HC Deb 01 April 1808 vol 10 cc1302-4
The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

in a committee of ways and means, rose, to submit the propositions, of which he had given notice, respecting the transfer of the duty for licences to shoot game, from the Stamp Duty to the Assessed Taxes, and for consolidating the additional 10 per cent. with the Assessed Taxes, to the consideration of the committee. As to the first point, he should only observe, that it was notorious that the duty was evaded in a variety of cases, a circumstance which could not take place when the duty was transferred to the Assessed Taxes, in consequence of the mode in which the Assessed Taxes were collected. Upon this head, therefore, he should propose a Resolution to the committee, that the present duties on Game licences do cease, in order that others should be granted in the Assessed Taxes in lieu of them. When the Bill that was to be founded upon this resolution, should be brought in, gentlemen would have an opportunity of considering how far the provisions it was to contain would be efficient to its object. Under the present system, much inconvenience was felt by those gentlemen who happened to reside at a distance from the county town, in obtaining their certificates from the clerk of the peace. This inconvenience would be wholly removed by the arrangement which he proposed, for the certificates would be forwarded to the collector of the district, to be issued on the production, by the person requiring it, of the receipt for the payment of the duty. Since the subject had been under his consideration, several communications had been received, which represented that the evasions were chiefly practised by persons pretending that they were shooting woodcocks and snipes, whilst, in reality, they were engaged in pursuit of game. In order to remove this source of evasion, therefore, it was deemed desirable to include woodcocks and snipes in the enumeration of game. The other proposition that he had to submit to the committee, was a resolution for the consolidation of the 10 per cent. additional to the Assessed Taxes granted the year be- fore the last, with the Assessed Taxes. It would be remembered, that at the time this addition had been brought forward to make up the deficiency in the ways and means of the year, which had arisen from the abandonment of the iron tax. The stage of the session did not admit of that mature consideration which was desirable. The consequence was, therefore, that in almost every instance there were fractional payments, which the committee would feel it right to do away. For this purpose, he proposed to add 2 per cent. upon the whole, and in all the lower classes to reduce the payment, in case of a fraction, to the next integer; and in the higher classes to raise it to the integer immediately above, so that the whole addition being at the rate of one in fifty, would give an addition of 110,000l. upon 5,500,000l. the present amount of the Assessed Taxes. But, the effect of lowering the fractional payments to the next integer below them in the inferior classes, would be to reduce that sum to about 107,600l. in the year. For instance, the amount of Assessed Taxes for a house having more than six windows, and not worth more than 5l. rent, was at present 6s. 7d. and would, according to the rate of addition proposed by him, be raised to 6s. 8¼d; but, according to the scale of reduction he had in contemplation, it would be lowered to 6s. 6d. the sixpence being the immediate integer below the fractional sum. In the higher classes, on the contrary, the payment would be carried to the integer above the fraction. There would be a consequent decrease upon the lower classes, but the slight addition on the higher classes would compensate for that, and make the augmentation upon the whole 107,600l. He therefore moved, "That it is the opinion of the Committee, that the present duties on Game Licences and the Assessed Taxes do cease and determine, in order that other duties be granted in lieu thereof."

Mr. N. Calvert

thought the regulations proposed by the right hon. gent. for transferring the duties on Licences for shooting game, from the Stamps to the Assessed Taxes very good, but suggested, that there should be duplicates of the receipts given for the amount of the duty, in order that the person who paid the duty might have something to shew in proof of his having paid it.

Mr. Spencer Stanhope

expressed his regret there was no clause in any of the Assessed Taxes bill which subjected assessors guilty of making surcharges wantonly, to the payment of costs, if the surcharges should not be confirmed. He was convinced that power ought to be given for subjecting persons of that description to the payment of costs.

Mr. T. Jones

also complained of the wanton manner in which surcharges were often made, and wished that some mode of prevention might be found consistent with the bona fide collection of the revenue.

Mr. Biddulph

said, there were other objects worth the right hon. gent.'s attention, before imposing new taxes; he meant measures of reform. He would go along with him certainly in preventing frauds and evasions. But he thought it would be better if the right hon. gent. had come down with a paper in his hand of the defaulters of former years.

Mr. Huskisson

could not conceive in what possible shape an account of this kind could be brought before the house, or of what use it would be to the revenue. If it could be made out, it would of course be granted like other accounts, relating to the public money, on a motion for that purpose.

Mr. Biddulph

was not then prepared to specify the heads, but would inquire into the subject with a view to a specific motion.—The Resolutions were then agreed to.