use will be forced into the market. The owners will be induced to lease their clay fields at cheaper prices to people who will go into that business of getting the china clay, and the ring that keeps up the price will be broken. Industry, far from being penalised, will be enormously stimulated. You will find a cheaper raw material; you will find more people employed in the getting of china clay; you will find cheaper cups and saucers on your tea table. That is the way in which the taxation of land values, properly applied, benefits industry, provides employment and enables people to produce cheaper goods. Cheaper raw materials—there is not an hon. Member opposite who does not know that for a recovery of industry cheap capital is necessary. The cheaper capital is, the easier it is for the producers to produce goods. A low bank rate tends to a recovery of industry. Why, if hon. Members accept the advantages to industry of cheap capital, do they not recognise the advantages to industry of cheap land and cheap raw material? The right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) is not an industrialist.
In Canada this taxation has not led to more buildings. All that it has led to is that the Government have seized a large amount of land on which the owners cannot pay the tax, and the land is useless to-day.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Noble Lord may be sure that I know perfectly well what has happened in Canada. Land on which the tax was due has not paid the tax. There was a slump, and the owners said they could not pay. The Government took the land in forfeit. Where the land had been sold to the Government or where the Government have taken over the land——
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I should be very glad if the land of this country were surrendered to the Government. Nothing 897 would be better. Then the people of this country might be allowed to use that land.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman forgets that the Canadian Government were paying people to come and occupy the land.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think we should find it necessary to pay people to occupy the land. When you have 2,500,000 people unemployed in this country, you might possibly open to them an opportunity of using the land.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If 10 per cent. of the miners who are out of work could get an acre or three acres of land for themselves, with security of tenure, it would be much better for them and for the community that they should employ themselves on that land than that they should stand at the street corners eating their hearts out. I am surprised at the courage of right hon. and hon. Members opposite in bringing forward this question of the absence of any shortage of land in this country. In my district of North Staffordshire, mine after mine has been shut down. Directly a mine is shut down there are no more rates and no more taxes to pay. The minerals are there, and the miners are there, begging for the opportunity of working that coal, but they are not allowed to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is a quota."] Yes, all sorts of unsound dodges have been undertaken on the advice of hon. Members opposite. There is what is called rationalisation, but what is really the building up of a monopoly, whereas, as everyone knows at the bottom of his heart, the right thing to do is to allow people an opportunity for using nature and producing from nature the goods that we all want at the cheapest possible price. [HON. MEMBERS: "Russia."] In Russia they have compulsory employment, I understand.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I was led away, and I apologise. It is astounding that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite 898 should talk of this tax as though it was a novelty. It is the oldest form of political propaganda in this country. Being an old man, I remember a Royal Commission sitting in 1886 on this question, and that the Prince of Wales was a member of that Commission. I remember about a dozen Royal Commissions and Select Committees that have sat since then. It is the oldest question. A straight tax on the value of land has been supported throughout, and it has been proved conclusively in the reports of every one of these Commissions that a tax or rate on land values cannot settle anywhere except upon the landlord, that it cannot be passed on to industry, that it must make land cheaper, that increasing the supply of land in the market will bring down the price of land by more even than the capitalised amount of the tax, and that if you are to deal with the unemployment problem on sound lines and allow unemployed men to use unemployed land, the only way to do it is to break land monopoly in this country and force the landlords' hand by a tax on their land values and their mineral values, whether they allow them to be used to-day or not.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The House and the Committee always listen with great respect to the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, upon this particular topic. He is an enthusiastic advocate of the taxation of land values. We have heard from him many eloquent speeches on this subject in the past, and undoubtedly if he cannot commend such a proposal to the people of this country, there is no one else who can. I would like to examine for a few moments some of the views to which the right hon. Gentleman has given expression. He has stated that the proposition before the Committee is no novel proposition. I agree that the taxation of land values is no novel theory. All of us who have taken any interest in political questions have known something about Henry George and his theories. Most of us have grown up with that knowledge. Some of us began by believing that there was something in Henry George's theories, but most of us have discarded them. The right hon. Gentleman is one of the few who has remained faithful to his early teachings.
It is true that the taxation of land values is no novel idea, but it is equally 899 true that the theory has never been presented in such a novel way as in this Finance Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has said that this form of taxation is practised in many other parts of the world, but can he mention any other part of the world where you not only put a tax on the capital value but a tax upon the annual value of land. The novelty and the monstrosity of the proposals here is that you not only put a penny in the £ on the capital value of the land, but you also tax the land by taking under Schedule A an Income Tax on the annual value. That sort of system does not operate in any other part of the world. The Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values take exception to this Bill and say that it is a political stunt. Let my right hon. Friend read their circular again and he will see that what they have put forward is that the capital value tax on land is meant to be a substitute for other taxes, but that this is not; it is an addition. That is one of the things to which this document takes exception.
Let me refer to the question of Scottish feu duties, of which I have some knowledge. Several hon. Members have seemed to suggest that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) was not acquainted with that branch of the law; but no one could have given a cleaver account of what the Scottish law on the subject is. The system in Scotland is derived from the ancient Romans. It is a perpetual grant of the ground upon the basis of an annual payment. That payment never ceases and never increases. No system has ever been found that is better for the development of landed property. Take the case of the north side of Edinburgh. The whole of that portion of a beautiful city has been let out upon the feu system. The landlords at one time found the greatest possible difficulty in inducing people to come and invest their money on that side of the city. The feu duties are very low in amount. I myself occupied a house which was of considerable value, but all the feu duty that I had to pay was £6 a year. The builders were tempted by low feu duties to build their good houses and great terraces and circuses all over the north side of Edinburgh. See what it did. It induced a large capital investment in the building 900 of houses in a city which undoubtedly has been beautifully built.
The right hon. Gentleman entirely mistakes the effect of this Bill. What will take place immediately upon its passage is that the Scottish landowner will no longer let off his land upon a feu duty if he is to be taxed upon what he receives. He will insist upon cash, and the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that he will take less cash because the Land Tax has been imposed. The builder who wants to build will have to borrow the money from someone else, since he has to find money in order to pay the landlord, and he will have to pay far more for the borrowed money than for the feu duties. These feus have always been low in amount for the reason that they afford such a good security, but when the builder goes to a bank or someone else willing to lend him money in order to purchase the land instead of feuing it, undoubtedly it will be a much more expensive business for him than the present system.
I am led to pursue this matter of feu duties a little further. I do not profess to be able to add anything to what has been said, in principle, upon this matter, but I beg the Committee to observe that once a feu has been granted the feu duty becomes an investment which is saleable, as saleable in Scotland as Consols or local loans or any other form of investment. These feu duties have been regarded from time immemorial as by far the most secure and safe investment that anyone can pub money into, with the result that all the great trusts and charitable institutions and educational organisations, and even the trade unions and friendly societies have made their chief investments in the feu duties of Scotland. Before the War feu duties in Scotland were selling at as much as 38 years' purchase, and even under the present system, with the threat of taxation, they are selling at 16 to 18 years' purchase on the average.
Why should you make an attack upon these investments, and by what right are you going to say that this is a form of investment of which you will take away a twelfth from the people who have taken it up? It is obvious that protests are coming in, not merely from people interested in these matters on this side, 901 but from friendly societies and from trade unions. Are the Government going to be deaf to what the trade unions say, or will they buckle at the knees as usual? And if the trade unions are to be regarded with favour, on what ground should anybody else be ruled out? Under our Scottish legislation trustees are encouraged to invest in these feu duties. Under the Trust Acts, it is one of the investments in regard to which the trustees are immune from trouble if they adopt it.
Let me give an even more extreme example. The Church of Scotland have invested £2,000,000 in the feu duties of Scotland, and the way in which they have come to do it is this: As the Committee knows, great differences have occurred in the growth of population, and not all parish boundaries suit the needs of growing communities. The result is that they started a system in Scotland, many years ago, of setting up parishes whose boundaries were defined for sacred purposes, and they built churches within those new areas and endowed them, but they were not allowed under Act of Parliament to set: them up unless they could provide a certain endowment, which has risen from £120 in a year, as it was at one time, to £160, as it is now. But who had to provide these endowments? They were provided by the people. They were got together by the collection of the pennies of the people in the churches, mounting up until a sufficient sum was obtained to endow these parishes, and when enough was got, application had to be made to the court, and the court would appoint a man of business to inquire into the condition of the parish and as to whether a sufficient amount of money had been got together to endow it. Then the law said that the only way in which these moneys, collected from the parishioners of Scotland, could be invested was in the feu duties of Scotland. Are you now going to tell the Church that this £2,000,000, collected from the people for this sacred purpose, and so invested, is to be denuded by the fact that they have put their money into the only investment which the law has compelled them to make? Nothing so monstrous could ever have been suggested in this House. It seems to me very much as if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been caught in the porch of a church robbing the collecting box; and once the House of 902 Commons commits itself to a principle like this, all possibility of confidence, on the part of anybody in the country, in the methods of Parliament must be gone.
I do not propose to develop that matter further, beyond saying this: The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken said he entirely agreed with the report of the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values. Here is what they say about the trade unions in this matter:Trade unionists who have attacked landlordism make themselves ridiculous by claiming exemption. Such exemptions, by penalising one section and favouring another, can only have the effect of bringing a sound principle into contempt.Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell that to his trade union colleagues? My right hon. Friend has referred to the case of industry. Here we are in this country at the present time with our industries in a more depressed condition than has been known for a very long period of time, and certainly in a condition which menaces the welfare of our people, with a vast number of people unemployed, who are struggling to find means of employment, and with the Government trying to find money to set up schemes by which employment may be afforded. Trade facilities are suggested by which employers may be encouraged to get orders, and here we are, at this distressing period, putting, by this Bill, an additional burden on the very industries of the country which are hardest hit. And these are all additional burdens. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman's principle may be, there is no country in the world where it is operated as this Bill does it. Here we are with great shipyards, great engineering yards, great factories, such as my right hon. Friend described, which are going to be penalised because of the mere fact that they are compelled to have extensive premises in which to do their work. A shipbuilding yard may be even working at a loss, when a small office in the City, which is making a large profit, requires nothing more than a small portion of land on which to conduct its business, and escapes this taxation; but the shipyard, employing a vast number of people and compelled by the nature of its work to occupy a large territory, has a new imposition put upon it at a time when its burdens are already greater than 903 it can bear. Take the case of a shipyard which I know, contiguous to my own constituency. The tax which would be imposed on this shipyard under the present Bill would be £600 in the year. I happen to know about this shipyard. The value of its land has not been created by anybody but the shipyard people. It was they who came there first, established themselves, laid the shipyard out, and brought the community to work there. Everything that is there, so far as human contribution is concerned, was created by the shipbuilders, but now, because they have a piece of land which has value—because it is necessary fur their purposes and has a large frontage on the River Clyde—they will have to pay an additional £600 in the year. It may not seem a tremendous burden, but as everybody knows shipyards are not having an easy time. Shipyards have sometimes to raise money. The existence of this tax just makes a difference of £12,000 to the shipyard if it comes to a question of raising money by debentures. It appreciates it by 20 years' purchase of the amount of the tax, and reduces the capital value of the shipyard by £12,000. If it comes to borrowing money, by debenture or otherwise, to that extent their security is decreased. That is the kind of thing which will occur all over the country. I cannot believe that this House of business people can give any countenance to such a Bill when its Members begin to understand what the results really are. It is true, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley said, that these are not merely cases of exemption. These cases go to the very root of the principle of the Bill and I protest against the absurdity that in this period of depression we should be wasting the time of this House in passing a Measure which can only be of the greatest possible damage to the real interests of this country.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)
I do not propose to follow the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) into the special Scottish illustrations which he gave in the earlier part of his speech, but, with regard to his later remarks, I think I can deal with them in referring to the speech of the right hon. 904 and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). The right hon. and learned Member displayed his great forensic ability in decrying the proposals of my right hon. Friend. He showed that it was a new tax, and he showed how the additional burden of that new tax would affect various sections of the community. When he was speaking, for my part, I was thinking how I should have liked to hear him bringing that same great power of exposition, of analysis, and of criticism to bear on the rating system of this country. Supposing at the present time we had had in existence a system of taxation of land values, and supposing it was proposed to introduce a system of rating, I am quite sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman could have made a very much more powerful attack upon that than he has made upon the taxation of land values, and I am quite sure that ho would have done it in words far better than I could possibly choose.
I can imagine him drawing attention to the inequality of the burden as between one locality and another; I can imagine him drawing attention to the wide latitude given to local authorities, who would be able to put up the burden, it may be, by 6d. or 1s. in a single year upon the assessment values and for purposes of no value to the individual ratepayer who has to bear the burden; and I can imagine him telling us, in ringing tones, how injurious it was to industry that this burden should be placed, not only upon the land, but upon the buildings and all the work that that industry was carrying on. But, as a matter of fact, we have this rating system. We have had it for many years, and in spite of its inequalities, in spite of its injustices, in spite of the burdens that it imposes upon industry, we put up with it; and we do not hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman coming down to this House to denounce it on all sorts of occasions.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
No, but no doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman could have taken opportunities for bringing in proposals, and there are many occasions when, I am quite sure, the question could be raised if the right hon. and learned Gentleman thought it desir- 905 able to do so. Of course, he could not do it on this Bill; I am not suggesting that for a moment. It is simply because this is a new proposal that the right hon. and learned Gentleman finds in it much to attack. Every form of new taxation is, of course, liable to attack, but what hon. Members, I think, forget is that when we have the heavy burdens that we have at the present time, not only of taxation, but of rates, it is of very high importance that new sources of revenue should be found which are free from some of the disadvantages of the existing burdens. [Interruption.] The fact remains that the proceeds of this taxation will be of use in substitution for burdens that are either already in existence or would otherwise have to be imposed.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley said that this was a tax on land because it was land. That is perfectly true. Every specific tax that is imposed is imposed upon something because it fulfils the definition in the law imposing the tax. A rate, however, is a burden on enterprise, but a land tax is a tax on the monopoly value of the land. The right hon. Gentleman opposite made great play with the idea that this was penal taxation. It is nothing of the kind. Other Members have attempted to attack this proposal because it is not an increment tax, but it does not pretend to be an increment tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Certainly: it is a tax on land value, and the reason for it is perfectly clear, namely, that land, owing to its monopoly position differs in a peculiar way from other things connected with the activities of the community. The community allows the owner of land to benefit by the work that the community does, and it is now proposed that part of that benefit which accrues owing to the action of the community should be taken in the form of a tax.
When our ancestors developed the whole system of raising the revenue of the country many years ago, they divided the burden into two types, local and national. They decided to have certain local burdens because they saw that there were some expenses that were due to local decisions of policy, and also expenses which benefited individual localities. What the community is beginning to see more and more is that it is neces- 906 sary to have a local burden which shall not press upon the buildings and other improvements made by the individual, and, therefore, there have been from many local authorities requests for a site valuation, which would enable them to place part of the annual burden, not on the buildings and improvements made by individuals, but on the site value of the land within their area.
It may be said that that might be all very well if this were a proposal for the rating of site values, but this is a proposal for the taxation of site values. Do hon. Members not realise, however, that the line which divides the uses of taxation and rates is very much blurred? We are constantly imposing upon local authorities expenses which, in other circumstances, might be regarded as national. We are, on the other hand, constantly relieving local authorities of burdens which could legitimately be considered to be local, and we have recently relieved them of local burdens, by the Derating Act, to an amount which will probably continue to increase. Therefore, any impost which we put on land value goes, in effect, to the relief of other burdens which people have to bear. Even though it takes the shape of taxation, and not rating, of land values, it is in effect in substitution for the rates which are being borne on the whole value, including buildings and other improvements made by the individual. Thus, the questions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley and the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) are very largely answered.
It may be true that, if you isolate this land tax, you see in it nothing but a burden, and it has been said that it is a burden which the unfortunate taxpayer will have to bear above what he bears at the present time. I venture to think, however, that that is an incorrect way of looking at the matter. This burden is in substitution for some other burden which the individual might otherwise have to bear, either as a ratepayer or as a taxpayer, and I venture to think that large numbers of those in whose interest the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley was speaking, will, in fact, find that they are much better off under the proposed taxation of land values than they are 907 while they are bearing the burdens which fall upon the rates.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
At the present time we have to find money to cover a deficiency on the derating proposals. I am not a prophet, and cannot tell how the situation will be in three years' time, when this proposal fructifies and we raise money from the impost that we are now making. We have not passed the Bill yet, and, until we see in what shape it emerges from this House, it is quite impracticable to foretell what will happen. In any case, however, it will relieve other burdens to that extent, and for that reason I say that people will gain from the relief, while they will lose, of course, on account of the burdens that are to be put upon them. [Interruption.] Every form of taxation, isolated from all other forms of burdens and from the expenditure which it is called upon to meet, is, of course, an increase; no one can deny that; but, when taxation is imposed, it is imposed in order that the proceeds may be available to the community, and that fact must be borne in mind when we are considering the effect of the imposition of this burden.
The Debate that we have had on this Amendment, according to the understanding and arrangement, has, quite rightly and properly, ranged over a very large number of subjects, and, although I do not in the least complain of that, I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not expect me to attempt to cover all the points that have been raised from different parts of the Committee, and particularly by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), who moved this Amendment, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain). Their speeches dealt mostly with points that will come up at a later stage of the Bill, more particularly on Clause 19, because they were directed to showing that there were certain pieces of land which, owing to their ownership, ought to have exemption, and which do not have exemption under the Bill in its present form.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Will the hon. Gentleman allow us to deal with all these 908 exemptions raised on Clause 19 or shall we be guillotined?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The decision will rest with me, and the Chairman must protect the Committee in his decision. I do not think it is permissible to criticise what is the decision of the House regarding the Guillotine arrangement.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The hon. Gentleman is putting it forward as an excuse for not going into these matters now that they will be raised on the Clause when the exemptions are being considered. Shall we have an opportunity of dealing with them then?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask whether at the same time we shall get a guarantee that we shall be able to debate the deletion of some of the exemptions?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The matter does not lie with the Minister at all. The representatives of the Opposition up to now have indicated to me what they consider to be the most important Amendments, and I have made ray selection accordingly.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
Clearly, a large number of Amendments will be discussed and considered when we come to Clause 19. It depends very largely on the Opposition how many. No doubt, when we come to that Clause, the whole of the Amendments on the Paper will be considered most carefully by ray right hon. Friend, and he will be able to deal with the points when they come up. Although it is quite correct that they should have been raised to-day, it would be unsuitable for me to attempt to deal with them, but there are two or three points that I should like to refer to. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston claimed that a statement made by my right hon. Friend had been entirely discredited. He seemed to have wholly ignored this very important consideration, that a very large proportion of the allotments that are in private ownership will be exempt under this Bill because they are purely agricultural land. The hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple asked why we put a tax of 1d. when the tax of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on undeveloped land was only a halfpenny. But that was only one of the forms of taxation. The tax on undeveloped land was combined with other forms of taxa- 909 tion, whereas this tax stands alone. The hon. Baronet drew a harrowing picture of the vast taxation that would fall on brickfields. I can only suppose that he imagined a brickfield situated on land which had great building value. That is illustrative of the kind of mistakes which hon. Members who oppose these proposals make, and which it is impossible to answer seriatim, because they cover such a large number of questions. As a matter of fact, the sites of brickfields generally have a very low building value and the tax, if any, will undoubtedly be small.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston made one of his greatest points with regard to speculative building. He said the speculative builder was the mainstay of the building of houses, and that the effect of the tax upon the speculative builder would be to reduce very much the output of houses. Really hon. Members opposite must make their choice. When they are out to prove that this is going to be injurious to the housing of the working people, they tell us that the activities of the speculative builder will be terribly reduced and, instead of largely increasing the number of houses that will be built, it will be cut down by a large percentage. When they want to prove how injurious this will be to the open spaces of all kind's that exist at present, they tell us that the effect of the Bill will be to expand the activities of the speculative builder, that we shall have ribbon development going on at an accelerated pace, that we shall have all the outskirts of our cities built over, and that there will be no more playing fields. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. They must choose which of these alternatives they are going to adopt. I believe both are wrong. I do not think it will have the effect of cheeking the activities of the speculative builders in reducing the number of houses nor do I think it will bring about the kind of ugly and injurious form of building which hon. Members profess to think it will. At any rate, for the purpose of consistency they must choose one or other of these two legs to stand upon. They cannot stand on both, because they are mutually inconsistent.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
I apologise to the Financial Secretary if I did not hear the whole of his speech, but I came in in time to hear him say that one of the 910 chief reasons for the imposition of the tax was that land was in a peculiar position and was different from other forms of property. I have often heard that statement made but I have never heard it very well explained. There is an old saying that land cannot run away. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman meant that. We have heard that land cannot elude the clutches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, unlike the profiteering owner of land. But I am not so much' concerned with what the Financial Secretary said as with what the Solicitor-General has not said. He has not explained why he and his party have so grossly misled the electorate on the subject of these taxes. I share the surprise of other hon. Members that he has not given some better explanation. I also share the anxiety that the electorate should be well informed on the matter. On the other hand, we have the consolation that I do not think the electorate is quite so ill-informed as the Government suppose, if we are to judge by the figures of the Gateshead election. The very inadequate remarks of the Chancellor as to the purpose, the operation and the effect of the tax are well calculated to mislead. Only a day or two ago I had a letter from a constituent to the effect that the tax on unearned increment was not a grave injustice.
There have been two gross mis-statements made on the subject of this tax. The first was that it redresses a grievance which is supposed to be nursed by the community against owners of land. We now learn that it is merely a flat rate charge on a particular type of property. The second mis-statement resembles one view with which we were familiar many years ago when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was on the warpath against the landowner, namely, that it was only a penny in the £. That point has boon very well dealt with by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). On examining the figures, we discover that 12d. in the £ on the capital value is equal to a complete confiscation of the annual rental. Is that the set purpose of the Government? Is that the solution they desire? Is that what the Prime Minister is aiming at, or is he going once again to quote Cardinal Newman, as he did on a celebrated occasion 911 in the Albert Hall when he first assumed office:One step enough for me"?The imposition of such a tax affords a typical instance of the difficulties and embarrassments which beset the Chancellor of the Exchequer as soon as he sets out to impose a tax for purposes other than that of revenue. I should have thought that the classical example set by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs would have been a warning to him. This variety of tax aimed at a particular class is confessedly vindictive and punitive. Surely the only preoccupation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be to acquire revenue, and the basic principles which should guide him in the quest should be that the revenue should be adequate for his purposes, that the distribution of the burden should be as equitable as possible, and that the evil effects should be circumscribed as much as possible, so that it should have no detrimental repercussions upon industry. He has run roughshod over those basic principles. He freely confesses that revenue considerations do not afford the only reason for the institution of land value taxation. Surely it is not the business of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use the power of his high office to get his own back upon some section of the community against which he imagines himself to he aggrieved. It is against the traditions of his high office. The most objectionable feature of vindictive legislation is that, while you may succeed in inflicting pains and penalties upon those who merit your strictures, you inflict immeasurable hardship upon a far wider section of the community. Here is a case in point. Ever since the suggestion that this tax should be imposed, every hon. Member has been inundated with protests from philanthropic institutions, educational institutions, curative institutions and the like whose admirable work will be irremediably prejudiced by the imposition of this tax.
The peculiar characteristic of those who indulge in this particular form of vindictive legislation is that they all seem to be more solicitous to injure their opponents than to help 912 those whose cause they are supposed to be championing. That is not the only objection to this tax, obviously. When the Government first assumed control of the affairs of this country they said that they were going to indulge in some thinking. They do not seem to have done very much of it in connection with the taxation of site values. They have left out of reckoning all recent legislation and even legislation now on the stocks but which is due shortly to be launched. Surely the Rent Restrictions Act, the Agricultural Holdings Act, the Acquisition of Land Act and the Town and Country Planning Acts, all those successive Acts, certainly clear away any obstacles there may be to the community enjoying all the increment due to the action of the community.
Years ago when I went in for my Bar examination I learnt that the derogation of absolute ownership was ownership which was indefinite in user, unrestricted in disposition and unlimited in duration. We have travelled a very long way from that definition of absolute ownership. The Acts to which I have referred cut right across this tax and render it superfluous. It is not by any means its redundancy which I consider to be the chief objection. I think it is based on an absolutely fundamental fallacy, and that it is impossible in the majority of cases to ascertain with any precision who creates the value. There are many cases where, I agree, you can. There is the case of the man who suddenly discovers that the Metropolitan Railway is coming within a few yards of his own door. In cases of that character it is easy enough, but in the majority of cases it surely is the combination of the enterprise of the owner and the enterprise of the community reacting upon one another. The prudence, foresight, and initiative of the one is quite useless without the prudence, foresight and initiative of the other. It is impossible to measure the respective contributions of the community and the owner to any increment there may be. At any rate, it is obviously quite inequitable that you should not take into consideration every effort on the part of the owner to develop his land in assessing his liability for tax. You include in taxable value certain value the owner creates by his act, and that surely is inequitable.
913 Perhaps the most vicious feature of the tax is that it is not levied upon receipts which are clearly ascertainable. It is not levied upon earned or unearned increment but levied irrespective, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) pointed out, of profits or losses. It is assessed also very likely, as we were told, by someone, a jack in office, who has had absolutely no experience of land or the valuation of land. It is a tax upon the character of the land and not upon the definite profit, nor indeed on the capacity to pay. It contravenes the considered judgment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself who only a few weeks ago delivered a most solemn pronouncement that industry is not capable of bearing any further burdens. It; certainly will require all the resources of the ingenuity of the Government to convince the country that this tax is appropriate. It would be far better for them to conserve their energies and ingenuity to be applied to the problem which dominates all others and demands their immediate decision.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I congratulate the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Cadogan). I think it is the second time he has had an opportunity of addressing himself to the question, and it is with difficulty that I have been able to get on to my feet now. After listening all the afternoon to the speeches which have so far been delivered, the most dangerous speech was the one delivered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). I wish he were now in his place. I would have endeavoured to get him to reply to me, and now that he has gone I am sorry. But I will proceed to do the best I can to deal with the points which he raised. It was an attack at once subtle and significant which raised points which seemed to have substance in them, and I am quite sure that the opponents of the project behind the tax were simply entranced and impressed beyond all measure upon what seemed to them to be an inevitable part. To be quite frank, the speech from beginning to end was nothing but a farrago of nonsense. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, and I will show you why. It is no good putting on kid gloves in regard to this matter. We have to be brutally frank. So far, this 914 fight has been carried on as if there was nothing involved. There is a very big principle involved, and the sooner it is made known the better.
The right hon. and learned Member went on to say that the original sin of the promoter of this proposal is the belief that it is wrong to have private ownership in land. I should like everyone who opposes this proposal to note that that is exactly what we do believe. There is a moral principle involved which mankind has ignored far too long. There is a moral principle involved which we must adumbrate and bring before the minds of men. We on this side promote this proposal to tax the value of land because we believe that the land was made by no man, and that all men have equal rights to its use. I would welcome the next hon. Member who rises on the opposing side who could deny the proposition that men have equal rights to the uses of this earth. Deny it if you dare. If you can support your denial you will be entertaining, certainly if you can support it by any substantial arguments that will stand the test of common sense.
Believing that the land of this country is the common heritage of the people of this country, we say that those who wish to use any part of it shall render rental in respect of the value of it, either to the State or to the local community. If any man can prove to me that a man has created one single acre or one single inch of land, then I would defend that man's right to the ownership of that land, but as no man can ever prove before the tribunal of common sense or reason that any man ever made an inch of land, we to-night behind this proposal are challenging the idea that has pervaded the mind of man far too long that you can have private property in anything which no man has made. I hear hon. and right hon. Members opposite denouncing the Bolsheviks, because they say that they appropriate the belongings of other people. If hon. Members opposite deny the common right of man to the land and to the use of the land, they are doing what the Bolsheviks are doing in another way. They are appropriating that which is the common heritage of the people of the country, and saying that it is private property. That is the cardinal difference between the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, learned 915 in the law by the way, and those who support the proposed land tax. I would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that never in law has it been recognised that there is any absolute right to private property in land. True, the lawyers have made out that, in practice, land is private property.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley got the applause and attention of the Committee because he is deemed to be a subtle and clever lawyer, but I put it to him and to any lawyer that never in law has absolute private ownership in land been admitted. True, as the hon. Member opposite has interjected, the King is the owner of the land, but the King does not collect rent on the Monday morning. It is the private owners who do that. Therefore, let there be no dubiety or suspicion on the part of hon. Members opposite that there is something in this Snowden proposal, as they call it, that they do not appreciate. A few of us, long ago, maintained that if ever the opportunity came the present Chancellor of the Exchequer would do what he is doing to-day. He has the solid support of every man on these benches, and until recently I thought that he had the solid support of every hon. and right hon. Member below the Gangway opposite. It is because we believe that the private appropriation of rent is a moral and original crime against society that we are here to-night advocating the beginning of a system of putting taxes on to rent. I hope that I have settled that matter and that there will be no dubiety.
§ Mr. CADOGAN
Will the hon. Member explain how land differs from other property? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall take nothing out of it.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I have been asked a question, and there is no Member of this House who more delights in answering that question. How does land differ from property in other things? That 916 may seem a far cry from our discussion to-night, but it is very essential to clear up the point. What is property? It is not a thing, but a claim to a thing. If I go into a court and there is a contest going on as to whether a table or a chair or a coat belongs to me or to the other fellow, the judge is not concerned with the thing that is called a coat, a table or a chair but with who has the right claim to the thing; whose property is it? What is it that establishes a property claim in anything? First, that I produce the thing by my own labour or that I produced something in exchange of the thing that I now claim.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I have been asked a question and I will answer it. First of all, my property claim is based upon the fact that I produced the thing by my own labour, or that I have exchanged something that I produced for the thing that I am now claiming, or that it has been bequeathed to me by someone who either produced it by their own labour or exchanged it for something that they produced, the cardinal, rock bottom principle being that property cannot be established unless there is the title deed of labour establishing it. The distinguishing feature between other forms of property and land is this, that while other things which are deemed to be property have labour added to them to establish a property claim in proportion to the labour expended upon them, land never was produced by any man——
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I will not pursue such a silly point. I have tried to meet the point that was put to me, and which I thought was clear to any man who runs and reads, that private property in things is determined by the amount of labour expended in their production. That is the point which establishes the difference between hon. Members on this side of the House who are behind the proposal in the Finance Bill, and those who are against it. We do not believe and never shall believe that that which no man produces can ever become any man's private property. I have here a quotation which may be interesting to the hon. Member who has been interrupt- 917 ing me. They are the words not of a Member of the Labour party, not of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. P. Snowden), but the words of a good Member of the Conservative party, and they are pertinent to our argument:Equity does not permit property in land. The assumption that land can be held as property involves that the whole globe may become the private domain of a part of its inhabitants and that the rest of the population are trespassers thereon. It can never be pretended that the existing titles to such property, are legitimate. Should anyone think so let him look in the Chronicles. Violence, fraud, the prerogative of force, the claims of superior cunning—these are the sources to which those titles may be traced. The original deeds were written with the sword rather than the pen; not lawyers but soldiers were the conveyancers: blows the current coins given in payment; and for seals blood was used in preference to wax, Could valid claims be thus constituted?Those are the words of Herbert Spencer in the 9th chapter of his "Social Statics," which afterwards he desired to delete when he joined the Athenaeum Club. Having made it quite clear that we are not timid in the demand we are making, I want to say that it is astonishing to me that the people of this country do not seem to be fully attuned to the immensity of the light that is now going on. If ever we were at the beginning of a revolutionary movement it is now, because this is the beginning of a challenge to an historic and vested interest which during the last 400 to 500 years has constantly sought, through the Measures which have been passed through this House, to disinherit the mass of the people and the bedrock of aristocracy in another place has been constantly set as a barrier against every attempt to bring forward any measure of reform. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley says, "What about the poor shopkeeper who has purchased his premises? He has paid all, and someone else has gone off with the swag." If I were the Chancellor of the Exchequer I would take the Opposition at their word. They are astonished that the simple penny is not getting at the increment value. If I were the Chancellor of the Exchequer I would add to that simple penny a chunk on to increment value. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in any way tempted to introduce an increment value tax we should hear none of that nonsense.
918 9.0 p.m.
The fact that hon. Members opposite admit that the penny tax does not in any way affect the vast fortunes of the landowner who has got away with the increment value on the sale of his estate, is not a reflection upon us so much as it is a reflection upon the system which has prevailed up to the present. The man who has bought his shop, his little shop, who has paid a price—the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley says that we come along and put a penny tax upon this poor fellow without any regard to the fact that the Noble Lord has run away with the increment value. What is it that the man who buys his shop, or the man who buys a piece of land, really buys? When a man buys a piece of land what is it that he really purchases? Is it land? No. What he buys is this, he buys the right from another man to charge rent against his fellows when they try to use the piece of land he now has. All that is bought from a landowner is the right of exemption from his charges and to become clothed with the same power to charge rent on anyone else who comes along and desires to use the land. As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the idea that you can buy land.
Look at the case of a man who buys a shop and who feels that the landowner is taking advantage of the development of the premises to increase his rental. The shopkeeper, anxious to get rid of the parasitical growth of landlordism, attempts to commute the power of the landowner by buying him out. When he has bought the landlord out he is now in the position of a landowner, and he would be a stupid business man if, after having bought a hereditament at a capitalised value, he did not in his bookkeeping set aside a certain amount as rental charge in respect of his land. He must. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley said to-night, "Oh, but you are coming along and putting this penny tax on without regard as to whether the man is making a profit out of his shop or not. The taxation of land value is not a tax on land, as I have heard constantly insisted upon in this House; it is not a tax upon the land but a tax upon the land value or a tax upon rent.
When hon. Members opposite endeavour to show that a tax upon land value will 919 tend to depress industry they are up against this proposition. Is there any hon. Member who opposes the taxation of land value who will dare to say that rent taken by the landowner has had a detrimental effect on the industries of the country? I ask any critic opposite who has the courage to rise and say that the constant collection of rentals by private landlords has been detrimental to the trade of this country. What is it that we are proposing here? All that we are proposing is that when the landlord collects his rent we should collect a little from Mm on the road home. All this blether about the depression of agriculture and the small shopkeeper, that a tax upon land value will break down securities and shake confidence in the State is so much arrant nonsense. All that we are proposing to do is to take a little from the landowners of what they have been taking in the form of rental for years. We are told that we should not put a 1d. tax upon the small shopkeeper. We are to send a valuer down to see how he is geting on. If he is selling plenty of ham, eggs, and greens, he will pay the tax; but if he is not, then he will not pay the tax. [An HON. MEMBER: "He does not pay the tax!"] That is what I am coming to. I wish my brilliant colleagues would not anticipate me.
They are asking us by these pious, mealy-mouthed shibboleths to abrogate our right as a taxing power in this country to refrain from taxing where there is duress upon the little man in the little shop. But the landowners have never done that. The private landowner collects the rent whether you are doing good business or bad business. If you cannot pay, he does not very much mind how you are getting on with your accounts or how trade is going; he simply distrains upon you and chucks you out. That is why, in the country of my forefathers, they shot more landowners than in any other country on God's earth, because you in England in that case put them into castles and called them gentlemen. Now you put them into the House of Lords. My grandfather who was my first schoolmaster used to say to me that the priest in the church told him that God had made the land for the people, but he noticed that it was not God who called for the rent. It is 920 because we are determined to stop this constant hemorrhage called rental that we are attempting to-night, for the first time, through this Finance Bill to take taxation off industry and put it on ground values.
I have listened to the speeches made this afternoon and I say now what I have said before, that I cannot understand why Members opposite never correlate their ideas. They never correlate one Debate with another. What is the historic fact? This Committee to-night is under the shadow of the report of the Commission which has inquired into unemployment benefit. I think that all of us, both those who are against the Government and those who are for it, are apprehensive as to what ought to be done in regard to that matter. Here we have this army of unemployed and we know that unless they had been getting food and shelter, there would have been danger to the realm before now. Yet we are coming to the point of asking ourselves—are we going to economise financially and perhaps threaten an outbreak in the country? What is the relation of that subject to the question which we are discussing to-night? It is an undeniable fact that it was the rapacity of men in the past in enclosing the common land of England and making it private property which began our unemployment problem. If you will not feed the poor, if you will not give "doles" to the poor, if you will not give them and their dependants 30s. a week, if you will not maintain them out of State funds, then the challenge will come home to you, as sure as you are here tonight. If you will not feed them with State grants, then you must open the land of England to them and allow them to feed themselves. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh. How they can laugh on this subject, I do not know, but I repeat that either you have to open the land of England to the use of the unemployed of England, or go on with the land closed, and in the grip of a monopoly, and open wide the Employment Exchanges to drain the taxpayers' pockets.
I support this proposal because I believe that it is the beginning of the opening of the land of England by making the private ownership of land and the withholding of land from use a bad paying proposition to the landowner. I 921 support it because I believe that if we continue to tax industry much more than we are doing, there will be serious results to social relations in this country. In the past, the most potent force in bringing about bloody revolutions has been the vicious mishandling of taxation. Bad taxation brought about the French Revolution. It was resentment at taxation imposed by this country which caused the United States to break away from us. It was the mishandling of taxation which caused the Bolsheviks to became supreme in Petrograd; and I support this Measure to-night because I fear the results of this constant heavy pressure on the industry of this country with the opposite threatening power of unemployment in this country. Having regard to the circumstances which I find around me, I am proud to be in this Committee to-night to defend, if indeed defence be necessary, the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This Bill is not the Bill that I would have introduced if I had had the power. It exempts agricultural laud, a thing which I should not have done. Probably it will give certain exemptions to charity, and here let me say a word in passing to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley. He seems to think that because a thing is called a charitable institution, it should not be subject to taxation. Would to God that men would see that much that passes for charity in our time is nothing but the make-shift casualty ward rendered necessary by a vicious and unjust economic system. How often do we see the person who in order to gain a little public applause will give five guineas or 10 guineas to the local hospital and will vote Tory and work like the devil night, noon and morning in the interests of reaction? Such people will never use their brains to seek to remove the causes which necessitate such institutions. These institutions having been foisted upon us, we are told that we must exempt them from the operation of the ordinary taxation of this country. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also said that universities were likely to be subject to the tax. I assure him that in certain respects that will not be so. He went into what I considered to be an extremity in illustration which was not warranted from a man like himself, when he said 922 that a Yankee could come to Christ Church College and build his house in the quadrangle.
§ Sir WALTER GREAVES - LORD
Really, the hon. Member must know that what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said was this—that notwithstanding the fact that this country would never stand a Yankee building his house in the quadrangle of the college, these taxes were to be paid as though the quadrangle were put up for auction among American millionaires.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Having heard that interjection, I ask the Committee what is the difference between it and what I said——[HON. MEMBERS: "All the difference!"] No, the picture which the right hon. and learned Gentleman wished to convey to our minds was that of a vulgar Yankee villa in the middle of Christ Church quadrangle and whether the hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) is right or I am right as to the actual words, that was the illustration given. The colleges of Oxford were originally established and land was granted to them in order that they might educate the poor. To a large extent they have become the perquisites of the rich. I am not going into that question now, but if there are colleges and charitable institutions drawing rent from land in this country, I would have had no compunction in making them subject to the tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, no doubt will have to make many exemptions. The Bill, as I say, is not the Bill that I would have introduced. It has exemptions to which I would not, in other circumstances assent, but I have to recognise how few men you can carry with you in a full measure of justice, and also the power of vested interests both behind and in front. Every Member of this Committee has had his postbag overladen with every kind of appeal for exemption from this taxation. The moment you threaten to tax land values, there is an avalanche of applications for exemption, but the landowners could go on imposing their tax with never a word about it.
I know that I have not brought hon. Members opposite any nearer to us on this question to-night, but I hope I have done one thing. I hope I have made it clear and inevitable that the tax on the 923 value of land, even if it be only a penny in the £, should be on the capital value. Why should it be regarded as a discovery which has only recently been made? Of course, no man in his senses has proposed anything else. The Lloyd George Budget of 1909–10 was a tax on the capital value. I have yet to learn that the landowner will part with his land on the annual value; he always sells it on capital value, and what is wrong with the State calling for a tax on the capital value? I have made it clear that we are determined that this is but the beginning, in spite of the exemptions, in spite of the handicap at the start, in spite of the long time for the valuation and the circumstances that may arise. Who knows how easily the public will be gulled by The Parliamentary quacks——[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I know what that cheer means, but God forbid that I should ever be called a politician; I have always been a single-taxer. Politicians may get on the public platform and talk of the hungry world and of the virtues of Protection, and we may go out of office.
As a testimony to the power of land values taxation, and also as a warranty of the fact that many hon. Gentlemen opposite know more about it than they would seem to have us believe, immediately they get into power they will rend the valuation to pieces, because they do not wish the Domesday Book to be revised and the common people of England and (Scotland to know the value of the great heritage which, by the will of God, should have been their common right. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home), who has a nasty habit of coming into the House to make a speech and then running away in case you answer it, that (Scotland is going to be maltreated. He pointed out that the feu was to be subject to tax and that the superior landlord in Scotland would be called upon to pay a contribution to the tax. Certainly, why not? The feu is a tribute payable by the land user to the superior landlord, who, in order to realise the feu, can enter upon the land. It is a first charge on the land. More than that, when the superior enters in to secure the feu, he can claim the feu immediately afterwards. I was surprised that the right hon. and learned 924 Member for Spen Valley tried to suggest that the superior in Scotland was getting nothing more than deferred interest on money invested.
I will not quote the late Lord Strathclyde, but I am glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to compel the superior in Scotland to pay one-twelfth part of his tribute back to the State in the form of taxation. I have spoken longer than I intended, but I wish to make it plain that this is definitely a challenge to those who claim that private property in land is either just or can be established on the grounds of equity. We challenge the right of any man to take advantage of the progress of society by becoming wealthy, and we are determined, as far as lies in our power, to remove taxation from the necessaries of the people and remove the rates that fall upon the houses of the people, and to call upon the natural foundation of tribute for a penny on the land which was created by the people. That land being a communal creation, ought in justice to be appropriated by the people, and although this tax is but a penny, I hope it will be, to use the words of the late Lord Rosebery when he was speaking on the Land Valuation Bill in the House of Lords in 1909, like a dumdum bullet which, once it gets in, will spread.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I am sure the Committee listened, with enthusiasm in some passages, and with sympathy in others, to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren). At any rate, we all know that he is sincere, and it is, or should be, extremely interesting to deal with a sincere person, because you know you are not dealing with a sham and are not wasting your time. The arguments of the hon. Gentleman remind me of a strange religious sect, which still survives. They believe that the earth is flat, and they have a hymn, "God in Heaven made it ever flat," which was immortalised by Mr. Rudyard Kipling in one of his short stories. There is another religious sect which believes that the saviours of the world were two obscure Cromwellian soldiers of 1650. One cannot mock at religions, even religions like that, and one should never mock at a religious service, even though it be a long one, nor can one mock at the hon. Gentleman, but we would 925 hardly think that we were discussing practical affairs when we listen to such a speech as his. He is informed by such tremendous learning, that his speech was like a river in spate.
We prefer his enthusiasm, however, to the enthusiasm of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he has not always been such an enthusiast for these taxes as he is at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman is not present to-night, and he was not present the last time that I spoke on this subject—[HON. MEMBERS: "Send for him!"] By a strange coincidence, he was not present on either occasion. He made a speech in 1910 in which he said that it was quite useless to indulge in taxation of this kind, and that the only solution was nationalisation. The State, he said, must then resume ownership, and you will have settled for all time the question of future increment, for it will accrue to the community, not 20 per cent. of it, but 100 per cent. of it. That was the sincere expression of his view then, and what we ask is, whether that is still his opinion? Is the purpose of his taxation to bring about nationalisation, or is it a sincere attempt by scientific taxation to raise revenue? We have never been informed by him which is his view. Again, in 1913, on an Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who proposed that certain poorer classes should be exempt from the tax, he said:What we are going to say now is that it is not wrong for a man to steal from the community provided his income is not more than£3 a week, but the moment he gets beyond that point he is a thief. What is the moral of all this? That the Chancellor of the Exchequer has found his land taxation proposals to be an utter failure and the machinery set up impracticable.That is what the right hon. Gentleman said in 1913. Has he sincerely changed his view since then? That is what we really want to know on this side of the Committee. We want to know whether he believes in land taxation as the hon. Member for Burslem does, or only as a means to the end of nationalisation of land and of all other property. That is what we want to hear him say, and what the country wants to know. The hon. Member for Burslem and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are poles apart in this matter. I understand that the 926 only statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer has ever been known to withdraw was the statement he made that the tax on land values was a farce. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Burslem made him withdraw that statement at a large public meeting not, after all, so very long ago in the history of the movement. The hon. Member thinks there is something peculiar in the nature of land which makes possession of it a crime. I suggest that, in all his sincere public utterances before he came into office, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has tried to show that all kinds of property are wrong.
That is the difference between the hon. Member for Burslem, who is an individualist, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is a Socialist. Here we have a Socialist using the old fallacy of a Land Tax in order to bring about the revolution in property which he has always advocated. That is what we really believe is behind the alliance between the hon. Member for Burslem and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member, and to some extent the Financial Secretary, have reiterated this old idea that there is something peculiar in the possession of land. My right hon. Friend the late Postmaster-General said in his very powerful speech at the beginning of these Debates, that property in land, once acquired, is like all other property, and a man who invests in it is no more deserving of attack than a man who invests in industry, foreign exchanges and so on. That is the correct view as long as you believe in private property at all. The hon. Member for Burslem says that there should be some sort of moral selection which would place investment in land absolutely beyond the pale. That is to deny the reality of the present situation of society and not to acknowledge the fact that all over England there are friendly societies, educational institutions, yes, and trades unions with poor people as well as rich people, who have been advised to invest in land, and who would lose their all if there were such a tax on land.
The hon. Member for Burslem and, in a feeble way, the Financial Secretary, regard that as the merest nonsense, and seem prepared to let the friendly societies, and even the trade unions, go, and that all those misguided people such as the universities and all other 927 individuals who have invested in land should lose their property rather than that those hon. Gentlemen should forego one jot or tittle of their sacred principle. We know that this is now become a matter of religion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer came down here and made a speech to that effect; he did not come to argue, but came with his tomahawk and his scalping knife, and in full warpaint, in order to renew pre-War class politics. It is the old tribal warfare over again. Many hon. Members on this side thought it was a shabby thing to bring into the question the Deity and the dukes almost in the same sentence in order to prove a theory which he had disbelieved so profoundly only a short time before.
The Chancellor came down and made two very curious statements. He said the land was given by God to the people, and a few sentences afterwards he said we shouldRender to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.That seemed to me a most flagrant non sequitur, and it was entirely unnecessary to introduce religion or even logic into his fantastic proposals. He would have been more reverent and would have done far better to have fallen back on economics, even on the crazy economics of Henry George. Anybody who has been a Member of the House who reads that speech of the Chancellor in a few years time will be thoroughly ashamed at the way in which this revolution, for revolution it is, in taxation has been initiated. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the dukes, but did not say that the dukes were the one class of people whom perhaps he was not going to attack. Par worse than the dukes are the speculators in land, and those he will not even touch. They have got away with their profits, and he is not going to attack them in any way.
Arguments Have been brought forward to-day, as before, about America, Canada and the Dominions, which had tried this extraordinary method of taxation. Anyone who inquires into the history of land taxation in the North-Western Provinces of Canada will find a long and gloomy history. There are everywhere tremendous arrears of taxation which were bigger than the annual revenue. The result of land taxation, especially 928 in America, has meant, in the case of the suburban owner, the confiscation of property because he cannot pay the taxes which have been assessed by the State, and to the city owner of property it has meant such a degree of development that the population have not enjoyed the ordinary amenities of life. How in the centre of a city can a man afford to put up gardens or even lavatory accommodation for his tenants? So high is the value of land in the centre of a great city that these great apartment houses, the enemy of the real home, are built simply because of this misbegotten land tax.
I do not know whether hon. Members have really thought out the problem from the point of view of the working classes themselves. Suppose a munificent landlord sets up in a city dwelling houses for the working classes, built and maintained at scarcely any profit at all. Is he to be haunted by the Land Tax? I know of instances near this House where there are big buildings for the working classes with low and scarcely economic rents. Suppose the property were heavily assessed for land taxation according to the present plan. Such places would be far too valuable properties to harbour the working classes, and they would have to be inhabited by more wealthy people. That is the result of land taxation for the working classes. There is another thing which has been shown clearly by the American experience in this matter. It has not been in the slightest degree difficult for the landlord to pass the tax on to the tenants, and the people who ultimately pay the tax are the unfortunate wage-earners of the country, and not the landlords. It hon. Members wish to close their eyes to the experience of other countries, they are entitled to do so, but I suggest that, having regard to the fact that hon. Members opposite claim to represent the working classes, they should consider the repercussion of this tax on the working classes in other lands, and the experience gained from other countries.
At this point I fear I shall rival the hon. Member for Burslem, because there are so many objections which could be raised to this tax, and so bad is the history of it where it has been tried, that it is difficult to make an end of an argument. But it is perfectly safe to say that such taxes are incredibly expensive to 929 levy, and the valuation once made is not valid, because the system of land valuation is like the valuation of any other security. How could you accept the value of securities in 1929 as the static valuation for five years? It would be a bold, bare, unjust thing; for, in the same way, the character and value of the land changes almost as quickly as that of securities. Therefore, to attempt to value land on any permanent basis for five years is like a dog who tries to catch its own tail. There are two purposes of taxation. One is to raise revenue, and the other is to fulfil some social object. There are many injustices which might be adjusted between the landlord and tenant, but not one injustice in which the working classes are really interested is touched by this Land Tax proposal.
A third objection is that these taxes can only work if they are flagrantly unjust; if they are applied by rule-of-thumb, they can work, but not otherwise. Once we begin to allow exemptions and exceptions the taxes will fail to work; they will be unproductive, as they have been unproductive before. It is no excuse, on the other hand to refuse exemptions, simply because they would make the tax unworkable. No taxation should be allowed if it is unjust. One of the main principles of taxation is that it should be always in the main, just. There is another characteristic of these taxes to which hon. Members have not perhaps paid much attention. They will have a disastrous effect upon the national finances. Every year already enormous sums are raised by Income Tax, Schedule A, in land taxes, based upon the annual value. If this heavy additional taxation is put on land the only result will be that the value of land must depreciate, and the revenue will suffer enormously as the result of the depreciated value of land and the Income Tax assessments based upon it. It is, perhaps, an appropriate thing that at this time we should seek economic salvation in American economics. American influence has not been such a healthy influence upon the life of this country. It has invaded our beautiful language, it has corrupted our music, it has scarred our great capital city with its hideous architecture, and now it is not really inappropriate that we should go back for our economic salvation to an American economist who was profoundly ignorant 930 of the history of his own times and whose philosophy is wholly inapplicable to our own.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I agree with a great deal of the stirring and apt eloquence of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks), and I intervene for a few moments only in order to continue the examination of where we stand in regard to these proposals, so far as we know them. I say "so far as we know them," because it is a somewhat remarkable thing that during the discussion to-day no one has yet made reference to the fact that there appears on the Order Paper, in the name of distinguished members of the Liberal party, an Amendment to Clause 20 which, if carried, would have the effect of completely recasting this tax and converting it into something quite different. I cannot comment upon the existence of the Guillotine, but I am entitled to point out that it is one of the inconveniences of the Guillotine that Clauses 19 and 20 are brigaded together. Clause 19 is the exemptions Clause, on which there are already many pages of Amendments, and on which we are told there are to be more pages, and it is manifest that in the ordinary course of things we shall never reach the discussion of Clause 20 on the Committee stage. None the less, I hope that at some stage or another a way will be found by which the Liberal party will be enabled to bring to debate, and I hope to a decision, the Amendment which appears in their name. Frankly, I think the Government ought to tell us now, to save time on the discussion of these proposals, what their attitude is going to be towards that Liberal Amendment. What is the good of our spending 10 days in laboriously discussing a series of proposals as we find them in the Bill if all the time the Government have made up their mind that they are going radically to alter and modify those proposals?
The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) will agree with me that the acceptance of any such Amendment would completely transmogrify the whole position. Why should we go on rolling this stone up the hill all these days if when we get it to the top the Government tell us that it is not the stone which they want? Another remarkable thing which has struck me during this Debate has 931 been the comparative emptiness of the Liberal benches, and the fact that, apart from the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), we have not been favoured with the opinion of any Member of the Liberal party. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has given a reply to the speeches delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for, Spen Valley, and the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) and though I do not want to say anything disrespectful of the hon. Gentleman I think the Committee will agree with me that, on the whole, the reply was rather inadequate. What the hon. Gentleman said in substance was that he could not say what the coat or the yield was going to be, but he could say to the taxpayers that it was quite possible that two years hence they might get off something else in the way of taxation. It was left to the hon. Member for Burslem to come to the defence, and, as one would expect, he did not shrink from the task. He explained, amid the cheers of hon. Members opposite, that the only justification for this tax was the existence of the modern principle which denies the right of property in land. He said they had no dubiety about it. They proposed the tax because they believed rent was a crime, and this was the beginning of a system to destroy it.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. All I said was that the private appropriation of rent was wrong.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I will put it that way, because I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Member. It that be so, I have two questions to put to the Liberal party. The first is, "Do you believe that private property in land ought to be abolished? The Socialist party have no doubt about what the answer is. They say "Yes, private property in land ought to be abolished." But what is the answer of the Liberal party? The second question is, "Is this proposal being introduced and supported because it is the beginning of the process of getting rid of private property in land?" The answer of the hon. Mem- 932 ber for Burslem is "Yes, that is why we are introducing it." He says it is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised years ago to introduce. This is the first step in getting rid of private property in land. Do the Liberal party realise where they are going? What have they got to say about that?
The hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has already told you.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I was not addressing my argument to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but rather to those sheep which are of the other fold in the Liberal party. I have read a good deal of the discussion of this subject in the country by hon. Members opposite—I take pains to inform myself of their speeches there, because there is not much discussion by them in the House—and I find that a great deal of it is wholly irrelevant to the proposals in these Clauses. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to do as the hon. Member for Burslem did. If I may use a useful parallel, I ask them to strip the proposals of all the edifices which their imagination has erected on them and get down to the bare site value of the Bill. In other words, they ought not to comment upon what they were told was going to be in the Bill, or what they hoped would be in the Bill, or believe is in the Bill, but discuss the Bill on the basis of what the all-wise Providence which resides on the Treasury Bench has put in it, that and no more. If they do that, they will find that, although a great many hon. Gentlemen are still talking about the general valuation and the advantages of the general valuation—even the hon. Member for Burslem was talking a moment ago about the new Domesday Book—it is not in the Bill. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said it ought to be in the Bill, but I do not think there is a good deal to be said for it. It is not in the Bill at present, and that is what we are concerned with at the present moment.
A great many hon. Members opposite talk about appropriating the income created by public expenditure, but that is not in the Bill. If the Government 933 will take away this changling which they are nursing and drown it, and produce a proposal that will define the values produced by public expenditure, and seek for some future contribution from it, that is quite a different matter which I shall be ready to support. I say for the future because that is not what this proposal will do. It is not the man who has made the profit whom you propose to tax. That man has cashed in and gone away with it. You are proposing to tax the man who has paid the full price, who has paid Schedule A Income Tax and rates on the full value, who pays the Income Tax and who when he dies will pay the Death Duties. He is the man whom you are now proposing to tax. The Government call themselves single taxers, but they are double taxers.
We have been told that this tax is built on the experience of other countries. We have been told that the taxation of land values in other countries is just the same as this. I would like to ask what other countries have proposed taxation upon an obsolescent valuation. What other countries have proposed to place a tax upon owners' improvements? Show me any country which has levied a tax on that basis. There is not one, and right hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to know it. A great many hon. Members still talk as if the basis of the tax was its stripped value, but that is not in the Bill. The injustice is clearly seen in the case of reclaimed land. We have been told that nobody ever made the land, but in the case of reclaimed land although Providence made it it was placed at the bottom of the sea. What you are now proposing to do is to take the man who, by his own efforts made the water recede and the dry land appear, and who reclaimed that land from the bottom of the sea, and tax that man upon the fruits of his industry. That seems to me to be an injustice.
I do not want to anticipate the discussion on Clause 8, but I would like to point out to the Committee the absurd nature of the imaginative processes which you are providing for the valuers who will have to perform the miracle of valuing the land in 16 months. I have tried to discover what these valuers will have to do in the case of an ordinary farm. The valuer will have to make these assumptions. He will have to assume that certain things do not exist at all and that certain other things continue to exist. 934 He will have to assume that the drainage of the house and steading is nonexistent and that the drainage of the land is existent; that the water supply to the house and steading is non-existent and the water supply to the land is existent; that the gates of the farmyard are nonexistent and the gates in the field are existent. He will have to assume that the walls of the steading are non-existent and the walls in the fields are existent. He will have to assume that the highroad has no existence, and that all the farm roads exist just as they are. He will have to assume that the land supplying water to the house is non-existent and that the water supplies to the fields continue to exist. I could multiply those instances, but I think I have given enough to show the imaginative absurdities that have been created in the minds of the unlucky valuer who has to perform this valuation.
Take the case of a town house. The site has to be valued without the building. There are thousands of cases where the value of the site when cleared is more than the existing value with the house upon it, but it would cost more to pull down the house than the difference between the two values. There are scores of cases like that, and they were discovered by thousands in 1910. You instruct your valuers to tax the value of the site just as if the house had been pulled down. Would any man out of Bedlam dream of doing that? One word more about the application of the tax. I do not want to anticipate Clause 19, but I hope that when we get to that Clause the Government will explain why Clause V is not to operate in the case of institutions for the blind but is to operate in the case of institutions for the deaf and dumb. I want to know why it is not to operate in the case of the aged but is to operate in the case of institutions for infants; why it is to operate in the case of those who are crippled in body but not in mind. Those are a few of the problems which will confront us when we reach that Clause.
I conclude by saying that we are opposing this Clause, not because we desire to support dukes or landlords, but because at this moment it imposes a fresh tax upon a large number of people in this country. It imposes a fresh tax upon industry and upon a great deal of agricultural land. It is quite a mistake to think that agricultural land is going to 935 be exempted. Much agricultural land, land belonging to wholesale and retail tradesmen and private citizens, and land belonging to educational and religious bodies and land belonging to bodies concerned with the saving of the people will be taxed.
I should just like to give one or two figures to show the sort of extent to which these bodies are interested in land. I have taken out the figures relating to the insurance companies under the Act of 1909 and the last return is for the year 1930. The insurance companies taken as a whole, according to this return, hold land, house property, and ground rent to the extent of £59,248,910 and their mortgages amount to £151,000,000. As a matter of fact the figures for the Prudential Company appeared in the Press this morning. The Prudential hold mortgages for £11,286,691, and lands £12,993,585. The Commercial Union, £4,942,000 mortgages, £3,261,000 land. The Eagle Star, £4,624,000 mortgages, £1,316,000 land. The Norwich Union, £10,242,000 mortgages, £1,944,000 land. Building societies, not by any means composed mainly of dukes, 1,026 societies, hold mortgages of the value of £268,141,456. Industrial and provident societies hold land and buildings of the value of £38,809,786. Land and housing societies hold land and buildings of the value of £10,923,510, and mortgages £3,611,639. From all these people the Government are demanding already, at this moment, the confiscation of a portion, ultimately one-twelfth in some cases, of their investments. The president of the Hearts of Oak writes to the Press this morning that the effect of the Government proposals has been an immediate depreciation in their investments of £100,000 and a drop in income of between £5,000 and £6,000. They own over £2,000,000 in ground rents.
When hon. Members opposite put forward this proposal it is idle for them to suggest that only the dukes and the rich will be hit. They will find out within a very short space of time how completely wrong they are; they will discover that these proposals, which were conceived as a manoeuvre and are being carried out in injustice, will recoil upon their own heads. We on this side contest them, and will contest them to the end, because we believe that where a tax has to be de- 936 fended, as this tax is defended, by the only relevant argument which was ever made for it—that it is no use trying to alter it because this is the only way in which it can be done—it is the equivalent of saying that the only way in which you can carry through the tax is by perpetrating injustice, and that being so we say as strenously as we can that it would be better by far not to have the tax at all.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. O. LEWIS
One disadvantage the Committee is under is the fact that we have several Ministers in charge of the same Bill, with the result that it is very difficult for the Opposition to know what is the true purpose of the Government with regard to this particular legislation. For example the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when his attention was called to the great cost of valuation as opposed to the small probable yield of the tax, led us to undesrstand that he regarded the yield of the tax as of secondary importance, because in his view the really important matter was the valuation. Earlier this afternoon the Solicitor-General told us with the utmost confidence that in his view the tax was the primary object and the valuation only ancillary to it. I do not know whether the President of the Board of Trade proposes to speak later, but if so perhaps he will kindly tell us which of these two entirely contrary views he supports. Obviously there is a great difference between the two. If the main objective is the revenue of the tax, surely the answer is that the cost of collection is so great in comparison with the yield that the tax is not worth making. If, on the other hand, the valuation is the all-important matter, perhaps the President of the Board of Trade can tell us why the Government did not follow out their original intention and proceed at their leisure with a Valuation Bill instead of tacking this Clause on to the Finance Bill.
I think that at least one thing has emerged from our discussion to-day, and that is that there are two fundamental objections to the proposals for the taxation of land contained in the Bill. The first is that the proposal is in effect a tax upon capital, which it is intended to devote to the purposes of current expenditure. It is to that essential quality that is really due the greater variety of 937 exemptions which hon. Members in all quarters of the House are seeking by Amendment to make in the Bill. It is the essential unsoundness of the original proposition that enables Members of all shades of opinion to make out such very convincing cases for so many quite different exemptions. The other thing which stands out in objection to the proposal is that its effect will be directly contrary to that which is at the back of pretty well every town-planning scheme. The effect of this tax upon development must be to make it, not easier, but more difficult to retain open spaces around and among buildings.
I thought the full pitch of absurdity was reached at Question Time to-day when the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in answer to a question which I put, that even if a piece of land was restricted in perpetuity against buildings, if it was in private hands it would be subject to the tax. I hope that when the Question comes to be put the Committee will refuse to allow this Clause, which has been fairly described as the operative Clause of the Bill, to remain part of the Bill, and so destroy the Bill. I may say without offence that the most eloquent speeches we have heard from hon. Members opposite in support of these proposals have been the speeches in support of something which is not in the Bill at all. We have had the spectacle of hon. Members speaking with obvious conviction in favour of one set of proposals as a justification for voting in favour of something entirely different.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
The right hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson) threw out an invitation to any Liberal to express his opinion on this Bill, and although I realise that what I am going to say may do me harm in my own party, I cannot be honest with myself without saying that I have followed the course of this discussion with very grave misgivings. I am one of those who had accepted without examining very closely the general principle of the taxation of land values. It was a sort of bottle on which one was brought up, and it is only in very recent months that I have taken the trouble to examine, not only the principles, but the application of those principles; and although I still remain a Liberal, I should like to say that, speaking as a Liberal candidate, I should 938 find myself quite unable to justify the application of these principles under modern conditions.
I can well understand that in an un-built-up country, in a new country like Australia, where you are anxious to embark on an intensive course of development, a tax on site values would promote that end. That has been the effect in Sydney and, I believe, in every other town there where it has been tried, but when you are applying this principle to an absolutely built-up area, totally different considerations come in. I had not prepared my speech until the right hon. Gentleman spoke, but I should like to imagine myself as addressing an audience in my constituency. [An HON. MEMBER: "Of Tories?"] No, I think most of my audiences are made up of working men, working in factories, but a good number of them, let us say, are Free Church Ministers. [Interruption.]
Let me try to argue on one or two possible questions that might be addressed to me by my constituents, and let me take the case, first, of the Bishop of Norwich, or of any Free Church ministers who might happen to be in the audience. I do not know what argument I could apply to them. Many of these churches and chapels stand on very valuable sites. Many of them are very heavily mortgaged already and are struggling along, especially the Free Churches, under a system of voluntary collections which is both the weakness and the strength of the Free Churches. But I cannot think of any argument that I could adduce to convince the owner of a valuable site in Norwich, working as he does for religious purposes only, that some extra burden should be imposed upon him.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
The next interrupter, we will say, is a member of the firm of Boulton and Paul, whose works spread over a very considerable number of acres. They have been struggling along making losses, like many other big contractors and heavy industries, and owing to the nature of their work, the burden on them would be very considerable indeed. Yet they are large employers of labour in Norwich. Then there are Colman's, the mustard people, employing a very large number of workpeople and spread over a very large 939 acreage. I cannot for the life of me think what argument I could use for citizens like those, who have contributed to such a large amount of employment in Norwich, to convince them that at this time, when reduction of taxation is necessary, that upon them, because they hold a large acreage, this new burden should fall.
There is another firm that I am thinking of, that has recently bought some large premises from a person who has gone bankrupt. They have paid, to my knowledge, a very considerable price for these premises, and I cannot think of any argument that will satisfy my conscience unless I can say, "He that hath been exploited shall be exploited still." There is no argument that I can adduce that will satisfy a man who has paid far too high a capital charge already. Then there is another man, who, to my knowledge, has done much for housing. He has bought land, he has put some of his capital into roads, and he has spent probably something like £20,000 or £30,000 in opening up housing estates. To my knowledge, not one penny of the capital value of that land has been contributed by the community, but every penny has been contributed by himself from his own savings. The man is a good citizen, but as far as I can see, he is to be penalised for his own beneficent activity in providing houses in the city of Norwich, and I cannot for the life of me think of an argument to convince him that this scheme is just.
I pass by the question of shopkeepers, and one always hopes that the bulk of the shopkeepers are one's supporters. Certainly they carry on a very valuable work, but I cannot think of an argument to convince them or the purchasers of their commodities that this is going to promote the general exchange and sale of commodities in Norwich. The fact is that for the moment, apart from the general principle of trying to get some part of the value of land back for the State, I cannot think of an argument which I can use on a platform in favour of this tax. That being so, as a back bench Liberal, I should feel a humbug unless I got up in this House and said what I have just said. We are all in this House trying to do something, and that is to get the increment value, and adopting a method which has no relation whatsoever to that object, and I cannot sit 940 still and not explain that, very reluctantly, in spite of the record of my party on this question, I shall have to support the Amendment.
May I say, in conclusion, that I have just thought of an argument, and that argument is this, that I can see some point in a local authority being given the means for an additional revenue and for extending its resources. Therefore, I can see that the value of this scheme may lie along the line of rating, not as an additional burden, but in substitution for the present system of rating; and in so far as an extra burden of rating is imposed on the site value, to a corresponding extent should the present rating be reduced. I can see the value of that, and as the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) still leaves that principle in the Bill, because it puts a small nominal tax on the site value to keep the Bill a Finance Bill and thus free from being thrown out by the House of Lords, and still enables a valuation to take place which at the same time may be used by the local authorities for rating, to that extent there is one argument that I can find in favour of the Bill, and for that very reason I shall support the Amendment.
§ Mr. BARR
I should like to make a brief reply to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He took up, in the first place, the case of the Churches, and particularly the Free Churches. If there is one argument that has been used on the Opposition benches, it is that the result of this proposal will be to depreciate the value of land; that is one of their main objection; What do the Churches more need than cheap sites for the building of their churches? [Interruption.] The hon. Member's second argument was in regard to a firm, and, there again, is it not the case that when a business is looking out for a new place in which to start it looks for cheap land? Therefore, the firm itself is going to be benefited. The hon. Member told us that he could, make no reply to his constituents who would have to pay this tax. I will give him a reply. When I was out in Sydney, I found that, because they had this system of taxation fend rating, there was not a single other rate charged in the whole city of Sydney. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are broke!"] I do not rely on Sydney alone; it applies 941 all over the world where this tax is in force, and, therefore, I think that that is an effective reply to those who have doubts on the matter.
The hon. Member also referred to shops. I could take him to a site in the city of Glasgow, at the corner of Union Street and Argyle Street, where the corporation paid £25,000 for a little strip of land. They paid, for those few yards of land, at the rate of £1,300,000 per acre. They bought it from Boots, the Cash Chemists, and, if Boots charge as much for their medicines as they do for their land, it will be well if the people can keep in good health as long as possible. Why were they able to charge that price? Not because of anything that they had done, but because of what the community and the city of Glasgow had done with their enterprises; and in taking that we are only taking for the community the wealth that the community of Glasgow itself has created. [Interruption.] To bring in a system that will cheapen the sites of shops and warehouses in the city of Glasgow, as this will undoubtedly do, will bring life from death for the city of Glasgow.
Reference has been made to building societies who complain that they are to be losers. It may be that certain societies or individuals will lose in the interval, but what can be better for the building of houses in and around our cities than the cheapening of land, the bringing to an end of the holding up of land, the spreading out of our cities, and the cheapening of the sites of our cottages?
§ Mr. J. JONES
There seems to be an impression among hon. Members opposite that they have a special right to prolong the meetings of the House when it suits their convenience, and to prorogue—that is a very good word—when it suits their situation. To-night we are discussing the question of the taxation of land values held by the people who never made them—the descendants of the people who stole them. In 400 years of Parliamentary history, the lineal ancestors of hon. Members opposite passed 400 Commons Enclosure Acts, taking from the people of the country their rights in the soil. Now they have the contemptible impudence to say we dare not put a penny in the £ on the capital value of the land that has been stolen from the people. There 942 is only one time when the workers have any rights in the land, and that is when there is a war on. We do not ask for the land for the people straight off the reel. We are only asking for it by instalments. It was hon. Members opposite, some of whom are now yawning on the Front Bench, who first taught me that the land belongs to the people. Shakespeare—not the hon. Member for Norwich, but the poet—said that the land belonged to the people. He says in "The Merchant of Venice,"You take my life, when you do take the means whereby I live.Without it we cannot live, but we can die with it. I am buying it now at 6d. a week to make sure of my grave. About 50 per cent. of the population own two-thirds of the soil of Great Britain. The rest of us own nothing. On the road we are tramps; off the road we are trespassers. I am speaking for my own constituency now. I came to live in the East End of London 32 years ago. Down in the dock district we could buy land then for £40 an acre. It was only marsh land. In recent years we have tried to make improvements. There is a great scheme for a new dock road, and for the land we have to pay £600 an acre. There is a big difference in 32 years between £40 and £600 an acre. It is the local people who have to find it. The people who are taking that money from us do not pay a single penny piece in rates. They do not live in the area. They are absentee landlords. I find my old friends of the Liberal party—[An HON. MEMBER: "'Old' is good."] Yes, my old friends, but I like my newer friends best. I find my old friends are turning me down and saying that we are going to bring in the hospitals and the trade unions. You can have all the land our union possesses. To introduce the friendly societies and all other societies is all eye-wash; it is "all my eye and Betty Martin." You do not mean it. You are really standing out on behalf of Lord Tom Noddy and Sir Ben Noakes from Wigan. How long have hon. and right hon. Members opposite defended the interests of the trade unions? How long have they stood by friendly societies except when they thought they could use them for political purposes? They will be having the widows and orphans coming along from Trafalgar Square and 943 Hyde Park to protest against the taxation of 1d. in the £ upon land which they have not got, except in flowerpots.
I laugh at the arguments put forward by men who call themselves responsible politicians, and who, with their chests spread out like pouter pigeons, go to their constituencies. They talk of the necessity of economy with efficiency and the necessity of reorganising our industries. Here we have a chance of finding a bit of money in the place where it is to be found. You have been trying to rob the unemployed poor; we are going to rob the unemployed rich. You would be willing to pay 1s. in the £ if we let you off the rest. [An HON. MEMBER: "Take the lot!"] Yes, I want the lot for the lot. Who are the lot? The men you call upon to dress in khaki in war-time and to fight your battles in peace-time, and to stand up against their own party and class. After all, you have done very well and you have done us very well. Why cannot you take your gruel like honest men? Be satisfied for the present that the right to value the land is a beginning, with the immediate possibility of 1d. in the £ on capital values. I am sure that that will not hurt you. You cough that up any night in the West End of London or down in the dining room here. But it is not that which troubles you. What troubles you is that we may find out how we, the people, have been robbed. You did not put the Thames in London, did you? Along the banks of this mighty river have grown up huge industries. Who made them? Not the people who bought the land and claim the right to own them, but the great mass of the people. [An HON. MEMBER: "You have!"] I have done my bit, and, as far as you are concerned, you have done nothing and done it very well. You claim the right to monopolise great national resources, the gift of God to man. You claim the right to monopolise it, and when we dare to ask you to pay some tribute to the community, you say that it is spoliation and
§ expropriation. I hope the Labour Government will take their courage in both hands. [HON. MEMBEBS: "Dutch courage!"] We leave the Dutch courage to you. You brought the Prince of Orange over here to help you. All that we ask you to do is to take your gruel, and to realise that the land belongs to the people. That is only a small instalment, and the time will come when the people of this country will assert their right to the soil. Then, hon. Members opposite will have to start to work for their living.
§ Sir CHARLES OMAN
I should like to say a few words about the extraordinary statement that God gave the land to the people. God, I suppose, gave the land to the original inhabitants of Britain, the Neolithic people. The ancient Britons came along and took the land from the Neolithic people. The Romans next took the land from the ancient Britons, by the sword. The Saxons took the land from the decadent Romano-Britons, by the sword, and the Normans took it from the Saxons, by the sword. Then a number of heterogeneous folks came in—Huguenots, Irish, Scots, immigrants of all kinds. As the descendant of an old Surrey yeoman family, who have held their land from time immemorial, I protest against Irish, Scots, Huguenots and other kinds of immigrants coming in and talking of themselves as the people of England. This folly about God giving the land to the people is well illustrated by the case of Tasmania. God gave Tasmania, i suppose, to a very primitive race of black fellows. A number of white settlers came in, and in the course of 90 years exterminated every one of those black fellows. To whom does Tasmania now belong? How did God give the land to the people who now call themselves the people of England?
§ Question put, "That the word 'penny' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 225.947
|Division No. 288.]||AYES.||[10.34 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Attlee, Clement Richard||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardill, Central)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Ayles, Walter||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Benton, G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Barnet, Alfred John||Birkett, W. Norman|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Barr, James||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret|
|Arnott, John||Batey, Joseph||Bowen, J. W.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Brockway, A. Fanner||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leit (Camborne)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Bromley, J.||Jowett, Rt Hon. F. W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brooke, W.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Brothers, M.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Richards, R.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notte, Mansfield)||Kelly, W. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Kirley, J.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Ritson, J.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Knight, Holford||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Lang, Gordon||Romeril, H. G.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Rowson, Guy|
|Cameron, A. G.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lawrence, Susan||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Chater, Daniel||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Sandham, E.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Leach. W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Scurr, John|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Sexton, Sir James|
|Compton, Joseph||Lees, J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Cove, William G.||Leonard, W.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Daggar, George||Lindiey, Fred W.||Shield, George William|
|Dallas, George||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Dalton, Hugh||Logan, David Gilbert||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Longbottom, A. W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Longden, F.||Sinklnson, George|
|Day, Harry||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lunn, William||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Duncan, Charles||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Ede, James Chuter||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||McElwee, A.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McEntee, V. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrlngton)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Sorensen, R.|
|Egan, W. H.||McKinlay, A.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Foot, Isaac||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Freeman, Peter||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McShane, John James||Sullivan, J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Mander. Geoffrey te M.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Gill, T. H.||Manning, E. L.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Gillett, George M.||Mansfield, W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Glassey, A. E.||March, S.||Tillett, Ben|
|Gossling, A. G.||Marcus, M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Gould, F.||Markham, S. F.||Toole, Joseph|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marley, J.||Tout, W. J.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Marshall, Fred||Townend, A. E.|
|Gray, Milner||Mathers, George||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Matters, L. W.||Vaughan, David|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Messer, Fred||Walkden, A. G.|
|Griffths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Middleton, G.||Walker, J.|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mills, J. E.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major J.||Walkins, F. C.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Montague, Frederick||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hall, J. H. (whltechapel)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morley, Ralph||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Morrison, Robert C, (Tottenham, N.)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Harbord, A.||Mart, D. L.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Muff, G.||West, F. R.|
|Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Muggerldge, H. T.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Harris, Percy A.||Murnin, Hugh||White, H. G.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Nathan, Major H. L.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Naylor, T. E.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Henderson, Arthur, lunr. (Cardiff, S.)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Herriotts, J.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Hoilins, A.||Palmer, E. T.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Winterton, G. E.(Lelecster, Loughh'gh)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Perry, S. F.||Wise, E. F.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Isaacs, George||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Picton-Turbervili, Edith|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pole, Major D. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Potts, John S.||Mr. Paling and Mr. Charleton.|
|Jones, Llewellyn., F.||Price, M. P.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Evarard, W. Lindsay||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Albery, Irving James||Ferguson, Sir John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Fermoy, Lord||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Fielden, E. B.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Aahley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Penny, Sir George|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Ganzonl, Sir John||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Atklnson, C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Bailile-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdlay)||Grace, John||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Graham, Fergus (Cumbarland, N.)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Grettan-Doyle, Sir N.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Bainlel, Lord||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Remer, John R.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Bellairs, Commander Canyon||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Ross, Ranald D.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Hammersley, S. S.||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Hanbury, C.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bracken, B.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hartington, Marquess of||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Haslam, Henry C.||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Buchan, John||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Shepperson. Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Butler, R. A.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kino'dlne, C.)|
|Carver. Major W. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hurd, Percy A.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Knox, Sir Alfred||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Christie, J. A.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Colfax. Major William Philip||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Thompson, Luke|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Thomson, Mitchell., Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cowan, D. M.||Lymington, Viscount||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Wallace. Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Meller, R. J.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Milne, Wardlaw., J. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Winterton. Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T- C. R. (Ayr)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Muirhead, A. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|England, Colonel A.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sir Frederick Thomson.|
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, at the end, to add the words: 948Provided that the tax shall not be charged in respect of any agricultural land constituting or comprised in a land unit so long as such land continues to be used for agricultural purposes only.949 In introducing this tax, the Chancellor never pretended that some agricultural land would not be liable to the tax, but a great many hon. Members opposite seemed to be under the impression that land used for any agricultural purpose would be completely exempted. The object of the Amendment is to make it clear that land used for agriculture, so long as it continues to be so used, shall not be liable to the tax. A great many reasons can be adduced why agricultural land should be exempted. The only attempt that has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to justify the inclusion of some agricultural land is that land on some of the main arterial roads, which was worth little more than from £20 to £30 an acre, was sold for very large prices after the roads were made. If land is sold for very big prices, it can only be sold for immediate development, and there is nothing in the proposal I am putting forward which will prevent taxation on the increment value so soon as it can be realised.
The first thing the Government have to consider is whether they are really putting forward a tax on increment value, in which case the increment can only arise after the change of user; or whether they are putting forward a general tax on land, irrespective of the purpose for which it is used and the return from the land? Under this scheme, if the cultivation value of agricultural land is less than the site value, the owner will be liable to tax. Take the case of any main road running through the country. The land on each side of that road is used for agricultural purposes. Under the proposal of the Government, the valuer has to value the land on the assumption that the land surrounding it remains as it is. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite continue to enter into conversation, I shall make my speech a great deal longer than I intended. I would remind hon. Members that until I sit down the Closure cannot be moved, and I can go on for a very long time. I was saying that under the Government proposal, the valuer must value each land unit on the assumption that the surrounding land units continue in their present use. In the case of land on each side of a first-class highroad, he has to value unit A as though units B, C and D remain in their present use and occupation.
950 The amount of land which is possible-for building development along a main road at any given moment is limited. If you put the whole of the frontages-among the big main road between two big cities together, it may mean 15 miles, which is far in excess of what anybody requires for building at this moment or for some years to come. If the land could not be developed under existing, conditions, and if you put this class of land on the market on the assumption that it is for sale by a willing vendor, any valuer who honestly does his job is bound to consider that there is a certain hypothetical building value to that land for which a willing purchaser might be quite prepared to give something above the fee simple value for agricultural purposes. It is a speculation, but on the assumption that the remaining land cannot be developed for building, assuming that the purchaser pays a little more for that land, he cannot get a larger income from it than from agricultural land. It seems unquestionable that a great deal of agricultural land along the main roads will of necessity come under this scheme, and will bear a hypothetical site value and one which is rather higher than the cultivation value of land, so that it will be in effect putting a tax on agricultural land.
Lastly, I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider the case of smallholdings. The land has absolutely no value except cultivation value, and all that the owner can get out of it. He does not wish to sell because his capital is sunk in his stock and buildings and cultivation, and he cannot possibly realise the whole value if he sells at present, for he would require a very great rise in site value to compensate him. At the same time, he is asked to pay the tax on the hypothetical value of the land which he cannot realise without loss to himself, and which he does not desire to realise and which produces no income whatsoever.
Take the case of a market gardener who is bound by the very nature of his trade to have his land somewhere in the vicinity of a town. That land has, or might have, a prospective building value. I take it there is no valuer who honestly does his job, in considering the land in accordance with the Government scheme, who could say that land in the vicinity of a town, no matter for what purpose 951 it is used at present, has not a hypothetical building value. The market gardener wants that land; it has in many cases a fairly high rental because it is convenient and, it also has, for that reason, a high cultivation value. If, however, he gets disturbed by building—and nobody can say that is not possible—the mere fact that a hypothetical building value may exist in the case of one lot of market gardening land will automatically put up the value of every other piece of land. When you say "Value this land on the assumption that this is the only piece of land which is available for the purpose and that all the rest of the land will remain in its present state," any valuer must put a high value upon that land, a value far in excess of what would be the case if all the surrounding property were equally liable to come on the market. On these terms we are passing an unjust and inequitable tax, one which must have the effect, if the land is freehold, of crippling the business, or, if it is land which is let under an annual tenancy, of making the landlord desire to terminate that tenancy and let the land for building purposes merely in order to get rid of the tax.
Take the case of allotments. We have heard from the Minister of Agriculture that the great majority of allotments do not belong to local authorities but to private individuals. It is not very easy to get land for allotments provided by private individuals in the vicinity of great towns. Where you get it, it generally means that certain individuals or bodies are willing, for various reasons, to make a sacrifice in the rent they get from the land in order to provide allotments. Under these proposals we are to put a tax on that land, and either the tax will fall upon the owner, which will make him unwilling to keep the land under allotments, although they may be of great benefit to everybody in the district and be a real amenity, or else he will be bound to raise rents to the allotment holders to pay for this unjust taxation.
I submit that so long as the land is used for agricultural purposes, it is a useful purpose, a purpose which everybody admits is to the benefit of the community, and so long as there is no rise in the return from the land this tax should not come into operation. There should be no tax levied until there is a 952 change of user and that change of user brings about a change in the value. When a man sells land which has hitherto been agricultural land for building purposes he gets a higher price for it, and, although I should not agree with the argument, I admit that a case could be made out for a tax on the increment when such a sale takes place. But that is not the proposal of the Government. The only way in which we can deal fairly with this subject is by collecting the tax when a change in value takes place, namely, when the sale takes place. So long as the land remains agricultural the owner is getting only an agricultural rent of, possibly, up to £3 or £4 an acre; he is not getting the great sums mentioned by the Chancellor, £500, £600 or £800 an acre. Taxation should not be imposed until the owner gets the benefit of the increased value through a change of user.
I rise to support this Amendment because the part of England from which I come and which I represent is particularly affected. There is a great deal of land in the south of England, and, indeed, in all the home counties, of building value, which is genuinely being used for agricultural or horticultural purposes. My own constituency has one of the largest market gardening areas in the country, and much of that land has a distinct building value, though it is now being used for agricultural purposes. If my ton. and gallant Friend's 11.0 p.m. Amendment is not adopted, there will undoubtedly be a number of tenants and owner-occupiers who will be compelled to sell their land and that land will be built over. I put this proposition to the Committee: Do hon. Members think it is desirable that land which is being used for genuine agricultural and horticultural purposes which in these hard times is making a small return to the occupiers should continue to be used for that purpose, or that it should be split up for erecting weekend residences and bungalows?
I will give cases which have come within my own knowledge. I know of two farms which are occupied by two working farmers. The whole of their interest is centred in the land; their livelihood comes from the land and they work as hard as any of the labourers they employ. Both of those men in recent times 953 have bought their farms and have thus snatched the land from the hands of the speculative builders. If they had not done so their farms would have been split up for the erection of bungalows and shacks, and every kind of process which another Bill now under the consideration of Parliament is intended to prevent. These two men have bought their farms, and they are working them in such a way that during these hard times they are making a livelihood. Under this Clause, the men will have to pay a heavy tax because their farms happen to be near the main road. I ask the Solicitor-General how, in those circumstances, he can say that the proposals of this Clause do not constitute a tax upon industry. They constitute a very heavy tax on the industry of both those gentlemen, who are friends of mine, and they will be penalised because they are farming land within a certain radius of London which has a building value.
Does this Committee wish to see the land used in an economic fashion for agricultural purposes, or does it wish to force the land out of cultivation and see it handed over to the speculative builder? It may be said that, although land is being used in an economic way, there is a great demand for the erection of bungalows and weekend residences. I say that is not so, and I know that there is any amount of land which could be used for this purpose and which is not being used for agricultural purposes. The Amendment deals with land that is being economically used, and I ask the Solicitor-General to deal with the case which I have put and try to rebut the charge I make that this tax places a heavy burden upon one of the most valuable industries in this country.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Let me first deal with the points put by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), and then come to the Noble Lord's questions. The suggestion which is put forward in this Amendment would quite obviously defeat the whole purpose of the Land Value Tax, because, whatever may have been said against the taxation of land values in built-up areas, I think it has been generally agreed that the land which is ripe for development round about towns, but which is not being used for development, can justly be 954 charged with a land value tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I quite appreciate that some right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite think that no land should be taxed. Of the land which might be taxed, the view has been expressed from all sides that this class of land is the class of land which could most suitably be taxed. One is assuming that the genuinely agricultural land which was spoken of by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that is land which only has an agricultural value and nothing more, will be excluded under the Bill as it stands. Therefore, this land which it is now proposed to exclude, in addition to the land with only an agricultural value, must be the land on the outskirts of towns which is still used for agricultural purposes but which is ripe for development. [HON. MEMBERS; "No!"] If it is not ripe for development there is no point in the Amendment.
An hon. and learned Member opposite does not agree, but the land which is not ripe for development and has only an agricultural value is already excluded, because there is provision in the Bill that where the cultivation value of land is as great as, or exceeds, the land value, there is no tax. It is only where the land value of agricultural land is greater than the cultivation value that a tax attaches to the difference between those two values. That is the excess over the purely agricultural value. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford that this is not an increment value tax, and the reason why the purpose to which land is put is not made the criterion of whether it is taxed or not, is that one is considering the site value and the purpose to which the land happens to be put at the moment is not material. Obviously it would be easy for anyone who was holding up land for development to allow it to be used for some agricultural purpose and thereby evade the tax, if such an exclusion were inserted as is proposed in the Amendment.
But the main argument of the hon. and gallant Member depended upon a point of valuation. His argument was that under the Bill all other land in the vicinity is to be assumed to be devoted to the purpose to which it is devoted, in perpetuity, and that therefore the valuer would have to look upon this one piece of land as being the sole eligible 955 piece of land in the market, and it would thereby attain a high and special value. I agree that if that was so in the Bill the effect would be as he states. But it is not what is in the Bill. What the Bill states is that the valuation of a land unit shall be made upon the basis that all land not comprised in the unit, and everything therein and thereon, was in its actual condition at the valuation date. That does not mean that the purpose for which it was being then used shall be assumed to be its purpose for ever. It merely means that if you go along a road and see on either side of the land unit agricultural land, you value that land unit as being one in the middle of agricultural land. It does not mean that you assume that there is something to prevent the other agricultural land from being sold for building purposes if the owners desire. Therefore, the whole of the argument which is based upon that artificial value which the hon. and gallant Member suggested might be given to land, in my submission is entirely fallacious.
Now I come to the question of the market gardens, which was put by the hon. and gallant Gentleman and by the Noble Lord. In the examples which the Noble Lord gave, he made two statements which I find it very hard to reconcile with the arguments which he was putting. First he stated that two occupying farmers had snatched this land from the hands of speculative builders. They must therefore have paid for land for agricultural purposes at least as high a price as a builder was prepared to pay for building purposes, otherwise they would never have succeeded in snatching the land from the builders. If that be so, there is no excess building value of the land over the value for agricultural purposes.
It is true that they bought this land. They competed in one case at any rate with a speculative builder, but the value of agricultural land as a result of the agricultural depression has gone down. Therefore the value of their land for agricultural purposes was much less than it was two or three years ago, when the value of land for building purposes was considerably higher.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
One thing is quite clear, that the difference between the cultivation value of the land and the land value must be a comparatively small sum, because if two years ago they could pay a higher price in the market than the builder could for the land, clearly at the present time there cannot be very much in the difference in value and the tax on that difference in value will be obviously a small sum. But there was another statement of the Noble Lord that there was any amount of land which was not being used for such purposes available in the district. If that be so, then clearly there cannot be any special value attaching to these farms. The Noble Lord did say that. He may not have meant it, but he said it quite clearly.
My case still remains watertight. It is true that there is, as I say, other land available in the district, but it does not happen to be so near to the towns as this particular land, which has a greater building value. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, it is a fact. Hon. Members may differ from my view, but I shall be pleased next weekend to take any hon. Member and show him the land in question.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It only shows the difficulty in answering questions which are put. One has only a fragmentary knowledge of the precise circumstances. There was one further point which is even more interesting in what the Noble Lord said, especially having regard to what the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) said earlier. The Noble Lord said there would he only one solution as regards all this large quantity of land in his constituency, namely, that the present owners would be compelled to sell the land at once, and it would all be built over. The right hon. Member for Edgbaston was telling us that one of the inevitable effects of the Land Tax would be that it would put such difficulties in everybody's way that the building of houses would be entirely stopped. I suppose the effect on Birmingham will be different from the effect on Horsham. It seems, in my submission, that when one gets these conflicting theories as regards the effect of the land tax on the 957 sale of land for building purposes, one is entitled to say that probably the mean between the two views is the correct one and that that mean is that it will not alter the amount of building, neither will it seriously interfere with town planning and the keeping of open spaces. Building will go on as it has done in the past, and there will be no greater difficulty in preserving open spaces than there has been in the past. For these reasons, I am afraid that the Government cannot accept this Amendment.
§ Sir THOMAS INSKIP
The first answer of the Solicitor-General to this proposal was that it would defeat the whole purpose of the tax. We have never been told by the Government what the whole purpose of the tax is. If the whole purpose of the tax is to secure what has been called increment value, of course it is obvious that this proposal would not defeat it, because, when the land ceased to be agricultural land and was used for building purposes, the increment value would be ascertained, it would be taxed, the tax would be collected, and the purpose of the tax would be effected. But if, as the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) indicated, the object of his tax is to confiscate the land, of course a proposal of this sort would defeat the whole purpose, or part of the purpose, of the tax. Therefore, we are to assume from the Solicitor-General's observations that he objects to this proposal because it will defeat the Government's intention by this moans to begin the complete confiscation of the land of this country, to whomsoever it belongs. That is an admission of some little importance, because this is the first occasion upon which we have had an admission from the Government bench that the purpose of this tax is confiscation.
The next point to which the Solicitor-General referred was one which indicates a somewhat rigid cast of mind, and an inability to appreciate the conditions which exist around our great towns, and particularly around London. He speaks of the land as being capable of being divided into two classes, and as if it all must belong to one of these classes. One class is agricultural land; the other is land that is, as he calls it, ripe for development. He says that if it is not ripe 958 for development it will have no value over and above the cultivation value. I speak with respect for the Solicitor-General, but really it is notorious that there are immense tracts, of territory all round London, within 40 or 50 miles of London, which have a value considerably above the cultivation value, but which nobody can say are ripe for development. They have a value above the cultivation value because probably at some time, postponed 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, that land may be suitable for development.
Really, the Solicitor-General has become the slave of words in this controversy when he speaks about all land which is not agricultural land being ripe for development. I should like him to go to some of that rather dreary land between London and Slough, adjoining that piece of country which was once rich corn land, and which has now been developed. He will find there a number of farmers who are still carrying on a prosperous industry; the land has a great value; but at this particular moment it would be ridiculous to say that it was ripe for development. You would not find a builder in the Kingdom who would go and erect either factories Or houses upon a great portion of that territory. As the Slough development extends, or as London comes to meet it from the other direction, no doubt you will find an increasing number of persons who will treat the land as ripe for development, but what, I should like to know, are the farmers to do until the land actually is ripe for development?
I should like the Solicitor-General to consider this matter, and treat it in a little less airy way than he has treated it this evening—[Interruption.] I am entitled to say that. Really, the way in which hon. Members resent any sort of criticism, while they themselves use strong language on occasion, merely exposes, not only their touchiness of character, but the weakness of their case. The question I want the Government to consider is this. In taxing agricultural land which has more than a cultivation value and yet is not in any real sense of the word ripe for development, do they mean to penalise the farmers for carrying on an industry which is much better carried on than making derelict and dreary land the only use of which is the erec- 959 tion of a notice board that it is for sale and that application may be made to a particular land agent, and are farmers to be penalised because they are unfortunate enough to carry on their industry within a certain distance of London? Is it their misfortune or their advantage that their land, which they wish to occupy as a farm, should be gradually acquiring greater and greater value as London extends? I was always under the impression that hon. Members opposite, and many on this side, regard London as in one sense a great disaster to the health of the community. If we could by any means go back 50 years and create such centres of population as Welwyn and Letchworth, as well as extending this black mass that we call London, we should regard ourselves as most fortunate.
What the Solicitor-General is doing by declining to exempt agriculture in the neighbourhood of London and great towns is driving this land earlier than it would have come under the power of the builder and compelling the extension of London instead of permitting the use of the land as agricultural land until possibly someone may be able to make a garden city. The Solicitor-General may disguise it as he likes, but he is putting a tax upon a hard-pressed industry. Within 40 or 50 miles of London all the land has a value practically above cultivation value. If you get a little way away from the great centres of population, every single acre of the land, which is admirable agricultural land, has a building value in excess of the cultivation value. You are either going to compel the farmer to pay the tax or you are going to drive him out of his industry. Will the Solicitor-General tell us what is the object of this tax? Is it to add to the burdens of agriculture or is it to prevent agriculture being carried on at all and to compel that land to become derelict until it is ripe for development? We cannot avoid this issue in the airy way in which the Solicitor-General treats it. He may come along here with his phrases but he will not prevent the agricultural population realising that this Government, that promised to make agriculture pay, is putting an individual burden upon a hard-pressed industry.
§ Sir R. HORNE
There is a very practical point in regard to this Amendment which I am certain the Committee desires to confront. There is no more seductive dialectician in the House than the Solicitor-General and I very greatly admired his speech, but the fallacy of it was that he divided into two classes things which cannot be so divided. He made a dilemma where there is none. May I give an illustration. I have known my constituency for 45 years.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Go and say that in my constituency and take your chance there. When I first went to college a very large part of what is my constituency was then agricultural land, and there is still a portion of it agricultural land. Suppose that the land tax had been brought in 45 years ago, I do not believe there is a single portion that is now covered with bricks and mortar which would not then have been declared ripe for development, to use the phrase of the Solicitor-General. But it has taken all these years to develop, and not because land has been built upon, but because communities only grow by slow progress. Yet for all those 45 years the great bulk of the land would have been taxed as if it were ripe for development, but when in fact it was being used for agricultural purposes. It must have made the farmers' rents much higher, and the agricultural industry much more difficult to carry on.
It is a practical question. You bring a valuer to decide, let us say, either outside London or outside Glasgow, how much of the land is fit for building purposes. He finds land being used for agriculture along, let us say, a quarter of a mile of the frontage of the road on a farm. Every portion of that quarter of a mile is equally ripe or development, but it is quite certain that every portion of it will not be taken up at the same time. Some portions will be taken up before others, but efforts are now being made to impose a tax as though they were already of that value. It is a practical question, and I agree that land should be taxed upon its real value, but you are assuming a value which is entirely hypothetical. I defy any arbitrator or surveyor to go to a particular countryside and to be able to say with certainty which of the portions of the land are going to be taken 961 up for development and which are not. If he could say so, he would become the richest man in the world within three or four weeks, because he would know much more than the speculative builder. No man possesses so much knowledge as to know exactly what particular plots of land are going to be taken up, and which, therefore, are going to have a special value. You have to find some way of doing justice in this matter. Can you find any in this method except that contained in the Amendment, that as long as land is being used for agricultural purposes it shall not be taxed above its agricultural value? That is the only practical way out of the problem. You may take it for certain that people are not going to be so foolish as to keep land in use for agriculture if they can make more out of it by turning it into building land. The Government have recognised the difficulties of the agricultural community in what they have done in this Bill, because they have exempted agricultural land which has no higher valuation than that of agricultural land from the provisions of the Bill.
God gave the land to the people, but apparently he did not give the agricultural land to the people. I listened to the stories about the land which God gave to the people. I know a great deal of the land which God gave to the people which anyone can have for nothing to-day if only he will clear it. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Canada which anybody can have for the clearing. I imagine that those who cry out about God giving the land to the people are very unwilling to do the job. That is why to-day so much of the land in Canada has been surrendered back to the Government, who would be delighted to find anyone who would come and use it. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Scotland? "] I know of a lot of land in Scotland which you could get if you would only cultivate it. Try the top of Ben Nevis and see what you would make of that. On this Amendment, I put it as a practical point that there is no other way of doing justice than by relieving land which is being used for agricultural purposes. If you try any other scheme, it must hopelessly fail.
§ Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE
The Solicitor-General in resisting the Amendment gave two principal reasons, 962 to which I wish to refer. In one reason he ignored the nature of the tax proposed and brought out the old argument about Increment Value Duty, and the other was a direct denial of a statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech, I would remind the Solicitor-General that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in referring to the Clause affecting agricultural land said that agricultural land ripe or ripening for development would be subject to the tax. If the Solicitor-General admits that the tax will apply not only to land ripe for development but to land ripening for development, the bottom of his argument drops out. We can fairly accurately judge the total amount of growth that a community of a given size will make in a year. We may not and we do not know in What direction it will develop, but we do know, approximately, how many acres of land will be required for new buildings each year. There are, however, many hundred times the acreage of land upon which those buildings might be put, all of which have a ripening building value, and to put the proposed tax upon that land will impose an intolerable burden upon the agricultural industry, which is already struggling with the greatest difficulty against adversity. It is notorious that it is difficult to foresee in what direction a great community will spread its development. Take London as an example. For a short or a long period of years it is spreading into Essex. A period comes when the Essex development more or less stops or slows down, and the development of Surrey or Kent speeds up. These valuations will take place, and the ripening development value upon which the tax will be based will be put upon the land in view of the direction of the development of the past few years. That is inevitable. But at any moment the development may stop in a particular direction and switch over into another direction.
What is to be done? There are no means of adjusting the values. We are likely to have values based upon the assumed expansion of building in Middlesex, values perhaps of £500 to £600 an acre. The development into Middlesex will cease and will take another direction, perhaps into Kent, where land, because the development in the past in that direction has been slower, will have been 963 valued at a lower figure. In Middlesex, where there have been high values and where the rate of development has slowed down, you will have this state of things: fanners will be cultivating land worth, for agricultural purposes, £1 to £1 10s. per acre per annum, paying more than the gross rent by this penny in the pound tax. It only requires a value of £240 per acre in excess of cultivation value to wipe out a gross rent of £1 per acre per annum, and you will certainly have values of £500 and £600 per acre and even more. Therefore, this tax may reach a figure far in excess of the gross rent obtainable for the only purpose to which the land can be put at present.
Let me put another point in regard to the reason why agricultural land should be exempted as long as it is put to agricultural uses. A vast proportion of the agricultural land of this country has passed into the hands of the actual occupiers, the farmers, many of whom purchased their land at a high price, when agricultural land was more prosperous than it is to-day. Nearly the whole of them have mortgages on their land of as large an amount as they were able to obtain when agriculture was more prosperous. The mortgagees are already anxious about the margin of security for the loans which they have made. What are you going to do by creating this uncertainty? [An HON. MEMBER: "Go home!"] Hon. Members may go home as far as I am concerned, but I propose to put my point whether or not hon. Members opposite stop to listen. What will happen if a large amount of mortgages are called in as a result of this tax? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that it was part of the intention of this Bill to bring down the value of land, and if it brings down the value of agricultural land which is already loaded with a heavy mortgage, where the mortgagee is already anxious about his security, he is almost bound to call in his mortgage. It will lead to a tremendous crop of foreclosures. You will have a great area of agricultural land in this country in the hands of mortgagees in possession. Do the Government seriously contemplate producing such a confusion into the whole agricultural industry as such a situation would create? I am 964 not overstating the case when I say that this is likely to be the effect of this tax. It will lead to the calling in of a great many mortgages and to a complete breakdown of the whole system of agricultural credit, which not so long ago this House passed legislation to encourage.
This Debate has proceeded on the assumption that land not ripe, or very nearly ripe for building would be treated as agricultural only—in other words that its cultivation value would be as great as its value for the purposes of this tax. What is the cultivation value? We do not find a definition in the Bill. In days like these, when a considerable number—I do not want to overstate the case—of the farmers of the country are farming at a loss and when the balance of the agricultural community are having great difficulty in making ends meet, what is the cultivation value, if, as we are bound to assume, it means merely the capital value of the land for cultivation purposes only, excluding everything else? I submit that it is infinitesimal. In a great many cases it is nil. But the land has a value in addition to that, and my point is that if these valuations are carried out honestly, in accordance with the Bill as it stands, there will be very little agricultural land in this country which will not be found to have a value in excess of its cultivation value. I believe that there is an excess value which will come under this tax practically everywhere. If I am right in that assumption—and no word has come from the other side during these Debates to suggest; that I am wrong—then I say that you will be placing on practically the whole of the agricultural community another burden which will be utterly intolerable and impossible to bear.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. T. Kennedy)
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."965
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division——
§ Captain CROOKSHANK (seated and covered)
On a point of Order. Do I understand, Mr. Dunnico, that you have put the Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"? If so, may I call your attention to the fact that I had risen in order to address the Committee upon it?
The conditions under which the Motion to report Progress is moved to-night differ from and are not identical with those under which it was moved last night. We are now in a "compartment" of the time allotted under the Order of the House of 4th June which started at the beginning of to-day's proceedings and does not end until half-past ten o'clock to-morrow night. Consequently, only the Government can move to report Progress and the Question must be put without discussion.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
I understand that in accepting the Motion and putting it without discussion you are relying on the words of the last paragraph of the Order of the House governing the Guillotine procedure:On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to those proceedings nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress … shall be received unless moved by the Gov-
§ ernment and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate."
The words "those proceedings" must refer to something which is dealt with earlier in the Order. I submit that the words "those proceedings" refer to the immediately preceding paragraph which begins:
On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order.
§ I submit that this is not a day on which any proceedings under the Order of the House had to be brought to a conclusion. Therefore, if the Government move to report Progress, it is debatable.
I have listened with great attention to the submission of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and have given considerable thought and consideration to this point. I am quite convinced in my own mind that the Motion to report Progress, moved at this stage, is a Motion that can be moved only by the Government and that it must be put without discussion. I have carefully considered this Ruling and it is my definite and final decision on the point.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 244; Noes, 193.969
|Division No. 289.]||AYES.||[11.43 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cape, Thomas||Glassey, A. E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Gossling, A. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Gould, F.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Chater, Daniel||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Church, Major A. G.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Clarke, J. S.||Gray, Milner|
|Arnott, John||Cluse, W. S.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Ayles, Walter||Compton, Joseph||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)|
|Baldwin. Oliver (Dudley)||Cove, William G.||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Barr, James||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Daggar, George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Dallas, George||Hall, J. H (Whitechapel)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Dalton, Hugh||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Benson, G.||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Harbord, A.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Dudgeon. Major C. R.||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Duncan, Charles||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Ede, James Chuter||Harris, Percy A.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Edmunds, J. E.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Bromfield, William||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Haycock, A. W.|
|Brooke, W.||Egan, W. H.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Brothers, M.||Elmley, Viscount||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Brawn, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Foot, Isaac||Herriotts, J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Freeman, Peter||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gardner, B. W. (West Han, Upton)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Gibbins, Joseph||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Hollins, A.|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Gill, T. H.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Cameron, A. G.||Gillett, George M.||Hudson, James H. (Huddarsfield)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Marshall, Fred||Simmons, C. J.|
|Isaacs, George||Mathers, George||Sinkinson, George|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Matters, L. W.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Maxton, James||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Messer, Fred||Smith. Rennle (Penistont)|
|Jones, Llewellyn., F.||Middleton, G.||Smith. Tom (Pontefract)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Milner, Major J.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Montague, Frederick||Snowden, Thomas (Acorington)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sorensen, R.|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Morley, Ralph||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Mort, D. L.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Kirkwood, D.||Muff, G.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Lang, Gordon||Muggerldge, H. T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Murnin, Hugh||Sutton, J. E.|
|Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Oldfield, J. R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lawrence, Susan||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Tillett, Ben|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Toole. Joseph|
|Leach, W.||Palln, John Henry||Tout, W. J.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Vaughan, David|
|Lees, J.||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Viant, S. P.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Potts, John S.||Walker, J.|
|Lindley. Fred W.||Price, M. P.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Pybus, Percy John||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Quibell, D. J. K.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Wellock, Wllfred|
|Longden, F.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Raynes, W. R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Lunn, William||Richards, R.||West, F. R.|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Westwood, Joseph|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ritson, J||White, H. G.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Romerll, H. G.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|McElwee, A.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Rowson, Quy||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|McKlnlay, A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llantlly)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Samuel Rt. Ron. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sanders, W. S.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sandham, E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|McShane, John James||Sawyer, G. F.||Wlnterton, G. E.(Lelcester, Loughb'gh)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Scurr, John||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Manning, E. L.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Mansfield, W.||Shield, George William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Marcus, M.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Wilfrid Paling.|
|Markham, S. F.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Marley, J.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Butler, R. A.||Duckworth, G. A. V.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Amery, Rt. Hen. Leopold C. M. S.||Campbell, E. T.||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Ersklne, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S.-M.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Atkinson, C.||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Ferguson, Sir John|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hen. Charles W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Fielden E. B.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Chapman, Sir S.||Fison, F. G. Clavering|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Christie, J. A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E-|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Colman, N. C. D.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Colville, Major D. J.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Cooper, A. Duff||Grace, John|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cranborne, Viscount||Greene. W. P. Crawford|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Bracken, B.||Crookshank. Capt. H. C.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Brown, Ergest (Leith)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Davlet, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Buchan, John||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Despeneer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hanbury, C.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Muirhead, A. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Newton, Sir O. G. C. (Cambridge)||Somerville, D. G, (Willesden, East)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totness)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Southby, Commander A. R J.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Spendar-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||O'Connor, T. J.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Cotonel Arthur P.||O'Neill, Sir H.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Oman, Sir Chartes William C.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Herne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Peaks, Capt. Osbert||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Penny, Sir George||Sutter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Hurd, Perey A.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Inksip, Sir Thomas||Perkins, W. R. D.||Thompson, Luke|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomson, Sir J.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Powhall, Sir Assheton||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ramsbotham, H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Lane Fox, Col. At. Hon. George R.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Remer, John R.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Liewellin. Major J. J.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Rodd. Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Ross, Ronald D.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Rothschild, J. de||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Long, Major Hon. Erle||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Lymington, viscount||Salmon, Major I.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Savery, S. S.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Marjorlbanks, Edward||Shakespeare, Gaoffrey H.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Meller, R. J.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Smith, Louls W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Moore, Sir Newton J. (Rtchmond)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smithers, Waldron||Sir George Bowyer.|
|Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Somerset, Thomas|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee accordingly report Progress; to sit again To-morrow,