HC Deb 18 February 1807 vol 8 cc860-2
Mr. Hobhouse

brought up the report of the committee on the Finances of the country. On the motion that the resolutions be read,

Mr. Sturges Bourne,

suggested the propriety of delaying the further consideration of this important question, which went to subvert the principles on which the whole financial system of the country; and that, too, without the house being in possession of several necessary documents. There was no estimate on the table of the produce of the war taxes, and on this subject the house had only the assertion of the noble lord, which, however respectable, was not of itself a sufficient authority. At that period of the night, too, he could hardly think that the noble lord would press the discussion. What necessity was there for haste? If the measure was to be followed by taxes, it. might be expedient to lose no time in passing the bills through the house; but this was not the case; and with respect to the loan, the loan of last year was contracted for at a much later period, and he was satisfied that no inconvenience could arise from delaying it for at least two months. He had no party views in what he stated, but he was convinced, that the house had not had time to render themselves competent to decide on this momentous question. If, however, they were to be compelled to come to a decision, he for one felt it impossible to vote for the first and second resolutions, because they went to mortgage the war taxes, many of which would not be available in time of peace, and many others, which policy ought to induce us at that period to repeal or modify. Of this latter class, were the duties on spirits and tea. Justice also demanded that the ton- nage duties should cease with the War; and there was another duty which bore with peculiar severity on the lower classes of the people, and which ought to be got rid of as soon as possible; he meant the last duty on Malt, to which he should even prefer retaining the Property tax. For these and other reasons he could not agree to the first and second resolutions. As to the general principle, he confessed he was not prepared to enter into it any further than by stating, that it appeared to counteract that which had been hitherto our object, namely, the restraining of the Funding system. To that object we had closely adhered until the year 1802, when a partial departure was made from it; but we were now called upon to do away what was the justification of that departure. He warmly agreed to giving the country repose from taxation for several years; but he wished that the noble lord would not look so far into futurity, but content himself with proposing a plan for 4 or 5 years, at the expiration of which period, the house and the country would become better judges of the system which it would be eligible to adopt.

Mr. H. Thornton

requested to know, whether it was intended that the debate should proceed at that hour?

Lord H. Petty

observed, that the debate was last week fixed for that evening. If at a late hour, it should appear that there were some gentlemen yet desirous of giving their opinions, it would be in the judgment of the house to adjourn the further discussion of the question.

Mr. Rose

could see no possible objection to a postponement of the debate. On a measure of such immense consequence he could not think that the noble lord would press the commencement of a discussion at between 8 and 9 o'clock. Many gentlemen, he for one, were anxious to deliver their opinions, and there would be no chance of ending the debate that night. All he wished for, was a postponement until to-morrow; and he had no doubt that the hon. gent. (Mr. Whitbread), who had a motion which stood for to-morrow, would readily agree to put it off.

Lord H. Petty

observing that his hon friend was not present, declared that he could not answer for him on that subject, but that he had strong reason to believe, that as he had three times postponed his motion, he would not consent to any further delay. If, however, the hon. gent. oppo- ties would take the chance of the debate on the present question commencing to-morrow, after that motion should be disposed of, he had no objection to its standing over.

Lord Howick

expressed the same opinion as his noble friend, as the motion of his hon. friend was one of considerable importance (the Poor laws), and would not conveniently admit of further procrastination.

Lord H. Petty

at length left it to the discretion of the gentlemen on the other side, whether the report should be discussed now or to-morrow, and the consideration of the report was accordingly postponed.