HC Deb 24 April 1833 vol 17 cc538-40

Mr. Robinson presented a Petition from the Churchwardens, Overseers, and Vestry of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden, praying for the repeal of the Window Tax. The Petition was signed by 400 inhabitants of the parish, who from the nature of their information, were able expressly to say, that the householders generally would no longer pay this most oppressive and unjust tax. The opinion of the inhabitants of the metropolis, and of those residing in all the principal towns of the country, was unanimous as to the necessity of having this tax repealed. If the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) was unable to give up the whole of the Window-tax, without laying on some other impost to make up the deficiency, it would be better if the noble Lord would give up the Window-tax, and lay on an adequate increase of the House duty, taking care that it should be equitably arranged, so that there might no longer be a contrast kept up between the rating of the houses of the rich and of the poor. He hoped to see so disgraceful a tax as that on windows expunged from the Statute-books of the land; and he thought the best plan that could be pursued by the House would be to repeal the tax altogether, and then to support Ministers in laying on an additional tax to the same amount, if that were necessary, and the tax could not be dispensed with. But it was Ministers who should be expected to say how the amount should be levied—to bring forward some plan of their own—and not to make a stand against those who called for the reduction of any particular tax, by asking how the deficiency in the revenue should be made up. He should not do his duty to those who had complimented him by putting the petition into his hand, nor to his constituents in the city of Worcester, if he did not call upon the House to enforce the repeal of the Window-tax. He declared that it was his intention to support the Motion for the repeal whenever it was brought on.

Mr. Cobbett

contended that the noble Lord might have got more means to enable him to reduce the taxes to a greater extent than he had proposed to do. Why had he not struck off a number of unmerited pensions? There was a number of women who took more of the public money than was necessary to support 25,500 sailors and marines, with their officers. If the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) would pledge himself to reduce that expenditure, he (Mr. Cobbett) would lend him his strenuous support.

Mr. Hume

said, it was perfectly true, as stated by the hon. member for Oldham, that a very large sum of money was paid to females by way of pensions, and the late Parliament had been exceedingly blameable in extending charity to noble Lords and Ladies, instead of having some charitable consideration for the distresses of the labouring and industrious classes. When he saw the Returns of the number of poor persons who had been distrained upon for small amounts of taxes, and whose goods had been sold, he was convinced it was exceedingly unbecoming to allow a single pension of 50l. to be given to the class of persons he had described. The noble Lord had proposed an efficient relief, but if he wished to do any good he must act on a large scale. If the noble Lord had not the means immediately within his reach, he must consider whether there were not other species of property untaxed; for instance, real property that descended from father to son should be placed in the same scale of taxation as other property. He was sorry that the hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Harvey) had not pressed his Motion for an inquiry into the nature of the services for which pensions were supposed to have been granted, but he hoped that the hon. Member would be induced to renew it on some early day.

Mr. Harvey

was sorry that any notion was entertained that he had abandoned his Motion on the subject of the Pension Lists. He had, in fact, only postponed it till the 22nd of May. The object of that Motion was, not to deprive any of the pensioners of the payments they had received, or were entitled to receive, but to relieve them from the odium so generally understood to attach to them, as if there were any women in England, Scotland, or Ireland, who received pensions for which they had not given to the country a full and adequate consideration. For this purpose he should move for a Return of all pensioners, and the consideration they had given for their pensions. There was one suggestion which he would in the mean time throw out—that when it was intended to take the sense of the House on any point, it would be well to have an intimation to that effect stated in the votes of the House. In that case hon. Members would take care to be present on particular occasions, or at least they would have no excuse for their absence. Before he sat down, he begged l to repeat that on the 22nd of May he would bring forward his Motion, and make an appeal to the gallantry of hon. Members, when the ladies of England now on the Pension-lists would have an opportunity of vindicating themselves from the ungenerous supposition that any of them was receiving one sixpence for which an equivalent had not been given.

Petition laid on the Table.

Back to