HC Deb 25 March 1824 vol 10 cc1395-7

Lord Clifton having presented a petition from Canterbury for the repeal of the Assessed Taxes,

Mr. Maberly

said, that the notice on the subject of these taxes, so generally exclaimed against throughout the country, which he had given for the 29th of April, had been received by the gentlemen on the Treasury bench with a laugh; but he nevertheless begged to be permitted to say a few words on it. The chancellor of the Exchequer had shewn his opinion of the equality of taxation. No sooner had the tax on windows been taken off, than the right hon. gentleman had directed the board of taxes to send their surveyors to report on the real value of houses, which would be equivalent to an increase in the amount of 25 per cent on the House tax. The right hon. gentleman seemed to have been particularly unhappy in his financial propositions for the present year. He seemed to have cast about, how best to throw away the public money. As for the 900,000l. expended in churches, palaces, and so forth, the right hon. gentleman had said, that these sources of expenditure would not occur again. But, should he not, before he entered upon that expenditure, and before he gave away 2,700,000l. in a most improvident bargain with the Bank, have turned his attention to the prayer of such petitioners as the present? Before gentlemen turned a deaf ear to these petitions, or laughed at the proposition for granting the prayer of them, they should consider what the people had suffered in consequence of those taxes. He hoped he should be able to shew, that public credit might be well supported without them; and he had no doubt it would, ere long, be acknowledged to be absurd to go on buying up three per cents at 95, that had been issued at 50 and 60, and that the whole surplus revenue ought to be applied to the reduction of taxation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he felt himself compelled to say a few words, though certainly not with a view of entering into discussion of any of the various topics which the hon. member had somewhat unseasonably introduced. Of the charge of unmannerly treatment which the hon. gentleman thought proper to bring against him, he was totally unconscious. If there had been any smile on his side of the House, he was unconscious of having participated in it. The smile, if there had been one, was probably excited by the circumstance of the hon. member having selected for his motion a day on which there would be no House; namely, his majesty's birth-day. If the hon. member meant to charge him with having, on this or on any other occasion, shewn any thing like indifference or disrespect in the discussion of any subject connected with the wants or the wishes of the people, it was a charge to which he could not plead guilty. On the contrary, he believed that on every occasion, as well as on that on which the hon. member for Westminster had brought forward his motion, the tone which he had adopted was directly the reverse of that which the hon. member imputed to him. There was not the slightest foundation, in fact, for the charge. As to the notice which the hon. member had taken of the circular letters sent to surveyors from the Tax-office in consequence of instructions transmitted from the Treasury, he had distinctly stated, that the object of the instructions for re-surveying houses was, to afford an opportunity, if the amount of revenue should be raised by a just and equal assessment, to propose a proportional reduction of the tax. His object was, not to screw more money out of the pockets of the people, but, if possible, to save the money of those who were compelled to pay more than they ought to contribute to the revenue, in consequence of an unequal assessment. In this respect, therefore, as well as in that to which he had just adverted, the hon. member had brought a charge against him for which there was not the slightest foundation.

Mr. Maberly

said, that he did not mean to charge the right hon. gentleman with any disrespectful levity. If, however, the right hon. gentleman meant to say that the conduct of his colleagues was as decorous as his own, he could not assent to such an observation, for he would again assert, that the right hon. gentleman's colleagues on the Treasury bench did laugh on the occasion referred to.

Mr. Hume

strongly urged the necessity of a repeal of the assessed taxes, as well as a reduction of the duties on silk and wool.

Sir T. Lethbridge

hoped the chancellor of the Exchequer would take into his serious consideration the propriety of relieving the country from that most burthensome assessment, the window tax. If the right hon. gentleman was determined not to relieve the country by repealing the window tax this session, he begged leave to suggest to him a mode of relieving the country without taking off the tax. What he would suggest to the right hon. gentleman was, that he would allow all windows which had been stopped up, in consequence of this tax, to be opened. This would create a large demand for glass; and would thus give employment to a number of useful and idustrious individuals who were now out of employ, without any way interfering with the financial arrangements of the chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. N. Calvert

thought those taxes most objectionable which affected the price of labour, such as the taxes on malt, coals, and candles. If these taxes added 2s. a week to the expenses of the poor man, they made the price of labour dearer in that proportion.

Sir Joseph Yorke

said, that if his hon. friend would pledge his word of honour, that he thought a reduction of duty upon the articles he had named would reduce their price to the poorer classes one halfpenny, he would go hand in hand with him in proposing their repeal.

Ordered to lie on the table.