Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

23 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



BUDGET DEBATE, Luxurious Pensions. STRAIGHT TALK BY WELSH M.P. MR BRACE'S HOME-THRUST. Mr LI. George in Harness PLAIN WARNING TO THE RICH. The House on Monday went into Committee of Ways and Means. On the Budget resolution continuing the income tax at a shilling, Mr AGSTEX CHAMBERLAIN (C., Worcestershire), turning to the general finan- cial position of the country, said the claptrap which had served Ministerialists so well on Eolitical platforms during the General Election had been absolutely disproved. It had been clearly shown to the Government during the past two years that while you might pare a little here and there, you could not make any permanent or great reduction in the scale of expenditure in which the country was in- volved. That was not all. The day of reduction bad gone by, and it was clear that we must look to increased expenditure in the future. Old age pensions must as years went by tend constantly to increase our expenditure. For a scheme of that kmd once put in force there could be no turning back— (Ministerial cheers)—and nobody would desire to turn back. (Opposition cheers.) It was mainly out of the death duties and the income tax that the provision for old-age pensions would come. He (Mr Chamberlain) had no desire that the wealthy should escape their proper share of the national burden, but he was not prepared to teach any class in the country that they could demand any boon they liked under the name of social reform without having to contribute anything to- wards the cost. It was not honest. It was a corrupt influence in our system which might lead us very far along the path of danger. As to the old-age pension scheme itself, he was prepared to admit he had been over-hasty in saying that it would for ever make impossible the introduction of a contributing scheme, though he was still of opinion that it would make the introduction of such a scheme more difficult. The iixed 10s limit in the Govern- ment plan must also be changed for a gradu- ated scale, and the provision which penalised old couples living together must be abolished. It was most cruel. (Cheers.) Mr J. ELLIS (L., Nottingham) said the only safe course for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take was to insist upon retrenchment, and be hoped the Cabinet would apply itself earn- estly to the consideration of the subject of the reduction of armaments. A Labour Outburst. Mr SNOWDEN (Lab., Blackburn) drew attention to the facts that while in the past ■sight years the foreign trade of this country had increased by nearly 250 millions sterling, indicating an enormous increase in wealth, there had been in six out of the eight years a reduction in the aggregate wages received by the wage earners. The number of unem- ployed hàd increased, the number 01 paupers during the last ten years had increased 16 per cent., and the cost of living had risen by 24 per cent. "Whilst somebody had been getting enormously richer, the condition of the wage- earning classes was actually and to a greater extent relatively poorer than it Was six or seven years ago. That, was the problem which should be considered in framing a Budget. (Labour cheers.) Their criticism of the present Budget was that it did very little to relieve the unfair burden of taxation upon that part of the population who were least able to bear it. It was the rich man's turn for relief every time. The million and a quarter which was to be de- voted this year to old age pensions was to be obtained by the tax upon the people's food, and that policy was diametrically opposed to his idea of social reform. The rich would not be a penny the poorer for the Government's scheme of old age pensions. On the contrary they would be better off, because it would re- lieve their poor rate and enable them to with- draw their subscriptions from charitable asso- ciations. He believed in large national expen- diture if wisely incurred, but it should be paid for out of the bloated incomes of the rich. He believed there were in this country not less than 16,000 persons with incomes over jE5,000 a year, and the aggregate income of these per- sons could not be less than 200 millions a year. A tax of 10 per cent. upon that income would bring in 20 millions—enough to provide old age pensions, and there would still be left to the 16,000 persons a gross income of JE180,000,000 a year. Such a tax would be exceedingly popu- lar with everybody except the 16,000 persons. (Cheers and laughter.) Mr ELLIS DAVIES (L-, Carnarvonshire) submitted that the lower middle classes as well as the working class were at present so heavily burdened by Imperial and local taxation that relief wc±s urgently needed either by tapping different sources of revenue Or bv increased grants from the Exchequer towards the relief ul local burdens. Mr Brace and Pensioners." Mr W. BRACE (Lab., South Glamorgan) said it was unblushing effrontery for supporters of a great war to come down to the House and repeatedly demand a reduction of the income tax before the debt incurred through that war had been paid off. It would be well for politi- cians to try and realise that they should not support a war without being prepared to carry out the responsibilities and obligations which it involved. The right hon. gentleman who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last Administration had stated that it would be corrupting the workers to give them old age pensions unless they made an effort to do something them- selves. He did not understand this kind of philosophy. It was not the kind of philosophy that members of the Opposition practised themselves when they were in office. He did not wish to be offensive, but there were members of that House who were receiving pensions from the State, given to them by the late Administration, upon the principle not that they were contributing parties, but neces- sary for keeping up a certain standard of living. It was not just and fair to preach one philosophy for members of a particular clas^, and to preach another philosophy for the working classes. He congratulated the late Chancellor of the Exchequer upon his reduc- tion of the sugar duty. He was speaking on behalf of the labouring classes largely when he said that it would be a great boon to those who were employed in trades using sugar as a raw material as well as to consumers. With regard to the old age pension scheme, he thought the agetimitwas too high, but he should support the scheme on the principle of getting all he could to day and taking to-morrow all that was left over. He thought sixty-five should, be the starting age, but he was glad to witness the time when a Chancellor of the Exchequer had laid down the principle for an old age pension' scheme which, if not universal iu its application, was at any rate non-contributory in character. He regretted that the scheme was not intended to apply to those in receipt of relief. It meant a saving of money not to give old age pensions to those who were in the workhouse, but in justice he could- not differentiate between the right of the inmate of the workhouse to receive a pension and the right of a person who was not in receipt of relief to receive one. If the Government were not at present prepared to make the scheme apply to the inmates of workhouses he asked them 1::0 make it apply to those who were re- ceiving outdoor relief. Again he asked why should there The a differentiation between married men and: women and single men and women ? He strongly appealed to the Government to amend the scheme in this respect before the Finance Bill passed, and to provide for a pension of 5s each to married as well as to single pen- sioners. In some cases it was more expensive for husband and wife to live together than to live apart. To leave the scheme as it was would be to penalise the very men and women who were the backbone of the Empire they heard so much about, and would not tend to encourage the building up of that family life of high character that Britons liked to see. He also thought the income limit for married couples should bejust double the amount fixed for a single man or woman. He advocated a system of old age pensions universal in its application, and he regretted that there should be any income limit at all. Unless the scheme was made universal there would always have about it that taint of pauperism which would be so offensive to sensitive natures. He opposed the idea of a contributory scheme because it would leave outside a great mass of women who would be unable to contribute anything. Cry Far the Coal Tax. Mr HARWOOD (L.. Bolton) believed that next year the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to be if not hard up, at least near the line. The right hon. gentleman would have to search about for fresh objects of taxation, and he asked him to consider the reimposition of the export duty/on coal. ("Oh," and laughter.) As a land nationalises he con- sidered that coal was at least partly national property. (Lalour cheers.) Mr bOnAR LAW (C., Dulwich) confessed he was quite at a loss to understand the jubila- tion of the Ministerialists ov^r a reduction of debt which was not due to a reduction of expenditure but to the retention of taxational a high level. (Opposition cheers.) Mr Lloyd George Enlivens the Debate. Mr LLOYD GEORGE (Chancellor of the Exchequer) pointed out that in Germany, where they had the perfect fiscal system recommended (by Mr Bonar Law, they were borrowing for rhe current expenditure of the year. (Ministerial cheers.) With regard to old age pensions, the present Government were redeeming the promises made by the late Tory Government and which they never fulfilled. Mr AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN challenged the statement that the late Government promised old age pensions. Mr LLOYD GEORGE said the right hon. gentleman was surely the last who should have madp the challenge, because if there was any part of the country more responsible than another for that promise it was the neigh bour- ood of Birmingham. (Ministerial cheers.) Mr AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN: it was because I supposed the right hon. gentleman referred to my right hon. friend the member for West Birmingham that I denied the state- ment—(Ministerial cries of Oh and Opposi- tion cheers)—as my right hon. friend denied it himself in the House and justified his denial. (Opposition cheers.) Mr LLOYD GEORGE said he would rather not discuss the promises of the member for West Birmingham in his absence. He would refer to the present leader of the Opposition, who in East Manchester went to the electors with a card Vote for Balfour and Old Age Pensions." (Ministerial cheers.) The view of the Opposition seemed to be that the Budget was brought in to stop the rot in the constituencies. (Opposition cheers.) It had done a good deal to stop the rot talked in the constituencies at any rate. (Ministerial cheers and laughter.) On the point that the Government had not made sufficient provision for the reduction of debt, the right Lon. gentleman stated that in three years the present Government had made pro- vision for the reduction of the national lia- bilities by 41 millions, and contrasted this with what the last Government had done in this direction. During ten years of Conser- vative administration they only reduced the national debfby 22 millions. He asked hon. members to bear that in mind when they came to consider next year's Budget. He de- clined to discuss the details of that Budget now. The liabilities of the coming year were met in the present Budget. The liabilities of next vear would have to be met Lext year. The resources of civilisation were not exhausted, and the resources of Free Trade were not exhausted. (Ministerial cheers.) The pledges of the Government to reduce expendi- ture extended up to armaments, and they had fulfilled those pledges. The Army and Navy expenditure had been decreased by five or six millions. While reserving his reply to criticisms of the Government's old age pension scheme until the Bill was under consideration, he said apart from a contributory scheme it would be very difficult to apply a thrift test. He asked hon. members to remember that this was a beginning and an experiment. The expendi- ture would be at least six millions a year, and in his judgment it would be more. Perhaps not in the first year, but in the second year he was certain it would be more than six millions. No doubt the limitations imposed would entail some hard cases, but if the House pressed too hard for the removal of the limitations the scheme would go far beyond the revenue which' the Government could possibly provide, at any rate in the immediate future. Welsh Coal and a Tax. He was unable to give any encouragement to the idea of reimposing the coal duty. The observations of hon. members in regard to this matter were largely based on considerations regarding Cardiff coal. Welsh coal like every- thing else Welsh was of very exceptional quality. (Laughter.) It could therefore rightly command a market, but this did not apply to coal in other parts of the United Kingdom. The result of putting an export tax upon coal in some parts of the kingdom was practically to exclude coal of second quality from the market where there was any competition, and it actually excluded Cardiff coal. Armaments Competition. He considered. the appeal of Mr John Ellis for greater economy on armaments as very weighty, and he hoped it would carry weight in the proper quarters. (Hear, hear.) A good deal had been done iti this direction, but he agreed that the mad competition between nations for expenditure on armaments was a very serious matter. Growth of Our Wealth. Looking to the future possibilities of taxation under a Free Trade system, the right hon. gentleman said in conclusion that the wealth of the country was enormous. It was not merely great, it was growing at a gigantic pace. He did not think it was too much to expect the more favoured part of the com- munity, who had got riches so great that they could spend a great part of their time in finding out how to spend it, to make a substantial contribution to improve the lot of the poorer members of the same community to which they belonged, because it was to their interest that they should not belong to a country where there was so much poverty and distress side by side with gigantic wealth. (Ministerialcheers.) Mr Ivcr Guest and Sinking Fund. Mr IVOR GUEST (L., Cardiff) said judging by the speeches delivered from the Opposition that night most of the criticism had been against the Budget because it committed the Chancellor of the Exchequer to large commit- ments which he would be quite unable to meet. Various remarks were passed with regard to the Sinking Fund. He only rose with the object of quoting some figures to the House on the question of the Sinking Fund to show that the present charge of 28 millions on a total net liability of 696 millions was very reasonable, and far in excess of anything which had been thought necessary in the past. The year which he pinned his greatest faith to for the purpose of comparison was 1903, when the debt had risen to £770,000,000 and Mr Ritchie only thought it necessary to increase the Sinking Fund charges to JE27,000,000 which Mr Ritchie then pointedout would be sufficient to payoff the whole national debt in 50 years. Comparing that with this year it was perfectly obvious that JE28,000,000 on £696,000.000 would be enough to pay off the total debt in a smaller period. It was said that the Chancellor of the Exche- quer was committed to a large charge for old age pensions, and that no provision was made by the Prime Minister to meet it, but in his opinion the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be more than justified by all precedent in reducing the debt charge this year from 28 millions to 24 millions. That would mean the right hon. gentleman could take four millions of money from the Sinking Fund without in the slightest degree diminishing the natonal credit. On a division the resolution fixing the income tax at the rate of one shilling in the £ was carried by 2.30 to 31. No Sugar Rebate. In the House of Commons on Tuesday, On the report stage of the Budget resolu- tions, Mr McARTHUR (C., Liverpool) called attention to the hardship inflicted on traders through the refusal of the Government to make any rebate on sugar in warehouses on the 7th of May) The PRIME MINISTER said he would be very sorry if any language or expressions of his had given rise to reasonable expectations that the sugar duty would not be reduced or that if it were done there would be a rebate. He could not, however, charge himself with having given any such indication. There had been no rebate of the kind mentioned in the last 40 years except with regard to corn. Mr McARTHUR There was the duty on glucose. The PRIME MINISTER said that was part of the corn rebate. He had given no ground for believing that there would be a rebate and could not see his way to anything of the kind. Mr LLOYD GEORGE said it was complained that if there was any difference it was in favour of the British reflner, but he considered that if there was any difference it was very slight. He thought the extent of the whole matter had been very greatly exaggerated. There was no calamity to the trade. One of the best known importers of foreign sugar had told him that he would probably lose about. jEl,200, but in the last few years, his firm had lost £18,000 through the duty, so that the reduc- tion would bring about a considerable gain. No rebate could be granted, and an extension of time was not desired by the trade. The Government was justified in asking the House of Commons to stand by the decision they had come to in regard to the Budget, seeing that any temporary loss would be more than made up for by the gain to the whole trade. The resolution was agreed to. On the resolution fixing the Excise duty on Irish grown manufactured tobacco at 3s lOd per pound. Mr GWYNN (Nat.) moved. an amendment providing that the duty should be 2s lOd. The effect of the amendment, he explained, would be to continue the arrangement which had previously existed, under which the Exchequer had allowed tobacco grown in Ireland a rebate of Is per lb. Mr LLOYD GEORGE said the difficulty was that the proposal was frankly admitted to be of a Protectionist character. It was Govern- ment assistance of an industry. While that Government assistance was given merely in regard to the experimental stage, there was no intention of stopping it, but the Government could not go beyond that. If the Government agreed to the proposal he did not see how they could refuse a similar proposal in regard to hops in Kent. The amendment was wi thdrawn and the vote agreed to, as was the report of the income tax resolution. The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER introduced the Finance Bill, which was read a first time.










The Tragedy at Barry.






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Miners' Questions.