HC Deb 18 June 1821 vol 5 cc1201-4
Mr. Curwen

rose to move the reading of the Order of the Day for going into a Committee on this Bill. He was happy to inform the House, that ministers did not intend to give any further opposition to the bill. He hoped the discussions which had taken place would show to ministers the necessity of coming down to the House, in the ensuing session, with such a system of economy as would enable them not merely to do without this tax, but to extend other indulgencies to the country. It was highly gratifying to find that the noble marquis had, in this instance, bowed to the wishes of the House and of the country. The handsome manner in which he had yielded the point in dispute deserved and received his thanks.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that whatever objection he might entertain to the repeal of this or of any other tax at a period of such pressing necessity, still he felt that he was bound in duty to give up his own sentiments in deference to what he believed to be the decided opinion of the House. After the discussion and division which took place on a former evening, he had endeavoured to learn the sentiments of those who were most deeply interested in this measure; and he had no doubt, from what he had heard, that the sense of the country was in favour of the repeal. This being the case, he would not attempt to set up his individual opinion against a general feeling. He sincerely hoped that the measure would produce all those beneficial results which the hon. mover anticipated from it; and if it did, he should not regret having given up the tax, although he felt at present that they were making a very great sacrifice to the general interests of the country by so doing.

Mr. Birch

observed, that in the late discussions on the expenditure of the country, it was stated, in objection to motions for retrenchment, that ministers had brought, down their estimates as low as they could: he wished therefore to know if it was intended to substitute for the repealed tax any newimpost; as, if this were the case, it would only he the removal of a burden from one part of the people to put it on the shoulders of others.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, he had no hesitation in avowing, that if he had been present on a former night, he would have stated the strong objections which he felt to the repeal of this tax. But, after what had occurred, looking to the amount of the tax, and taking into consideration the extreme depreciation of the agricultural interest, he conceived that he was called on to withdraw his opposition. It was a measure of sympathy, and would not, he was afraid, be attended with such beneficial results as were expected. The House having expressed its opinion on this important question, he had reconciled his mind to make no further struggle on the subject. With respect to the introduction of another tax in lieu of it, gentlemen would recollect that his right hon. friend had, in discussion, always guarded himself from being precluded, if necessity should require, from recurring to this measure at any future time. But if it would give the country any additional satisfaction to know that this boon was granted unattended by any new tax, that satisfaction he was read}' to impart. When ministers should come down, in the next session of parliament, with improved plans of economy and retrenchment when they showed to the country that they had done all that was right and proper, then, if it should appear that a necessity existed for the renewal of this tax, he hoped it would be recollected by the House, that this portion of the public revenue was abandoned, without any proposition being made for filling up the consequent deficiency.

Mr. Baring

expressed a hope, that after the repeal of this tax, the agriculturists would not turn round to claim other concessions, and to say that nothing had been given up to them. Hon. members who supported this repeal ought to have shown their disposition to relieve the general distress of the country, by supporting the various propositions of the hon. member for Aberdeen, for reducing the establishments. It was only by economy and retrenchment, that that distress could be relieved. The chancellor of the exchequer had brought his defeat upon himself, by boasting of the state of the finances. It was his holding out the idea of a real sinking fund of 4,000,000l. when no such thing existed, that had brought him into the predicament in which he now found himself. It reminded him of persons who gave out that they were possessed of vast riches, until at last a parcel of thieves came and robbed them of all their property.

Mr. S. Wortley

said, he did not think himself liable to the charge of inconsistency which had been made against those who voted for the estimates and not for the tax. The hon. member for Aberdeen made his propositions to the House founded upon his own statements, which were contradicted by ministers. Now here were two parties whose statements were opposed to each other; and he (Mr. W.) and his friends had been in the habit of giving their confidence to ministers. This he took to be a very different case to the repeal of a tax, where every man exercised his own judgment as to its necessity.

Lord Milton

observed, that if some of the hon. gentlemen who sat round his hon. colleague, and who allowed that the hon. member for Aberdeen had done a deal or good by his persevering investigations, had helped him to do more good, if, instead of merely panegyrising that hon. member at the close of the session, they had aided him by their votes in its progress—they might so have reduced the public expenditure as to give his hon. friend, the member for Taunton, no ground for saying that it was imprudent to deduct nearly half a million from the public revenue. He, however, by no means argeed with his hon. friend, that the repeal was an imprudent measure; for he was persuaded, that, the half million might easily be made up by economy. He was persuaded, that to a large portion of the agriculturists the repeal of this tax would be a very great boon. The way in which the repeal had been carried, would be an argument, on-the introduction of any future measure of partial reform, to show that the landed interest in that House did not peculiarly require to be reinforced. He appealed to the justice of the House, therefore, to show, in another session the same protection to the manufacturing that they had afforded to the landed interest. That the country would be grateful for this proceeding, on the part of the House, he was sure; but their gratitude ought to be shown to his hon. friend, the member for Cumberland, and those who supported the abolition, and not to those who, if they could, would have continued the tax.

Mr. Peel

felt himself compelled to dissent from the tone of congratulation, on this event, which seemed to be so general in the House. He must say, that he regretted the repeal of the tax, because he was persuaded that it ought to be the object of all the interests in the country to maintain the public credit. The interest, neither of the one class nor of the other, would, in his opinion, be consulted, by a measure tending, as this certainly did, in some degree, to impair the public credit.

After some farther conversation, the bill was ordered to be committed on Wednesday.