HC Deb 19 February 1805 vol 3 cc569-71
Sir Robert Buxton

opposed the tax on horses employed in husbandry; he thought it founded on impolicy, and injustice. On impolicy, because it would operate to the great detriment of a branch of our national industry, of all others the most essential to our well-being as a state; on injustice, because it would bear unequally on the subject, nay, that it would operate on only one class of people, the farmers of the kingdom. Instead of laying an additional fax of this sort, why did not gentlemen give up their privilege of franking, which would shew the people that the members of the House of Commons were ready to make sacrifices in their turn. The hon. bart. deprecated the idea of the war having excited disgust among the public. He believed there never was a war, the necessity and justice of which were more universally felt and acknowledged,

Mr. Windham

disagreed with the hon. bart. on this point, and hoped the house did not stand so low in the estimation of the public as to be obliged to prove its disinterestedness by a paltry sacrifice of this nature, which would be of no serious importance to the revenue. In fact, this privilege of members was to themselves a mere feather in their cap; a thing that was pleasant to them, as giving them a power of conferring small favours, and; as had been before observed, was almost the only little privilege that belonged to them, as members, which was independent of the favour of ministers. But with respect to the public, this privilege was important. It occasioned a much greater intercourse between the members and their constituents than there would otherwise be, and therefore contributed to give them more information of the wishes and; true interests of the public. This was not all; to his knowledge that little privilege had in many instances called forth literary talents, or kept alive correspondence that v would otherwise have died away, without any advantage to the revenue. He was sure that this had happened in many cases when he had used his privilege of franking, and he was also sure that other members could from their personal experience confirm the truth of the general observations he had made.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

supported the expediency of the privilege of franking, but not altogether for the reasons given by the right hon. gent, who spoke last. The privilege was one that afforded a very great accommodation to the public. It enabled the members to carry on the very important business of their constituents, and frequently they must have various and extensive transactions to discuss. Hence the privilege was not only a distinction, but a most useful, if hot indispensable appendage to the function of a legislator. As to the saving that could accrue from the abrogation of the privilege, that again was, in the view of the subject of revenue, the least considerable in the world; for it would not amount to more than 40,000l. a year. He did not, however, by any means wish to tax agriculture heavily; and the tax under consideration had no such tendency. No man would think that arable farms would, by this increase of seven shillings and six-pence on the tax on horses used in husbandry, be taxed so as to injure agriculture, or induce the farmer or landowner to discontinue employing all the capital he now employed in arable farms. He agreed also with the right hon. gent, that no such mark of disinterestedness was required of them by the country. The fact was, that in the whole history of parliament, there never was a time when so great a proportion of the taxes were thrown on the higher orders of the community.

Sir Robert Buxton,

was ready to give the right hon. gent, every credit for the disposition he had always shewn to relieve the lower orders from the weight of the burdens of the state.

Mr. H. Lascelles

hoped the right hon. gent, would take some further time to consider on some of-these taxes. He agreed with the hon. bart. who had just sat down, as to the duty on horses used in agriculture, and, that it would prove a great check to it. He-referred to what passed last session en the corn bill, and begged the house to remember, that it was then held forth as necessary to encourage the farmers to grow as much corn as possible; end this lax would, he feared, operate contrary to that desirable purpose.

Mr. Fuller,

in reference to the tax on property, mentioned the case of one who should have much underwood, but which would not be in a yielding state for 14 years to come; now the present tax would attach on that kind of property, he apprehended, as much as if it was at this moment vendible, or as if it yielded a profit.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that the tax would only attach on property mow convertible to its uses; so that the underwood, which would not be fit to cut these 14 years, would for that period not be liable to the tax.—The other resolutions were now put, agreed to, and bills ordered.—Adjourned.