HC Deb 23 February 1824 vol 10 cc304-66

The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

rose to make his promised Expose of the Financial Situation of the Country; and addressed the Committee as follows:* Sir, In conformity with the course which I adopted in the last session of parliament, I take the earliest opportunity of opening to the House the view which his majesty's government takes of the present situation and future prospects of our finances. In time of war, a proceeding of this kind is obviously impracticable, because the various changes and exigencies to which a state of hostility necessarily gives rise, render it impossible that his majesty's government should be able, at so early a period, to present to the House of Commons any precise estimate of the supplies which circumstances may make it imperative on them to require in the course of the year. In time of peace, however, no such difficulty exists; and I think the Committee will agree with me, that it is of great importance that, at the commencement of the session, the House of Commons and the country should be made fully acquainted with the whole condition of our finances. Such a course enables the House to watch with more vigilance and jealousy (and of such vigilance and jealousy I am the last man who would complain) any proposition which his majesty's government may think proper to submit to it; and gives it an opportunity of entering into a more attentive and detailed examination of all those great branches of income and expenditure, in the regulation of which the interests of the country are so deeply involved. I feel, therefore, that, in following the course which I took last year upon this subject, I shall do that which is my duty, as well as that which must be most convenient and advantageous to the House and to the country.

Acting, then, on this principle, and with a view to give the Committee the fullest explanation in my power respecting the situation in which our finances now stand, and the measures which it appears *From the original edition printed for J. Hatchard and Son. to his majesty's government most expedient to propose for the adoption of parliament, I will proceed, Sir, in the first place, to state to the Committee the revenue, expenditure, and surplus of last year; and then to furnish them with the best estimate I can form of the revenue, expenditure, and surplus of that which has just commenced. Having done this, in the first instance, as a mere matter of detail, I shall then call the attention of the Committee to those observations which appear to me to arise out of this statement of our financial situation; and to the measures which it is my intention to propose in consequence.

By a document which has been laid on the table of the House, the Committee are aware that the revenue of last year amounted to 57,672,999l., and the expenditure to 50,962,014l., leaving a surplus of 6,710,985l. From this, however, it is necessary to deduct 5,000,000l. being the sum which by the act of last session, was set aside for the gradual diminution of the national debt. The surplus, therefore, of the last year, available for any immediate public purpose, is 1,710,985l.

The estimate which I have to present to the Committee, of the revenue, expenditure, and surplus of the present year, is as follows:—

The Customs, I take at £.11,550,000
The Excise, at 25,625,000
The Stamps, at 6,800,000
The Taxes, including the Land and Assessed Taxes, at 5,100,000
The Post Office, at 1,460,000
The Miscellaneous, comprehending many minute sources of income with which it is unnecessary at present to trouble the Committee, at 730,000
The remaining payments of the Austrian Loan, at 1,500,000
The payments on account of the Half-pay and Pensions' annuity, at 4,620,000
Making a total of £.57,385,000
The estimated expenditure of the year 1824 is as follows:—
First, there is the charge on the Consolidated Fund for those permanent expenses which do not depend on the annual votes of the House of Commons; namely, the interest and management of the Public debt, amounting to £.27,973,196
The interest upon that class of Exchequer Bills which are commonly called Deficiency Bills, amounting to 100,000
The annual and permanent charges on the Consolidated Fund for the Civil List, Parliamentary Pensions, &c. amounting to 2,050,000
The Half-pay Annuities, amounting to 2,800,000
And the Sinking Fund, amounting 5,134,458
Making a total of permanent Expenditure of £.38,057,654
If to that we add the Supplies of the year, viz.—for interest on Exchequer Bills 1,050,000
Army 7,440,945
Navy 5,762,893
Ordnance 1,410,044
And Miscellaneous 2,611,388
We shall find that the whole will amount to £.56,332,924
Let this be deducted from the amount of income which I have already mention ed, namely, 57,385,000l., and there will remain a surplus at the end of the present year (after applying 5,134,458l. to the reduction of the debt) of 1,052,076l.; so that we may estimate the surplus of the two years, the last and the present, at 2,763,061l.

Having troubled the Committee with this detail of figures unaccompanied by any observations, I shall now proceed to state what it appears to me to be essential that parliament should take into consideration when looking at these accounts.

In the first place, Sir, I beg the Committee to compare the actual receipts of the revenue for the year 1824 with the amount at which I ventured to estimate those receipts at the commencement of the last session of parliament. At that time, I calculated that the Customs would produce 10,500,000l.; and in doing so I did not think that I took too sanguine a view of the capabilities of the country, or that I was submitting to parliament an estimate which there was not every fair reason to believe would be realized to its full extent; and in point of fact, such has been the increase of our foreign commerce, owing to the adoption of that more free and liberal spirit of commercial policy, of which I have always been the advocate and which I have had the satisfaction of finding readily supported by parliament, and owing to the increased facilities of consumption which every one knows to prevail in all parts of the country;—I have the satisfaction to say, that I much underrated the produce of the customs in the last year; for instead of 10,500,000l., the actual receipt was 11,500,000l. I flatter myself, Sir, that this is a state of things progressive in its nature, and which will fully warrant the adoption of some measures proposed upon similar principles, which I shall by and by describe, trusting that the experience of the past will give the Committee an assurance, that there is abundant reason for pursuing that course of free and liberal commercial policy, from which such benefits have already been obtained.

The Excise does not exactly exhibit the same results; but I shall have no difficulty in showing the committee, that, although the actual receipts of the Excise in the last year fell short of the estimate, that circumstance can be satisfactorily accounted for. A reference to the official documents will prove, that it has by no means arisen from any deficiency in the consumption of exciseable articles during the last year; on the contrary, it will appear that there has been a considerable increase in the consumption of most of those articles.

The sum at which I estimated the Excise of last year was, 26,000,000l.; the actual receipt was 25,342,000l. This difference between my estimate and the amount really received, arose from some circumstances to which I did not advert when I formed the estimate, and which I will now explain to the Committee.

In the first place, I omitted to advert to the fact, that a considerable drawback remained to be paid on the stock in hand of malt, when that duty was diminished in 1822, amounting to 130,000l. Secondly, owing to the state of distress which had been represented (and I believe very fairly represented) by many persons, as existing in those parts of the country where hop cultivation is principally carried on, his majesty's government thought it advisable to see how far a temporary postponement of the payment of the duties due on hops might have the effect of relieving the pressure. The consequence was, that the hop duty, which ought to have been received in 1823, and which exceeded 350,000l., was not received at all; and that the only sum paid into the Exchequer last year on account of the duty on hops, was an arrear of 47,000l. The diminution in the amount of the Excise, was also increased by a measure which received the sanction of parliament last year, and which I contemplate with the greatest satisfaction; being persuaded that it must be ultimately productive of much good;—I mean the act which related to the distilleries of Ireland and Scotland. When I stated that it was intended to propose such an alteration in the law, I added, that it might probably occasion, in the first instance, a considerable reduction in the revenue: but that, being unable at that time to say precisely what the extent of that alteration would be, I could not venture to assume the loss to the revenue at any particular sum. The loss however which was actually sustained, was not so great in Ireland and Scotland, as in England, where the operations of the distiller were suspended from his being doubtful as to the effect of the new system: and I am warranted in declaring, that one of the main objects which parliament had in view in adopting that measure has been effected;—I mean the destruction of illicit distillation. It is on this fact that I build my expectation, that by and by the loss to the revenue, produced in the first instance by the diminution of duty, will be amply compensated, not by an additional consumption of spirits (for that is by no means desirable), but from its becoming practicable to bring the greater part, if not the whole, of the spirits which shall hereafter be made, either in Ireland or Scotland, within the operation of the duty. It is clear, that if that should prove to be the case, there can be no ground for supposing that the revenue will sustain any eventual loss; and I trust that, although it would not be prudent on my part to assume that the causes of that loss will immediately cease, I may confidently anticipate that, at no very distant period, this great branch of the public revenue will entirely recover from the temporary injury which it has suffered.

These, Sir, are the three principal circumstances which rendered the Excise, last year, less productive than I had anticipated. A reference to the document which I hold in my hand, will prove, that the deficiency sprung solely from the causes which I have described, and was by no means occasioned by any decrease of consumption: on the contrary, I can truly state, that of all the articles which pay Excise duty, there are very few indeed on which the duty charged last year (for that, rather than the mere produce of the duty in any one year, is the real criterion of consumption), does not exceed the duty charged, not only in the preceding year, but on the average of the last three years. With respect to auctions, beer, bricks and tiles, candles, coffee, glass, hides, there has been a considerable increase. In the article of hops there has undoubtedly been a falling off. It must be considered, however, that hops are a most fluctuating article, depending peculiarly on the contingencies of weather: to a degree indeed, of which persons unacquainted with the cultivation of that article can scarcely form an idea. In licences there has been a small diminution; in the last year they amounted in number to 301,193: and although there is an increase compared with the year which immediately preceded it, upon an average of three years there is a decrease of about 8,000. In the article of malt there is also a diminution; for which I confess I cannot precisely account; for the quantity of beer charged with duty has considerably increased, and I do not know how to reconcile the facts of an increasing consumption of beer, and a decreasing consumption of malt. Perhaps it arises from the different periods of payment, which prevented the duty from coming into the Exchequer at the same time as last year; in addition to which it is perfectly well known, that the barley-harvest was not a very productive one, and that the prices during the latter part of 1823, were not so low as they had been for the last two or three preceding years. These circumstances may in some degree account for the diminution of the duty on malt, as compared with the preceding year; but the receipt under that head still considerably exceeds what it was in some of the antecedent years. On paper there has been an increase; as also on pepper, and on printed goods; on salt a very large increase; on soap and starch an increase; on British spirits there has been a considerable diminution, as I before explained; but an increase on Irish spirits imported into England; on foreign spirits an increase; on tea, tobacco, snuff, wine, wire, stone bottles, &c. an increase. So that it appears, Sir, that in the long list of exciseable articles, there are not more than four in which any diminution of consumption has taken place, while in all the others there has been a very considerable improvement. And be it observed, that whilst there is an increase in the consumption of last year, beyond that of 1822, the consumption or that year itself exceeded the average of the three which immediately preceded it. I am justified therefore in assuming that there is a gradual and progressive increase of consumption; indicating beyond all possible doubt the truth of what was stated in the speech from the throne, at the commencement of the present session,—that the country is in a state of unexampled prosperity.

The next item, Sir, to which I shall refer, is the Stamps. I took them last year at 6,600,000l.; and they produced 6,800,000l. It is not perhaps a matter of great importance, but at least it tends to shew an augmented activity, and an increasing diffusion of business in the country. The taxes, including land and assessed taxes, I took last year at 7,100,000l.; the actual receipt was 6,200,000l. This deficiency of nearly a million, I am very far from grudging, as it arose from a measure which I believe gave universal satisfaction, and afforded very general relief,—I mean the repeal of a large portion of the assessed taxes. The post-office which I had estimated at 1,400,000l. produced somewhat more than that sum. The last head, namely, the various items under the title of miscellaneous, which it is exceeding difficult at any time accurately to estimate, I had taken at 600,000l. They produced considerably more, principally occasioned by the payment on account of the Austrian loan. And this, Sir, is a subject on which I confess I wish to address a few observations to the Committee.

I believe that when the subject of the Austrian loan was discussed in this House on former occasions, there were very few individuals who expected that this country would ever enjoy the repayment of even a portion of it. Indeed it is but fair to say that it was a question by no means of easy adjustment. For, although it is perfectly true that we had an undoubted legal right to sell the bonds of his imperial majesty in the market, and get whatever they would fetch, yet, considering all the circumstances that have occurred since the money was borrowed, I do not think that, in point of equity, we should have pressed too heavily on Austria, if we had required the repayment of the whole sum. But although, as I have already observed, few persons in this country supposed that any part of the sum would ever be repaid his majesty's government were more sanguine in their expectations; because they knew that the emperor of Austria felt that his personal honour was concerned in bringing the affair to a satisfactory adjustment; and becase they knew that they had to deal with a sovereign who, whatever had been said of him (and I have heard some very hard things said of him in this House), is as good and honourable a man as ever lived: nor do I believe there is to be found on any throne a more virtuous character. It is true that he has what we, living under a free government, may consider the misfortune, to rule over a country in which the people are subjected to the absolute rule of the monarch: and it is not unnatural that, as he is called upon to exercise the powers of government under institutions so different from those under which we have the happiness to live, acts, which may in fact be merely the result of those institutions, should at times appear to us in a less favourable light. But surely this is no reason for loading him with personal imputations, more particularly when it is to his personal sense of honour that we are indebted for the satisfactory arrangement that has taken place. That he had great difficulty in executing that arrangement no man can doubt; in the first place, it is not likely that the finance minister of Austria would be particularly desirous of handing over to this country a large sum of money, which he must have found it impossible to raise without pressing severely on the interests and resources of his own country. Nor is it probable that such a proceeding would be very popular in that country, where the people cannot, be expected to enter nicely into those considerations of personal honour which led the emperor to make so considerable a sacrifice. So that upon the whole, I think we may justly look upon the arrangement which has been made, as highly creditable to the character of the emperor of Austria; although by those who know less of his imperial majesty than we did, it may be considered as a Godsend.

I have now, Sir, explained to the Committee all the circumstances which appear to me to arise out of a review of the finances of this country in the last year; and I must now beg the Committee to accompany me in my estimates for the present.

I take the Customs of this year at 11,550,000l.; being an advance of 50,000l. upon their produce in the last. I state the probable increase only at this sum, because I think that it would be very im- prudent on my part to be too sanguine, therefore found my calculation, not on any anticipation of increase in the gross revenue of the Customs, but on the diminution in the charge of its collection by the consolidation of the Customs in the three parts of the kingdom. This saving has been produced by the ready adoption on the part of the government of those changes which had been recommended by that useful commission, at the head of which is a right honourable friend of mine near me (Mr. Wallace); and the labours of which I mean shortly to ask of parliament to prolong; being sure the House will agree with me, that in the execution of the very difficult task entrusted to them, the members of that commission have acquitted themselves so faithfully, zealously, and honestly, that the country cannot yet dispense with the benefit of their services.

The Excise I take at 25,625,000l., being rather more than the actual produce of last year. I ground this increase on the probable absence, during 1824, of those causes of deficiency which I have already explained to the Committee as affecting the produce of 1823, by the payment of the drawback on the stock in hand of malt, and by the temporary postponement of the Hop duties, to relieve the existing pressure. I will not now enter into any minute calculation of detail with respect to these various items, which, however, I am perfectly ready to explain whenever required; but I repeat, that I think I may venture to estimate the produce of the Excise duties for the present year, without any danger of over-rating it, at 25,625,000l.

The Stamps I take at the same sum as last year, namely, 6,800,000l. The assessed and Land Taxes I estimate at 5,100,000l. In making that estimate, I proceed on the calculation that the assessed and land taxes of Great Britain in the years 1820 and 1821, prior to any reduction of the former, averaged 7,510,000l. Since that period a reduction has taken place of 480,000l. in the agricultural horse tax; and of 2,216,000l. in the assessed taxes; making together 2,696,000l.; and if that sum be deducted from the 7,510,000l. which was the average produce of the assessed and land taxes of Great Britain in the years 1820 and 1821, it will leave, as the probable future produce of this branch of the revenue, the sum of 4,814,000l. In the present year, however, I have taken it at rather more, in consequence of an ar- rear of 300,000l. which is yet to be received. The post-office I estimate at 1,460,000l.; the miscellaneous resources of income at 730,000l. On neither of these points does any explanation seem to be necessary. There is next the repayment of 1,500,000l. on account of the Austrian loan, to be received in the present year; and 4,620,000l. from the trustees of half-pay and pensions: making the whole of the estimated receipts for the year 57,385,000l.

The next point to be considered is, the estimate of the expenditure. The first portion of it consists of charges on the consolidated fund of a permanent nature, amounting to 38,057,654l., including 5,134,458l. for the sinking fund. The next portion consists of the supplies to be voted. It does not seem to be necessary that I should make any remark on that part of the supplies which has already been voted by parliament for the army and the navy; or on that part which it is probable will be voted for the Ordnance. It is sufficient for me to say with reference to these items, that the House of Commons has already, by a large majority, given its sanction to the two former; and that I have no reason to suppose there is any thing in the Ordnance estimate, which when that grant comes to be proposed, will lead be a different result. On the contrary. I believe it will be found, that every reduction has been made in that department of the public service, which it will bear without impairing its real efficiency. But to the next item of the supplies, under the head of Miscellaneous, I beg shortly to call the attention of the Committee.

I have already adverted to the unexpected treasure that has found its way into the Exchequer, through the medium of the arrangement which has been made respecting the Austrian loan; and I cannot anticipate that the Committee will object to avail themselves of this treasure, for the purpose of effecting certain objects of great national importance. I am persuaded, that they will not grudge to the State this opportunity of meeting some expenses, not of ordinary occurence, but which it would have been difficult to meet under ordinary circumstances.

The Committee are aware, that a few years ago, an act passed, enabling certain commissioners to apply the sum of 1,000,000l. in the building of Churches. That this was a great national object, no man who values the church establishment of this country, and considers its close connexion with the constitution, can deny. In fact, it was a proposition which met with scarcely any hostility, and which was sanctioned by a large majority of the House. That the measure was right in itself, there can be no doubt. No doubt, the dispensation of that sum has been faithfully and wisely administered; and as little can it be questioned, that it has been productive of great public advantage, by furnishing to many of our countrymen in the humbler walks of life, the means of attending the service of the national church;—means which, in consequence of the great increase of our population, were absolutely non-existent in many most extensive parishes. Although, however, great good has been accomplished in this respect, much remains to be done; and, in my opinion, there cannot be a more important object, or one more befitting the parliament of a great and a religious country (which this is), than to apply a portion of the funds which we have derived from unexpected sources, to the extension of the benefit which I have described. It is my intention, therefore, to propose, in the course of the present session, a grant of 500,000l. for that purpose. The manner in which this proposition seems to be received by an honourable gentleman opposite, (Mr. Hume), does not surprise me, remembering, as I do, the light in which that hon. gentleman has always viewed the church establishment of the country; but I am nevertheless sanguine enough to believe, that the House at large will be perfectly willing to sanction the grant, whenever it may fall to my lot to propose it for their consideration.

There is another national object, to which I own it seems to me to be very desirable that some part of this money should be applied;—I allude to that grandest and proudest residence of the sovereigns of this country,—Windsor Castle. I believe that the people of this country, who love Monarchy,—I mean constitutional monarchy,—and who take a pride in every thing which contributes to the real dignity of their sovereigns, will not consider it either inconsistent with their interests, or repulsive to their feelings, if a portion of the money in question should be applied to repair and embellish that noble and venerable structure. Let not the Committee suppose, that either his majesty himself, or his majesty s government, have any wish to expend the public money without due caution. But on that object I must state in the first place, that Windsor Castle having so long ceased to be the residence of the Court, stands in absolute need of an extensive repair.—Some charge must therefore be necessarily incurred on that head. But it also appears to his majesty's ministers, that, in order to provide adequately for the comfort as well as the dignity of the monarch, some alterations in the building are material, as well as some addition to the domain by which it is encircled. So far, however, from there being any disposition to lavish the money, which it is proposed to apply for this purpose (as the gestures of some hon. gentlemen opposite seem to indicate), it is the express desire of his majesty, that the direction of the expenditure shall not be under the sole control either of himself, or of any department of the government; but it is his majesty's desire, that a commission should be appointed for that purpose; and although I am not yet prepared to state, either the names of the proposed commissioners, or the extent of their powers, I can venture to say, that it will be appointed on the principle of selecting individuals without reference to the parties which divide this House; persons of acknowledged honour and integrity, whose character and qualifications will afford the amplest assurance, that the money will be laid out in a way that will do them and the country credit. The sum which it is intended thus to apply in the present year, is 150,000l.; and the same sum in the two following years; that is to say, 100,000l. in the first, and 50,000l. in the second of those years, making altogether 300,000l.

There remains another object, to which I now wish to draw the attention of the Committee; and I think its propriety rests in some degree upon the same principle as that which I have already laid down, as applicable to Windsor Castle. In the course of the last session, during the discussions which took place on the munificent gift of the king's library, and on the building which was to be erected for its reception, I think a very general feeling prevailed in the House, that, under the present improving circumstances of the country, we ought not to be niggardly in matters that regarded the promotion of the arts. As a mere question of money, I do not say that objections may not be urged against any such proposition as that which I am about to submit to the Committee. But taking a more enlarged view of the subject, looking at the intimate connexion of the arts, with all that adorns and ennobles man's nature, it appears to me to be consistent with the true dignity of a great nation, and with the liberal spirit of a free people, to give a munificent encouragement to the support and promotion of the Fine Arts. There being a fund, out of which such an object might be accomplished without any immediate pressure on the resources of the country, his majesty's government felt, when a short time ago an opportunity presented itself, of procuring by purchase a splendid collection of valuable pictures, that many motives of a high and liberal policy invited us to take advantage of the opportunity, for the purpose of laying the foundation of a National Gallery of works of art. Accordingly, a negotiation was opened with the representatives of the late Mr. Angerstein, which terminated in an agreement for the sale to the public of these pictures, for the sum of 57,000l. I have already stated the principle on which his majesty's government recommended this grant; and I have not the smallest doubt, that if a National Gallery had existed in former times, the liberality of individuals would long ere this have furnished it with as fine and beautiful specimens of art, as can be found in any part of the world. Unless, indeed, I am much mistaken, there is a valuable collection at present in the possession of a high-spirited individual*, of acknowledged taste and judgment, which through his liberality, would be likely to find its way to a National Gallery. Should this prove to be the case, I am sanguine in my hope, that the noble example would be followed by many similar acts of generosity and munificence: the result of which will be, the establishment of a splendid Gallery of works of art, worthy of the nation;—a Gallery, on the ornaments of which, every Englishman who paces it may gaze, with the proud satisfaction of reflecting, that they are not the rifled treasures of plundered palaces, or the unhallowed spoils of violated altars.

These are the three leading items, for which his majesty's government conceive that it is reasonable to ask parliament to *Sir George Beaumont. grant special votes, arising out of the special resources which are now at our disposal. If the House should sanction the expenditure which I have thus proposed, the surplus left on the years 1823 and 1824, will amount together to about 2,763,000l. But before I proceed to explain to the Committee, the view which his majesty's government take of the mode in which that surplus ought to be rendered available to the public service, I feel it my duty to bring under their consideration the matter, to which the present Committee more particularly refers.

The Committee must be aware that the state of public credit is such, as very much to reduce the interest of money. Looking to the situation in which the country stands with regard to her foreign relations, and finding that there are no visible, nor, as I believe, invisible grounds for apprehending any interruption of the tranquillity which now exists in Europe, it becomes the duty of his majesty's government to endeavour to avail themselves of the present low rate of interest, for effecting some reduction of that branch of the public expenditure which is connected with the portion of our debt on which a higher interest continues to be paid;—I allude to the 4 per cents. The amount of this stock, in England and Ireland, is about 75,000,000l.; on which, therefore, the annual charge at present is 3,000,000l. And it is material to state how the law stands with respect to it,—as that law differs in some essential points from the law respecting the 5 per cents; of which, under the sanction of parliament, the interest was reduced two years ago.

In the case of the 5 per cents no obligation was imposed upon government of giving notice to the holders of the stock of the intention to pay it off. The consequence was, that it was competent to the House to take the course which they did take; and to enact that all persons who did not, within four weeks after the passing of the bill for that purpose, dissent from the option given them of receiving 4 per cent stock instead of 5, should be liable to be paid off. On that occasion, it was very easy to adopt the principle of requiring the dissent of the stockholder instead of his assent; and every body knows the success with which the measure was attended. But with regard to the 4 per cents the law is different; for it is specified in the act, that parliament shall give six months notice to the holders of the intention to pay them off. If, therefore, we were to apply the principle of dissent to I the reduction of this stock, six months; must of necessity elapse before we could know what money would be necessary to pay off those holders—who, speculating upon the possible change in the rate of interest to which money might in the interim be liable, might not be disposed to become parties to the proposal of exchanging one description of stock for the other. What I propose therefore is, that notice shall be given of the intention to pay off (in a certain proportion and at six months from the notice) all the holders of 4 per cent stock, except those who, in the course of six weeks from the date of the notice, may consent to receive 100l. of 3½ per cent stock, for every 100l. of 4 per cents, and that the proportion to be paid off, shall be a third of the remainder, or a third of the whole, supposing none of the holders to express their assent to the exchange. I will illustrate what I mean by an instance:—supposing a third of the holders to assent to the exchange of stock, there would remain 50,000,000l. of 4 per cents, of which I propose that one-third shall be paid off. If none of the holders should signify their assent to the exchange of stock, then a third of the whole 75,000,000l. of 4 per cents will be paid off in the same manner. In the latter event, the sum required for the purpose would be 25,000,000l.; in the former between 16,000,000l. and 17,000,000l. I ought also to state, that to induce the holders of 4 per cents to accept the 3½ per cent stock, instead of being paid off in money, it is intended that the 3½ per cents, so created, shall not be liable to be paid off until five years from the 10th day of October next.

It is impossible, as the Committee must be aware, to expect to accomplish an operation of so large an extent, unless some advantage be held out to induce the numerous individuals interested, to accept the proposal made to them; and I confess it appears to me, that the best mode of offering this advantage is by the obligation not to pay off the stock at an earlier period than that I have mentioned. This I think much better than giving any thing of the nature of a bonus in money or in additional stock; because if the bonus were in the shape of money, the progress of the sinking fund would be interrupted; and if it were in the shape of stock, an inconvenient addition would be made to the nominal capital of the debt.

In the case of guardians, trustees, and persons absent from the kingdom, it is intended to propose that the same time, or the same proportional time, shall be allowed as was allowed on the reduction of the 5 per cents. Assuming, then, that this plan is successful, the result of converting the whole of the 4 per cent stock into 3½ per cent will be an annual saving of ½ per cent on the interest of 75,000,000l.; or 375,000l.

On the presumption that parliament will think fit to sanction this measure, I will now beg the Committee to accompany me a little beyond the present year; and see, on that supposition, how we are likely to stand at the end of the year 1827. I wish to carry the attention of the Committee to that point, not because I flatter myself that it can be in my power to calculate with prophetic precision the state of our finances; but in order to show generally what that state may be, if we remain at peace during that period.

I say, then, that at the end of the year 1827, we may be presumed to stand in point of revenue at least as well as we do at this moment. But it is not extravagant to anticipate progressive improvement. We may reasonably expect such a result to follow from a progressive increase of the wealth and productive industry of the country; whereas, if the unfortunate contingency of war should occur, and necessarily derange our present calculation, then parliament will, as it has done on former occasions (and never in vain) have to appeal to the public spirit of the nation for those exertions which may be necessary to carry us through the difficulties which we might have to encounter. Anticipating, however, no such interruption of the public tranquillity, I think it will be advantageous for us to look at the prospects of the country beyond the mere year which is under our immediate review, in order that we may be better able to judge of the policy which it is wise to pursue, that we may proceed on sound principles, and that we may avoid those rash and precipitate resolutions, which, injurious as they are to private individuals, are doubly injurious to public communities.

I assume the statement which I have made of the probable revenue of the present year, as the basis of my calculation of the probable revenue of the three fol- lowing years. I do not think that it is necessary for me to trouble the Committee with a repetition of all the figures of that calculation, as I anticipate that most of the various items through the years 1825, 1826, and 1827, will be nearly the same as those of the present year. I take the Customs, however, in the year 1825, at 11,700,000l.; and in the years 1826 and 1827, at 11,750,000l.; being an advance, in the first of those years of 200,000l., and in the last two of 250,000l., over the actual receipt of the last year. I will explain to the Committee whence I expect that advance to accrue.

I have already observed, that I calculate in the present year on an increase of 50,000l. in consequence of the diminished expense in the collection of this branch of the revenue; but there are other items of charge which intercept a part of the revenue in its progress to the Exchequer, and on which I mean to propose a reduction. These are, certain bounties, which, for a considerable number of years have been renewed, from time to time, as in the view of parliament their continuance has been thought necessary, or as the interest of the parties concerned has induced them to urge it. I more particularly allude to some bounties on the whale fishery, which amount to 50,000l. per annum, and which will expire of themselves in the course of the present year. Looking at this bounty with the best attention I have been able to give it, and strengthened in my own opinion respecting it by the assistance and advice of my right hon. friend, the president of the board of trade (Mr. Huskisson), I am convinced that it is utterly unnecessary. It is impossible that such a bounty can be indispensable for carrying on the fishery; for the sum of 50,000l. bears so small a proportion to the immense general expense of such undertakings, that it is really absurd to go on with so exploded a system; the effect of which must be as insignificant, as the principle is impolitic. I do not mean, therefore, to propose the renewal of this bounty.

There are other bounties, which I propose to deal with in the same way, on the curing of herrings, and fish of different kinds. It may have been very well to give such bounties years ago, when British fisheries were less advanced than those of other countries; and when some such premium was necessary to enable us to cope with our rivals in the market. But that is not the case now. Our herring fisheries have gone on increasing every year, until we are able to meet our ancient competitors, the Dutch, in all the markets of Europe. And we have done this, I am convinced, not in any degree in consequence of the bounty, but because it has been the interest of the fishermen and the curers, to pay more attention to the details of their respective occupations, and to use that care and skill which alone could give them a solid advantage; Such being the case, I propose that these bounties also shall die a natural death; by which an annual saving of 70,000l. will be effected.

There is another class of bounties, on the exportation of some of our domestic manufactures, which, whatever may be my opinion of their inutility and impolicy, I have always been disposed to touch with a delicate hand:—I allude to the bounties on the exportation of linen. I know how strong a feeling exists on this subject in Ireland; and I am aware of the right which the Irish manufacturer has, to expect, that parliament will do every thing reasonable to protect the staple manufacture of Ireland; and indeed to encourage every species of industry in a country, where one great cause of the lamentable situation in which it is placed, is a want of employment, and the consequent absence of that general good understanding which is always found to exist in an industrious and occupied population. I am anxious, therefore, to approach the subject with great tenderness, although I cannot shut my eyes to the utter inutility of the bounties to which I have alluded. I wish the gentlemen connected with Ireland to recollect, that if we give a bounty on the exportation of the manufactured article, exceeding in amount the duty on the raw material of which it is composed, we in effect invite the governments of other countries to tax that raw material, in exact proportion to the bounty which we give on the manufactured article; so that we tax ourselves for the benefit of the Exchequers of foreign states. Let us not believe, that we are the only people in the world possessed of common sense; that other countries cannot see their own interests as well as we can see ours, or will fail to avail themselves of our shortsightedness. I am convinced, therefore, that these bounties are not only useless, but mischievous. But I shall not propose an immediate and sweeping abolition of the whole of them. What I mean to recommend is, that the bounties on the exportation of linen of an inferior kind, up to seven-pence a yard, shall cease immediately; and that the bounties on the higher descriptions of linen shall decrease ten per cent generally, until, by this gradual course, the whole shall be abolished. By the determination of these bounties, a saving of 100,000l. a year will be effected; and I am sure that in giving the revenue this benefit, we shall not only do no harm, but do positive good to that manufacture, of which those bounties have been erroneously supposed to be the main support.

As to the other items of the revenue, the Excise, the Stamps, and so forth, they do not require any particular explanation; except, that I do not think it prudent to calculate for the next three years on any increase of revenue arising from an increased consumption of exciseable articles. Not that I have any doubt that an increase of consumption will take place, but because I do not consider it wise, in a matter of such importance, to make my anticipations, however confident, the ground of financial calculation which might possibly lead to disappointment.

With regard to the expenditure of the years in question, I beg leave to make a few remarks. My estimates of that expenditure are so framed, as to be quite safe from the danger of presenting too sanguine a view to the House. I know it has been supposed that on paper, and with figures, a chancellor of the exchequer can always produce what results he pleases. Possibly that may be the case. I do not wish, however, to adopt such foolish policy. If it has ever been resorted to (which I do not mean to admit), it is in my opinion much to be lamented, and is by no means deserving of imitation. I have no disposition to indulge or excite extravagant expectations; and I have therefore calculated the expenditure of the years 1825, 1826, and 1827, at the same rate as the expenditure of the present year, except as far as it may be affected by the natural decrement of life amongst those whose half-pay and allowances constitute so large a portion of our present charge, and except as regards the miscellaneous votes, in which I assume a progressive diminution. The actual expenditure of every year will of course be determined by parliament as the year comes round; but, taking both that and the revenue at the amount which I have calculated, the result is, that there will be at the end of that period a total surplus to the following extent:—In the last year, the surplus was 1,710,985l.; in the present year, I estimate it at 1,052,076l.; in 1825, at 372,346l.; in 1826, at 477,346l.; and in 1827, at 522,346l. Adding all these sums together, it appears that at the end of the year 1827, we shall have a total surplus of 4,135,099l.—The next question, Sir, is what we shall do with it? I think we may do a great deal of good with it I am sure if we can, we ought; and I have no doubt the House will be very ready to support me in carrying into effect any good of which I can show the practicability.

That which, at the first blush, seems the best mode of dealing with this surplus, is to allow it to go to the reduction of the debt. This would be the most immediate and obvious method of disposing of it. But there is no man who looks at the state of our revenue, and at the consequences which have followed from the accumulation of our immense taxation, who must not feel, that it is the obvious duty as well as policy of parliament, to avail themselves of every fair occasion to revise that system of taxation; to endeavour, by acting on sound principles, to relieve, whenever it is practicable, the pressure on the people; and to place the commerce and revenue of the country, and consequently its power, in such a condition, that if, unhappily, we should be surprised by war, it should be found no light matter by any other nation to grapple with us. It is my intention therefore to propose, that we should make use of the surplus which has accrued, and which will accrue, as the means of commencing a system of alteration in the fiscal and commercial regulations of the country, which I believe will, at its very outset, be attended with immense benefit, and which I am convinced, if wisely applied and steadily persevered in, will leave us, at the end of the four years to which I have confined my observations, in a still more flourishing condition than that in which we are at the present moment.

The first article, Sir, on which I propose a reduction of duty, is one which has already, in some degree, though incidentally, attracted the attention of the House. I do not promise that I can do a great deal with respect to it; but I will do all that circumstances will allow. The committee will recollect, that at an early period of the session, when I proposed to the committee of ways and means a vote with respect to certain annual duties on foreign spirits, a question arose as to the duty on rum. Two hon. gentlemen, the hon. member for Bristol and the hon. member for Aberdeen, both strongly urged me to reduce the duty on that article; the hon. member for Aberdeen indeed saying, that on the bringing up of the report of the committee, he would propose an amendment to that effect. I did not think it consistent with my duty, to explain at that particular period what were the views of his majesty's government on the subject. I thought, also, that if a reduction were to be made in the duty on the article, that was not the best mode of making; it; and that it was desirable to make it on the permanent, and not on the annual duty. I therefore abstained from giving any answer to the hon. gentlemen not because I wished to act uncourteously to them, but for the reasons which I have just stated. I will now, however, observe, that it is my intention to propose a reduction in the duty on rum, so as to relieve it from one of the peculiar difficulties under which it labours, by reducing that duty to the level of the duty on British spirits. No one, I presume, can think it desirable to reduce the duty on rum lower than the duty on spirits produced by British distillation. All that can be done with propriety is, to put them on the same footing. I propose, therefore, to make a reduction of one shilling and three-halfpence a gallon in the duty on rum. I am aware, that there are circumstances connected with the practice of levying the duty according to the strength of the spirit, which may prevent our bringing the two descriptions of spirits to exactly the same point of equalization. But then it ought to be recollected by those who are interested m the question, that the distillers of British spirits are also liable to the malt duty; so that I believe, when the whole is taken together, the difference between these two interests may be considered as fairly balanced by the proposed reduction. Whether or not this diminution of duty will have any important effect upon the dealings in rum, I do not know.—It may be said, that it will not do much for the West Indies. Perhaps not. But I know that the reduction is sound in principle; and I am always ready to adopt a measure that is sound in principle, even though I do not anticipate any extensive benefit from it in the first instance, because I am satisfied that its result cannot be bad. A measure sound in principle may, or rather it must ultimately lead to good. If we cannot do all we would, let us do all we can. Let us give to the agriculturists of Jamaica, and the other West-Indian colonies, the relief in the market, which is not only justified on general principles, but called for by their peculiar and pressing wants at the present moment. Without troubling the committee with the grounds of the estimate, I shall merely state, that I calculate this reduction of duty will cost the revenue about 150,000l.

The next duty I shall mention, is one of which we have heard a great deal in the present session. We have heard a great deal of it this evening from a worthy alderman, one of the representatives of the city of London, who pressed upon us, very earnestly and naturally, the severity with which it is felt by his constituents:—I allude to the duty on Coals. It is necessary for me, however, to explain myself fully upon this subject; because the mention of the word "Coals" may lead some persons to suppose that I am prepared to repeal the duty on that article altogether. That is not my intention; and I will state to the committee why I do not contemplate so extensive a reduction.

We have heard, Sir, from the hon. member for Staffordshire, and from others, the objections which are felt in the inland parts of the country, where collieries are situated, to any diminution of the duties on sea-borne coals. Now, I will not go so far as to say that if, from the long existence of particular but impolitic duties, various interests have grown up to a magnitude which they would not have attained if they had been left to free competition, we are, under no circumstances, justified in touching those duties, because by so doing we may incidentally injure the interests in question; if that principle were universally admitted, we should never interfere with any evil,—we should never make any improvement in our commercial or financial system. But undoubtedly we ought to take care, at any future period, when we may be imposing new taxes, not to get into such a predicament again; and I hope that such a course will be found practicable. But, Sir, we are now in these difficulties. They have embarrassed us for above a century. This very duty on coals is a tax of long standing; it has been gradually producing the evils which attend it; and consequently we cannot deal with it at once. I do not think it fit and proper therefore to go to the extent of reducing the whole duty. But, Sir, if this duty cannot be entirely dispensed with, it may be advantageously modified. It presses very unequally. If it presses on various parts of the country, it presses with peculiar and unnecessarily aggravated severity on the city of London, and the neighbourhood. The duty on sea-borne coals in the country at large, is six shillings a chaldron; in the port of London, it is nine shillings and four-pence. Now, although feel difficulty in dealing with the whole duty at once, I feel none in removing that aggravated part of the evil which is applicable solely to the city of London, and to those consumers of coals who derive their supply from the city of London. I shall therefore propose to make a reduction of three shillings, and four-pence in the duty on sea-borne coals brought to the port of London; thereby leaving the duty there, the same as the duty in other parts of the kingdom.; I believe that this reduction will be very beneficial; and that it will be doubly so if accompanied by another measure, which, as it is founded on sound principles, ought to be carried into effect. The committee are aware that, at present while on the one hand, sea-borne coals brought to the port of London, are subject to a duty of nine shillings and four-pence a chaldron, on the other hand there is a restriction on the importation into Loudon of inland coals, either by the Thames, or by canals. No coals can be imported into London from the inland parts of the country, by being brought down the Thames, except on payment of a duty of ten shillings a ton, or chaldron, I do not exactly recollect which, but it amounts to a prohibition. With respect to the inland coals which may be brought to London by the Grand Junction and other canals, they are saddled with a duty of seven shillings and sixpence a ton, which is relatively equivalent to the duty of nine shillings and four-pence per chaldron on sea-borne coals; and moreover it is provided that no more than fifty thousand tons annually shall be imported into Lon- don in that way. This absurd and unmeaning restriction is perfectly useless; because the duty is so high, that, added to the charges of canal conveyance, it is quite sufficient to prevent coals from being imported in that way; and very little indeed is brought, except what is used by a few individuals as a curiosity. I cannot possibly, therefore, conceive the use of continuing this restriction. As long as the coal-owners who send, and the shipowners who bring coals to London, are saddled with the heavy duty of nine shillings and four-pence, I can see why they ought not to be exposed to the ruinous competition of inland coals. But, if we give the coal proprietors of the north of England, and the ship-owners, a reduction of more than a third of the duty on seaborne coals, why should we not abolish this absurd restriction on the importation into London of inland coals; and allow the consumer an opportunity of obtaining them on the payment of a moderate duty? That such a regulation would have a beneficial effect, I can entertain no doubt. It will put an end to the power which those who engage in this trade now possess, in common with all monopolists, to enhance the price of coals beyond their fair value, by stinting the supply, and proportioning it to their own interests, rather than to the wants of the consumer. The coal-owner may have a right to do this; but it is our duty to look after the interests of the consumer, and to say to him, "If you cannot get sea-borne coals, except at a price higher than you ought to pay, we will give you the opportunity of getting a supply of coals, at a reasonable rate, from another quarter' I calculate, Sir, that the reduction of duty will increase the consumption both of sea-borne and of inland coals, so as not to occasion a loss to the revenue to the full amount of the diminution of the duty. According to the present consumption, the reduction of duty which I propose would occasion a loss to the revenue of about 200,000l.; but, for the reason which have just stated, I think we may estimate the actual presumable loss at only about 100,000l.

In the earlier part of the observations which I have taken the liberty to address to the committee, I alluded to that part of the question which relates to a more free and liberal system of policy in matters connected with trade. To this division of the subject I will now particularly incite the attention of the committee.

There are, as of course hon. gentlemen are aware, various branches of our trade, which are encumbered, on the one hand with high duties in respect to importation, and on the other hand with a number of restrictions and prohibitions in respect to exportation. Among these is the article of wool. As the law now stands (which law, as far as duty is concerned, is of very recent establishment), the duty on the importation of foreign wool is sixpence a pound; it having been originally a penny. The increased duty was imposed in 1819; not at all, as it has been often but inaccurately stated, and as often denied by my noble friend at the head of the Treasury, and myself, as a duty of protection, but as a duty of revenue. Whenever the parties who are interested in this subject have sought the abrogation of the law, they have always been told, "You have no right to object to this duty so long as you require that the produce of the British wool-grower shall be confined to the consumption of this country." This opinion we have never concealed, either in parliament, or from the persons engaged in the trade; to whom we have invariably said, "If you will consent to the removal of the impolitic restriction (as we consider it) on the exportation of British wool, we will propose to parliament the repeal of the duty on the importation of foreign wool." This proposition led to much communication last year with the manufacturers in different parts of the country. Meetings were held, at which the subject was discussed, and various resolutions were adopted. As may be supposed, some difference of opinion was found to exist respecting it. Some of the manufacturers thought, that the repeal of the duty would be less beneficial to them than the removal of the restriction would be injurious; and therefore were desirous that the matter should be left where it was, and that no alteration should be made. They were anxious indeed to get rid of the duty, but not at the loss of the protection which they fancied the restriction afforded them. But a majority,—I may say a decided majority,—of the individuals interested in the woollen trade, were of opinion that it would be advantageous to them to accede to the proposed compromise, namely, that the duty on the importation of foreign wool should be repealed, and the free exportation of British wool permitted.

I confess, Sir, that on the best and most deliberate view I have been able to take of this subject, I cannot see what reasonable objection there can be to the adoption of this alteration. A part of the plan, therefore, which I shall submit to the House will be, to reduce the duty on the importation of foreign wool from sixpence a pound, which it is at present, to a penny a pound, which it was before the year 1819; and to allow the free exportation of British wool on the payment of the small duty of a penny also; and thus to put them upon a level, keeping the balance even between the two, and sweeping away endless, needless, and, as I think, injurious, statutes of restriction, together with penalties, oaths, and heaven knows what besides, which are exceedingly inconvenient, and can produce no possible good. By these means the whole trade will be put upon a footing beneficial to both parties—the grower and the manufacturer. On that matter I feel none of the apprehensions of evil, which have at times been expressed by both parties. I am satisfied, that the consequence of the change will be a great extension of our woollen trade to every quarter of the world; and it is beyond my comprehension how such a state of things can be otherwise than beneficial to the growers of wool in this country, who supply the raw material. I see nothing but good that can result from the repeal of the duty, and the concomitant removal of the restriction; and I hope, therefore, that in endeavouring to accomplish these objects, I shall be supported by the House. The loss which I anticipate to the revenue from the proposed alteration is about 350,000l.

The next proposition to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee is one which I own appears to me to be of paramount importance in this view of the subject; I mean, as relates to the removal of restrictions:—I allude to the trade in silk. The Committee are aware, that at present that trade is thus circumstanced:—there is a high duty on the raw material, and a positive prohibition of the use and consumption of the foreign manufactured article. I will advert to the latter of these considerations first, and ask, where is the advantage of retaining this prohibitory system? Where is the advantage of retaining it, looking at it either with reference to our intercourse with foreign nations, or with reference to our own domestic interests?

For some years past there has prevailed in this country, among our ablest statesmen, and our most eminent writers on political economy, and I may say indeed all men of understanding and reflection, a decided conviction that the maintenance of the prohibitory system is exceedingly impolitic. We have recently made some progress towards the removal of this evil. Are we to stop short? If we do stop short what will foreign nations say, and justly say, of our conduct? Will they not say that we have endeavoured to delude them; that while we have met them with liberality in our mouths, we hated it in our hearts; that the whole end we had in view was to cajole them into the admission of our own manufactures into their territories, while we continued, by adhering closely to an antiquated system, to exclude their manufactures from our territories? If our practice is to be so much at variance with our professions, it is impossible that any credit can be given to the latter. Whenever a foreign state imposes a new duty on any of our manufactures, his majesty's Government, as my right hon. friend the president of the board of trade well knows, are immediately assailed with letters and applications from all quarters, calling upon them to make representations and remonstrances, in order to obtain a removal of the duty; and a train of adverse consequences is predicted, should those representations and remonstrance be in vain. What follows? Our ambassador is directed to state to the foreign court at which he resides, that the new duty is very injurious to British interests, and is viewed by this country in an unfavourable light. The answer made to him is,—"It may be so; but we cannot help it. It is impossible for us to admit your goods without duty, if you persevere in imposing high and prohibitory duties on ours.' After such a reply, the British ambassador must make his bow, and retire; discomfited, if not ashamed; for I defy the wit of man to invent an answer which will meet this powerful argumentum ad hominem of the foreign minister. Other countries must therefore conclude that we are only endeavouring to delude them; that it is all pretence and hypocrisy on our part; and that we do not really believe there is practical soundness in the principles we abstractedly recommend. I myself am, however, well satisfied that those principles are as sound in practice, as they are in theory; and that we ought to take the first opportunity of adopting them. There never was a more favourable opportunity than the present for carrying those principles into effect, and for inviting foreign powers to act in conformity to them. It is time to cut the cords which tie down commerce to the earth, that she may spring aloft, unconfined and unrestricted, and shower her blessings over every part of the world. If ever there was a time at which such a policy could be adopted with the most favourable expectations of success, it is the present. Is not our revenue flourishing? Are not our manufactures in a state of universalactivity? Is not capital in eager search of the means by which it may be profitably employed? This is, therefore, the finest possible opportunity for the country to emancipate itself from ancient prejudices, and to make a new start in the race for national wealth and prosperity. On these grounds I am anxious to propose the adoption of this liberal system. But, give me leave to ask if there are not many other motives, independent of every consideration of a merely commercial nature, which must strongly increase our conviction of its expediency? In the first place, is it not perfectly well known, that in spite of all the guards and fences which we may place about them, these prohibitions are in point of fact evaded; and thus become the foundation of another system, standing in opposition to the laws and the evil order of the state?

I remember, and I dare say there are many honourable gentlemen who have not forgotten, that when the hon. member for Aberdeen last year produced his Bandana handkerchief, even in this place, and having triumphantly unfurled the standard of smuggling, blew his nose in it, and deliberately returned it to his pocket, I reminded the hon. member of that of which he did not seem to be aware at the time; namely, that there was not a gentleman near him who had not an absolute right to take possession of that handkerchief and export it to a foreign country. This may appear to be a ludicrous view of the subject; but I mention it only as affording a practical illustration of the utter impossibility of carrying our prohibitions into complete effect. Every one who has been on the coast, and has watched the arrival of vessels from the neighbouring continent, must have frequently observed females step out of them, apparently in a state of the most uncomfortable corpulency, who, in time however, and without any surgical aid, were safely delivered of their burthens, and returned to the natural slimness and grace of their own figures. This I believe to be a very common practice; and in fact there is no end to the ingenious devices resorted to, to introduce contraband articles. But, Sir, there is something more. Is it ingenuity alone which is displayed? far from it.—It is too frequently accompanied by fraud, and perjury, and every bad moral consequence. We all know that crime begets crime. A progenies vitiosor always spring from it. A man who begins by being smuggler, generally ends with being something much worse. Nemo repenté fuit turpissimus. A young man begins, perhaps, by bringing over a piece of silk, as a present to a female friend. This is an act, which in itself is not only innocent, but laudable. But we have converted it by our laws into a crime; and when a man has once accustomed himself to any violation of the law, he will not feel it very difficult to go a step further. He finds that he cannot effect his object without concealment. He must deceive—he must take a false oath—he becomes familiarized with perjury. Having begun by making presents, he discovers that he may turn the practice to his pecuniary advantage;—he smuggles on a larger scale. Finding that he makes a great profit by smuggling gloves, shoes, silks, &c. he is tempted to embark in more extensive, more dangerous, and more criminal speculations. What is the consequence? You must fit out, man, and arm ships; As was observed the other evening in the House, you are absolutely obliged to maintain a navy, in order to keep contraband trade in check: you cannot help yourselves.—Battles, and bloodshed, and murder ensue. All this, Sir, is very melancholy; and it is all for what? For the fanciful notion that it upholds the interests of our silk manufactures! And after all, our silk manufactures are so highly thought of in foreign countries, that at this very moment, where a market is open to the goods of this country, upon equal terms with those of any other, I sincerely believe that British silk goods (at least many descriptions, of them) would drive all their rivals out of the field. Now, if this be so, there is not the slightest pretence for saying that to change the system would be to injure our silk manufactures. Let us accompany the removal of the prohibition with a reduction of the duty on the raw material; and there is not foreign country that will not be glad to take our manufactured silks. I hope, therefore, that parliament will think it full time to throw down this hollow, gilded idol of imaginary protection, and to establish on the foundation which it has so long usurped, the simple and well-proportioned Statue of commercial liberty. For this purpose, I shall propose, first, a reduction of the duty on raw silk from the East Indies; and the mention of the East Indies suggests to me another point, on which I wish to say a few words. Every body knows the immense advantages we derive from our commerce with the East Indies. Every body also knows the peculiar circumstances attending that commerce. It is very singular, but very true, that whereas the original staple manufactory of the East Indies was that of cotton goods (for, from the cheapness of labour, and other causes, the finest fabrics were formerly made there), it has now been completely superseded by the cotton manufacture of England. The cottons of India are no longer preferred even by those who, from natural and ancient prejudices, might be supposed likely to prefer them. This change may perhaps in one sense be very beneficial to us; but it has been very severe in its operation upon the unfortunate persons in that country, whose livelihood depended on the sale of manufactures rid longer valuable. But, though apparently highly advantageous to Great Britain in one sense, it is, in another, very prejudicial to us. For whatever tends to contract the means of the East Indies to pay for our manufactures, must be in various ways highly detrimental to this country. Every thing, therefore, Which tends to give the East Indies new means Of bringing their produce into consumption here, must be importantly beneficial; and it is under this impression, that, whilst I Would admit the manufactured silks of India at a fair duty, I would at the same time propose that the duty on raw silk from the East Indies, which is at present four shillings a pound, should be deduced to threepence a pound; and that the duty on raw silk from China arid Italy which is at present five shillings arid sixpence a pound, shall be reduced to sixpence a pound; and that the duty upon Organzine silk, which is at present fourteen shillings and ten-pence a pound, shall be reduced to seven shillings arid sixpence a pound. I shall also propose that all the prohibitions on the importation of foreign manufactured silks be withdrawn, as I trust for ever; and for those prohibitions I shall propose to substitute the following duties:—on plain silk goods in the piece, fifteen shillings a pound; on figured silk goods (which are much more valuable), twenty shillings a pound j arid on all other silk goods thirty per cent. ad valorem.I shall likewise propose that shoes, gloves, and other articles of that sort, which every body knows are see now kept out at all, but which, being prohibited by law3 are introduced into the country by fraud, be admitted on paying a duty of thirty per cent, ad valorem.I am not prepared to say, that With regard to the last-mentioned articles there ought to be no variation in the scale of duty; at that the duty ought always to continue as high as I have stated it; but at all events it is fair in the commencement to let the advantage, if any, he in favour of the British manufacturer. The loss to the revenue by this diminution of the silk duties will, according to my calculation, amount to about 462,000l. Without troubling the Committee with the details I will merely observe that in my details I make a Very moderate allowance for the amount Of duty which wilt be received after the proposed change has been carried into effect.

It appears then, Sir, that the total loss to the revenue upon the various duties which I propose to reduce will stand thus:—

Rum £.150,000
Coals 100,000
Wool 350,000
Silk 462,000
This will be the Whole of the annual decrease. If we multiply the sum of 1,062,000l. by three, in order to ascertain the loss of the years 1825 1826, and 1827, and to that add half that sum as the loss which Will accrue in this present year, 1824, we shall find that the total loss down to the end of the year 1827, will be 3,717,000l If that amount be deducted from the surplus to Which I have before directed the attention; of the committee, viz 4,135,099l, the difference in favour Of the Exchequer, at the end of the year 1827, Will be a balance of 418,000l.

Such, sir, is the extent of the prepositions Which I mean to submit to the House. There is, however, one point to which I wish to advert before I conclude, not because it forms any part of my plan, but because it has recently been brought under the consideration of his majesty's government;—I mean, the state of the law with regard to the duty on Salt. Many representations have been made to us that no benefit is likely to accrue to the country from the cessation, on the 5th of January next, of the remaining part of the salt-duty, amounting to two shillings a bushel. It is certainly impossible to suppose, that, as far as the consumer is concerned, this small remaining impost, if it should be continued, would have the effect of inconveniently augmenting the price of the article, even to individuals in the humblest circumstances. I am, therefore, not prepared to deny, that there may be many reasons for not carrying into complete effect the reduction of the salt-duty; although I admit that, beyond all doubt, the faith of government is pledged on the subject. All I mean now to say with respect to it is, that if it should appear to be a general feeling that no evil will accrue from the continuation of that small portion of the duty. I shall not have the slightest difficulty in finding other articles on which a diminution of duty may advantageously be made; a diminution which may be taken as the price of the concession with regard to salt. I do not state it as any part of my plan; but, having received from many quarters, some unconnected with, and unfriendly to, ministers, representations on the subject, I should not act fairly if I did not say, that circumstances may call upon Parliament to re-consider their opinion upon it. But, I am bound, in candour, to repeat, that his majesty's government are unquestionably pledged to abide by the repeal of the remaining duty of two shillings a bushel on salt, if it should be insisted upon.

Sir, I have now, I believe, gone through all the points to which I think it necessary to advert. It cannot but be exceedingly gratifying to the House to find, that after the reduction of taxation which has already taken place during the last three years, amounting to upwards of eight millions, it is in our power to afford a further reduction, of above one million, in the present year. Whether or not the propositions which I have just submitted to the House will be considered by them important and acceptable, I know not; but I trust that they will at least believe, that the utmost care and attention have been bestowed by myself and by the other members of his majesty's government, to frame those propositions in a manner which appeared to us calculated to lead to the most important national benefits. It must be highly gratifying to the feelings of the House, to know that the country is at this moment in such a state of prosperity: with an increasing revenue, decreasing taxation, and a debt in the course of gradual and certain reduction. We see our country daily growing in wealth, in power, and in influence. In wealth, the result of sound policy, and considerate legislation; in power, not abused for the selfish purposes of ambition and aggrandisement, but prompt enough to vindicate the national honour, and strong enough to uphold the national security; in influence, not arising from petty intrigues, or blustering dictation, but from the conviction entertained by other nations of the sincerity of our professions, and the honesty of our conduct;—a conviction which makes them feel that the wealth, the power, and the influence of which we are so justly proud, may be regarded as the tests of steady friendship, and not as the menacing instruments of hostility and rivalry.—Sir, I am not arrogant enough to claim for his majesty's government, still less for myself, the merit of having brought the country into this happy condition. There are many others who are entitled to share that merit with us. I claim it, not for individuals, but for parliament; for that calumniated, that vilified parliament, which we were told was so essentially vicious in its nature and construction, that it was utterly impossible for it to extricate the kingdom from the depression and distress in which it was recently placed. We were confidently told (how truly the result has shewn), that in Parliament there was nothing good; that its counsels were venal, its members corrupt; in short, that unless all were at once turned topsy-turvy, and a new system of representation established, it was impossible that parliament could contribute to raise the nation from its difficulties, and relieve it from its distress. We now see the best, because the practical, refutation of this calumny, as I must always consider it, on the constitution, in the improved state of the country Parliament may now contemplate with proud satisfaction the result of its own, labours. It may look around on the face of the country, smiling in plenty, and animated with, what I hope soon to see, unrestricted industry. It beholds comfort and content, prosperity and order, going hand in hand, and dispensing from the sacred portals of an ancient and constitutional monarchy, all their inestimable blessings amongst a happy, a united, and, let us never forget, a grateful people.—The right hon. gentleman concluded, amidst loud cheers, with moving his first resolution relative to the paying off the four per cent annuities.

Mr. Baring

, in rising to offer a few observations to the House, said, he could not but in the first place confess, that he had never heard, and he believed there never had been made of late years, so gratifying a statement as that which the House had just heard from the right hon. gentleman. The facts upon which that statement was founded had, no doubt, been most maturely considered, and without a sufficient opportunity for examining the several particulars of which it was composed, it would be very presumptuous in any man to give a hasty opinion upon a topic which was, in every point of view, so truly important. He must, however, at the same time that he cheerfully bore testimony to the satisfactory tenour of the right hon. gentleman's speech, and of the intentions of the government which it expressed, avail himself of this opportunity of stating, that several of the questions which the speech involved, and particularly that which had been last treated of, required the most earnest attention that could be bestowed upon it by parliament. There were one or two points, the prominent nature of which struck him very forcibly, and to which he should now proceed to call the attention of the committee. In the first place, the right hon. gentleman's plan of finance seemed to him to want that certainty in the results, which it was supposed would attend it, and without which no plan of finance could be relied upon, or ought to be entertained. He had no doubt that the intention of the plan was, to preserve the credit of the nation in the best possible manner. It might be, that the multiplicity of its details, rather than any want of clearness in them, had prevented him from accurately comprehending the whole of its bearing; but, as far as he had been able to understand it, it seemed that the supposed increase was hardly to be calculated upon, from the grounds proposed by the right hon. gentleman In his estimate of the ways and means for this and the last year, the right hon. gentleman had stated that there was a surplus revenue to the amount of 1,710,985l.in the former, and 1,520,076l.in the latter. Pursuing his calculation, he had supposed that in the year 1825 the surplus would amount to 372,346l.;in 1826, to 477,346l.and in 1827, to 522,341l.and he concluded, therefore, that in the year last mentioned the surplus of the revenue would amount to 4,135,099l. And upon this statement he had called upon the House to make a present sacrifice, in the way of repealing taxes, and adopting certain regulations in trade, to the amount of 1,052,076l.Now, he thought that the advantages had been too highly calculated, and that the reduction was too rashly made. For example, the right hon. gentleman had proposed to reduce the duty on coals from 200,000l.to 100,000l.,and had calculated upon the increased consumption to justify so large a reduction. But, even if it should turn out that this was correct, it was obvious that the call for repeal of taxes was not made upon a fair estimate of the annual income, but that the addition of the sun to be received for the Austrian loan had been taken into the account. His objection to the calculation therefore was, mainly, that the reduction of 1,052,076l was intended to be in perpetuity, while the increase of the revenue by which it was proposed to be met, was to depend upon circumstances, the success of which no one could foresee. He thought there was no foundation whatever for the assumed surplus, and therefore that there was nothing to justify the reduction to the amount which was proposed.

With respect to the reduction which the right hon. gentleman proposed in the 4 per cents, it must be remembered, that the measure would be examined out of doors with the most scrupulous accuracy. As it appeared to him at present, he thought it was a greater reduction than the means of the country warranted. There was moreover, a very considerable mistake in the calculation. The right hon. gentleman stated, that he was by law compelled to give six months' notice of his intention to pay off that description of stock: he proposed, therefore, in compliance with this law, to give notice that the 75 millions of 4 per cents should be paid off in October next, unless within six weeks from that time the persons entitled to it would con- sent to take the amount of their respective stock at par in the 3½ per cents. The right hon. gentleman, in adopting this plan, should, however, be aware, that unless he previously effected a reduction in the interest of exchequer bills, there would be in the market a fund which would be held against him by the persons entitled to be paid off; because, as soon as the notice should be given, all the persons holding 4 per cent stock would prefer to receive the market price of their stock; and exchequer bills, bearing an interest of 4 per cent, but not being worth more in the market than at the rate of 3 per cent, they would invest their money in that kind of security. He could not, therefore see what advantage the right hon. gentleman expected to gain by his measure. If the fight hon. gentleman had reduced, as still he might, the interest of the exchequer bills, then he would reduce the value of that fund, the competition of which, with his proposed scheme, would be so mischievous to the latter. He wished, however, particularly that it should be explained in the committee, upon what grounds it was, that the right hon. gentleman made out that the annual reduction of 520,346l.would enable him to reduce the taxation to the amount of 1,052,076l.There was one very important question which had been touched upon—he meant the introduction of foreign manufactures. To the principle of this he had no objection; but it would have been much more satisfactory, if the right hon. gentleman had, at the same time, stated, whether any communications had been had on this subject with other countries, and whether the advantages which the commerce of such countries was to derive from it, was to be repaid by any reciprocal concessions on their parts. He (Mr. B.) did not say, that, even with such reciprocity, it would be expedient to adopt the measure at present: it would require great care and attention before it could be entered upon as rapidly as the right hon. gentleman proposed, lest great injury should be done to many valuable branches of our manufactures. In the first place, the silk-trade would be operated upon by this regulation; and he should not be surprised if very serious consequences were to result from it. Setting aside the alteration which it would make in commercial speculations generally, a still greater inconvenience, he apprehended, would result to the silk-manufacturers. This consideration he did not say should prevent the House from legislating upon the subject, if they thought fit; but it might be well urged as a reason why very great precautions should be taken before it was finally resolved upon. But, not only would the taking off a duty of 30 per cent upon the raw material have a considerable effect upon the manufacturers; the preference which was always given to French patterns, and the superiority of that nation in the art of dyeing, might really do serious injury to this branch of our trade.

While he repeated, that his object in rising had been merely to obtain a fuller explanation of the means by which the right hon. gentleman thought that the certain reductions which he had slated could be effected from the hazardous surplus upon which he calculated, he must, however, say, that the statement of the right hon. gentleman was highly satisfactory; because it would convince the most incredulous of the advantages of the system by which the improvement had been effected, and by which the public credit had been preserved. Even those who had objected to that system—he believed there were none such now, and that they had never been any other than the senseless populace, whose huzzaing at public meetings proceeded rather from ignorance than from a national disapprobation of it—would at length see, that the reduction of the just debt of the country had been brought about by the only honest means which could ever have effected it, and that it never could have been otherwise done, but by shaking at the same time the credit of the nation, and by the sacrifice of principles which ought never to be lost sight of. The country gentlemen, too, of whom, to do them justice, he had never heard one of them advocate the absurd and wicked projects to which he had just alluded, would be gratified to see that their firmness and constancy had enabled them, not only to effect the reduction of the national burthens; but to relieve themselves from those oppressive circumstances which had weighed so heavily upon them. For himself, be looked upon it as a subject of national pride and exultation, that, recovering from a long and expensive war, we were enabled to effect such improvements in the finances of the country, without the violation of any honourable principle, or of those moral obligations by which so- ciety was held together. He did not, however, think that, flourishing as the financial condition of the country was, this prosperity could in any way justify the system which had been pursued throughout the late war, and particularly the measures relating to the currency. The recovery, gratifying as it was, had been effected, it should be remembered at the expense of the fortunes of thousands of persons, who had been utterly ruined, and by the dreadful depreciation of the agriculture, by which respectable men had been reduced to beggary, and to breaking stones upon the road side. In no country perhaps, before had so complete a revolution of property been effected by such means; and it would for ever remain an example of the miserable consequences of tampering with the currency, and a warning against it in all future emergencies.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he thought he had already explained fully the plan by which he meant to effect the reduction he had proposed; but as the hon. gentleman had not comprehended him entirely, he must have failed in that intention. It would be observed, that in the calculation he had made of the produce of the last year, although he had taken the surplus at its actual amount, he had not-estimated any increase of revenue on account of the reduction. In the Customs, also, he had assumed no addition on account of the progressive increase which might be reasonably expected. Nor had he, with respect to the assessed taxes, calculated upon any improvement in those which remained. He had made no such prospective calculation, nor had he, on the other hand, allowed for any increase of expenditure for the ensuing four years, trusting that the addition thereby to be incurred would be supplied by the natural decrement which might be expected to occur in that period. If by any accident not now to be foreseen, that event should happen which would necessarily overturn all calculations—he meant a war, the Government then must rely upon the public spirit of the country to enable them to meet the expenses which it would bring with it. If, however, the tranquillity which at present prevailed should continue, the calculations which he had made would be found, he trusted, quite correct; and, at the end of the time to which they reached, the parliament would be enabled to judge of the operation of this improved system. If any deficiency were then found, it would be the time to supply it; but he thought in the interim he was entitled to assume, notwithstanding the apprehensions of the hon. gentleman, that no such deficiency would be found.

Mr. Baring

said, he had not at all misunderstood the right hon. gentleman. He thought that the country would be placed in a very dangerous situation, if a war were to break out previous to October, and it were then called upon to pay twenty-five millions. Instead of keeping up a large floating debt as the right hon. gentleman proposed to do, it would be better to employ the money as a sinking fund to purchase the 3 per cents above 90l.

Mr. Ellice

rose to ask the right hon. gentleman a question referring to a particular subject, in which, from his situation as the representative of one of the greatest silk-manufacturing towns in the kingdom, he felt peculiarly interested. The right hon. gentleman had stated, that he intended to reduce the duty on silks immediately. Now, he was afraid, that if the right hon. gentleman carried his resolution into effect, it would occasion the greatest inconvenience and distress amongst the silk-manufacturing population. He perfectly agreed with the right hon. gentleman in the expediency of ultimately reducing the duty; but he protested against any great and sudden reduction which would materially affect the stock on hand. The right hon. gentleman must be fully aware, that the duty on silk amounted to a heavy percentage on the value of the article. There had been made very large sales of silk recently, and some even during the last week; the purchasers upon those occasions would experience a very great loss, if the proposed reduction were suddenly to take place. And, not only would the purchasers of the raw material suffer, but all those persons who had a large stock of manufactured goods on hand. It would be peculiarly unfortunate if the reduction should take place at the present season; because a large stock of goods had just been manufactured for the spring consumption. Under these circumstances, he hoped the right hon. gentleman would declare publicly, that he would consent to postpone the reduction of the duty to some period when it would less seriously affect the owners of the raw article, and the manufacturers who had a large stock on hand. He trusted, at least, that before the right hon. gentleman decided upon a measure of such vast importance to a large class of individuals, he would listen to the representations of the parties interested.

Mr. Maberly

said, that, according to the computation of the right hon. gentleman, the surplus of the revenue in the year 1823, amounted to 1,710, 985l., and in the year 1824 it would amount to 1,052,076l. Now, he did not think that the calculation of the right hon. gentleman was correct, inasmuch as the lasts urn was made up partly of amount received on account of the Austrian loan. But, saving the error which he had pointed out, it appeared to him that the case of the right hon. gentleman was a strong one. The right hon. gentleman, however, had not anticipated, what any person might well anticipate, namely, an increase of revenue, arising out of reduced taxation and the employment of the people. If the right hon. gentleman could only devise a mode to give employment to the people of another country, if the government could but give encouragement to the people of Ireland—he had no doubt but that in return they would find an increase of the revenues of that country greater than any person could anticipate; and, what was of more value than revenue, the establishment of tranquillity, of public order, and of social happiness. He would not at at that moment say that the taxes which the right hon. gentleman proposed to remit were the best to be remitted, but he agreed in the principle which the right hon. gentleman laid down. It was an enlarged and liberal principle, from which great benefits were likely to result. The right hon. gentleman had exerted himself to reduce the amount of taxation, in a manner likely to produce great benefits to the country. But, at the same time, he was bound to say, that he did not think the right hon. gentleman had been as skilful as he might have been, with reference to the adoption of the best means of reducing that taxation. He would instance the mode of collecting the beer and malt duties: if the right hon. gentleman would act on a more judicious principle in the collection of those duties, he might save to the country 285,000l. a year; put an effectual stop to the fraud of mixing beer; and, at the same time, promote the freedom of trade. The tax on beer and malt was one which ought to be reduced In toto as soon as possible; because it was a tax which affected the working classes; for those classes were taxed one-sixth more than the higher orders. The right hon. gentleman, whilst he relieved that great class of the people, who on every principle were entitled to greater sympathy than the rich, might rest assured that the amount of the tax would be made up by the increase of consumption.—There was another head of expenditure on which a great saving might be effected—he meant the management of the public debt. If the question were still open—if the government were not bound—he would impress on the right hon. gentleman not to give to the Bank 100,000l. a year more than was necessary to give them, of the public money. On looking at another point, he could not but press on the right hon. gentleman a great error into which he had fallen; and for which he had no excuse. He had hoped, that papers would have been laid on the table of that House, respecting a most improvident bargain to which an hon. friend of his had alluded on a former evening, and in consequence of which the country had lost, according to the calculation of his hon. friend, no less than one million and a half in money; but, in point of fact, the loss was greater. He, of course, alluded to the contract for paying the half-pay and pensions. Had that bargain been made on the 2nd of February, 1824, instead of having been made in March, 1823, there would have been a saving to the country of 1,698,000l.; for that sum had been actually lost to the country, in consequence of the bargain which had been made. For that error it was difficult to account, as it was impossible to defend it. The right hon. gentleman had no defence to make. He had been over and over again cautioned by the Opposition side of the House, not to commit the error. But their attempts were vain; he would go on; he would throw away the public money. It was impossible to justify the conduct of the right horn gentleman. Viewing it in every point, the bargain was monstrously unjust: it was unjust with reference to a state of peace; it was unjust with reference to a state of war. If he calculated on a continuation of peace, he had acted with his eyes open, against the most manifest principles of policy; if he apprehended a war, he blocked up the resources of the Bank, and would prevent it from affording that accommodation to the public, the want of which, in a state of war, might prove so detrimental to the public interests. If the right hon. gentleman had proceeded in the plan, and sold the whole of the annuities, the loss to the country would not have been less than ten millions. It appeared to him most extraordinary, that a person, capable of making the statement they had heard that night, could possibly fall into such an error. He could only explain the matter, by taking it for granted, that the right hon. gentleman had not consulted his own good sense, but had been led away by a desire to give the appearance of support to the plans of that miserable financier his predecessor.

Sir John Wrottesley

said, he rose for the purpose of putting a question to the right hon. gentleman, which affected the interests of his constituents. He wished to know whether the right hon. gentleman intended to allow coals to be brought up by the Grand Junction canal to London, and what was the exact amount of duty they were to be subjected to? He would also put another question to the right hon. gentleman with respect to the four per cents. He understood the right hon. gentleman to say, that an instalment of one-third of the amount of the four per cents was to be paid in October, and the other two-thirds at a fit time. There were, therefore, 25 millions to be paid in October. Now, he wished the right hon. gentleman to explain, in what manner the persons who would be entitled to the first instalment were to be selected from the other holders.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he would answer the different questions put to him by hon. members as distinctly as he could, and in the order in which they had been proposed. In answer to what had fallen from the hon. member for Coventry respecting the time when the reduction of the duty on silk was to take effect, his idea was, that the reduction should commence on the 5th of July next. He conceived that the interval between the present time and that period, would be sufficiently long to enable those who had large stocks on hand to dispose of them. At the same time, he felt it necessary to state, that he should not consider himself bound to commence the reduction at that particular time, if, from the representations of the parties interested, it should appear to him to be desirable to postpone the reduction to a later period. His chief de- sire was, to establish the principle of the reduction of the tax; and it made little difference whether it were carried into full effect sooner or later. He would here observe in reference to what had fallen from the hon. member for Taunton, that it was certainly true that the surplus which he had calculated, upon would not be established unless the payment had been made on account of the Austrian loan; but then it should be recollected, that an increase of expenditure had been proposed, in consequence of the receipt of that money. There were some incidental charges this year of a miscellaneous nature, which would not occur in any future year. It would not be expected, that he should particularize all these charges which were inevitable; one of them, however, had been occasioned by the operation of exchanging the Irish tokens for the regular coin of the realm, and amounted to about 100,000l. Another charge arose out of certain claims on the part of the United States of America, respecting some slave ships. With, respect to a question put to him by an hon. baronet, as to the duty on coals; he had not stated the duty on inland coals, but he would now say, that it was his present intention to lay on those coals a duty of Is. per ton. But if, on a more minute examination, it should appear that that duty was too much or too little, he did not consider himself bound to enforce it. What he wished to establish was, the principle, and to lay no more duty on the article than it ought in fairness to bear.

Sir J. Coffin

expressed his pleasure at finding that the country would soon be relieved altogether from the burthen of the salt-tax; for it was, with respect to the poor, a most oppressive duty.

Mr. Ellice

said, he was happy to find that the right hon. gentleman was willing to grant the persons interested in the silk-manufacture, time to make those arrangements which the proposed reduction of the duty rendered necessary. An hon. member had asked, how the chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to pay off a third of the 4 per cents in October? Now, he (Mr. E.) thought that the right hon. gentleman had very clearly stated how that operation would be performed. There was to be no selection, but each person was to be paid off pro rata He conceived that the statement which the chancellor of the Exchequer had made that night would impede the operation which he had in view. If the right hon. gentleman had only said that all those holders of 4 per cents who had not come into his arrangement should be paid off, and then had waited to see what would be the effect of this declaration, all would have been well. But the plan laid down by the right hon. gentleman could not be said to be free from embarrassments. He said to the holders of the 4 per cents, "If you don't consent to the alteration of your stock, I'll pay you one-third in October, and at a future period the remaining two-thirds." Now, the holders might refuse, or they might raise objections, or make demands which the right hon. gentleman could not adjust unless he called parliament together in October. He did not mean to censure the right hon. gentleman for the proposed plan; on the contrary, his only apprehension was, that the right hon. gentleman might not be able to attain the object which he had in view.

Mr. John Smith

said, he gave the right hon. the chancellor of the Exchequer full credit for having given this great and important subject his most serious and attentive consideration, but there was still one weighty and oppressive tax which seemed to have escaped his attention; and upon that ground it was, that he felt it necessary to obtrude himself upon the attention of the committee. The tax to which he alluded was the tax upon law proceedings; or, as it might be fairly called, the tax upon justice. Recent circumstances had induced him to inquire more minutely into the law taxes, which were to be met with at every step, in our different courts of justice, and he felt convinced, that many gentlemen around him were not at all aware of the exorbitant amount to which they extended; or of the injurious effects which they produced upon the peace, the morals and the happiness of a great proportion of the people. For instance, in order to recover a debt of from 3l. to 4l. you must expend 3l. or 4l. more in stamps. In many instances, actions were brought which the poverty of the parties did not enable them to defend; and then the law said, "because you are unable to incur the ex-pence of defending an action, you must pay the sum demanded, and the additional expense of allowing it to go undefended against you." He put it to the committee, he put it to the right hon. the chancellor of the Exchequer himself, whether this was a state of things which ought to be allowed to exist? It had been his misfortune, a short time since, in a case of bankruptcy, to have to answer a bill in Chancery, which was at least three feet high, and contained 7,000 folio sheets. Now, he would leaye it to the committee to consider what the expence of such a proceeding must be. It was not his intention to trouble the Committee by going into a detail of the various cases of hardship and oppression which had come under his notice, both in courts of common law, and courts of equity, but more particularly in the latter. One case, however, which occurred in a court of equity, he felt it necessary to mention: it was the case of Roe v. Gudgeon. Mr. Roe called upon Mr. Gudgeon, to furnish certain accounts, to which the defendant replied that he could not furnish them, as the production of them would cost him no less a sum than 29,000l. [Hear!] Was it fit, he asked, that the most sacred of all our tribunals, the tribunal of justice, should be open only to those who were capable of entering into a large expense? Surely justice, simple justice, should be open equally to the rich and the poor! He would appeal to all around him, whether, at a period like the present, when our prosperity was increasing, and when we were reducing our taxation, we ought not to take care that justice should be open to all, at a less charge than in any other country? A celebrated writer had said, that "justice was that security which government gives to every individual for the undisturbed possession of every thing which a man holds most dear, his property, his honour, his character, and his life." No man of common sense would wish to go to law, under the present weight of law duties; but sometimes he would be compelled to do so, for the preservation of his property, or what was dearer to him, the vindication of his character. Yet it was a well-known fact, that among the labouring classes of society, no man was ever unlucky enough to get into a law-suit without its being predicated by all his friends and neighbours, that he was pretty sure to go to gaol before it was terminated. When he called the notice of the right hon. gentleman to the crying evils of such a system of oppressive taxation as this must be, he requested him to examine whether or no his statements were over-coloured or exaggerated? All he called for was, inquiry. Let the right hon. gentleman only turn his attention to the sub- ject, and he would find that his statements fell infinitely short of the fact. It frequently happened that persons in exalted situations, either from false ideas of dignity, or from attention to other affairs, omitted to consider the situation of the labouring classes of society, as to these matters. It had been held by several gentlemen, that if law proceedings were rendered cheap, it would give encouragement to a spirit of litigation in the country. He believed no such thing. It was said, too, that if the expenses attending law proceedings were diminished, there would be a greater number of suits instituted than there were at present. True; there would: because many persons were at present, obliged to submit to wrongs, because they could not afford the expense of seeking redress. He would venture to say, that there was not a man in that House who had attained the age of thirty, without having submitted to some injury to his property, rather than incur the still greater injury which he must sustain by entering into a law-suit. This was a circumstance of constant, nay of every-day occurrence. It had only happened to himself a few days ago. There were some hon. gentlemen, whom he did not now see in their places, who thought (at least he suspected as much from the language they held) that I law expenses were very good and useful things; and their argument was, that no man, for instance, ought to contract a debt, the constant forerunner of legal charges, for that debt was the bane of all private and public happiness, and credit the ruin of those to whom it was given. But such hon. gentlemen knew very little of the state of society in England; they did not seem to know, that credit was the basis of our prosperity, and the foundation of all the property in the country. Without detaining the House with further instances, he would only mention that he knew a country shop-keeper who had, at one time, 200l. owing to him from some labourers residing in the neighbourhood. They were unable to pay the individual that season; but the whole amount was punctually repaid at the subsequent harvest—so untrue was it, as a maxim, that credit ruined those to whom it was given.—He now came to another point, on which he wished to say a word or two before he sat down. He had heard with the utmost possible, surprise, the proposition brought forward by the right hon. gentleman to expend a sum of 800,000l., namely, 300,000l. in the improvements and repairs of Windsor Castle, and 500,000l. in the building of new churches. [Hear, hear.] Now, while there were any distresses of the poor to be remedied, or any oppressive burthens to be lightened and relieved, so long would he oppose these improvements, and this application of the public money, even if he should stand in: that House alone. [Cheers from the Opposition.] When so large a portion—indeed, the largest portion—of the people of these kingdoms possessed not the means necessary to enable them to pay for the expense of justice, he would maintain that it was sacrilege—and he had almost added a yet stronger term—to apply the sum of 500,000l. to the building of new churches. Let it be remembered "that mercy was better than sacrifice." Hear, hear.] Let them have some mercy upon their countrymen. Nor could he refrain from observing upon such a proposition as this, that there was something which savoured too much of cant in this continual cry about building new churches. [Hear, hear.] Reverting to what he had already said about the law duties, he was perfectly ready to admit, that they were very productive; that they had brought in large sums to the Exchequer; but their production had been in direct proportion to the misery of the people. He again pressed upon the right hon. gentleman the suggestions he had made, and was confident that when that right hon. gentleman considered the effect of these most unjust duties upon the mass of the people, he would be impatient to repeal them.

Mr. Calcraft

felt, as no doubt the country at large would feel, much obliged to his hon. friend for having called the attention of parliament to the oppressions caused by the law taxes, to which suitors at law or in equity were subject. They were of a character the most odious and oppressive, and were among the very first evils, of taxation, which the people of this country had a right to expect would be now done away with. But he particularly wished to ask the right hon. gentleman what was meant to be done about the repeal of the present duty on salt? The right hon. gentleman had said nothing upon this point that was direct; but had merely thrown out an observation or two upon the increasing amount of the duty. At the same time, the pledge, the solemn engagement that parliament was under to the people was not to be for a moment for- gotten: namely, that on the 5th of January, 1825, this tax was to terminate; and he was still of opinion, that parliament ought to redeem its pledge, by taking especial care, that at the appointed time the duty should be wholly remitted. He knew that there were persons who contrived to make their way to the chancellor of the Exchequer, who were not only anxious for the continuance of the tax, but would be glad to see it increased; he knew also, that if this nest-egg was not repealed as promised, it would soon be increased beyond what it was at present. But the persons who so made their way to the right hon. gentleman were interested persons; they were not the consumers. It was, however, on the part of the consumers that he spoke; and he besought the right hon. the chancellor of the Exchequer to consider what would be the effect of breaking faith with the country, with respect to this tax. He hoped that he would at least hear both sides, and that, before he took any step, he would ascertain whether, in the whole list of reductions made last year, there was one which had given greater or more general satisfaction than the reduction of the salt-tax had done. As to the right hon. gentleman himself, he felt the question was safe in his hands; but he knew that there were persons whose object and interest it was, to advise a course of proceeding different from that to which parliament stood pledged. With respect to the various other topics touched upon by the right hon. gentleman in the course of his very long and luminous speech, he confessed that he was not at that moment prepared to follow him; but he could not help saying that, upon the whole, he felt considerable disappointment, and was confident that the public would be equally so. As to the wool-tax, he had no objection to its repeal: but he thought the condition upon which that repeal was to take place, would give rise to great dissatisfaction and apprehension in the minds of the manufacturers. In a word, he had no objection to the repeal, but he disliked the condition upon which it was to take place. The repeal of the coal-tax was a most judicious one: it was as unjust a tax as it was partial and oppressive in its operation. What could be more injudicious than to throw difficulties in the way of a fair interchange of commodities between county and county, and to impose an additional tax upon a great part of the people, solely because they had not the good fortune to live in a county where a particular article was produced at a cheap rate? As to the repeal of the silk-duties, he confessed his incompetence to enter into the subject; but, from what he had heard, he entertained little doubt that the competition to which that trade would be exposed, by the importation of foreign silks now contemplated, would be at first attended with ruinous consequences. If this repeal were to be made upon terms of reciprocity, and a similar repeal were to take place abroad upon some other article, it would be a different [matter. He fully agreed with the right hon. gentleman as to the propriety of repealing the tax on the raw material.—That measure would give a spring and elasticity to the trade which it would never have otherwise experienced. He regretted to find, according to the views of the right hon. gentleman, that, up to the year 1827, the country was not to entertain a hope of any further reduction of taxation. This certainly was a most disheartening view of affairs, both for the House and the country. The right hon. gentleman it appeared, had appropriated all that was to be expected from the growing income of the country during that period, to objects Which did not embrace any further reduction of the existing taxation under which we laboured. He was sorry to find that this was the case; because it was telling the public, that for the next four or five years they had no further alleviation of their burthens to expect. Why the right hon. gentleman thought it fit to hold forth such a gloomy prospect to the country, he was at a loss to conceive.—He perceived that the sum of 500,000l. was to be expended in building churches. Unquestionably no man, who saw the necessity of building additional churches, would, for a moment, think of opposing such a grant. But they ought first to know what had been the effect of the late grant made for that purpose. They ought to inquire, if the million of money granted for that purpose had operated as it was intended it should. They ought to ascertain whether the numerous churches now existing, were fully attended. But he believed, it would be found that there did not exist for buildings of that kind, the demand calculated on by the right hon. gentleman, who proposed the present grant. He would go further, and say, that, according to his opinion, the 500,000l. in question, might be better employed, with a view to the morals and happiness of the people, than in building churches. As to the sum proposed to be expended upon Windsor Castle, he felt obliged to differ from his hon. friend who spoke last. If the circumstances of the country warranted the expenditure of such a sum, it could not, he thought, be better laid out. Windsor Castle was a very ancient palace; and every one who knew its present situation must be aware that it would take the greater part of that sum to repair the building itself. With respect to the repeal of the tax on rum, the only objection which, in his view, could be made to it was, that it was too scanty. He should be happy to see the 500,000l. expended in aid of the proposed repeal, instead of being applied to the building of churches, which we did not want. He must repeat, that upon the whole the public, he was convinced, would feel, and justly feel, disappointed at the right hon. gentleman's statement; for it certainly was disheartening to reflect, that, notwithstanding the flourishing statements made of the improvement in our agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; and notwithstanding the existing, and expected improvements in our revenue, the people were to look for no further reduction of taxation during the next four years. He agreed with what had fallen from his hon. friend upon the subject of the taxes on law proceedings. They amounted to nothing short of a denial of justice to a large and most deserving portion of the community. He regretted to state, that that tax, together with others which pressed with similar inequality upon a portion of the population, did not meet with that attention from the legislature which their urgency demanded. That the country was improving in prosperity he was happy to find: but those who did not attribute their prosperity, in a great measure, to a reduction of taxation were grossly mistaken. The first object of parliament ought always to be, to diminish the burthens of the people, and to increase their energies. For it was by the energy, the industry, the spirit, and the intelligence of the people, that the country had been able to work its way through its various difficulties, to its present state.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that no person was more convinced of the truth of the last assertion made by the hon. gentleman, or had more frequently urged the same consideration on the House. As to the different items which he had selected in his statement, as proper for the purposes of improvement or reduction, it was possible he might have made, out of the number to be considered, a wrong choice. It might seem strange, but experience proved that there was as much difficulty to be encountered in determining what taxes ought to be taken off, as there was in ascertaining what might be put on, with the least possible injury to the public interest. He begged to assure hon. gentlemen, that it was matter of much difficulty to weigh the reasons for repealing one tax, against those which might be urged for the repeal of another. The principle upon which he had acted in the selection he had made was, that the result of his plan would enable parliament to provide the means of effecting, at a future time, a further reduction of taxation; whereas he conceived that the repeal of those other duties and taxes that had been adverted to, if effected, would not leave to parliament the means of future reduction. He begged to assure the hon. member for Midhurst, that the subject he had addressed the committee upon, had not escaped his observation. He was quite aware that there was a degree of oppression about the operation of the law taxes. In balancing, however, one duty against another, he had been led to think it would be more advantageous to begin by endeavouring to effect the other objects to which he had called the attention of the committee, than by attempting the attainment of other ends, which, however desirable they might be, would not enable parliament to repeal other taxes in future. The course he had that night recommended he still considered to be that which would prove most beneficial to the public.

Mr. Brougham

said, he fully agreed with his hon. friend near him, in thinking that the House and the country had a right to feel disappointment at the financial project just proposed by the right hon. gentleman opposite. But, before he went any further he was most anxious to guard himself against being misunderstood. He begged to assure the right hon. gentleman, that in using the word "project," he meant not to treat with the slightest disrespect the very sound and enlightened statement which he had made to the committee. He gave the right hon. gentleman every credit for his sound and enlightened views upon the different topics alluded to in his speech; but, as many of them had been heard by him and his friends for the first time that evening, he could not of course pledge himself either way upon them. There were, however, several points which had his full concurrence. First, with respect to the repeal of the bounties on the Whale fisheries, and on linen, he thought there could not be two opinions. By this measure, he understood a saving of 170,000l. would be made. This sum they gained in a manner to which no individual could object; and it was rendered still more valuable when they reflected, that the bounties, if allowed to exist, could be productive of good to no one branch of society; while, on the contrary, their removal would produce benefit to those branches of our trade, at present affected by them. Then, with respect to the other alterations to be made, much would depend upon the time and manner of their introduction. The repeal of the silk duty would be looked upon as prejudicial to the interests of many, who had at present a large stock of that article on hand;—and he entertained no doubt, that not many hours after the publication of the right hon. gentleman's plan, upon this and other points much alarm would be excited, and extensive claims made on the government. It would, however, be the duty of parliament to keep a tight hand upon his majesty's government, and to act with the utmost caution in the issues which they might deem it necessary to make, in order to carry the proposed reforms into execution. In cases where a country had long persisted in an erroneous system of policy, it frequently became as dangerous to retrace their steps as to proceed. It had been well said, that one of the miseries of a bad system of government or commerce was, that they could not find their way back through former errors, without, during some intervals, doing still greater injury than would have been worked in the same space of time had the old system continued. But, if views of commercial improvement, founded upon such principles as the right hon. gentleman had been stating, could be carried into effect, consistently with the good of the whole nation, it would be the duty of the legislature stoutly and manfully to support the government in effecting them. Reserving is opinion, however, of the proposed measures in the detail, he wished to be understood as at present expressing his approbation of their principles only. His great objection to the project which had been opened to the House was—not as to the repeal of the fishery and linen bounties, for of that he must approve—not as to the repeal of duties which was to be effected on silk, by the taking off the duty on the raw material, and thereby giving to our manufacturer the full benefit of the repeal—not as to the relief of the coal duty, which was called for by so large a proportion of the people, and especially by those of this metropolis and the adjoining counties—not as to the repeal of the duty on wool, accompanied by a prohibition to export the raw material—but his objection, at present was, to one or two points, on which he would offer a few observations to the House. He understood, then, that on the items specified, the right hon. gentleman reckoned that there would be a growing surplus for the present year of about 500,000l., and about double that amount was to be calculated on some other branches of the revenue. Now, this being the statement of the surplus which was to be available to the right hon. gentleman, what were the effects that were to follow upon the execution of his plan? The only advantage that he (Mr. B.) could understand as arising from it was, that coals and silk would be cheaper; wool would not be much affected. Now, the lightening the duty on coals was a very good measure, and would be extensively felt by the poor; but the alteration of the duties on silk afforded no such general relief. Then as to rum; the proposed reduction of duty was not even suggested to be for the relief of the consumer, but only of the producer; and as to any measure which would have a tendency to render ardent spirits cheaper, he confessed he was one of those who would rather support that which should make them dearer, for the sake of public morals. But his anxiety for the West-India interest was of this kind—not that raising the price of a pernicious article would diminish the consumption (for he thought the consumption could not be diminished); but it was, lest the raising its price should only render the article so scarce as to create a contraband trade, and by such means still more effectually injure the morals of the people. With respect to coals—the only other subject on which, all persons must be pleased on finding there was to be an alteration of duty—it was to be remembered, that it was a benefit that would not extend to the poor generally, but partially only; to the poor of this city, and of this and some other counties; it being clear that the poor of London were persons, for the most part, better able to pay for this article than the poor elsewhere. He felt, therefore, that however sound the principles were upon which some of these duties were about to be repealed, the application of the surplus revenue that had been spoken of was not such as to justify the public in hoping for any present relief from the pressure of taxes; or to give them any confident expectation, that in the course of a few years any other fund would be realized that would furnish the means of future and increased relief. There was yet one mode of obtaining for the people relief from the taxes that most heavily pressed upon them, which was not noticed in the statement of the right hon. gentleman, but which might be most advantageously resorted to—he meant, the appropriation of some part of the sinking fund. Now, a sinking fund, especially with compound interest, he took to be one of those errors that were, he trusted, daily upon the wane. A very few years, perhaps months would not pass away, before a return to the true policy would sweep away this anomaly: and his majesty's ministers would grant—(grant he would not say, for it would be their duty to extend)—not to the prayers of the people (for it would be their right), the full benefit of those just and sound principles, and that comprehensive policy, the value and necessity of which had been preached so long to them from that side of the House, and had been pressed upon them from out of doors, day after day, by the discussions of better educated, and better informed, and more enlightened persons than themselves [A laugh, and cries of "Hear!"]—Another topic on which he had to remark was, the manner in which part of that sum of two millions and a half, that were to be repaid us by a foreign power, was proposed to be applied. He could not help adverting to what the right hon. gentleman had said with respect to the conduct of the emperor of that country. He had no very accurate recollection of the words, but he did not remember to have ever heard any thing much more severe than what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman at the close of his panegyric—a panegyric to which he was little prepared to hear such a peroration. The right hon. gentleman's observation amounted to this—so highly honourable was this illustrious sovereign—so remarkably correct was he in his pecuniary dealings—so singularly distinguished was he among his brother sovereigns for his exact sense of honour—that the right hon. gentleman could do no less than utter an enthusiastic panegyric for what he called a perfect "God-send;" seeing that this emperor had had the common honesty to pay us 2s. 6d. in the pound upon the money he had borrowed of us so long ago. From his experience of common honesty (but he would not go quite so far as the right hon. gentleman had done in taking liberties with crowned heads) he was induced to thank God for the bounty which we had received. If he might go further, he would humbly hope, that the effect of the panegyric that had been that night pronounced, would be, to obtain from the same individual—he would not say another 2s. 6d. in the pound, for that would be too much to hope for—but another 6d. in the pound [A laugh!]. Sixpence in the pound seemed, to be sure, a very little sum to talk about; but upon the large debt due to a multitude of despairing creditors, it would be a very considerable amount. As the best sort of gratitude, in the mean time, that he conld evince for the bounty of Providence, he would no more vote that the 500,000l. should be applied to the building of churches, than he would vote away to the same object the product of the sixpence in the pound if we had it. In saying this, he meant not the slightest disparagement to the established church of the country; nor did he mean to say that parliament wou'' do its duty, if it neglected to provide for the country's religious instruction. Let it be remembered, however, that parliament had already granted a million for building churches; and had granted it with singular unanimity. What was still more important to the present consideration than the absence of opposition to that grant was, the fact that the money was taken from the pockets of the people at a time when they were suffering the greatest pressure of distress, in the year 1817. [Several members "No, no."] He must be allowed to say he believed it was in 1817, that the million of money, for the purpose in question, and without a murmur, had been paid by the patient people of this country. There was not a murmur from any of the classes from whom the money was raised—not even from the Dissenters; who, of necessity, were excluded from taking any direct benefit in the object of the grant. Now, he thought it would be a most unjust requital, for the candour and liberality, which on that occasion had been displayed by the members of all the religious sects in the state, to seize the first windfall, or "God-send," as the right hon. gentleman called it, and say, that it should be appropriated to the religious instruction of one class of the community,—the same class of the community for whose religious instruction the former million was voted; while the whole respectable and liberal body of Dissenters in the country were to be excluded from any participation in the advantage which was to be derived from the expenditure of so large a sum. On that ground, were he to stand alone, he would oppose such a grant. But he was happy to find, that he should not stand alone. He trusted the proposition would be powerfully opposed in the House, and he trusted it would be powerfully opposed out of the House. He trusted, that those individuals to whom he had alluded would assert their right to participate in the benefits to be derived from so large an expenditure of the public money, and that they would prefer their just claims to a parliament willing to deal fairly by them. Instead of appropriating this money to building churches, especially after a million had so lately been voted for that purpose, how much better would it be, to appropriate it to the building of schoolhouses. He believed that the churches which had hitherto been built had cost on the average about 10,000l. It was probable, however that it might be intended to build others on a reduced scale, so that the half million would afford the means of building ninety or a hundred churches. But with the same sum no fewer than 2,500 schools might be erected. There was not a parish in the country which might not be furnished with a school of some sort or other out of that sum. Such a scheme might be most advantageously carried into effect by commissioners chosen from men of all parties; who might be empowered to allow to any parish a sum for building a school, provided that parish would engage subsequently to support it. But, as to the proposition for granting this 500,000l. for the purpose of building chapels, after the million that had already been employed in that way, although he might be in a small minority in that House, he was sure that he should be in a large majority out of that House in his opposition to it. He entirely agreed in opinion with his hon. friend, the member for Wareham, on the subject of the salt-tax. The faith of the right hon. gentleman, and the faith of parliament, was pledged with respect to it; and it must, beyond all doubt, be allowed to expire at the period to which its continuance had recently been confined. It was not one of the least recommendations of the abolition of the salt-duty, that one distinct branch of the collection of the revenue would be lopped off with it. Among those other burthens upon the people, to the diminution of which he could have wished the surplus revenue applied, were some of the assessed taxes. With a million of surplus, and with one or two millions drawn from the sinking fund, it would be easy, without diminishing the sum applied to commercial reform, to repeal some of the most oppressive assessed taxes. It would also be easy to repeal that which ought to be considered, not as a mere impost, but as a financial exaction of the utmost enormity and injustice; as a crying oppression contrary to every principle of equity, he meant those duties by which the proceedings in courts of justice were rendered disgraceful, and which militated as much against every sound principle of legislation as they did against every sound principle of finance. The window-tax might most advantageously be diminished or remitted. It was well known that the revenue was in many cases increased, by a diminution of duty on a particular article, and vice versa. The revenue derived from wine, for instance, had been much diminished by an increase of the duty; and as the converse of the proposition, a diminution of the duty on coffee had been productive of a much larger revenue. From these different sources, therefore; namely, from the million of surplus, from the sinking fund, and from a benefit to the revenue, to be derived from a judicious diminution of the existing duties, means might, he was convinced, be furnished of carrying the right hon. gentleman's sound principles still further, and of affording a large and substantial relief to a people oppressed by burthensome taxation.

Mr. Hume

said, he was glad of an opportunity of expressing his satisfaction at a great portion of the statement of the chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. gentleman, however, had only given an earnest of what he found himself bound to do for the country. He had declared, in an able and candid manner, the surprise which he felt, that the alterations which he was about to propose in our commercial policy had been allowed to remain so long unrepealed; and he had characterised the system which had, for so many years been pursued as something approaching to madness. The right hon. gentleman had also very properly said, that the advantage of the steps which had been already taken in a liberal spirit of commercial policy was so manifest, that parliament ought not to stop; but ought to go on. He begged, however, to ask the right hon. gentleman why he himself had stopped? He entirely agreed with the right hon. gentleman in all he had done. He was sure that all he had proposed to do would answer his most sanguine expectations. All he complained of was, that the right hon. gentleman did not go far enough. The right hon. gentleman had stopped at the half-way house. Did he suppose it would be satisfactory to the public to be informed, that our present large military establishment would certainly remain on the same footing for the next four years, or that, for the same period of time, the aggregate reduction of our taxation would not exceed a million? He was at a loss also to conceive why the right hon. gentleman, while he was giving relief to various classes of the community, did not turn his attention to that most oppressed and suffering class, the West-India proprietors. He might have relieved them, on his own principles, without any loss to the revenue. For his own part, he (Mr. H.) had anticipated a relief in the shape of a reduction of the duty on sugar, of at least 7s. per cwt. He was likewise at a loss to ascertain, why the right hon. gentleman did not, by a reduction of the duty on spirits in England, get rid of the half million of annual expenditure for the prevention of smuggling. If the reduction of the duty on spirits had been beneficial in Ireland and Scotland, as the right hon. gentleman asserted, and no doubt truly asserted, why should it not be beneficial in England? On the article of beer, too, why should the lower classes be compelled to pay a heavier impost than the higher? Why was not the tax on that article at least equalized? Why were the rich allowed to drink beer at 25s. while the poor were compelled to pay 35s.? So also of the sinking fund. Why were we to maintain a sinking fund of seven millions? The only argument in favour of it that had the smallest weight was, that it tended to support public credit. But, public credit was sufficiently good. It was in such a state, that it did not need any extrinsic aid. He thought, therefore, that the right hon. gentleman might fairly avail himself of the whole seven millions of the sinking fund. The relief from taxation, which such a step would afford, would be felt by the whole community. If the partial relief which the right hon. gentleman proposed to afford would be advantageous, what would be the effect of the relief to which he now alluded? He wished to see the home duty on rum reduced to five shillings, and he thought it would be highly advantageous, if the same principle of reduction were applied to salt and coals. If the duties on all these things were reduced, he was convinced that eventually the revenue would gain rather than lose. And although he allowed that the immediate effect of making spirits cheap might he morally injurious, yet it would not long continue so; for it was always the case, with reference to any dear article, that when accidental circumstances enabled the poorer classes to obtain it, they gratified themselves to excess; but as soon as it became easily accessible, it was comparatively neglected. In proof of this, let the usages of other countries be remarked. In France, where wine was cheaper than beer with us, there were no habits of general inebriety. They French were, in fact, a soberer people than the English. All the arguments which the right hon. gentleman had so properly urged, in support of the abolition of the duties on silk, applied with equal, and even with more force to the abolition of the duties on spirits. The same demoralization was occasioned by the continuance of the one, as by the continuance of the other.—The right hon. gentleman, therefore, was called upon, on his own principles, to put an end to the one, as he proposed to put an end to the other. He really thought the people would feel very much disappointed at what was intended to be done. All the assessed taxes ought to have been taken off. The sinking fund ought to be applied to that purpose. The consequence of the existence of the assessed taxes was, that the mansions of our gentry were deserted. What was it at present that could carry so many of our countrymen abroad? It could not be novelty. That was all over. Let the assessed taxes be taken off, and they would speedily return; the general consumption would be increased, and the whole community would be benefitted. The right hon. gentleman was taking one step where he ought to take ten steps. The sinking fund would also enable government to get rid of that most iniquitous tax on law proceedings, which the hon. member for Midhurst had so justly characterised, and which fell principally on the poorer classes. If all the taxes which he had described were removed, what relief would be afforded to the community! The House of Commons would not do their duty to their constituents, unless they pressed the repeal of those taxes on the right hon. gentleman. How much better would it be, to repeal those taxes, than to buy up stock at a loss of above 20 per cent.! With regard to the payment made by the Emperor of Austria, he considered it quite monstrous that we should accept this half crown in the pound, as his hon. and learned friend had happily called it. If England were to receive her just payment from Austria, principal and interest, it would amount to twenty-two millions. All that was to be paid, however was two millions and a half! And, instead of relieving the people with that sum, the right hon. gentleman proposed to apply a large portion of it to the building of churches! With whom could such a preposterous notion have originated? He was sure the right hon. gentleman could not look the House in the face and tell them that this was a necessary measure. Of this, however, he was persuaded, that nine persons out of ten in the country would be hostile to the proposition. Many classes of the community could have no participation in the supposed benefit to be derived from it. It was against the right hon. gentleman's own principle. The right hon. gentleman inveighed against partial taxation, and here was partial expenditure with a witness. Really, if ever any public proposition deserved to meet with universal reprobation, it was this. Unless the House refused to accede to the right hon. gentleman's proposition, he should not consider them entitled to the right hon. gentleman's eulogy. He should not consider that they were a calumniated House, if they gave their support to such a partial and unjust measure as that proposed by his majesty's ministers.

Mr. Robertson

expressed his satisfaction at the course pursued by the chancellor of the Exchequer, which was calculated to give employment to the people of the country, to increase the general consumption, and to improve the commerce, so essentially interwoven with our prosperity as a nation. The taxes selected for reduction had this obvious tendency; and yet the hon. gentlemen on the other side talked as if they had never looked beyond the present hour, notwithstanding the lessons of experience so often placed before them. It was impossible to conceive that circumstances might not arise which would make it the interest of America to oppose this country. Suppose us to be plunged into a war with that or with any other state, the Sinking Fund was not at present in the condition in which it ought to be on the breaking out of a war. It was by protecting that sinking fund, and not by speculating on it, that we should be prepared for any emergency, and give the best excitement to the commercial interest of the country. It was to that fund we owed the keeping down of the rate of interest. And, not only was it calculated, in the various modes of its operation, to excite the commerce and industry of Great Britain, but it had a greater tendency to force capital into Ireland, than all the plans that had been devised on the subject. He therefore concurred in the view which the chancellor of the Exchequer had taken of the subject.

Mr. Grey Bennet

declared himself ready to avow at present, as he had often before done, that the persons who had changed the currency were those who had committed the robbery. Never was there a measure fraught with so much mischief and fraud as that to which he had just alluded; nor would it be a justification of the conduct of parliament, that because at one period they had robbed the creditor, at another they should rob the debtor. Under this system many persons had been reduced to beggary, not by any fault of their own—not by any of the accidents or misfortunes of life—but by an act of the government itself. It was true, that in many respects, the situation of the country appeared to have improved since the years 1817 and 1818; but it was not to be inferred from thence that we were in a prosperous condition. If the poor-rates had decreased in many parishes, there were few persons, after all, in those parishes who did not require some relief. But, to whatever extent improvement might have gone, it was owing to the zeal, the talent, and the industry of the people at large, and not to the wisdom or integrity of the present administration. It was true, there were not wanting persons who ascribed it all to ministers; but was not this the identical parliament which had opposed the very system now adopted with so much applause? Was not this the identical parliament which had sanctioned the low, petty-fogging, dirty tricks of a former financier? And, was it too much to conclude, that the same House would bestow the same applause on any other gentleman or on any other measure? No one could forget the votes respecting the value of; the one-pound note—no one could forget the votes on the Bank Restriction, and on; Mr. Peel's bill: and no one who remembered them could doubt for a moment, that the House was prepared to take any step which ministers might propose. As to the question of religious instruction, he was as anxious for its general diffusion; as any man; but it was a principle with him, that it should be general; that it should be on the most liberal and extensive scale; and upon that ground, that the Dissenters, as the larger body, should have the larger proportion. In pursuance of the same principle, he agreed in the proposition of his hon. and learned friend, which preferred the founding of schools to the building of churches. If, instead of adopting such an obvious mode of improving the morals and enlightening the minds of the community, the right hon. gentleman persisted in his present plan, he would bring down upon himself the question of the whole Church establishment in all its details. The people of England would not submit to have 500,000l. laid out in building churches, and laying a foundation for the increase of church patronage, without calling for an investigation of the whole establishment, from the archbishop downwards; and the right hon. gentleman might be assured, that no opportunity would be lost, withindoors and without, of raising such a clamour as would make it necessary for ministers to abandon it.

Mr. D. Gilbert

said, he rose merely to express his opinion on the expediency of suffering the salt-duty to expire. If the duty were intirely off, afar greater quantity would be used for the purposes of agriculture, and for many other purposes connected with the arts. In the glazing of pottery, and even in glazing bricks for building, it might be used. As the right hon. gentleman had thrown out the subject as if with a view of sounding the disposition of the House, he had thought it his duty to express his opinion upon it.

Mr. Baring

wished to know from the chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements he had made for paying off the twenty-five million which the government was bound to pay in October? It was to be presumed, that he had his machinery prepared for raising the loan that would be required.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the sum would be raised by loan or Exchequer bills; but the mode would depend, in a great measure, on the amount which would be necessary to pay off the dissentients.

The resolutions, founded on the details contained in the chancellor of the Exchequer's speech, were then read and agreed to.