In lieu of the duty of customs payable on tea imported into Great Britain or Ireland there shall, subject to the provisions of Section eight of the Finance Act, 1919, (which relates to Imperial preferential rates), be charged, levied and paid as from the fifteenth clay of May, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, until the first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, the following duty, that is to say:—
I propose to call on the hon. and gallant Member (Major Barnes) to move the first Amendment, to insert, after the word "or" ["or Ireland"], the word "Northern." With regard to the second Amendment on the Paper, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood), to leave out the words
subject to the provisions of Section eight of the Finance Act, 1919 (which relates to imperial preference rates)
I shall call on that Amendment conditionally, as I shall explain later. The third Amendment I shall call will be when we come to Clause 2, and it will be the first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), leave out "£1 8s." and insert "£1 3s. 4d."
I beg to move, after the word "or" ["or Ireland"], to insert the word "Northern."
The effect of this Amendment would be to exclude Southern Ireland from the Bill. I am moving this Amendment because this is thought to be a convenient opportunity for the Government to explain the present relationship of this country with Southern Ireland in matters of taxation. We now appear to be passing a Bill imposing upon the people of Southern Ireland certain taxes. If I understand the position created by the
Irish Free State (Agreement) Act and the election which has recently taken place, there has come into being in Southern Ireland a Parliament which has itself full taxing powers. What seems to be taking place is, that we are acting here as part of the United Kingdom and we are proposing to impose taxes upon a part of Ireland which is itself now vested with full taxing powers. The Chancellor apparently does not agree with me. It may he that what I am stating is not the fact, but, if that be so, then surely it is all the more desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should take this opportunity of letting us know what is the exact position. Since we passed the Finance Act of last year three events have taken place which directly affect our taxing powers over Southern Ireland. If I may, I will trace them back in order of time. First, there is the draft Constitution, then there is the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, which was passed on the 31st March, 1922, and finally there is the Treaty which forms the Schedule to that Act, and out of which the Act arose. Under that Treaty, full Dominion powers were proposed to he conferred on Southern Ireland. Full Dominion powers give it the right to impose its own taxation, and, if I may refer the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Committee to Section 1 of the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, Sub-section (2), they will see it is there laid down that, when a Parliament has been elected in Southern Ireland, that Parliament shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in the same manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted. The draft Constitution as it is presented to the House to-day does not enlarge the powers conferred by the Treaty, but, as I understand, it merely defines them. In the draft Constitution there is an Article dealing with the question of preparing the Budget. it is Article 35, which reads:
The Chamber shall, as soon as possible after the commencement of each financial year, consider the Budget of receipts and expenditure of the Irish Free State for that year, and, save in so far as may be provided by specific enactment in each case, the legislation required to give effect to the Budget of each year shall he re-enacted in that year.
That article clearly defines what is to be the business of the Chamber to-day. If I may refer the Committee to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, it will be
seen that it is clearly laid down in Section 1, Sub-section (1), that the Parliament which was elected during the last week shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in like manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted. It would appear, therefore, that the Parliament just elected as soon as it meets may, in the words of the draft Constitution, proceed to consider the Budget of receipts and expenditure of the Irish Free State and proceed with the legislation required to give effect to the Budget of that year. Therefore the position really appears to be this: that while we in this House are engaged on this Finance Bill and proceeding under it to impose taxation on Southern Ireland, the Parliament recently elected may, before this Bill gets through its stages in this House, proceed to frame its own Budget, to pass its own legislations and to impose its own taxes, That seems to be the situation which has been created by the events that have taken place since the introduction of this Finance Bill, because the whole thing, according to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, was contingent on the election of Parliament referred to in that Act.
When the Finance Bill came forward for its Second Reading there had been no such election, and there might have been no such election now if the election had not taken place, and then there would not have been a Parliament in Southern Ireland to exercise the powers which it undoubtedly has under the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act. I do not complain at all of the fact that when the Finance Bill was introduced it was introduced with the words as they appear in the Bill, but it does appear to me that a new situation has been created by the election of last week, and it is important to the House and to the people of Southern Ireland and of this country as well that the position should be made clear. What I understand has already taken place, is that under the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act the administration of these taxes has passed away from the Treasury. Again I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head, and thus indicates that it is not so. I am speaking, of course, subject to his superior knowledge, but an Order in Council was passed on the 1st April this year which gave power to the Ministry of Finance to collect and levy taxes, and in the papers I have seen something to the effect that another notable point about Irish finance is that the Free State Minister of Finance has already published a statement of revenue and expenditure. This would seem to denote that the officials of the two Treasuries have harmoniously accomplished the tremendously heavy task of separating the accounts, and, although much could not be deduced from the first figures, it was satisfactory to find that the revenue was being steadily collected, and that the new State has adopted the conventional method of compiling and publishing its accounts in the way which is traditional in Great Britain. Therefore taking that statement in connection with the Order in Council it would appear that the administration and collection of revenue and taxes has already passed away from this country to Southern Ireland. The object of this Amendment is really to ascertain whether the holding of the recent election and the formation of the Parliament that will ensue from it does not also, under the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, transfer the question of legislation in regard to taxation to the Parliament now being formed. It seems to me that a situation exists which needs some explanation, and this Amendment has been put down for the purpose of giving the Chancellor of the Exchequer an opportunity of telling the Committee what is the exact position in regard to administration, and possibly also in regard to legislation in Ireland to-day.
I am not at all surprised that my hon. And gallant Friend should be desirous of having a debate upon this topic, because, indeed, it is one which at present requires some little elucidation. I do not think that many people in this country under-stand the precise stage which we have reached in setting up a new Constitution in Ireland, and what precisely are the powers which are being transferred to Ire-land, and what are the powers still vested in the British Parliament. We are at present in a provisional stage, and a provisional stage only. The new Irish Parliament has not been constituted. The Parliament which is being elected is not the Parliament to which he refers and which will only be elected when a Constitution has been adopted in Ireland and a Parliament has been elected under that Constitution. That is the point where the confusion exists, but, once that is stated, the rest is a matter of simplicity.
I think my hon. and gallant Friend will see if I just trace the steps through which we have gone in this matter. In the first place, there was an agreement which was made with the Irish representatives and with which the Committee are now very familiar. That was constituted by the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed by various representatives of the British Government and various representatives of the Irish Delegation. Under Article 17 it was provided:
By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith"—
The Parliament which is there referred to is the Parliament which is to be elected under the new Constitution to be granted to Ireland. By way of provisional arrangement Orders in Council might be promulgated, and the Order in Council which was promulgated under Article 17 was the Statutory Rule and Order, the second article of which has been a matter of reference by my hon. and gallant Friend. Re referred to that second article, but he omitted to notice the very careful provisions of the first part, which are in these terms:
Nothing in this Order shall affect the enactments passed or to be passed relating to the imposition, assessment or collection of taxes except that all functions heretofore performed by existing Government Departments and officers in connection with the assessment, levying and collection of taxes, so far as levyable in Southern Ireland, shall, as from the date of transfer, be transferred to and become exercisable by Departments and officers of the Provisional Government.
That is the second article of the Order in
Council. Accordingly, the Order in Council carefully kept in the hands of the British Parliament the imposition of taxes. It is perfectly true, as my hon. and gallant Friend says, that the levying and assessment have been transferred to the Irish Government, but the imposition of taxes imposed by enactments already in existence and those to be passed was to remain in the British Parliament until there should be constituted the new Irish Parliament under a constitution which has yet to be approved. The Act, in dealing with this matter, referred very carefully in the same way to the fact that,
as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, the Irish Parliament shall have power to make laws in like manner us the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted.
But that refers only to matters which are within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, and by the Order in Council the imposition of taxes was clearly excluded from the purview of the Provisional Government, and that, of course, was by arrangement. There is no dubiety in the minds of the Irish people. They fully realise that until their new Parliament has been constituted under the Constitution, the draft of which has been submitted to the Irish people, the British Parliament must impose the taxes, and that only when a new Irish Parliament is duly constituted will they be in a position to impose taxes. So much so is it, that when the Resolutions were passed through Parliament dealing with our Budget they were communicated to the representatives of the Irish people and were promulgated as showing what changes were being made, if any, in the taxation to which the Irish people themselves would be subjected. If this Amendment were to have effect, the result would be that the Irish people would find themselves within a short period without any power to collect any of the duties upon tea. You would have a different set of duties in existence in Northern Ireland and in Southern Ireland, with the necessary result that you would be compelled to set up before the period for which such an arrangement might be contemplated a Customs barrier between these two different parts of Ireland. I hope that what I have said has made the matter plain; indeed, between those who represent Southern Ireland and those who represent the British Parliament there is no doubt
upon this question, and everything is working harmoniously and smoothly.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has just told us that there is no misunderstanding in Southern Ireland, but I should like my position as a taxpayer in the South of Ireland made more clear. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that there is no question that the Imperial Parliament can impose taxes under the Order in Council on the taxpayers in Southern Ireland. That may be the ease, but does he say that the Imperial Parliament has the power or the right to remit taxation in Southern Ireland, because the cost of postage stamps has been reduced in Great Britain and not in the South of Ireland?
This Amendment is not brought forward in any partisan spirit. We are trying to better the relationship between this country and the Government of Southern Ireland with regard to taxation. The explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes it perfectly clear from his own point of view which is the strictly legal point of view. He read out the terms of the Order in Council and certain extracts from the Irish Free State Act, but we want more than the merely legal outlook. I must say that, in spite of the very lucid explanation, the position is not quite clear. Are the same duties really being collected in Southern Ireland? What becomes of them and by which of the two sections which over large areas in Ireland are contending for mastery are they being collected? My information is that over the great part of Southern Ireland there is complete tranquility. No one is paying any taxes at all, and that is the reason. [An HON. MEMBER: Why do not you go?"] I wish I had time to visit that beautiful country.
I am sorry, but I was led astray by a remark of my hon. Friend opposite. No taxes of any sort are being paid over a large part of Southern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman's information in that respect is not quite so good as my own.
I said nothing of the sort. I said that over large areas of Southern Ireland no taxes are being paid. That is a fact, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to know it. I dare say that it is only temporary. I hope it is, because I want to see things settling down there, and I suppose that one of the inevitable results of civilisation is taxation. Article 1 of the Irish Free State Agreement reads as follows:
Ireland shall have the same constitutional statue in the community of Nations known as the British Empire as the Dominion of Canada.
The Constitution of Ireland is a very fine document but it does not lay down very clearly what fiscal autonomy is claimed. There is no doubt that the most moderate of Unionist. Dominion Home Rulers, as they call themselves in Ireland, claim fiscal autonomy as the very minimum that they will accept. It is perfectly true that legally the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to collect certain moneys from Southern Ireland or to have them collected on his behalf and paid over to the British Government but it would be much better if we left Southern Ireland out of this Finance Bill altogether and made an arrangement with the Provisional Government to levy their duties on the same scale, as suited them best, in agreement with us. It is just because there is a transitional stage in Ireland to-day that I really think it would have been very much better to have adopted that course, and the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman only still further confirms me in that view. It would give support to the people in Ireland who say that the agreement is a real thing and gives great powers. If we leave Southern Ireland out of this Bill, it will, to use a hackneyed phrase, be a gesture, and a very valuable one. Seriously, does the right hon. Gentleman think that if the
whole of this agreement breaks down he is going to get much money by Excise in Southern Ireland? He knows perfectly well that he is not. If the agreement succeeds, altogether different arrangements will be made, and even then the right hon. Gentleman will not get his money.
May I interrupt the hon. and gallant Member? He is misinterpreting the whole position. This is not for our benefit; it is for the benefit of Southern Ireland. It is in order that they may be able to collect their duties upon tea. If we do not give them this power, they will not be able to collect those duties, and the Parliament of Southern Ireland, when it is constituted, will be left poorer to that extent. The duties will not 'be collected for the benefit of the British Government, but for the benefit of the Government of Southern Ireland.
It is perfectly easy to understand that where they are levying taxes they are doing it for their own benefit, but I would say, let them do that under their own laws; do not let us do it for them. Why should we here be asked to facilitate them in that manner? The best way to make them function as a Government is to put the onus of functioning upon them.
May I call the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to the fact that there is no Parliament in Ireland which can impose these duties at the present time? We must do it for them. They cannot do it for themselves.
The Provisional Government is levying its own taxes in the parts where there is not complete anarchy. Where there is a Government of sorts, they are levying their own taxes. That is another matter upon which the right hon. Gentleman should have been informed. But I dare say it is convenient to pass this Finance Bill with Southern Ireland included. It may suit the Provisional Government for the moment to have things made easy for them. They have our machinery in Ireland which they can use. But it would be much better statesmanship to make them do it for themselves. It will give them something else to think about, and the more they are constrained to raise money and to propitiate the different interests in Ireland, the sooner they will take the question of government seriously. This is only a. small Amendment, which is repeated right through the Order Paper, for the purpose, if possible, of cutting Southern Ireland right out of the Finance Act, and I am very sorry that the Government have looked upon it, not in the light of a happy suggestion of which they might have taken advantage, but merely from the coldly legal point of view, thinking with regard to Ireland in the terms of 1913 or 1912. I am sorry that the Government are not accepting it, and I hope that hon. Gentlemen who agree with it will support us in the Lobby.
I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one question. As I understand it, the Provisional Government have no power to impose taxation, but the Provisional Government will be followed by a Constitutional Government in Ireland, which will have that power. That Constitutional Government will, surely, be in existence before 31st March next year, and this taxation is being imposed on tea in Ireland until 31st March next year. Will that conflict with the powers of the Constitutional Government which will be set up in Ireland?
I do not think there will be any conflict at all. This is being done by arrangement with the Irish people themselves. Someone,.of course, must carry on until the new Government is properly constituted. When the new Government is properly constituted, the powers to impose taxes will then be vested in them, and it will be for them, if they choose, either to go on collecting taxation at the rates which we have imposed at the present time, or to alter that taxation for themselves. In the meantime, the duties must be imposed by someone; otherwise there cannot be any revenue.
If I were asked to give a legal opinion upon that—which I should be only too glad to do under proper circumstances—I should say that, as soon as the Constitutional Government is set up in Ireland, the powers of the British Parliament will die off in so far as matters are concerned which are transferred to that new Parliament, and it would then be for the Constitutional Parliament either to continue or alter the arrangements. In the meantime, of course, the duties will be paid according to what we impose in this Parliament, and will be collected on behalf of the Irish Parliament in accordance with the Order in Council.
As I understand it, when the Constitution comes into effect, the power to impose taxation will be transferred to the Constitutional Government, and will, therefore, be taken out of the hands of this House altogether—the taxes imposed by us will cease to have effect, and, therefore, nothing will be paid until new taxation is imposed by the new Government. For the time being there will be an interregnum. I do not know whether that is so, but that is my point.
The speech made just now by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) was a very remarkable accomplishment. He did what I have never heard him do before—he made a speech in which he made a remark about Ireland which was approximately accurate. It is quite true, as he said, that at the present time in many parts of Ireland taxes are being collected and paid, not under any compulsion from the right hon. Gentleman here, but by the collecting authorities in Ireland. I must say that I think the proposers of this Amendment have very usefully put their finger upon a point which illustrates the absolutely farcial nature of the situation at the present time. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said—and, as far as I can make out, he said it without having his tongue in his cheek—that this proposal was for the benefit of Southern Ireland, and that but for it they would have no power to collect their taxation on tea. Does the right hon. Gentleman, or anyone else, really imagine that they are going to wait for any authorisation from him before they collect their taxation on tea Does he think they are going to collect 8d. or whatever it is under this Bill, because he says it shall be 8d.? Of course, if they find they can do with cheaper tea, they will not collect 8d. The right hon. Gentleman has no one there to collect it, and has no knowledge as to whether it is collected or not. He is dependent upon the charity of certain officials of the Free State, and upon any information with which they choose to cram him.
If they like to have a 2d. tax upon tea instead of 8d., they will have it. On the other hand, suppose that they want a 1s. tax upon tea for the purpose of some large scheme of social reform which they cannot carry out under their present taxation. Are they coming to this House or to the right hon. Gentleman to get authorisation for that? Not at all. They have very much more persuasive methods at work in the South of Ireland for exacting taxation than anything that is known to the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Members who have put down this Amendment have done good service, because it brings out the farcical nature of the legislation upon which the right hon. Gentleman is engaged. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull—I think it is the first time I have had that privilege—that it would be far better in the circumstances, and far more in accord with the real situation, to leave Southern Ireland out of account altogether. The Government have not the power to collect these taxes. Southern Ireland does not want their authority for collecting taxes, and will not pay the slightest attention to it if they do not want it. Would it not be better, as has been suggested, to leave them out altogether, to let them collect 8d., 2d., 1s., or whatever it may be upon tea at the point of the pistol in the way they know best?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has cleared up the legal position, and I am much obliged to him for doing so, but there still remains the fact that according to Article 79 of the draft Constitution, on the 6th December, 1922, the Irish Parliament will have power to repeal this Measure. I should like to reinforce what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that this is purely a matter of arrangement between this Government and the Provisional Government—that the Provisional Government have agreed to this course and are willing to follow it. The Constitution gives a period of one year from the date of the Treaty within which the Irish Free State Parliament is to be set up. During that interim period there is the Parliament which came into being under the Irish Free State Agreement Act, and that Parliament, is going to be put in the position of collecting taxes levied by the British Parliament.
Imposed by the British Parliament. I gather that that is a situation in which the Provisional Government. has concurred, and, if that is so, I suppose there is little more to be said; but would it not be possible, by a short Act, to give the existing Parliament, which will continue in operation until the setting up of the Irish Free State Constitutional Parliament, power to impose taxes, so that we might be clear of the whole business?
May I ask what the position will be in the event of a ship bringing tea from India or elsewhere landing that tea at Waterford or Cork, where the Customs are not working? Would the tea be landed without any duty being collected?
If the hon. Member assumes that there is no Custom House at Waterford or Cork, that is not according to my information. There are still Customs officials in Ireland collecting Customs duties on behalf of the existing Irish Government. The Imperial Customs are still working in Southern Ireland. I would not say that there is the whole of the official staff, but there is an official staff now working under the control of representatives of the Provisional Government.
It would be very disadvantageous to the Irish Parliament if they allowed any tea to escape duty which is landed upon their shores. After all, they are dependent upon their revenue in order to carry on their government, and, therefore, I imagine they would not allow that to happen. The insertion of this Amendment would give rise to a very difficult position.
Suppose that our taxation on tea this year is 8d., and that in Ireland there is a campaign, such as there has been in this country, for the reduction of the duty; and supposing that that campaign were successful, and the duty were reduced to 4d.; would it not be much more advantageous that the tea which is now being landed in Great Britain should be landed in Southern Ireland, where there would be a duty of 4d., and then reshipped across to this country—there being, as I understand, no duty as between this country and Southern Ireland?
With regard to the next Amendment, if it stood by itself it would be out of order, because it would increase the charge, but following what took place last year I will call it if the hon. Member who moves it will undertake that in the event of his being successful in his Motion he will move to reduce the whole duty on tea to that which Colonial tea now pays; otherwise it wilt not be in order.
I am glad to give that undertaking. I beg to move to leave out the words
subject to the provisions of Section eight of the Finance Act, 1919 (which relates to Imperial preferential rates).
This raises the whole question of preferential duties which we have heard so much about during the last two years. On Clause 1 only the question of tea is concerned, but I understand it is desired that the whole question of Preference should be discussed on this.
I never like to say before I see the terms of a Clause whether it will be in order or not, but it certainly is not in order where it now stands, because the Clause to which it is an Amendment deals with Excise Duty. But it would be in order to move an Amendment increasing the preference as a new Clause.
I desire to put some of the arguments which we have against preferential duties being imposed at all. The great argument which was given for Imperial Preference was that it would help to bind the Empire together, and I am sure all those who opposed it felt that if. there was anything really in that argument it was the very strongest argument which could possibly be advanced in favour of preferential duties, because there is no one who would not adopt every artifice he possibly could to help to bind together the different portions of the Empire. But we believe it will not have that result at all. Take, for instance, tea. India is the great Dominion which is going to benefit, if there is any benefit in it, by this discrimination between Dominion and foreign tea. Can anyone say that the differentiation in the duty on tea has helped to bind India to the Mother Country during the last two years? Has the state of India been affected in any way by this, or have the feelings of India towards us been more cordial than they would have been had this differential duty not been imposed? I am certain no one could possibly suggest for a moment that that was so. All that India has done bearing on this question, so far as I know, has been to retaliate upon us by putting on protective duties against our cotton. That is all the thanks we have got for giving India a preference in regard to tea, and it is a good example as to what we.may expect to happen when we embark upon legislative proposals of this kind.
Another argument in favour of duties of this kind is that they will encourage trade with the Dominions as opposed to foreign countries, but there has been no marked effect, indeed, I should say no effect at all, on the trade figures of the last two years as the result of this much advertised legislative proposal, which was introduced for the first time in 1919. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will answer all our arguments in favour of Amendments to this Bill by saying he wants money and he cannot assent to Amendments which will diminish the amount he is to receive for public purposes. The sum involved in this Amendment is very small It is practically inappreciable. So that there is no real argument in favour of the retention of the duties on that score. What we really fear is that if you retain the preferential duties on tea, coffee and the other articles, you are bound, if you are going to be logical, to extend them to all articles, and then in no time you will find yourself saddled with a full-blooded tariff; and really, in consenting to this system of preferential duties, we are really taking a very large step towards a complete system of Protection, and, indeed, those who were principally responsible for advocating this preferential system in the first place did it in the belief and hope that it would end in a complete system of Protection. The chief case, it seems to me, that we have against it is that you cannot stop where you are. You must either go back or go forward, and if you do not go back you will in no time be saddled with complete Protection. President Wilson, in his "Fourteen Points," laid it down that after the War the countries were going to make a real effort to break down all kinds of tariff barriers.
I have nothing to do with that just now. We assented to the Fourteen Points, which we all thought were based upon the belief that rivalry in trade in the nature of Customs barriers tended to produce rivalry in other way and lead to war. Recently, the same proposition has been laid down again, as I understand it, at Genoa, where a resolution was passed by the Powers, to which we assented, and which said we were going to do all in our power to prevent Customs barriers being put up. So long as we keep a system of preferential duties of this kind we are not carrying out that resolution in the spirit in which it was passed. The objection which I take to these preferential duties is that they have failed in their object. So long as they are there they are a great danger, and we ought to take the earliest opportunity of getting rid of them because the longer they are on the Statute Book the greater the number of vested interests which will grow under them and the more difficult it will be to get rid of them in the end.
The point to which I want to direct attention is the very serious loss to the revenue, and cost to the Imperial Exchequer, which the introduction of this system has involved. It may startle the Committee to know that since the introduction of Imperial preference on tea in 1919 the revenue has suffered a direct loss which can hardly be computed at less than £10,000,000. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "Show me how I can save £500,000," and that very year he took a course which cost the revenue £3,000,000. This goes against every tenet which has been held and every principle which has been declared by Tariff Reformers. We were told that tariffs would benefit and promote trade, increase the revenue, and generally strengthen and satisfy the commercial community. What has happened in this case? We had the tea trade of the world. The centre of the tea trade was in the City of London, and of that trade. 92 per cent. was Imperial grown tea and only 8 per cent. was grown in China. People who drink China tea do so not because it is a penny or two less or more. It is an esoteric taste which pleases some people, and there was no need ever to give a preference to our own growers, who already had 92 per cent. of the trade, in order to stimulate our own position in the tea industry of the world. We commanded the whole tea position of the world, and yet a preference is given upon tea, which is a reduction of the Tea Duty in effect, at which I rejoice, but my objection is to the gounds on which it is given. If the Chancellor said "This Government has decided to make a sacrifice of revenue in the interest of the poorer classes who, we believe, ought to get their tea cheaper, and I have taken this line in order somewhat to alleviate their burdens," I should rejoice, but in fact this money has not been of advantage to the consumer. It has been thrown away from the point of view of the Exchequer. It has made a big hole, a, direct conduit from our Customs to the Exchequer, through which has percolated and been wasted and dissipated, within three years of its introduction, a sum of approximately £10,000,000. Those who are in political opposition to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regard him as being the guardian of the public purse and as being as interested in anything we can suggest to him with reference to the revenue returns as in any sugges- tion coming from any other part of the House. There is one thing this Government has never done, which I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do. They have never attempted to make any return of the cost of this introduction of preference; the cost, generally, of the introduction of these tariff duties. They have, I believe, amounted to more millions than the country has any idea of. If you consider the proposed adoption of Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and if the House could be informed of the net amount of revenue received by the Exchequer, and compare it with the cost of the new officials—the scores, indeed, I may say, the hundreds of new officials in the last three or four years—and they had a balance sheet, the House would never again say that preference and protection in this country, as we practice it, is good business. You may say that it is good politics if you like, good for one party, the traditions of a party, but you cannot say that it is good business. There is nothing to show that it is good business. This is a time when the business affairs of the nation have to receive very serious attention, and here is a clear example of the immediate effect, the provable effect of the introduction of preference—the loss to the Exchequer of ten million pounds, which will probably increase. I have called attention to this matter before, and so long as it continues I shall raise the question. It is an abominable exploitation of a foolish fiscal notion, which has no justification or support whatever in any facts which the guardian of the public purse can bring before us. It is not good business, it was not meant to promote Imperial trade, it was not necessary for Imperial trade, and it has served no economic object, but has resulted in a very great loss to the Exchequer. Therefore I support the Amendment.
I object to my hon. Friend saying that I want dearer tea. I said that I should be very glad for the Tea Duty to be reduced if it was done in the interests of the consumer, but that I object to the loss of revenue and to its being introduced for preferential reasons and not for the benefit of the consumer.
The whole argument of the hon. Member was that because of the reduced duty on Empire-grown tea, there is a loss of revenue, and that, therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to put up the duty on tea in order to get money, if he proposed to get rid of the preferential duty. The hon. Member says that we have lost £10,000,000, and he wants to see that £10,000,000 put on tea again. As an old Tariff Reformer, I have always supported Imperial Preference as a reform of our existing tariffs, which we have had on for years—tariffs imposed by Free Traders. I have always been in favour of reducing the tariff on tea, and giving preferential treatment to British Empire producers in exchange for the preference that they give us. Not only is this to our advantage, as I know full well from my Colonial experience, but it is to the advantage of our Colonial Possessions, as they well appreciate. So far from it being bad business, I believe we should have lost every single penny, or, at any rate, a great deal of trade with our Crown Colonies, if it had not been for Imperial Preference. If it were not for the preference which the British West Indian Colonies are giving us on goods sent from this country, as against American goods, we should not get into the British West Indian market at all. That preference is given to us as a quid pro quo for the preference we give to them. There has never been a better stroke of business for the British Empire as a whole than the introduction of Imperial Preference. I wish to extend this policy. I shall always continue to press for that.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment mentioned the "Fourteen Points" advanced by President Wilson. What is the locus classicus for successful preferential trade? It is the. United States of America, with its immense tariff against British Colonial products, and its immense preference for Hawaii, Guam, the Phillipines, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the rest of the American Empire. The hon. Member for White-chapel (Mr. Kiley) was very flattering at Question time about the Report from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. If he will read the figures of that Report., he will see the advantage to the American manufacturers as a result of the preferential tariff system between Porto Rico and the United States, and Cuba and the United States. The figures are the most striking example of the success of the preferential system. All countries have a tariff system. We have always had a tariff system. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes. We have always had duties on sugar, tea, coffee, and other articles coming into this country, and why should we not on those articles which come into this country subject to Customs Duty give a preference to the British producer as against the foreigner It. is absolutely good business. It is not merely a question of sentiment, though the question of sentiment does count for much. Wherever I have been, in Africa, in America, in Asia, nothing has been better received in the last three years, in my experience, than the adoption, at long last by this House, of the principle or Imperial Preference. Who is the one Colonial Secretary whose name is on the lips of everybody in our Crown Colonies It is Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who introduced this system. That is a thing that they always remember. It is the one thing which they say that England has done for them at long last, by including, them in a preferential system. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not give way to the antediluvian, old-fashioned, rigid, obscurantist, doctrine preached from the benches opposite, but that he will stick to this policy. If ho wishes to reduce taxes on imported articles, I hope he will make the reduction not by a block reduction of the whole taxation but by a further increase of Imperial Preference.
Sir W. BARTON:
I should not have intervened but for the virile speech to which we have just listened. My hon. Friend is capable of making a very much better speech than he has done to-day. I can remember him in his younger days as a young man of great promise, who seemed always to look at both sides of a case, and I foresaw him at some future date not only on the Treasury Bench but a possible Prime Minister. He has sadly fallen away from grace. He has become a violent partisan who sees only one side of a subject, and sees it very badly. In looking at the question of preference, we have to look at it from the world point of view. The hon. Member spoke entirely of our Crown Colonies. What is the proportion of population of our Crown Colonies to the whole world, and what is the relation of the possible trade with our Crown Colonies and the possible trade with the whole world. With respect to the duty on tea, my hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Lyle-Samuel) has shown quite plainly that the vast bulk of the tea trade was in our own hands and came from India. When you introduce a preference on tea, what are the nations against whom you discriminate? They are China, Java and Sumatra. China has always treated British trade fairly. Never once in our long history has China discriminated against us in the slightest. What of Java? My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) has visited many of our Colonial possessions. I wish more hon. Members would visit the Island of Java. It is one of the richest countries in the world, with a population that is increasing more steadily than any other population, and from the point of view of trade is of greater advantage to us than all the Colonial possessions mentioned by my hon. Friend put together. When you are considering Imperial preference you must consider it from the point of view of a nation engaged in world trade. Here you ask us to agree to a preference in favour of India, which has no need of it, because we obtain the vast bulk of our tea from India, and to discriminate against a country that has never discriminated against us, and whose trade is of the utmost value to us. The hon. Member for Stafford derided the position of some of us on these Benches, and said that we want to maintain taxes on tea. Under the name of Imperial preference what you are doing is by a subterfuge to reduce the tax on tea to the home consumer. Why not do it in a straightforward way? I support the Amendment because I believe it to be an honest Amendment, directed to get rid of an absurd position.
The hon. Member for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood), under the ruling of the Chair, has been permitted to raise the whole question of preference and I am glad that he has raised it, and that my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) spoke out as he did. The hon. Member for Central Aberdeen seems to forget very much. He wanted to know what good this preference does. I was present at a meeting of the Committee of the South African Sugar Growing Association a month ago, and it was reported that the Imperial preference given on sugar had had a most beneficial effect in South Africa, and that without the £4 per ton preferential duty on sugar it is very doubtful whether sugar growing in Natal could continue. There alone is a question of 50,000 tons of sugar, and we have only been going two years. When America gave Cuba a preferential duty on sugar grown in Cuba, the production of sugar in Cuba was 600,000 tons a year. The Americans gave a preference of 50 per cent., and year after year the production of sugar has grown from 600,000 tons to 4.000,000 tons. That is the finest instance we have, where the greatest consuming nation in the world gives a preference to the best producing country in the world, and the increase of trade as a result is enormous. If that principle which we have adopted—I am thankful to say after 20 years of work that we have adopted it—is continued I am one of those who would go so far as to say, "put a duty on wheat and make Colonial wheat free." It may be said that I am an advocate of taxation of food. I never have been. It is a monstrous fabrication to say that the Empire cannot grow all the food we want. It is a monstrous lie, told on the platforms of England, when men ay that if yon put on such a duty you are going to add to the price of food for the poor. It is not. true. If this preferential tariff were put on wheat it would increase the production of wheat in our Empire by at least 200 per cent. and we should have 50 per cent. more wheat grown in the Empire than the amount which the British people eat If you develop Western Australia—and it may be developed in the next 15 years—you would have wheat grown there in abundance.
To-day the production of wheat within the Empire is greater than the consumption. Let us not be afraid of this subject, but go forward and develop this policy. I am a business man, and am in competition with other business men. The United States are increasing the preferential duty which they are giving to their own people. Remember that the United States are 46 States, and not one country. They are saying to the people in North Dakota, "You grow linseed. We do not want to bring it in from Canada. We will give you a preference of 30 cents. a bushel." The effect is that the land on which that linseed is grown in North and South Dakota is increasing in value as against the Canadian land. It is having this effect, that when the United States farmer sells out and comes over into Canada, he is agitating to get under the Stars and Stripes because he knows that his land will go up if he comes under the preferential tariff of the United States. I know for a fact that every acre of land in British Columbia would go up to-day if they came under the Stars and Stripes.
We should increase our preferential duties within our own Empire. We are bound to do it. If we do not, a great strain will be put upon our people as to whether they stay within the Empire or proceed according to the modern idea of selecting the Government under which men will live if we give no advantages Let us trade absolutely straight An hon. Member was talking about President Wilson and the "Fourteen Points." Has he read in the papers during the last few days about the preference which the Americans are about to give to their own shipping as against ours? Are his eyes and ears shut to what is going on in the world to-day? Does he know that even France, our own Ally, has put up a tariff against England, since the War, of 300 per cent.? These things are blazoned upon the walls of our commercial exchanges, and we say that this Empire of ours is so great and vast that we can confidently go forward with the policy which has been initiated of giving one-sixth of the tariffs collected in this country as a rebate upon that which is grown within our own Empire, and I would advocate the continuance and enlargement of that policy and widen the list of articles that are taxed in order that we may not put such enormous duties upon a few articles, but put a reasonable duty upon many other articles. I hope that there will be a Division on this Amendment and that the strength of the Labour party and the Free Traders may be measured against those in favour of Imperial Preference and Protection.
I gather from the speech of the hon. Member that he would be in favour of increasing the number of articles taxed on coming into this country in order that a preference might be given to the Colonies. In fact he would extend it to any foodstuffs coming into this country.
Preference in any case involves putting extra taxes upon the people of this country. One of the objections which we have to preference is that it involves putting taxes on food. It has been explained at great length to the Committee that almost the only way in which we could retain the loyalty of the Colonies and their desire to remain in the Empire was by giving a preference. The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland) referred particularly to Canada as an illustration. I hope that he will bear his argument in mind a week hence when we come to debate whether we shall be allowed to import Canadian cattle into this country without obstructing that importation in the interests of home producers. It seems to me that if we rely on preference tariffs to cement the Empire we are entering on the decay of the Empire. The Empire has been built up on Free Trade. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] When it comes to a cry of saving the Empire by putting taxes on people in this country in order to give higher profits to producers in the rest of the Empire, I think that we must he in a very bad way. The fact is we know in the Labour party that preference brings in the long run taxes on food. Even so far as it exists at the present time preference means that people in this country pay more for their food, and that that payment goes not into the pockets of the Exchequer, but into the pockets of the producers elsewhere in the Empire. We are prepared to do that to a certain extent if it be necessary, but we are not prepared to add to the charge on the people of this country, and if there is a Division on this question the Labour party will certainly go into the Lobby against giving a preference which attempts to bind the Empire together by putting -higher taxes on the people of this country.
Even the ingenuity of my hon. Friends has not succeeded in producing, I shall not say a single new argument in the discussion of this topic, but even a single new illustration of the old arguments. We have heard of the 14 points before, but they were startling in their application to the present subject. It seems to me that the discussion has gone clean away from the particular topic with which we are dealing. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) has dealt with this matter as if it were a question at this moment of imposing tariffs. The whole policy of His Majesty's Government in this matter is the reduction of a duty that has been in existence in this country for a very long period of time. So far from suggesting the imposition of new tariffs the proposal is to reduce the duties which are at present in existence. I gather that opposition is offered to this proposal by the very people who, when we come to discuss the next Amendment, will be suggesting that we should get rid of duties on tea altogether. They are in this somewhat ridiculous position, that in order to maintain an outworn creed they have got to maintain an argument which is in antagonism with every other point of view which they hold at the present time. That is really carrying a shibboleth to the widest of all possible extremes.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme based his argument on the theory that we are going to make articles of consumption dearer to people of this country. The effect of preference has been the very opposite. The original reduction by preference of the Tea, Duty from 1s. to 10d. meant a decrease in the demand on the pockets of the people of this country, and a reduction immediately took place in the price of tea. The reason is obvious. Ninety per cent. of the whole of the tea which came into this country came from our own Dominions and you had the market flooded with tea which was made cheaper by the reduction in the duty, and the reduction was for the benefit of the people of this country. What is the ground for saying that this preference makes the cost of living dearer? I am afraid that my hon. and gallant Friend was very hard put when he had to found himself upon so fallacious an argument. I would like to go further. It is not merely that we have brought about cheapness in certain commodities which are a most vital necessity to the people of this country, but we have increased the trade of our Dominions with this country. Do hon. Members say that the increased amount which we take from our Dominions and Crown Colonies is not at all a benefit, and will they say that they would rather trade with the outside world than with our Dominions? Do they begin to be aware that the markets on which we most rely throughout the world to-day are our Dominions and Colonies?
It is based not merely upon sentiment, but it is based upon very material advantages given to us by our Colonial brethren. The hon. Member who introduced this Amendment suggested that the preference granted by our Dominions was of very little use. I would ask him whether he is prepared to propose to the business men of this country, at a time when we are depressed by a large amount of unemployment, that we should ask our Dominions not to give us These preferences? What answer would they get from the masses of the workpeople of this country, whose employment depends on getting sufficient markets to which to send their products? The advantages of these preferences in our Dominions is notorious, and the way in which the United States to-day are building up an ever-increasing trade upon the basis of preference to their own people has become a matter of very serious menace to our own industries. But there is a further question, leaving out the purely material side of this matter. Will anybody say that taking off this preference, as far as it was adopted in 1919, would not give a shock to the opinion of our brothers across the seas which would shake, to some extent, the very fabric of your Empire? Sentiment is a very excellent and very valuable thing when it is based upon mutual good will. What would have been the condition of this country to-day if our great Dominions had not stood with us in every time of trial through which we had to pass? Are you going to strengthen these ties of sentiment by rejecting the appeal which they make to you and denying them the preference for which they ask? There could be no more dangerous course that that for this Empire to take. I hope, after all the lessons and experiences we have had during the past few years, we shall be able to reject the Amendment.
I have listened with some interest to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He will remember an occasion in the Committee Room upstairs, when it was proposed that the Dyes Bill should give an exemption to dyes made within the Empire. My right hon. Friend opposed that Amendment and voted against it. In fact, all the higher apostles of Tariff Reform in that Committee, one after the other, voted against it.
My right hon. Friend thought better afterwards. He was encouraged by his friends, who had for years advocated the adoption of Imperial Preference, and eventually he inserted a Clause in his Bill to provide for the Imperial Preference which he had voted against in Committee. Coming to the question of the Tea Duty, it would he interesting if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would tell us exactly what effect the few years of preference have had upon the duty. We know that in 1919, 90 per cent. of the tea imported into this country was Empire grown tea, and only 10 per cent. was foreign grown tea. Since then, for three years, we have had a preferential duty in favour of the Colonies. Therefore, it must follow that, if that preferential duty is any good, the percentage of tea now imported from the Colonies must be considerably in excess of the 90 per cent. which came in before preference was instituted. If not, then the whole policy of this preferential duty has failed. We are entitled to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the proportions are to-day of colonial tea and foreign tea. We think that this example of colonial preference on tea has failed to achieve the object in view. If that be so, had we not better apply the £10,000,000 to a reduction of the duty on the cheaper kinds of tea, in order that the very poor may have their tea as cheap and as good as possible?
Mr. G. MURRAY:
I have listened to the discussion with considerable interest, because it occurred to me during the speeches from the Opposition Benches that hon. Members who spoke for the Independent Liberal party and for the Labour party are voicing a decision, to which they have apparently come, to reverse the policy of Imperial Preference. I wonder whether, when they get into power, either as Independent Liberals or as the Labour party, or as the two combined, they will put upon the Statute Book a Measure repealing Imperal Preference. I observe that there is no reply, because they know perfectly well that if they were to do so they world create, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, feelings of the greatest unrest and dissatisfaction throughout the Empire. Except in the matter of tea, they have based the whole of their arguments against Imperial Preference on the issue of sentiment. Why did this Government, containing a large number of Members who have professed Free Trade all their lives, actually pass this Measure of Imperial Preference? It was based very largely upon the Report of Lord Balfour's Committee on commercial and industrial policy after the War, which was published in the year 1918–19, Lord Balfour was a convinced Free Trader; in fact, he sacrificed the whole of his political career for that object. There were many other prominent and distinguished members of that Committee who were likewise Free Traders, and yet, after examining the whole of the conditions that existed towards the end of the War and the conditions that were likely to exist after the War, they came to the deliberate conclusion that Imperial Preference was necessary in order to maintain the Empire upon a. satisfactory basis.
The hon. Member who proposed the Amendment rather pooh-poohed the idea that Imperial Preference was of any value, for he said that at the end of two years there had been no great change. Anyone acquainted with the matter, in this House or outside it, will say that it is not possible to test any operation of this nature on such a large scale except after a much longer period than two years. That is one of the reasons why, in the case of sugar preference, the planters in the West Indies, in Natal and Australia requested that Imperial Preference be put on a ten years' basis. I will go further. When Canada and the West Indies entered into an Imperial Preferential arrangement, they foresaw that no real effect could result from it unless it was put on a. ten years' basis. For that reason, at the very inception, they arranged the treaty upon a ten years' basis. The question of trade has been raised. I would like to refer to what the United States have accomplished in connection with their own dependencies. In a. very valuable Report which has just been published by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, it is stated that the total value of imports into Porto Rico in 1899 was $9,800,000, of which the United States supplied $4,000,000 worth. The total exports from Porto Rico in 1899 were $10,000,000, and the total exports by Porto Rico in 1920 were $150,000,000. That is sugar. Why base the whole of the argument on the question of tea? There is not only tea, but sugar, coffee, cocoa, and all the other commodities on which preference has been given. I know that hon. Members base their argument on tea alone because it is the best case they can make, and to the other cases they dare not refer. I am glad to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to stand fast on this subject. I hope that later on, when I shall move a further Amendment, he will be able to go still further and to extend the preference which is granted upon sugar to-day.
One has listened with a good deal of respect to the energetic speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), supported as he has been by the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland). They undoubtedly worked sentiment for all it was worth. I wish they had taken the trouble to give us some data and facts as to the result of the three or more years during which Preference has been in operation. That would have been of some assistance to the Committee in coming to a decision. The Government have given away £10,000,000 sterling in the shape of revenue, and because of the remission of that vast amount we are entitled to ask what they have obtained in return. India has been referred to. It has been stated that 90 per cent. of the total imports of tea into this country came from India. There was very litle necessity to give preference to India in order to obtain those supplies. But what has been the result? We have given a preference, and in the first year of its full operation, that is 1920, we imported £15,000,000 worth of tea. As a result of our preference we imported next year £14,00,000. There is very little difference either in the value or in the weight for those years. I submit that, as far as the preference on tea is concerned, we have gained no advantage whatsoever. What did India do in return? India was a very large buyer of cotton goods. They increased the tariffs on those goods without increasing their own excise to any substantial extent. India penalised Lancashire because Lancashire agreed to a remission of the duty on the tea which we took from India.
Take another case. An hon. Member has spoken about the necessity of assisting the people of Natal to produce sugar. There is only one serious obstacle to our doing so. We have already considerable trouble in the West Indies, where the planters are complaining very bitterly because they are not able to send more sugar to us. We are not able to take the large volume of sugar which we took from them formerly. That is one of the consequences to be expected from this policy. One Dominion or Possession will be fighting against the other because they are not supplying their produce to this country. What has the South African Government given as a return for our preference on sugar. They had pressure brought to bear upon them by their own bootmakers, and in order to assist those bootmakers they prohibited the importation of boots from Northampton. That is one of the results which has been actually achieved instead of the results which we were led to believe would arise from this preference. We were told that all the Dominions would be our friends for life, and would give us all the favours we had a right to expect. I have already shown that, as regards India, an excess duty on cotton was imposed, and in Natal they could not find a duty sufficiently high to put on certain goods from this country, and so they prohibited the import of those goods into South Africa altogether. I suggest the time has come when the Government should seriously consider the advantages which they have received from this concession and inquire into the actual results and consider whether it would not be better to revert to the policy which we found so successful over a long period of years, the policy of having an open door, and allowing all our Dominions to send in all the goods we are capable of taking to be considered on their merits. Let us make any Dominion which requires it a grant, if such be found necessary, but otherwise let us give them a free run with the knowledge that their goods will receive a preference here if they are equal to the goods of other countries.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has replied to most of the points raised, but he did not confirm or deny the amount mentioned by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Lyle-Samuel), who stated we had lost £10,000,000 sterling by this new tariff. I think if the hon. Member refers to the twelfth report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs and Excise he will find that there is a gain of £10,000,000 in the net receipts from the Tea Duty. If he goes back to 1913 he will find the net receipts were £6,000,000, and in 1921 they were £16,000,000 or nearly £17,000.000. My hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley) referred to the amount in weight. I think if he goes hack to 1918, which was about the time tariff was put on—
—he will find the quantity retained for consumption was 321,000,000 lbs., and if he refers to 1921 the quantity is 394,000,000 lbs. Those figures show an increase, and I should like to know where hon. Members get the figures showing a loss of £10,000,000 on this tariff.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke with great zest and seal in defending the proposals of His Majesty's Government. I think he spoke from a keen tariff point of view, and he expressed to the Committee those arguments and illustrations Which were so noticeable on Unionist platforms before the War. When he comes in the morning to read his words that the deletion of this duty of 1¾d. on tea "would shake the fabric of the Empire," I think he will have cause to regret those strong words. He defended the proposal as being in the business interests of this country. I was hopeful that he would have given to the Committee some figures to show the re-export of tea during the last two or three years because in well-informed trade circles it is stated that the two duties on tea which are prevalent to-day have hindered and are hindering the blending trade in this country. It is stated in trade papers by those closely in touch with the trade that while before the War there was in this country a large trade in blending teas and teas were brought in here in British ships, and after being blended in British factories were shipped to other parts of the world, to-day, through the two duties, the high duty on China tea and on other teas, this trade has been seriously affected. The re-export of tea has been adversely affected by these duties, and no doubt by other causes as well. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has accurate information from those in the tea trade, I was hopeful when he defended these proposals as being in the business interest of the country, he would have given the Committee some details on that point. The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Big-land) referred to Natal. Some two years ago I visited that country, and after making inquiries found that the best sugar-growing districts in Natal were being developed or had been developed. The imposition of these two duties means that you will penalise countries which can grow tea to the best advantage by giving an artificial protection to other countries.[HON. MEM-BERS: "Why?"] It is bound to have that effect, because you are penalising the countries which can grow tea.
My answer is, that the obvious effect must be to penalise a certain industry in certain countries and give an economic advantage to other countries in that respect. That will take time to operate, but the effect of these two duties will be, as I say, to place hardship on countries which can grow tea to the best advantage and, in the long run, place the burden on the consumers.
The previous speaker is concerned about every other country except his own. He is troubled about any economic advantage that may be given by having a preferential tariff within the Empire, and about the position, in that respect, of other countries which are not within the Empire. If he did know anything about the tea trade and about the economic conditions of Europe, he would understand better the position with regard to the export of mixed tea. I have been in the Dominions which this question affects, and I know it is a tremendous advantage for them to be able to get the benefit which this tariff affords. I hope we are going to think of our own country and our own Empire before we think of the rest of the world.
I take a view entirely different from that taken by members of the Independent Liberal party and also different from that of hon. Members who have spoken from the other side of the House. The remark of the Chancellor of the Exchequer about "a worn-out creed" applies with equal force to both sections of those who have been arguing along the lines we have heard this afternoon. I thought the position was very forcibly put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he told the House that the Imperial Preference that was being given to Indian-grown tea meant a reduction in the price of tea to the consumer. That completely smashes the argument of the hon. Member who sits behind the Chancellor and is such a whole-hogger for Tariff Reform. If these duties had not increased the price to the consumer, how could their removal make that commodity cheaper? I leave the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer and his supporter to square the inconsistencies between them. Apart from any sentiment of binding the Colonies closer to this country I take it that the object of this preference and the idea that was put before the people of this country to induce them to accept the doctrine of Colonial Preference was that it was going to make more trade between the Colonies and this country. If there is going to be more trade between the Colonies or any other country and this country that naturally presupposes there is going to be more employment. We have had two years of so-called Colonial Preference, and during those two years unemployment in this country has gone up by leaps and bounds. The preference given to the Colonies has in no way mitigated that evil. It is from that point of view I look at the question, and not from the point of view of sentiment as regards the Colonies nor in relation to the question of bringing cheaper commodities to the people of this country. How is it going to affect employment in this country? In spite of the doctrine which you put before the people when you were advocating Imperial Preference, it has not brought. about that additional employment and, as far as that is concerned, your policy has been one of disastrous failure. This Amendment deals particularly with the question of tea. Hon. Members know where I stand in regard to that question. Later on, I hope to move an Amendment to repeal the Tea Duty altogether. I am not much concerned about any talk we may hear as to the revenue from tea or from any of the other commodities which have been mentioned in this Debate. There is plenty of wealth in this country from which to get revenue without taxing an article which is mainly paid for by the poorer classes. [Interruption.] I notice the hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) has again changed her place. She was interrupting the speakers from this side about Colonial Preference when they were speaking on Free Trade and, evidently, having no sympathy with hon. Members on this side of the Committee,—
—she has now gone to the other side to sit behind the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer and to guarantee him that support which will probably make him stand fast in the attitude he has taken up. A reduction in the duty last year of 2d. upon Empire-grown tea meant a reduction in the price to the consumer in this country. I maintain that the price was too high at 10d. and I maintain that the price is still too high at 8d. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal merely means that the poor Consumer—
I bow to your ruling. This Debate, however, has covered a very wide field. We have gone away from the question of tea altogether and have been discussing what I may call complementary commodities. We have gone into sugar, and even wheat, and I thought I might be in order to stray along the same lines. However, I will confine my remarks to the question of Imperial Preference. We on these Benches, of the Labour party, do not look upon the question from the point of view of revenue or of placing a tax upon the consumer. We look upon it from the point of view of providing employment for the people of this country, and in spite of the fact that you have placed this preferential tax upon Empire-grown tea and given various preferences with regard to certain commodities to the Colonies, and in spite of the fact that you are endeavouring to assist the Colonies in every possible way by giving them preferences in various articles, you have not in any way reduced the volume of unemployment in this country. It is because I am utterly opposed to any question that is not calculated to improve the conditions of the people in this country that I am against the Government's attitude on this question. I am not supporting the Amendment because I agree with all the arguments of those who have spoken upon it, and I am certain that I could not support anything that has been said from the other side of the Committee, because the attitude taken up by bon. Members opposite is purely along the lines of how much revenue you are going to bring into this country and how much good you are doing to some parts of the Empire overseas.
Illustrations were given by various Members of what had been done by America to her outlying Colonies, where she had given a bounty, and one hon. Member told us what was likely to happen to British shipping after what had been printed in the papers the other week in regard to a subsidy on shipping. It simply means, so far as they are concerned, that it is assisting the ship-owners there, and I am convinced that while that may be part of the doctrine of the Tariff Reformers in this House, it is certainly not going to be the doctrine of the people outside this House, because they believe that the shipowner got far too much during the War, and is not giving anything like what he should give in taxation.
So far as we are concerned, we are against Tariff Reform in any shape, whether or not it be concealed, as it has been concealed, very carefully and skilfully, by the hon. Members on the other side, who have taken an active part in the government of the country under the so-called theory of Colonial Preference. It is not the thin end of the wedge of Tariff Reform; it has actually given us a bit of Tariff Reform, and I shall he interested to see how some of the hon. Members who call themselves Coalition Liberals are going to vote. Indeed, I have seen some of them this afternoon who have been sitting in this Chamber—a very few of them—during the Debate looking particularly unhappy at the speeches that have come from the other side, where they are sitting, opposing entirely all the doctrines they have advocated when they were fighting to obtain seats in this House. I am certain a number of them will go into the Lobby looking carefully around to see who is watching them go in. I know the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) does not in any way try to hide himself when he goes into the Lobby on Tariff Reform. We all know where he stands and what he advocates, and it is not to him that I refer, because he has never concealed himself as a Coalition Liberal, but has always come out and preached the true doctrine of his party, that Tariff Reform and nothing else will save this country. I am afraid the doctrine that has been preached, and that has not all been accepted by a so-called Coalition Government, is in reality the Tariff Reform scheme of the old Joseph Chamberlain brigade. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad hon. Members admit it, and I hope some of the Coalition Liberals will realise where they are going this afternoon and will cast aside those hon. Members and the leader who has led them to destruction.
The whole policy of the Coalition Government is now manifested. They are out to place Tariff Reform in this country, and they are going to place it by degrees, operating this Colonial Preference which was put forward two years ago as the first instalment. They are going forward gradually, and I stand as a Free Trader, not because I believe that Free Trade only is going to mean the salvation of the people, but because I believe that under its operation we shall have a much better opportunity of developing those things within our own country and Empire that will enable the people of this country to get the trade for which they are looking at the moment; and because I am opposed, as a Free Trader, to any semblance of preference or Tariff Reform, I shall support the Independent Liberals if they press this Amendment to a division.
This is the first occasion on which I have had an opportunity of hearing a Debate in this House on Free Trade versus Protection, which seems to me to have been the form that this Debate has taken. I had no surprise whatever in listening to the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore). He was perfectly entitled to speak of Free Trade as being an antediluvian scheme. He has been doing that for many years. I recall some of his earlier speeches, and I am glad to congratulate him on the fact that he found the same epithets available now as in the old struggles of eight or 10 years ago. Neither am I surprised that the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland) should have used the word "shibboleth," or was it the Chancellor of the Exchequer who spoke of an outworn creed and a shibboleth? And by his side there sat a Liberal Minister from whom, apparently, there came no protest, and upon those Benches there sat Liberal Members, who in the past on a. hundred platforms have denounced Colonial Pre- ference, and who not only made no protest but will probably go in, as meekly as possible, following their leaders when the Division bell rings in the course of a few minutes. The hon. Member for Stafford is perfectly entitled to make his declaration, and I congratulate him upon it, but what makes the whole country sick is that those who have up to the last few years proclaimed a Free Trade policy should now, apparently for temporary purposes, turn their backs on the creed they have been avowing for years and years.
Reference was made by one of the speakers—I think it was the hon. Member for Stafford—to the Colonial Secretary, but, of course, his reference was not to the present Colonial Secretary. It gave me quite a shock at the moment, because, as far as the present Colonial Secretary is concerned, I remember that a complete answer to all the arguments used in this Debate today, are contained in the earlier speeches of the Colonial Secretary; and if my hon. Friend really wants a full answer to what he had to say, all he need do is to turn up the book written by the Colonial Secretary and entitled, I believe, "Liberalism and the Social Problem." May I say that while certain fears were expressed a few years ago by Free Traders, we needed only this Debate to show us that our fears were completely justified, and we have had justification in the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It was formerly said on a hundred platforms that if we granted Colonial Preference we should not be free to alter it. Supposing that after 12 months', or two years', or five years' experience we wanted to reverse the experiment, we prophesied that we should not be able to go back on it, and we have had justification for that argument in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day. He tells us after two years that, if we dared to go back upon this small experiment made two years ago, it would give the whole Empire an extraordinary shock, that we should, as a matter of fact, shake the Empire to pieces if we went back upon a small scheme of Colonial Preference such as was established two years ago.
The argument that we made years ago, and make now, against this system of Colonial Preference is that it ties our hands, that it deprives us of our proper freedom. When the hon. Member for East Birkenhead used the illustration just now as to the help that was given by a preference upon sugar, the question I would put to him is this: Are we to be free to wipe out the Sugar Duty? If we must maintain some part of it in order that we shall give Natal a preference, where has our freedom gone? Supposing later today, in the course of this Sitting, when the Amendment to wipe out the Tea Duty altogether is brought forward, that. Amendment was carried—and whether we agreed with it or not we should all, I think, approve the right of this House to govern entirely our own taxation—the mischief would be that we should wipe out at once the main part of our system of Colonial Preference, and the argument against Colonial Preference as established in this country now is that it deprives this House of its proper freedom and of the power of deciding what taxation there shall be upon one commodity or another.
What surprises me is that under our system of Colonial Preference you are not helping all of your Empire, that there are great parts of your Empire that are receiving no advantage at all, that the advantage is distributed disproportionately and haphazardly within the Empire. It is a perfectly feasible proposal that you should make some financial sacrifice by the Mother Country in order to help the Colonies—it may be in accordance with the help they give to us—but your Colonial Preference as it is established to-day is haphazard. It helps one country substantially, and leaves the other entirely in the cold, and we object altogether to the very degrading argument that the sentiment of this Empire depends, as it has been alleged to-day, upon some two-penny-halfpenny advantage that can be given in the way of a tariff. The Chancellor of the Exchequer hinted that that was so, and the hon. Member for East Birkenhead actually pictured our Colonies measuring up in their minds what financial advantage was to be had. Whatever he may say in this Committee on that point, he would find that in Canada and Australia they would repudiate with indignation any suggestion that their association in the Commonwealth of Nations is dependent on an extra half per cent. on their tariff. Those who advocate this policy have always held the little opinion of our Empire. They have talked a great deal. There was a wise man more than 100 years ago who said that a. great Empire and little minds went ill together, and in every essential this Empire has not secured its greatness by small tariffs. It has not secured its greatness by measuring up here and there, in a huckstering way, the small financial advantage that can be given to one Colony or another, and when, a short time ago, this country was in supreme danger, the Colonies did not reckon what financial advantage they had received. All they had to give was all that they had, and this small conception of the Empire, which really has been one of the main features of Tariff Reform in past controversies, may be agreeable to the minds of the hon. Members who sit opposite, but it has no relevance at all to the great statesmen who, from one generation to the other, have built up this Commonwealth of Nations, not so much upon gaining a financial advantage as in forming one free people for the declaration of free principles throughout the world.
It is because this Amendment depends not merely on financial advantage but upon great principles—not merely Liberal principles, but principles that are behind all the democracy of the world—that I hope this will go to a. Division, and that in that Division there may he a free expression of opinion, in which we shall invite the co-operation of those who, only a year or two ago, championed this very theory in so many places throughout the country.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has chaffed us on this side with having nothing but old arguments. That is quite true. This is an old story, and an answer to him would be to say that old arguments are quite as good as hoary fallacies. But if there have been no new arguments on this side, I cannot remember having heard any new arguments from the Front Bench opposite. There were some from the back benches, but with those I will deal in a moment or two. Preference has been put before us by the: Chancellor of the Exchequer as a really wonderful thing. What is it going to do? By preference you reduce taxation. That is a delightful prospect. By preference you increase trade abroad, and by preference you bind the Empire together. It sounds more like the Philosopher's Stone than a political programme. If a policy can do these three things—reduce taxation, increase trade abroad, and bind the Empire together—what other policy is required? Why do you not go on with it? The Chancellor has got a political policy which, if he only puts it into application, is going to do everything we want at the present time. What is troubling us? High taxation. Preference, says the-right hon. Gentleman, will bring that down. What is it we want. Trade abroad. Preference, he says, will give it to us. We want the best relations with the Colonies. That we can get by preference. Why is not this policy developed? Surely the logical course would he to develop it, and if you had logicians on the Front Bench you probably would get it. You have not got them. You have them on the back benches. My hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland) realises the advantages of this policy. He says, "Go on with it; do not stop at taxing tea and sugar, but go on and tax wheat, and when you have taxed wheat, what a glorious result you will achieve' When you have taxed' wheat, you will increase land values in British Columbia." That is a fine programme for a party. I present it, to the Coalition—"Give preference, and increase land values in British Columbia."
Why does not the Chancellor develop his discovery? For a very good reason. The difficulty about preference is that you cannot give preference unless, first of all, you have a tariff. So that if you want to. develop the policy of preference, you must, develop the tariff. It is the Tariff. Reformer who can give you preference. Ho can, by putting taxes on all sorts of. commodities, offer all sorts of preferences., and that is what the logical Protectionist wants. That is what my hon. Friend' opposite wants. That is what the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) would like to see. Consistent and logical, he says, "Let us go on, and have more commodities taxed, and then we can give more preferences to our Colonies." He has just had the advantage, which we are all glad he has had, of a very delightful tour among our Colonies, and has seen and heard a good many things. About one thing, of which he has heard, he has told the House, and that is that in the Colonies the name of the late Mr. Chamberlain is a very popular name on account of his policy. But let me remind the hon. Member for Stafford that, that policy was very decisively rejected in this country. The hon. Member for Stafford will admit that that policy was put before this country in a way such as, probably, it was never presented before, and never has been presented since, by the late Mr. Chamberlain, with all his great powers of oratory and argument, and the result was seen in the 1906 Election. I suggest that the reason the policy is so popular in the Colonies, and the reason it was rejected here, rest upon the same foundation. Both in the Colonies and at home people know what is best for them. Preference, undoubtedly, would be very advantageous to some of the Colonies, but not at all to the people of this country.
That is the Chancellor's difficulty. To develop his discovery, and to give us the benefits of preference, he has to bring in Tariff Reform, and the Chancellor will not bring in Tariff Reform. There are Tariff Reformers in this House and in the Chancellor's constituency of Hillhead, and I notice, when he went down to his constituency a little time ago, one thing he had to do was to damp down the ardour of the Tariff Reformers in Hillhead, and tell them that this was not the time to go on with this policy: it might have been all right before the War, but not now, he said. And so we get to this extraordinary conclusion. The Chancellor says that we have got to maintain the policy of preference, because if this Government were to reverse its policy, it would give the Empire a shock. Why, the Empire must be shaken to pieces by the reverses of policy of this Government. We Liberals and Free Traders oppose preference because, in our opinion, preference is the best fertiliser you can have for a tariff. Establish preference, and you establish the tariff upon which it is founded, and this must lead to an increase of taxation. So that this argument does bring us back to the old division, which will always remain—the division of opinion between those who believe in Protection and those who believe in Free Trade.
However much the right hon. Gentleman may uphold Protection on that Bench, when he gets to Genoa and all the turmoil there, he has to advocate, not Protection or Preference, but Free Trade. A paper was issued, giving an account of a speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, who was conspicuous in this House for the support he gave to the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. What was the thing he endeavoured to do in Genoa more than anything else? It was to get the different nations of Europe to apply to each other the most-favoured-nation principle—to get them all to lower and lower their tariffs against each other. Then they come back to the House and defend Preference, which can only be got by raising tariffs generally in order that you may pull them down in particular instances. The Chancellor's policy is nothing more than that of a cheap draper, who charges a high price and offers a big discount, and you think you have got your goods cheaper. You put on a tax higher than need be, in order to be able to give a preference. If you have a flat rate for your tea duty, it will be lower.
It is such a tragic thing in this present House of Commons to be a Free Trader, and to hear the arguments in favour of one s own belief from the other side, that I feel I must interpose. The question before the Committee is this: Are we to reduce the duty on certain goods imported from abroad? I have always thought that a Free Trader was one who, like myself, believes that the prosperity of the country and the welfare of its industries depend very largely upon a constant flow of trade, and an abundance of cheap and useful commodities coming into the country. When the Chancellor proposes actually to reduce the duty on certain imports into this country, it seems to me a piece of real humbug for gentlemen calling themselves Free Traders to get up and begin repeating their old Free Trade speeches, which they have so often made on wagons in the streets of their own constituencies. If we reduce the duty on tea from certain parts of the British Empire, it will be bound to have an effect on all tea imported.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite speak as if the Tea Duty never existed under Free Trade Governments. I do not myself see, and, apparently, Liberal Prime Ministers in the past did not see, why duties should not be imposed upon imports such as tea just as they are imposed on other luxuries, and that, if revenue is to be raised, it is desirable that the raising of that revenue, and the burden it imposes, should be distributed as widely as possible over the people of this country. But that is not the immediate point. The point here is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to reduce certain duties, and,
|Division No. 141.]||AYES||[6.12 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Dalziel, Sir D (Lambeth, Brixton)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Davidson, J.C.C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Dean, Commander P. T.||Kellaway, Pt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Astor, Viscountess||Doyle, N. Grattan||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ednam, Viscount||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Evans, Ernest||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Falcon. Captain Michael||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Gles., Gorbels)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Cooper (Banff)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Foreman, Sir Henry||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forrest, Walter||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.||France, Gerald Ashburner||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Macleod, J. Mackintosh|
|Bean, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Frece, Sir Waiter de||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Ganzoni, Sir John||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gardner, Ernest||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gee, Captain Robert||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mallaby-Deeley, Sir Harry|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Gilbert, James Daniel||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Manville, Edward|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Glyn, Major Ralph||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Martin, A. B.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Gould, James C.||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mitchell, Sir William Lane|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Moison, Major John Elsdale|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Greer, Sir Harry||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Morden, Col, W. Grant|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Grenfell, Edward Charles||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Briggs, Harold||Gretton, Colonel John||Morrison, Hugh|
|Brown, Brig,-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Bull. Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hall, Rr-Adml sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hamilton, Major Sir C. G. C.||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Neal, Arthur|
|Casey, T. W.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Haslam, Lewis||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Hills, Major John Waller||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Hinds, John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hood, Sir Joseph||Parker, James|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J, A. (Midlothian)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hopkins, John W. W.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Horne, Sir R'. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Perring, William George|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Howard, Major S. G.||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Crane, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hurst. Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Pratt, John William||Simm, M. T.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Reid, D. D.||Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Steel, Major S. Strang||Windsor, Viscount|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Stewart, Gershom||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Sturrock, J. Leng||Waterton, Earl|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wise, Frederick|
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Rodger, A. K.||Sutherland, Sir William||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Taylor, J.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Tickler, Thomas George||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Futney)||Townley, Maximilian G.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Tryon, Major George Clement||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Sassoon. Sir Philip Albert Gustave D||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Younger, Sir George|
|Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wallace, J.|
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Walters. Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Seddon, J. A.||Ward. William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hallas, Eldred||Richardson. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Banton, George||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hogge, James Myles||Sexton, James|
|Bell. James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Irving, Dan||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cairns, John||Kennedy, Thomas||Sutton, John Edward|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas. Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lawson, John James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Foot, Isaac||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wignall, James|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mills, John Edmund||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Gillis, William||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Dr, D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hail, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Rendall, Athelstan||Major McKenzie Wood and Mr.|
I beg to move, to leave out the word "eightpence" ["Tea……the lb., eightpence"], and to insert instead thereof the word "sixpence."
This Amendment is to reduce the duty on tea all round by 2d. in the pound. I am sure I can count upon the active support in the Debate and in the Lobby of hon. Members like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) and others who accuse us on this side of trying to put up the price of the workman's tea. Now is their opportunity to show their thought for the poorest classes of the community by going into the Lobby with my Friends and myself. It will, I think, tie admitted that the Tea Tax already hits the very poorest classes of the community harder than any other. The old age pensioner and old folk generally, many of the poorly-paid workers in the poorly-paid and sweated industries rely upon tea as a stimulant, a comfort, almost a medicine, and nearly a food. The Government have met their bitterly hard case by reducing the amount of the tax from 1s. to the present figure of 8d. We think that it would be much fairer to take another 2d., and it is not at all certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will lose by so doing. I heard it said, and I think with some reason, that the Budget is too heavily inclined towards the relief of the richer classes and that the poorer classes have not been sufficiently considered. There is a great deal of justification in that suggestion.
Income Tax payers have got something, and it means more to them in comparison than 2d. would mean to the consumer of tea. Is it altogether certain that if this extra 2d. were taken off by the Chancellor he would lose by it? Has he consulted his advisers on that point, and, if so, what is their answer? My advice on the matter from people who, I admit, are experts in the tea trade, and business people who have written to me on the subject, and who, I dare say, are perfectly reliable, think that the extra 2d. off would stimulate consumption to such an extent that the loss would be very little, if any. That may or may not be true; but I should like to know what the Treasury officials think of the matter. There is this point to be considered, too, that by reducing the tax on tea, even if the consumption does not come up to the purchasing power of the great mass of the wage earners who are the great tea drinkers, their purchasing capacity will be so much increased, that even if they do not spend extra money in tea, they will spend it in the stimulation of the general industry of the country by spending in the country. These people do not travel abroad. They do not purchase much from abroad. They spend their few shillings a week exclusively in the country and for the benefit of business in the country. Therefore, if there was some slight loss to the Exchequer, there would be a general gain to home industry. Even if there was some loss—I cannot enter largely into the question because I might be out of order—but there is no doubt about it that great savings can still be effected. Great extravagance can still be curtailed. Upon this I could give some cogent examples. Money can be saved without any loss at all to our position as an Empire, or the security and well-being of the country.
I rather expect support from distinguished Members of the House, and, therefore, I will not unduly prolong my remarks; but I do appeal to the Chancellor to consider that we are here trying to be reasonable. I am in favour of abolishing the tax on tea altogether. It could be done, and on many other things as well. We do not, however, propose a revolution. We want twopence. Give us twopence and we will be satisfied. Give us twopence and we will bless the right hon. Gentleman. Give us twopence and the widow and the orphan and the poor people will bless him, and he will go down to posterity as the Chancellor of the Exchequer who looked after the poor of the country, thought of them, and did something to relieve, their heavy burden.
I wish to support this Amendment, not because I have any particular sympathy with tea drinkers, but because, generally speaking, the whole taxation of the country is very much too heavy. Taxation is too heavy not only on the class in which the tea drinkers will mostly be affected, but on all classes and upon trade. We should like to sec, not only this tax, but all taxes reduced, but we must not forget the Chancellor has to pay his yearly bill. The right hon. Gentleman reduced the Income Tax by 1s., although many people tried to prove that it was not wise to reduce it by that amount, or even by 2d. I think there was a good deal to be said for the proposition that the less money you give the Chancellor of the Exchequer the less there will be for him to spend. Every class of the community has to bear a very heavy burden, and each should bear a proper share of that burden; but I am not at all sure that that class upon which the Tea Tax presses extremely heavily is not too heavily taxed at the present time. The wages of all classes have greatly decreased, especially, if I may say so, those of agricultural labourers.
In the case of an agricultural labourer, his wages are somewhere round about 30s. a week, and his taxes upon various commodities, such as beer, tea, and sugar, have not come down to the same extent as his wages have come down in comparison with the pre-War level. When the agricultural labourer indulges in tea and beer drinking, he is being charged a price which it is impossible for him to pay, and he is unable to purchase as much of those commodities as he did in pre-War days. The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to consider this question of the tea, sugar, and beer duties. With regard to this particular tax, I am going to support this Amendment, not because I am against the tax on principle, but because we must reduce taxation right through. I intend to vote for this proposal, not because I do not want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have enough money to pay his bills, but because the less money he has the less he will spend.
I desire to support this Amendment. I have already indicated that the Budget is in the main a rich man's budget. The average percentage of this tax bears much more heavily on the poor than upon the rich, because the tax is levied on all teas, quite regardless of their price. The person who purchases the lower priced tea has to pay a higher percentage than those who purchase the higher priced teas. That in itself is another instance of the manner in which the poor people have to bear the greater portion of the burden of taxation. This is due to the method of indirect taxation which has been adopted, where again and again the poor people are having imposed upon them a greater proportion of the burden. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to reduce the tax by about 33⅓ per cent. in regard to Empire-grown tea, but that is infinitesimal in the relief it is going to afford to the people, and it is doubtful whether they will feel any relief at all, because it is more likely that the reduction will go to the retailers.
We are asking that the reduction should be 50 per cent., which means something like a decrease of £2;750,000 or £3,000,000 in the amount of money realised by this tax, which is a mere bagatelle in the case of a tax which is causing great hardship amongst the people who have already suffered a great fall in wages and more especially having regard to the large number of people who are out of employment with, perhaps, an average income of less than 25s. per family. I know that to many people in this House 4d. per pound does not appear very much, but when you take this amount from people with an income of 15s. or 25s. a week, and when we remember that something similar to this is being applied in the case of the Sugar Tax, it does not need any argument to demonstrate how much this represents to the poor people. After all, I think we should look forward with some
confidence to receiving some support from hon. Members opposite, having regard to the fact that their present distinguished leader, the Prime Minister, has spoken very strongly and definitely with regard to this matter in times past. I believe there are other hon. Members opposite who have also spoken on the same lines, and many of them, I know, had this principle in their programme at the last election. I am glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) still stands where he did on this matter. Some time ago he said:
The sugar and tea duties, I agree, are grievous taxes which weigh heavily on the class of our population least able to bear the burden.
On this point the present Prime Minister was even more emphatic and picturesque in his language, for when he spoke on this subject he said:
I do not think that under these conditions they ought to continue a tax of that character as a permanent burden on the people of the country. It adds a burden to the poorer class of the people, because sugar is an essential part of their daily food, and if they cut it down very largely they diminish the comfort of the poorer classes of the community.
That is the case which we put when we appeal for a reduction of the Tea Duty. I believe if there is anything in the argument of increasing the revenue by increased consumption, you will be able to make up the difference in that way. Our appeal is that this duty, together with the duty on sugar more than any other imposition in the entire Budget brings home very forcibly the fact that this House is legislating for the rich and not for the poor Tea is becoming more and more a permanent article of the diet of working people, particularly women and children, and this tax is going to impose an additional burden on the great hardships which they are now feeling. With 2,000,000 people unemployed and receiving anything between 15s. and 25s. a week, this tax is going to be a tremendous burden upon them. We have to disabuse our minds, as far as the mere expression of the sum named is concerned, because, however it may appear to other people, to the very poor people who have to pay it this tax will mean a great deal more. There is considerable doubt as to whether the rebate the Chancellor of the Exchequer is giving will mean anything
at all to the consumer, and therefore will afford an opportunity for the poor people to feel the benefit if we pass this Amendment. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might take his proposal back and give this advantage to the poor people, having regard to the daily worsening condition of the great mass of the working classes. I hope the majority of the Members of this House will take their courage in both hands and show that they are going to stand up for the needs of the people as against those who are in a more favoured position.
Perhaps the House will be inclined to treat me with a little indulgence in taking up this matter, because this is my first experience in this connection. This particular Amendment, like those which follow it on the Clauses dealing with cocoa and coffee, have in a sense to be taken together. As the Committee knows there has been for some years past a system of equivalent or correlation between those different beverages in order that coffee, tea and cocoa should be equally taxed. That was the principle advocated a good many years ago by Mr. McKenna, who in 1916, during the discussions on the Finance Bill of that year, said:
Our object, as I stated on introducing the Finance Bill, was to secure that we should get precisely the same charge upon the beverage of cocoa as we had already upon the beverage of tea. There had been for a very long time a complaint in this House from all quarters that cocoa and coffee were more lightly taxed than tea, with the result that those who drank cocoa and coffee were less taxed than the tea drinkers. We felt the force of that criticism, and we therefore resolved, in so far as we could, to invite the Committee to alter the taxation on coffee and cocoa in order to impose upon them precisely the same burden as was imposed upon tea. That meant that the cup of cocoa or the cup of coffee should have imposed upon it, having regard to the amount of coffee or cocoa contained in that cup, the same tax as the cup of tea.…I venture, therefore to propose to the Committee that these rates should now be accepted as a. final settlement of the question as between tea, coffee and cocoa, and I should hope that in all future impositions or alterations of the tax we should retain once and for all these relations between the rates of duty.
I think that is a very practical and fair proposal with a view to imposing taxation as an equal burden upon different classes of the community if they are to be
divided by classes according to the breakfast beverage that they like particularly. If those equivalents are to be maintained, a reduction of this duty on tea would necessarily involve a corresponding and proportionate reduction in the cost of coffee and cocoa. We are all in our capacity as Members of this House in raising the taxes of the year, forced by human nature to remember that we are, taxpayers, and we are all tempted to reduce duties and taxation when we can. Let us face the position. If this Amendment were accepted, with corresponding Amendments in regard to coffee and cocoa, even allowing for the increased consumption of those beverages which might result from the cheapening of their cost, it is anticipated by a very careful calculation that the total loss to the revenue on these proposals would amount to £3,000,000 in a full year. The, loss on tea alone, in addition to the loss of £4,800,000 already involved in the reduction of the duty from 1s. to 8d., would be £7,500,000 in a full year. The loss on the proposal therefore would be the difference between £4,800,000 and £7,500,000, that is, £2,700,000.
The question is, can we afford it? The hon. Member for Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) referred quite rightly to unemployment and the appalling figures which we have had to face for so many months past. I think that before the Budget was introduced this year there was one thing upon which the whole country was practically agreed. The business men of the country were vociferous in their demand, and I do not think the Labour party dissented from that view, that the one thing that would help trade to recover and enable them to help employers of labour to a position where they could employ more labour, would be a reduction in the Income Tax. I believe a large majority of the people of this country are convinced that this is one of the proposals which is most likely to assist the working classes of this country at a time when they are suffering from so much unemployment. But whatever the position may be, there is little doubt that this Budget was accepted as a whole by this House upon the footing that the shilling reduction in the Income Tax was to be effected. If that was to be the effect it necessarily carried with it the corollary that the House should not, attempt to make any substantial reduction on other duties from the levels and rates contemplated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement.
Substantially the majority did, and that is the position. We cannot have our cake and eat it. Some of us, I agree, have very little cake. We have a certain level of expenditure which has to be met. We are making a very large reduction in one particular tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is also making a substantial reduction in the taxation on breakfast beverages. He has taken off one-third of the total duty in the case of tea. As a matter of simple economy the Exchequer cannot go any further than it has done, and I venture to submit to the Committee that that is absolutely a final answer. It has been suggested that these duties are illiberal and unreasonable. But they are duties which we have had in this country for a very great number of years, and if any individual hon. Member takes the view that some of them are not duties which in normal times he would like to see maintained, the answer is that we are not to-day living in normal times, but still have to meet circumstances exceptional in character which necessitate the maintenance of this very high revenue. If the question be raised as a comparative question of direct and indirect taxation, I think hon. Members will remember that the proportion between these two classes of taxation has been considerably altered in recent years in favour of those who pay indirect taxation. The proportion used to be something like half-and-half. To-day 37 per cent. of revenue is raised by indirect taxes and 63 per cent. by direct taxation. These are the broad reasons why the Government cannot accept this Amendment, and I venture to submit, having regard to the position that we have to raise a certain revenue, and that very large concessions have been made already, it would be well for the Committee to treat this and similar Amendments from that point of view.
We are very glad always to welcome the intervention of the Solicitor-General in debate, particularly when he is trying to tackle the difficult question of finance, but I really cannot congratulate him on the answer he has pretended to make to the arguments used from this side of the Committee. Ho ranked the Tea Duty, as he was entitled to do, with the duties on cocoa and coffee. The Committee, no doubt, has observed that we have later on on the Paper a. couple of Amendments proposing a proportionate reduction in those particular duties. With regard to the suggestions he put forward why these deductions ought not to be made, the Solicitor-General used one of the strangest arguments I have ever heard. He said the Treasury desired to make the duties on tea, cocoa and coffee as nearly as possible the same because they were all beverages used at the breakfast table. Surely the Treasury does not try to correlate taxation on the basis of the article being a beverage. If he did, one would be tempted to ask why, in the name of common sense, does he not tax beer in this way?
I shall hope to receive the support of the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) on this Amendment and of those whom he represents in this House, because they would come off very much better if the liquid refreshment, in which they are interested, were taxed on the same method as the Solicitor-General has suggested is the right method for dealing with tea, cocoa, and coffee. The second argument used by the Solicitor-General was that this would entail a loss of about £3,000,000. I tried to make an arithmetical calculation while the learned Gentleman was speaking, and I am not sure whether I caught his figures accurately, but I rather gathered that the loss which would be involved by this additional reduction of the duty on tea would cost £2,700,000, and a proportionate reduction of the duties on cocoa and coffee would bring the total loss up to £3,000,000. The Solicitor-General, however, asked: Can we afford it—can we afford to drop £2,700,000 in the duty on tea 1 Our reply is, that we can afford it if the Government do not waste their money on other expenditure. After all, the duty that is put upon tea brings money into the Exchequer, while the money which 'is expended in Mesopotamia and the Far East brings no return to the Exchequer. We count that kind of expenditure as wasteful. Even the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), speaking from below the Gangway on a recent occasion, ventured to express an opinion which, had it been expressed) from this side of the House, would have been received with a great deal of incredulity. The right hon. Gentleman actually said that it was possible to make even more economies on Naval expenditure than had been made by the Geddes Committee and by the Admiralty. Whenever anyone on this side of the House suggests that the Government might spend its money more wisely, there is a tendency to question our bonâ fides and to suggest that we are always levelling criticisms of this kind against the Government, but no Member of the Government, has ever answered the speech of the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow, who at one time was Leader of the House and was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, therefore, knows what he is saying when he suggests that more economies could be made.
The Solicitor-General challenged us and asked if we can afford to lose £3,000,000 sterling by relieving taxation. Our answer, deliberate and persistent, is that we can do it if the Government will adopt a policy of not wasting the money of the taxpayer in the way in which they are wasting it now. The Solicitor-General wound up his argument with a. eulogy of the relief afforded by the Government to the Income Tax payer. He said that 1s. had been taken off the Income Tax, and that that was a final answer, not only to this Amendment but to all other Amendments on the Paper dealing with any commodity which finds its place on the breakfast table of the people of this country. He suggested it was better to take Is. off the Income Tax than 2d. or any other sum off any of these commodities. The Member for Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) dealt with one of the two articles in a way which would, I think, appeal to anyone who addressed his mind to this question of the relative importance of taxation so far as the Income Tax payer and the poorer classes of the community are concerned. My hon. Friend pointed out that the duty on tea of the poorest quality largely consumed by the working classes was exactly the same as that upon the better quality teas which were consumed by the richer Income Tax paying classes of the community, and he further mentioned that the richer classes consumed very much less than the other members of the community, so that on the grounds of the burden on the poorer qualities of tea and the larger quantity of tea consumed by the poorer classes it was clear that the latter bore a larger share of the burden as compared with those who consume the more dearly priced tea and who are, of course, mainly Income Tax payers. That fact is, perhaps, a little wide of the discussion, but it is involved in the question of the relationship of direct to indirect taxation. I am not going to elaborate it here. All I wish to do is to say that the Solicitor-General put figures which we at once challenged. I, at any rate, was under the impression that the balance as between direct and indirect taxation swings very much more favourably to the side of the direct taxpayer than to the side of the indirect taxpayer. I have it in mind that the proportion was, roughly, 60 to 40, and perhaps someone who will speak later on behalf of the Government will give us the exact percentages on that point.
So much depends nowadays upon the cost of living with regard to the condition of the people of this country that it is wholly important that the cost of living to-day should be brought down as low as possible. I need not tell anyone on the Government Bench, because they know it quite as well as we do, that there is probably no more widely consumed beverage among the poor than tea. Indeed, I do not know what would happen if in the industrial districts throughout the country access to that beverage were denied to the people. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will remember, and my hon. Friends on these Benches who represent the trade unions will also remember, that wages rise and fall according to the cost of living, and, therefore, there might be some advantage to the Exchequer if this Tea Duty were reduced. The money might be got back in other ways. I renew this appeal which is made Session after Session on Finance Bill after Finance Bill, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman, bearing in mind the very considerable concessions he has made to the Income Tax payer, and the fact that this reduction would only cost £2,700,000 and that the money might be saved in other ways, to favourably consider our proposal for some remission of this duty on tea.
I should like to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept this Amendment upon the ground that in doing so he will be making a concession to the Prime Minister, who has received a good many hard knocks lately from his Conservative colleagues in the Cabinet. The Prime Minister has had to swallow his Land Taxes and fabric gloves and other things, and therefore I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make some concession to the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister on this question of the Tea Duty in the days when he was untrammelled by his present associates. Allusion has already been made to what the Prime Minister said on another occasion, but I have a better reference here which is very germane to the question before us to-day. No doubt the reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not reply to this Amendment was that he did not like to go in the teeth of the declared opinion of the Prime Minister, for he has been in such close association with him in recent times that he would not care to do so. Here is what the Prime Minister said not so very long ago. It is a very long quotation, but a very good one, and it is a much better speech than I can make:
One thing I am sure will be accepted by every Member of this House, and that is, we ought, at any rate, to avoid taxes on the necessaries of life. I referred some time ago, in the course of a discussion in this House. to the Old Age Pension Officers' Reports. There was one thing in those Reports which struck me very forcibly, and that was they all reported that the poorer the people they had to deal with the more was the food confined to bread and tea, and of the price of the tea, which, of course, was of the poorest quality, half went to the tax-gatherer. That is always the worst of indirect taxation on the people. The poorer they are, the more heavily they are taxed. Tea and sugar are necessaries of life, and I think that the rich man who would wish to spare his own pocket at the expense of the bare pockets of the poor is a very shabby rich man indeed, and, therefore. I am sure that I carry with me the assent of even the classes upon wham I am putting very heavy burdens, that when we come to indirect taxes, at any rate, those two essentials of life ought to be exempt.
The two essentials to which the Prime Minister referred were tea and sugar.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Date!"] As a matter of fact I have not got the date. The Prime Minister is a Liberal every time, and I accept it when he says he is always consistent and that he never changes his opinion upon any essential point of view. Any hon. Gentleman who challenges that statement is not a friend of the Prime Minister. Whatever the date is, there are eternal truths in that statement of the Prime Minister unaffected by any passage of time. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have sufficient respect for the Prime Minister to put this principle of his into practice now, when he is challenged. In his speech, the Solicitor-General very truly implied one thing, with which I agree, and that was that we cannot afford a substantial reduction in indirect taxation. I agree that the reduction in the Tea Duty is not a substantial reduction, and that is one of my objections to it. I do not think the loss to the revenue is worth while, because a reduction of 4d. in the lb. on tea will not affect its price very greatly and will not be much good to the consumer. If this Amendment is accepted it will give substantial relief, and that is a thing the Government ought to do. The Government must remember that not only have dividends gone down but the wages of the poorer people have fallen immensely. Some hon. Members who object to this Amendment seem to suggest that it is only by reducing the Income Tax that you can improve trade. If you reduce the price of the necessaries of life you increase the purchasing power of the great majority of the people of this country. A substantial reduction on tea or on any of the necessaries of life would certainly tend to improve trade by increasing the purchasing power of the working classes. My principal reason in rising was to appeal to the well-known respect which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has for the Prime Minister, and to ask him to put the principles of the Prime Minister into operation in his Budget and not to force the Prime Minister every time to go back on his word, as the Conservative element in the Cabinet has done at the present moment, and as some of the Conservative element outside the Cabinet did when they prevented him holding a General Election.
I wish to support the Amendment, although I do not believe in a tax on tea at all. Tea is one of the necessaries of life that should escape all taxation. It will be admitted by every fair-minded person that the remission of taxtion in this Budget is very unfairly balanced. If the liberties of Debate allowed me to go through the Budget, I think I could very strongly substantiate the statement I have made. In remitting taxation the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the steward of the nation; he should show no class bias when he is drawing up his Budget, but should hold the scales of taxation evenly between all classes in the country. I do not think you could find in any Budget of modern times more glaring examples of unfairness than could be cited in this one. The wealthy citizen of the country—
I wanted to show some reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should accept this Amendment. The strongest argument that I have is to be found in the inequitable manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has levied taxation in this Budget. If I am precluded from referring to these taxes, then I am restricted in the liberty of debate.
The hon. Member is not restricted from discussing the financial Clauses in the Budget, but when we are in Committee we take Amendments. There is a proper time for all arguments to be used, but when Amendments are moved his observations must be directed to those particular Amendments. It is not right for him to say that he would be precluded from making whatever statement he wants to make, but he must remember that there is a right time to make those statements. This is only the time for discussing the Tea Duty.
On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Member entitled to show that a particular Amendment that he is supporting would be more favourable than all the other Amendments on the Paper? Having regard to the fact that there are Amendments down dealing with other phases of the Budget, is the hon. Member not entitled to point out that this particular Amendment, if accepted, would be more equitable, from his point of view, than any other? He can give that as an illustration.
An illustration is one thing, and a general argument on the Finance Bill is another. I have pointed out that the hon. Member must confine his remarks to the Tea Duty. He can use illustrations, but he was not using illustrations; he was discussing the whole of the Finance Bill.
I did not intend to make reflection on your conduct in the Chair, Sir Edwin; not the slightest. I feel the difficulty of the position. I wanted to give an illustration, taken from the Budget itself, to show that the rich escape taxation under this Budget to the amount of £52,000,000, whereas the remission on the Tea Duty, with coffee and cocoa thrown in, to which the Solicitor-General referred, only reduces the taxation by £5,400,000. Eighty per cent. of the population belong to the working classes; and in this Budget so far as it affects the working classes, the total amount of the reduction of taxation is £5,000,000. I say that this Budget bears a strong partisan bias on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he has studiously drawn it up on purpose to throw the greater bulk of taxation upon the working classes. [HON. MEMBERS; "No, no!"] There is not the slightest doubt about that. To compensate himself for this very small crumb that he has given to the working classes, he has reduced the grants for education by about £12,000,000, and the grants for the Ministry of Health by about £7,000,000. That goes to show the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was drawing up his Budget, did it studiously on purpose to give the greatest measure of remission to the rich and the smallest measure to the working classes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" and "Withdraw!"]
If there be one article which should escape taxation it is tea, because, as has already been said, tea is consumed by the very poorest of the population. Even the paupers in the workhouse have tea; the poorest of our people, even the old age pensioners, have to buy a little tea, because it is the only luxury they get. The unemployed, who number millions in this country to-day, will have to pay this tax upon tea. Considering the financial condition of the country and the hardship imposed upon the working classes, there is the strongest possible justification for the appeal by the Labour party for the reduction of this tax. Therefore I strongly support the Amendment. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer could justify this tax on any platform in this country, and he should accept the Amendment.
I shall be very brief in supporting this Amendment. In asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can see his way to make this reduction I shall base my appeal on other grounds than those selected by some of my hon. Friends. I do not think it is at all fair, or shows any regard to the figures of the Budget, to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer framed his Budget studiously to remit taxation from the rich and place the burden upon the poor. I certainly do not share that view. The Prime Minister has been quoted as using the expression, "A very shabby rich man," and that is perfectly true. You can find plenty of so-called rich men who are very shabby, because of the tremendous burden of taxation that they are bearing. I do not support this Amendment on the ground that other people are bearing an undue share, but I do support it on the ground that it is a particularly hard tax upon the poor of this country. I do not know whether I am correct, but I think that the tax on tea before the War, certainly at one period, was as low as 2d. Then it rose to 3d. and 4d., and to-day it is 8d., or some 300 per cent. in excess of what it was at one period before the War. That is a very great burden, and it is imposed at a time when it is particularly oppressive. If some further sacrifice has yet to be made from some quarter or other, I do think it ought to be possible for us so to budget that the burden of taxation with reference to tea does not fall upon the poor more hardly than it would in proportion if the tax were only 6d.
I should not have taken part in this Debate had it not been for the remarks of the learned Solicitor-General. He pointed out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was reducing the Income Tax by 1s. in order to stimulate employment. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts this Amendment, and so reduces the price of tea, he will be stimulating employment far more effectively than by reducing the Income Tax by Is. I have some figures here which will help to show right hon. and hon. Members the amount that is expended by the working classes on tea and the other necessities of life out of the very small wages that are being earned to-day in the different industries of the country. Some time ago some statistics were published by the co-operative movement, showing the amount of tax paid on tea, sugar, and the other necessities of life. I am not now referring to people who deal with private traders, but to people who deal with the co-operative societies alone. They consumed £5,453,557 worth of tea in 1920, and the tax they had to pay upon that amounted to £1,779,820. In 1921 the value of the tea consumed was £4,804,643, and the tax upon it was £1,738,224. In replying to the Solicitor-General, I will take as an illustration, not the case of any rich man, but my own case. I received the paper on which to make out my Income Tax return for 1922, to be paid in 1923, on Saturday last when I got home, and I found that, with the tax at the rate laid down in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's new Budget, I am going to save next year £5 There are probably right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who are going to save, not £5 or hundreds of pounds, but thousands of pounds, as a result of this Budget; but for myself, saving that £5, I say frankly that I shall not spend a single penny more. Now, if we were to give this reduction to the working classes, and that £1,000,060 odd which I have just mentioned were put into the pockets of those low-paid men throughout the country, the wife of the worker would spend it every Saturday—on other necessities, clothes, shoes, and so on. Therefore, I would say to the Solicitor-General, if he wants to stimulate employment, let him give a greater purchasing power to the working classes, in order to start our cotton mills that are idle, our shoe factories that are idle, and to put to work our farm labourers and other workers in our different industries.
I have something to do with the working classes, and I can assure the Committee—and I should like to draw the special attention of the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) to this—that far more tea is drunk to-day than has ever been known in the history of this country, because people have not got the money to spend on what they call the other greater luxuries. Therefore, I say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he wants to stimulate employment, let him reduce these taxes on tea, sugar and the other necessities of life, in order that the working classes may have greater purchasing power and in order that the wheels of industry in this country may be set going. Even taking the case of the Lord Chancellor, with his £10,000 a year, or the right hon. Gentleman himself with his £5,000, I do not believe that whatever they or I myself save will stimulate employment one bit. We shall not spend a bit more money. What we want to do is to reduce these taxes and give the people money that they will spend Saturday after Saturday, with the result of setting the wheels of industry in the country going, instead of relieving the rich.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:
I take it that the crux of the whole question which the Committee has to decide is, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member who spoke last, whether this £3,000,000 can be better spent by the taxpayers as a whole or by the Government. I think the decision of business men will be that an extra £3,000,000 spent by the taxpayers as a whole on useful commodities would be infinitely more to the advantage of the country than if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to spend that money. The Solicitor-General referred to the fact that this is one of a series of Amendments correlating these breakfast table or tea table duties, and I understand that it is desirable that we should have the main discussion on this Amendment, rather than have the same discussion over and over again on the subsequent Amendments. Therefore, as I have an Amendment later on the Paper, I support this Amendment on the broad principle that it is very much better that this money should be in the hands of small people to spend each week than that it should be wasted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Solicitor-General said that we have a certain level of expenditure. As has been stated already, we object to that level, and we say that this £3,000,000 could be easily cut off. But even if the Chancellor of the Exchequer contends that he must have this £3,000,000, I submit that there has been a considerable change since his Budget was introduced, and that, if he must have this £3,000,000, he can, in view of that change, still well afford to remit this duty. I refer to the fall in the Bank Rate.
That will have a material effect on the amount of money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will receive in payment of arrears of Excess Profits Duty. He is charging the equivalent of 7 per cent. to those who do not pay, and if those who owe that money can borrow at 4 per cent., it will pay them over and over again to pay it rather than pay the Chancellor of the Exchequer the 7 per cent. which he is going to charge. He will, therefore, instead of the £27,000,000 for which he has provided, get in a much larger proportion of that £291,000,000 of Excess Profits Duty which is in arrear, owing to the fall in the Bank Rate. Those who arc, substantial can borrow from their bankers and pay off the duty, rather than pay the 7 per cent. which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to charge them, and, as business men, they will, naturally, be very glad to do that and save. on their annual expenditure. From that source alone the right hon. Gentleman will get more than this £3,000.000, and can stimulate trade by allowing this money to be spent by the small housekeeper.
There were some cries of derision on the other side when it was suggested that this Budget was unfair in its incidence as between rich and poor, and, therefore, I venture to submit to the Committee some facts with regard to the incidence of the Tea Duty. I wonder if we all realise how exceedingly hardly it bears upon one class as compared with another, owing to the fact that it is a flat rate. The lady in Mayfair who pays 6s. or 8s. a pound for her tea only pays 8 per cent. in duty, whereas the poor widow in Whitechapel who pays 1s. 6d. a pound is paying no less than 44 per cent. of that in tax. Taking it in another way, on the income of the average household, a person getting 35s. a week has to pay 8d. in tax if he consumes a pound of tea, but if a man's income is £35 a week he will still, probably, not consume more than a pound of tea per week, and he pays 8d. also. In the one case it is 8d. on 35s., and in the other 8d. on £35. That shows how hardly and unfairly this particular tax, from its very nature as a flat rate, works in its incidence. The Solicitor-General referred to the fact that 1s. had been taken off the Income Tax, and said that the balance as between direct and indirect taxation must not be upset. Nevertheless, we are relieving indirect taxation to the extent of only £5,000,000, and direct taxation to the extent of £32,000,000. Taking the last three years, it will be found that the reductions made on indirect taxation amount to 18 per cent., whereas over the same period on direct taxation they are 35 per cent. Therefore, the reduction has been very much more in the case of direct taxation than in the case of indirect taxation. That is an argument for repairing the difference and increasing, by this extra £3,000,000, the relief which is given to those least able to bear the burden.
The fact of the derision which has already gone round the House because for the first time a direct representative of the consumers stands upon his feet does not speak very well for those who are not anxious to hear what a direct representative of the consumers has to say. We are asking a reduction of this duty in order that we may get back to something like normality. In 1914–15 the Tea Duty was increased from 5d. to 8d., and in the 1915–16 Budget it was further increased to is. I was rather astounded that the hon. Member (Dr. Murray) should have given a quotation from a speech of the Prime Minister, because it is well known to most leaders of thought that what is said by the Prime Minister to-day is repudiated in some other speech, and one feels 10th to quote him. Certain evidence has been sent to hon. Members which shows conclusively that the 4d. which was foreshadowed in the reduction of the Tea Duty is not in reality 4d. at all. The 4d. only applied to one-tenth of the tea which is consumed in this country. Nine-tenths of it is only to receive a reduction of 3⅓d. So after all the attempt of the right hon. Gentleman and his followers to put to the public the point of view that 4d. is the reduction on tea is entirely a fallacy. The Government has only the right to say that on nine-tenths of the tea consumed the tax is reduced to 3⅓d. When this is put into operation by those engaged in the tea trade I want the right hon. Gentleman to appreciate the difficulty in which they are placed. The greater part of the tea sold to consumers is not sold by the 5 or 6 lb. tin but by the quarter-pound packet and the ounce packet. Our old age pensioners are constantly going to the little shop, not for a quarter-pound but for an ounce of tea. The old age pension is so low that they have not the wherewithal to get even a quarter-pound packet. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has sonic sympathy with the old age pensioner, and I ask him to see that the duty is reduced to the figure named in the Amendment in order that these people who have to buy tea with their halfpennies and pennies shall have some benefit from the reduction proposed by the Government.
The difficulty that the tea dealers have in arranging their details so that the consumer can get the benefit is made greater because the reduction is insufficient to give some benefit to those who buy small quantities. We believe if you could bring down the tax by another 2d. it would give these small consumers an opportunity to get the benefit which the right hon. Gentleman is anxious they should have. The right hon. Gentleman has said more than once that he has great sympathy with the unemployed. I met him a few days ago with a deputation when he said he was anxious to do all that was humanly possible to find work for the unemployed. If he has some sympathy with the unemployed, who are only receiving a few shillings a week, here is a golden opportunity to reduce the tax so that they may have a little more per week to get the necessities of life. Therefore I appeal to him, on behalf of the small consumers and the old-age pensioners, who are living on these commodities which are so heavily taxed, to see his way clear to grant us this reduction in order that these people may receive the benefit that he is anxious to give.
|Division No. 142.]||AYES.||[7.35 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gilbert, James Daniel||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Armitage, Robert||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Glyn, Major Ralph||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Parker, James|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Pease, Rt. Hon Herbert Pike|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Peel, Cot. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Grenlell, Edward Charles||Perring, William George|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hall, Lieut.-Cal. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hamilton, Major Sir C. G. C.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pratt, John William|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Haslam, Lewis||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Reid, D. D.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Richardson, Sir Alex, (Gravesend)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hinds, John||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Barwick, Major G. O.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hole, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n,W.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rounded, Colonel R. F.|
|Briggs, Harold||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Jephcott, A. R.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Casey, T. W.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kidd, James||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Simm, M. T.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd, George Butler||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lorden, John William||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Colvin, Brim.-General Richard Beale||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Taylor, J.|
|Dean, Commander P. T.||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Magnus, Sir Philip||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Manville, Edward||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransoms||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Elveden, Viscount||Martin, A. E.||Wallace, J.|
|Evans, Ernest||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Middlebrook, Sir William||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Fails, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|fell, Sir Arthur||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Morrison, Hugh||Windsor, Viscount|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Murchison, C. K.||Winterton, Earl|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Wise, Frederick|
|Forrest, Walter||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Neal, Arthur||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Newton, Sir Percy Wilson||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nield, Sir Herbert||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Gee, Captain Robert|
|Adamson, At. Hon. William||Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Bramsdon, Sir Thomas|
|Ammon, Charles George||Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Briant, Frank|
|Banton, George||Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Bromfield, William|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Cairns, John||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hogge, James Myles||Spencer, George A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Swan, J. E.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies. Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lawson, John James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Foot, Isaac||Mills, John Edmund||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mosley, Oswald||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Gillis, William||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wignall, James|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Rendall, Athelstan||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Robertson, John||Colonel Penry Williams and Major|
|Hayday, Arthur||Reyce, William Stapleton||Barnes.|
|Hayward, Evan||Sexton, James|
I wish to oppose the Clause, in view of the Motion I shall make if I am successful in getting the House to agree to the rejection of the Clause. For a number of years the favourite cry throughout the country, which was somewhat lost during the period of the War, was a free breakfast table—that there should be no duty whatever upon the foodstuffs that come into the country. The Tea Duty was imposed originally upon what is a very vital article of food. Consequently, I want to bring the attention of the House back again to the proposition of the free breakfast table which was included in the Newcastle programme of the Liberal party. It is rather peculiar that ever since the Newcastle programme was propounded Chancellors of the Exchequer, whether Liberal or Conservative, have never proposed the elimination of the duties upon tea and other foods. Every Chancellor of the Exchequer has made the excuse that it, was necessary to have revenue from more sources, but rather than seek nut new sources of revenue, because they might cause trouble in the country from the classes upon whom the new taxes would fall, have continued to impose the Tea Duty, sometimes in increased amount and sometimes giving some slight remission.
If we take into consideration the various duties that are put upon the absolute table necessaries of the people which are consumed practically at every meal by the working classes, we find that the total duty imposed last year upon the necessities of life of the common people of this country amounted roughly to 7s. 7d. in the £That is an intolerable burden, an intolerable income tax to place upon people whose money is scanty enough. I am leaving out of account beer, but am including tobacco, which is practically a necessity. I want the Committee to get down to rock-bottom facts in considering the old cry of the politician in his attempt to enlist the support of the workers by declaring for a free breakfast table. There are plenty of sources where the Chancellor of the Exchequer could go for revenue other than the food of the people. In urging the abolition of this tax it is not my duty to point out to the Chancellor where he can find fresh sources of revenue. There are sufficient brains in the Cabinet for that purpose He has a Prime Minister who in the past went about the country pointing out where hen roosts could be robbed, and where other things could be taken in order to relieve the people of this country and to devote the funds to the amelioration of social problems. Ho has a fertile imagination at the head of the Government for the purpose of discovering new sources of revenue. I have my own ideas how I would derive revenue to compensate for the loss that might take place in the total remission of the Tea Duty; but I am not here to supply the Government with ideas on that point, and if I did I am certain they would not accept them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer described one of my proposals as confiscation, repudiation, etc., but ultimately he turned round and said, "It is only conversion, and when the money market is cheaper we will accept one of your ideas."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that he is already reducing the tax upon tea by 4d., but he must admit that the tax is still too heavy. I can understand his difficulties. He must keep the finances of the country going, and he must tap the sources to hand; but I would remind him that the sources of revenue can dry up if the tax is too heavy, and at the present time, with small earning power, with 2,000,000 of people unemployed and a large number working short lime, the income in many working-class homes is small enough already to prevent people purchasing as large quantities of tea as in the past. The tax does not operate fairly and equally. It is a flat tax placed upon each lb. of tea, irrespective of price. If the tea, including tax, is 2s. 4d. per lb., the tax upon that cheap quality of tea is the same as the tax upon a lb. of tea at 4s. or 5s. The higher the price the smaller the proportion of tax on the actual value of the tea. The working classes can only afford the cheaper qualities of tea, and therefore bear a larger proportion of tax than do the wealthier people who buy the higher priced tea. The tax operates in a harsh direction upon the poorer section of the community, who consume tea at practically every meal, because they cannot go in for more lavish food. I appeal to those who have stood in the past for the principle of a free breakfast table, and who have fought elections upon it and have sometimes been defeated, to recognise that to-day, in the present hard times, the poorer people of this country are particularly in need of remission of taxation on tea. I hope that we shall be supported by Members who are conscientiously in favour of this proposition. Many hon. Members who will be whipped into another Lobby would walk freely with us and vote for the remission of taxation on tea if we had a free vote. If we remit this taxation it would be a very great boon for the poorer section of the community.
I endorse the judgment that this is a Budget in favour of the rich and against the poor. I want to controvert some of the statements made by the Solicitor-General, who was obsessed with the fact that the country is in need of revenue, that the financial condition of the country is in the highest degree deplorable, and because of this deplorable condition we must accept this particular proposal. In the main, I understood him to say that this proposal derived its justification by reason of the abnormal conditions through which we are passing. It is just because of the-abnormal conditions that I take objection to this Clause. This abnormality discloses itself in three ways. There is a section of the community which is less capable of bearing this infliction to-day than it was two years ago. There are 1,750,000 people unemployed. Some get no out-of-work benefit, while others get 15s. a week, with 5s. for the wife and 1s. for each child. In practically all. working-class homes tea. is a constant beverage at each meal, and, obviously, the incidence of this tax falls more heavily upon the working classes than upon other people. According to the Solicitor-General, unemployed people are expected to bear their fair share of taxation, but they are far less able to bear it than they were two years ago. Take the case of the people who are employed but are earning less than was the case a few months ago. In my part of the country, for instance, there are thousands of poor miners who are not able to look forward, I. at the end of a week, to earning even the modest income to which the hon. Member for Stafford, I think, referred in the case of agricultural labourers of this country, men who put in a hard day's work, by reason of the nature of their occupation, and there are large numbers of the working classes who have been compelled to face declining wages, including miners, engineers, and all the working classes. Therefore, I submit that this tax is unjust in its conditions, but on this particular occasion, on account of the abnormality of the time, it is even worse in its incidence than it would be in normal times.
I would draw attention to another abnormality which hon. Members opposite would perhaps be glad to have forgotten. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan) invited from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day a return giving the incomes rising by £5,000 a year of people who have from £5,000 a year up to £100,000 a year. In the year 1913 there were something like 14,000 people enjoying incomes of between £5,000 and £100,000 a year or more. The number had risen to 72,000. Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer invites us so glibly to consider this kind of taxation upon the poor of this country let him prove to us that he has exhausted the limit of taxation in regard to the people who are referred to in this return. When he has convinced us that he has taxed these people to the utmost limit, then we may be prepared to tax the necessities of the poor. Until he has done that we submit with confidence that the ordinary people of the country ought to be saved the necessity of bearing an unfair incidence of taxation upon the necessities of life.
I support the Amendment on the simple ground that I feel that it is dishonest on the part of the Government to impose a tax of this sort upon poor people at the present time, while so much is being done by way of relief for those who pay Income Tax. We suggest that it is precisely because the cost of government should be borne according to ability to pay that the whole question of this and every other form of indirect taxation should be reviewed by the Government, and some consideration should be given to the claims made annually by that very small section known as His Majesty's Opposition. The Government and their supporters, I am sure, are wearied to death by the kind of arguments that are put up every year. Reiteration is painful even to those who have to utter it; but year by year we must record our opposition to these taxes, because there is no political economist in any of the universities from which these gentlemen graduated who could be found to justify the Tea Tax. It is a tax of expediency, and will continue so long as the great majority of our people take no interest in the kind of taxation which they have to bear. It is certain that if our newspapers existed for the purpose of passing on to the public the proportion of the cost of government which they bear, many of the most apathetic of our voters would be stung to revolt by the large proportion of the cost of government, in proportion to their income, which they have to bear. Therefore, I wish that every Member of His Majesty's Opposition would put precisely but briefly before the Committee his utter detestation of this method by which money is raised from people who have no idea of the amount which they are contributing to the cost of government.
I would not have risen had not the Chancellor of the Exchequer left the Committee, as this looks as if we were not going to have any reply to this proposal from the Government. We have a case which demands a reply. Among the items of indirect taxation, that on tea is one of the most important. There is not an individual in the country who is not affected by it. It affects particularly the old age pensioner, who has tea practically at every meal, and the humblest classes of the community, and the money is levied from those who should be the first to be relieved of these indirect taxes. It was said one time by a Unionist Member in relation to this fact that he regarded the Tea Tax as an instrument for promoting the stewing of tea. I know from experience that there is some truth in this. When a man was engaged some years ago in the railway service, it was his privilege when working some trains to lodge in a given area, and he was paid his expenses for the night. It was customary for the landlady to provide the tea. We generally found that the pot was being stewed over and over again. Probably the Unionist Member who made that remark had something like that in his mind. We have been told by various medical authorities that the continued stewing of the pot of tea is against the health of the people. I have to take that opinion, because I do not know as an individual, but I do say that if we remove these taxes it would give these people a better opportunity to get full benefit from the tea instead of having to stew it over and over again. The Government is not yet so short of knowledge or intellectual genius as to be unable to make up the amount which would be lost by granting this Amendment. We have put forward this Amendment in sincerity and we ask the Government to give us an assurance that they are prepared to deal with the case with equal sincerity and honesty.
|Division No. 143.]||AYES.||[8.10 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Gee, Captain Robert||Pearce, Sir William|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Armitage, Robert||Goff, Sir R. Park||Perring, William George|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gregory, Holman||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pratt, John William|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Preston, Sir W. R.|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Hamilton, Major Sir C. G. C.||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rae, Sir Henry N.|
|Ball, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bellairs, Commander Carryon W.||Haslam, Lewis||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rodger, A. K.|
|Barwick, Major G. O.||Hills, Major John Waller||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hinds, John||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hopkins, John W. W.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Briggs, Harold||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Scott, A M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Simm, M. T.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Casey. T.W.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Ho. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Chamberlain, N. (B1rm., Ladywood)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon, Fredk, George||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Kidd, James||Sugden, W. H.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd, George Butler||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lorden, John William||Taylor, J.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill).|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Townley, Maximilian G|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Tartan, Edmund Russborough|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Malone. Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wallace, J.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Manville, Edward||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Middlebrook, Sir William||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon, F. B.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Evans, Ernest||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon, Claud|
|Eyres-Monsell, Corn, Bolton M.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. [...]||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Murchison, C. K.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Winterton, Earl|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Neal, Arthur||Wise, Frederick|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Wormer, Viscount|
|Forestier, Walker, L.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Forrest, Walter||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Parker, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gardner, Ernest||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Bromfield, William||Edwards, C (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Entwistle, Major C. F.|
|Banton, George||Cairns, John||Foot, Isaac|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cape, Thomas||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Gillis, William|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hilchin)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Grundy, T. W.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)|
|Briant, Frank||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hayday, Arthur||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Hayward, Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Robertson, John||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Rose, Frank H.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Hogue, James Myles||Royce, William Stapleton||Wignall, James|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Sexton, James||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sitch, Charles H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spencer, George A.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Lawson, John James||Spoor, B. G.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lunn, William||Sutton, John Edward|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Swan, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Mr. Neil Maclean and Mr. W.|
|Mills, John Edmund||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Smith.|
|Murray. Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|