HC Deb 26 March 1833 vol 16 cc1072-118
Mr. Robinson

rose to move, that a Select Committee be appointed to revise the existing Taxation, with a view to a Repeal of those burthens which press most heavily on productive industry, and the substitution of a tax upon property in lieu thereof. He was so sensible of his own inability to do justice to the very important subject which he had undertaken to bring before the House, and of the disadvantages under which he laboured in belonging to no party, and in being supported by none but those who were sensible of the rectitude of his intentions, that he should have shrunk from the task, if he did not consider it a duty he owed to his country to bring the subject fairly before the House. Hon. Members were to be found in the House of all diversity of opinions. There was hardly a shade of opinion which did not find its Representative; and there were few subjects on which they all could concur. On one subject, however, they did agree—namely, that in order to afford relief to the people, it was necessary to diminish taxation. Government had accordingly been assailed on all sides to remit taxes. The Government met the complaints, by saying—and he admitted with great truth—that it was necessary to maintain the national faith, and to support the establishments of the country, which could not be done if those taxes were abolished. The consequence had been, that taxes had been raised, in many instances, in order to meet the exigencies of the Government, or at all events had been but in very few instances remitted. For the three years during which he had had the honour of sitting in that House, he had paid considerable attention to the subject of taxation, and the conclusion at which he had arrived was, that as no great amount of taxation could be remitted, the only way in which relief could be communicated to the labouring classes, was by a commutation of the taxes. He was aware that unless he could make out a strong case for the adoption of his opinion, he could not expect his Majesty's Government to make so extensive a change in the whole system of taxation. He could assure the noble Lord, that, in bringing forward the suggestion, he was satisfied of its expediency, and he pledged himself to prove to the noble Lord, and to the House, that an absolute necessity did exist for making the change which he advocated. He did not make the suggestion as the result of his own opinion alone; he was supported in it by some of the ablest statesmen who had ever sat in that House; and he believed he should be able to show that the noble Lord—the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had, at one time, concurred in the propriety of the adoption of some such measure as that which he advocated. He would not detain the House to dilate upon the distress at present existing in the country. They had heard those distresses most ably stated on a former evening, when the hon. member for Birmingham brought forward his Motion on the State of the Nation; and they were such as were well calculated to harrow up the feelings of those who heard them. He could not, however, help admitting freely, that the statement made by the hon. Member was greatly overcharged, and that his eloquent descriptions were not borne out by the facts which he had adduced. Yet enough appeared then, to convince every body (and this was known to all who considered the situation of the country) that such was the wretched condition of the labouring classes, that it became the imperative duty of the House to take the subject into its most attentive consideration, in order that, by their collective wisdom, they might endeavour to devise some remedy for an evil which threatened destruction and ruin to the whole nation. The noble Lord had been assailed by every class for the repeal of the taxes which pressed peculiarly upon itself. He had, within the last week, been waited on by several deputations of mercantile men, who prayed for the repeal of the House and Window-taxes, and the other Assessed-taxes. And, in the same manner, he had at other times been assailed by those interested in agriculture, for the repeal of the Malt and Hop-duties. He (Mr. Robinson) thought that the noble Lord had acted prudently in abstaining from making any promises of a remission of taxation, and, indeed, in having declined to give any information as to his financial schemes, till after the Easter recess, when he should be able to state fully the plan which the finances of the country would enable him to adopt. It might then be asked, why he should bring forward such a Motion—why not leave it to Government to propose it, if the Government thought that it was fitting it should be adopted. His answer was, that it was not to be expected that Government should propose such a commutation of taxes as he meant to propose. Were the Government to propose the adoption of a Property-tax in lieu of their present taxes, it would be an avowal on their part of the inability of the country to support its institutions according to the present system, and that, in fact, the whole system was rotten to the core. He therefore did not blame Ministers that they did not originate such a Motion—he should not even blame them if they opposed it until such time as it should appear by a Resolution of the majority of the House, or even by the expressed opinions of a respectable numerical minority, that such a measure was necessary. If such an opinion were once expressed, no Government could withstand that and the strong feelings known to be entertained on the subject throughout the country. And the result would then be, that the noble Lord would be forced to change the whole financial system of the kingdom. He had stated, on a former occasion, that great distress existed in the country, and he had then, as now, to complain that such complaints were coldly received by the House, and a refusal given to all inquiry, on account of the exaggerated statements in which hon. Members indulged. It was to be regretted, that on account of such statements the House should refuse to inquire into the real distresses which were known to exist, and that the country should not obtain, because its evils were exaggerated, that redress which it required and expected. The people said—"Will you grant an inquiry to ascertain the real amount of our distress, and propose a remedy?" He hoped that the House would grant an inquiry. At all events, he trusted that they would endeavour to trace the evil to its source. It was idle to say, that there was no remedy. It only required firmness and promptitude on the part of the Government, and patriotism on the part of the Members of that House, to discover it. The people did not complain of the taxes themselves, so much as they complained of the injustice with which they were levied. They complained of the inequality of the system, which pressed upon the industrious classes with undue severity, and bowed down those who contributed most to the support of the country. He thought that there was an easy remedy to be found for that evil. He thought that a commuta- tion of the taxes, and the substitution of a Property-tax in lieu of the taxes which pressed on industry, would, in a great measure, effect that remedy. And if it were adopted, it would prevent the country being ruined by a system of taxation, which, if persisted in, would lead it into difficulties from which the Government could never expect to extricate it. He would read an extract from the speech of a late eminent statesman, whose opinions had always, as they deserved, met with every consideration from the House—he meant that of Mr. Huskisson, as it showed what his opinions on the subject then before them were. When a motion was brought forward on the 18th of March, 1830, for an Inquiry into the State of the Nation, Mr. Huskisson, after expressing a wish for a great reduction of taxation, and an opinion that the reduction could not be carried much further, went on to re-commend, in these terms, a general revision of taxation:—'The more general considerations to which I now claim the attention of the House are these:—first, that no other country in Europe has so large a proportion of its taxation bearing directly upon the income of labour and productive capital:—secondly, that in no other country, of the same extent, I think I might say in none of five times the extent of this kingdom, is there so I large a mass of income belonging to those classes who do not directly employ it in bringing forth the produce of labour:—thirdly, that no other country has so large a proportion of its taxation mortgaged; in proportion to the amount of that mortgage are we interested in any measure which, without injustice to the mortgagee, would tend to lessen the absolute burthen of the mortgage:—fourthly, that from no other country in the world does so large a proportion of the class not engaged in production (including many of the wealthy), spend their incomes in foreign parts. I know I may be told that, by taxing that income, you run the risk of driving them to withdraw their capital altogether. My answer is, first, that ninety-nine out of every 100 of these absentees have no such command over the source of their income; secondly, that the danger is now of another and more alarming description—that of the productive capitals of this country being transferred to other countries, where they would be more secure of a more profitable return. The relief of industry is the remedy against the danger. One of the objections made to any direct tax upon income, even limited as I have described, to capital not directly employed in the pursuits of industry, is, that it may be very Ht as a war measure, but that it is not suited to a state of peace. My answer is, that this proposition is too general. What may be very well adapted to a state of peace or war, under given circumstances, may become inexpedient when the bearing of those circumstances is altogether changed. In war, the wages of labour and the profits of capital may be high; in peace they may be greatly depressed. In the former supposition, taxes bearing upon industry will be more lightly felt; in the latter, their pressure will be very severe; and, if not alleviated, will daily become more so, by exhausting the very springs of that industry from which they are derived. Let gentlemen seriously weigh in their own minds whether this be not the risk against which it is most earnest to provide. I have already shown, upon higher authority than my own—that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that the amount remitted by a change in our taxation would be a very inadequate measure of the real saving and contingent relief to industry; whilst, on the other hand, the produce of the tax to be substituted would be commensurate with what it might subtract from the incomes of the classes by which It would be paid. The landlord, the fundholder, the mortgagee, the annuitant of every description, would moreover be directly benefited to the extent of his consumption of the articles upon which the present taxes might be reduced or abolished. Each would be indirectly benefited, by the stimulus and additional ease which would be given to the industrious classes. Take, for instance, the land-owner. Can any man doubt that in proportion to the relief afforded, would be the means and desire of the industrious classes to consume more of all the productions of the soil which constitute their habitual comforts and luxuries—more meat, more malt, more cheese, more butter, and more of all the other articles which cannot be said to be of absolute and primary necessity? Can any man doubt that the consumption of these articles is now check-, ed, if not actually diminished, by the straitened circumstances of our labouring population? Should their condition become still harder—and, in order to maintain our competition in the foreign market, I fear that, without the relief which I have suggested, it must—is it not obvious that the consumption of these articles, and, with the consumption, the price, must decline?'* * * * 'If I have dwelt upon these subjects at greater length than I had intended, I have done so because I have thought it my duty, as an unconnected Member of Parliament, not to shrink from stating my views respecting them. The position of a Minister in this House is very different from that of an individual. I know how difficult a thing it might be for Government, even if they concurred in my views, to carry them into effect; and I am fully aware of all the inconvenience which would arise from their at all hinting at their concurrence unless they were prepared to act upon it. All I can say is, that ours is a choice of difficulties, and that the course which I have suggested would, I sincerely believe, be most beneficial to the country. If these views are not entertained by others in this House, or sanctioned by public opinion out of doors, it would be vain to expect that they should lead, at present, to any practical result. But if, at any future day, a sense of the public interest should induce his Majesty's Government to act upon them, I shall be prepared to give my most cordial assistance and support towards overcoming the various difficulties which I am fully sensible most arise in carrying these views into effect, and towards conciliating the feelings of all who might continue adverse to their adoption.'*

He had thus shown that the opinion of that great man had led him to the same conclusion to which he had arrived—namely, that, from the decreasing capital of the country, and the diminishing wages of the working classes, it was impossible that the present system of taxation could stand; and that right hon. Gentleman concluded by expressing his willingness to support the Government in any future period, should they, entertaining the same views which he held, endeavour to establish a Property-tax even in peace. Now, * Hansard (new series) xxiii. p. 604,607. he would ask, what had happened since 1830, to show that there was less ground for such a measure at present than there was in 1830? Had the state of the country not got worse? Had the state of the working classes not deteriorated? Had the distress not increased? Had the national burthens, had the expense of the Navy and Army—(including the dead weight) not increased—and were not the people less able to pay those additional burthens now than they were then? He said, that they were. That was the real state of the case, and it was useless to evade or conceal it. They ought, therefore, at once seriously to inquire into the causes, and devise remedies for such evils. The inquiry ought not to be delayed. Time was pressing; and the longer the delay, the greater the difficulty in which they would find themselves involved. He did not mean to say, that the country could not stand, or could not pay the necessary expenses for its Government and defence. Far from it. He merely said, that a change of system was necessary to enable it to do so. He would not go into long details on the subject; but he would cite one or two individual cases, which would show the House the deplorable state to which the poor were reduced, and the necessity there was for some relief being extended to them. He found that the Poor-rates in England and Wales amounted, for the year ending on the 25th of March, 1831, to 8,339,087l.; and for the year ending on the 25th of March, 1832, to 8,683,461l. increase, 344,374l.—being an average of four per cent. He would ask if that was not a most important fact, and if it did not show that the condition of the country was becoming progressively worse? He begged them to remember, that this increase took place after a most abundant harvest, and when the necessaries of life were at unusually low prices. The only three English counties where there had been a decrease in the Poor's-rates, were Bedford, Cornwall, and Westmoreland. The greatest increase was in the counties of Somerset, Southampton, Surrey, and Sussex, where they had increased from seven to eight per cent. In Wales, there had been, in Carnarvonshire, a decrease of two percent only. In Anglesea and Cardiganshire the increase had been nine per cent, and in Glamorganshire eleven per cent. He found, too, that since 1825 there had been a gradual increase in crime in the country, and there could be no doubt that the increase of crime was the effect of misery and privation. The number of criminal prosecutions in England and Wales in 1825, was 14,437; in 1826, 16,164; in 1827, 17,904; in 1828, 16,564; in 1829, 18,675; in 1830, 18,107; in 1831, 19,647; and in 1832, 20,829—so that there was a gradual increase of more than fifty per cent, in seven years. He found, too, from a parliamentary paper, that the amounts paid into the savings' banks in England and Wales, from the 28th of January 1832, to 9th February 1833, was 761,368l., and the amount paid out 1,264,118l. That was an excellent criterion of the real state of the country, and an undoubted proof that the distress was great, and was increasing and he thought that Government could not avoid inquiring into the causes, and devising a remedy for it. He admitted that it undoubtedly was the duty of Government not to take too gloomy a view of the state of the country, or to alarm the people unnecessarily, but it was likewise its duty not to conceal truth, or, when distress did really exist to evade all inquiries into it with a view to giving relief. He trusted if the Ministers should unfortunately be so disposed, that the House would not endeavour either to evade or postpone the consideration of it. He begged of them not to think that, by postponing or evading the consideration of the national distress the country would come round, or that the distress being merely temporary, would cure itself. He admitted that, during the spring, there might be rather more work than usual; but he hoped hon. Members would not deceive themselves by thinking that such temporary employment betokened any permanent improvement. He was sure that, as soon as the spring work was over, the country would fall back into its former sluggish state, and that if they did not take means to relieve the labouring classes from the burden of taxation they would find the same distress would prevail as formerly. It was impossible, that the people whether they belonged to the trading, manufacturing, shipping, farming, or colonial classes—it was impossible, he said, for them to endure the weight of the taxes. He would, therefore, ask the Government what they intended to do towards their relief? He believed that the Government was disposed to give every relief in their power, he admitted the difficulties with which they had to labour in affording that relief, and he had no desire to enhance them. He had supported the motion of the hon. member for Birmingham on a former evening, but he was not disposed to blame the Ministers for the motives which induced them to oppose the Motion. The opinions of the hon. member for Birmingham were so well known on the subject of the currency and those opinions were so mixed up with his motion which was otherwise vague, and pointed to a remedy which the Government could not sanction, and being unable to support the one without, in some degree, recognizing the others, he must therefore admit that Ministers were justified in having opposed the whole motion. He hardly expected the support of the Government in favour of his Motion but whether they decided on supporting or opposing it, he was determined to divide the House upon it. It could not be said of his Motion that it was vague or unprecedented. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Vice-President of the Board of Trade) had, in March, 1830, submitted a motion to the House, which was in substance the same with that which he (Mr. R.) now proposed. That right hon. Gentleman moved—'That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of making a revision of the taxes, so that the means of paying the sums voted by the House, and all other charges for the public service, may be provided for with as little injury as practicable to the industry and improvement of the country.'* The right hon. Gentleman proposed a revision of the taxes. He (Mr. Robinson) now proposed a commutation of them. The noble Lord said—"I cannot give up taxes—I must meet the necessities of the country." He would not ask the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to give up a single tax without supplying its place. He stood in a position different from those who submitted motions for the repeal of millions of taxes without providing any to supply their place; all of which motions he took to be merely ad captandum vulgus; he merely wished that the same amount of taxes should be raised from a different source and class of the people. The right hon. Vice-President, when he brought * Hansard, (new series), xxiii p. 896 forward his motion, which he did in a most able speech, was supported by the noble Lord and by most of the members of the present Administration, with the exception of the First Lord of the Admiralty and though he expected that the noble Lord would act on the present occasion in the teeth of the opinion which he had formerly stated, still he (Mr. Robinson) did not mean to say, that he would do so from inconsistency, but merely from a change of the circumstances in which he then stood. He hoped, however, that the noble Lord would excuse him if he quoted his opinion upon that occasion—not for the purpose of pointing out any inconsistency, but merely because he considered the opinion of the noble Lord as the leader of a powerful party while out of office, and of a still stronger party now that he was in, as deserving of great attention. The noble Lord then said that 'He had no hesitation in saying that to grant relief to the productive population by a reduction of taxes and to impose a Property tax to meet the deficiency thus occasioned would be a very good measure. He was perfectly convinced that it was the ill arranged state of the taxes, which, more than the amount of the taxes, pressed heavily upon the country.'* And the noble Lord for these reasons then supported the Committee. He could not desire a more able or useful ally than the noble Lord; and he would again beg to ask what had happened since 1830 to induce the noble Lord to oppose a motion to the very same effect at the present time as the one the noble Lord then supported. He lamented—and had reason to lament—that because he brought forward a motion in which the Government did not coincide, it should be said, that he did so in opposition to Government; or that if they should be left in a minority upon it, they should be obliged to quit office. That latter doctrine was one against which he protested. So far from wishing that the Ministers should resign should the House decide upon adopting the motion which he was about to make, he hoped that they would confirm the decision of the House by acting upon it. He hoped that the Government would believe that he did not bring the Motion forward in order to embarrass them, on the contrary, his only wish was to take steps which would lead * Hansard, (new series) xxiii pp. 908, 909. to an investigation of the causes of the distress, and to a commutation of the taxes, as the best means for relieving the people from that distress. Indeed, the appointment of such a Committee would be an advantage to the noble Lord, as it would afford him a ready answer to those who sought for the repeal of particular taxes—to wait until the labours of the Select Committee should be brought to a close. At all events the appointment of a Committee would be of public advantage, as it would show the people that the Reformed Parliament were determined to investigate into the causes of their distress and to adopt means to rid them of their burdens. When the proposition already alluded to was made by the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade in 1830, it was opposed by the Government of that day on the ground that such a motion was an invasion of the duties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But in his opinion it was the right of every Member to make such a proposition. If they allowed the foundations of the prosperity of the country to be sapped, they would bring it into such a situation that the question would at length be, not whether property should pay its proportion toward the expenses of the State, but whether property should remain in the hands of its proper owners? Dr. Smith in his "Wealth of Nations" had advocated the adoption of a Property tax. He said that "The best tax which can be imposed is one which takes least from the pockets of the people and brings most into the Exchequer." The disadvantage of indirect taxes was, that the people paid more than the Government got. Every shop-keeper was converted into a tax-gatherer and upon all the articles taxed the consumer had to pay in the shape of additional profit to the shop-keeper more than the amount of the tax. He therefore said, that they ought to be relieved from indirect taxes, and that a Property tax should be laid on. He hoped that, with these testimonies in favour of the adoption of that measure they would not object to the appointment of the Committee. He anticipated great good from it in many ways, but more especially on account of the moral effect which it would have upon the people, who would then, he repeated, see that the Reformed House of Commons were determined to relieve the distresses of the people, and instead of doing nothing but speaking, they had at last determined to take the burdens of the State off those who had so long borne them, and to place them on the shoulders of those who ought to bear them. The hon. member for Oldham had, on a former occasion, made out a strong case of the unequal and unjust pressure of taxes, in the instance of the Stamp-duties. He (Mr. Robinson) would only add, that the whole of the present system of taxation tended to break down and disable those who ought to be the greatest support and stay of the Government. One of the greatest difficulties which it might be anticipated this measure would meet with, would be on the part of Gentlemen connected with the landed interest, who, he believed, entertained an idea that their property would not admit of the additional burthen of a Property-tax. This idea he considered altogether fallacious. He believed that the landed interest would be in reality benefited by a Property-tax; and he would explain his reasons for this belief, but first he would read to the House the opinions expressed in favour of a Property-tax, by a gentleman whom the House would at once acknowledge to be a very first-rate authority; this gentleman was Mr. Bankes, who on the motion, similar to the present, brought forward by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade said, 'The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that a commutation of taxes had at one time been under the consideration of his Majesty's Government. He was sorry as such had been the case that some commutation had not been effected. He thought there was no better way of relieving the distresses of the country than by commuting the taxes which pressed on the lower, for taxes which affected the richer, classes of society.'* This was the opinion expressed by Mr. Bankes, and he did not doubt but it would have its due effect on the House. For his own part he had never been the advocate or the opponent of any particular class. He could hardly call himself a large landed proprietor, but he possessed land as well as other property, and therefore his personal interest was not concerned in his Motion. He had been obliged to reduce his rents twenty or thirty per cent in consequence of the pressure of the times, but trade and commerce were in a still worse condition than * Hansard, (new series) xxiii p. 904 land. He should be far from saying that any particular class of property should be fixed upon as the point for the proposed tax, but he should propose a tax upon realized property of every description. He wanted a substitute for the present unequal taxation, and he should feel great curiosity to hear what arguments the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. P. Thomson) would make use of against this proposition, when he called to mind in what strong language that right hon. Gentleman when not in office supported a motion much the same as the present, His Motion was, indeed, negatived by a majority of eighty-nine; but he found among the minority the following Gentlemen;—Mr. C. Grant, Mr. R. Grant, Lord Howick, Lord Palmerston, Lord J. Russell, Mr. Spring Rice, Mr. Stanley. The Tellers were Lord Althorp and Mr. C. P. Thomson. He confessed that he was extremely curious to hear what the right hon. Gentlemen would now adduce against the principle of a measure which they so strongly advocated in 1830. He would next proceed to state, that the taxes which he proposed should be repealed or reduced were—the whole of the Assessed Taxes, the taxes on Bricks, Tiles, Glass, Hops, Malt, Paper, Soap, Starch, and Stone Bottles; one half of the Sugar-duties, and one half of the Duties on Tea; the duties on Cotton Wool, and the Taxes on Newspapers and Advertisements. All these were taxes bearing most heavily on the labouring and middle classes. There was also that most grievous tax, on the most necessary of all necessary articles of consumption—bread; for he considered the Corn-laws to be in reality a tax on bread; but he was not going to enter into this latter question at present, except to observe how imperative it was upon the House to take it into their most serious consideration; for, by the operation of the Corn-laws, as was stated, in Sir Henry Parnell's most excellent work on Financial Reform, a tax of not less than twelve millions and a half was levied upon the people. These were all taxes upon the necessaries of life. It would, in his opinion be not only useless, but dangerous, for Parliament to agree to a commutation of taxes unless they proceeded to a very great extent. And then came the difficulty, how was the deficit in the revenue to be supplied? He would answer, by a tax on property. But when he proposed such a course, he would not do so without relieving those upon whom the Property-tax would fall from other taxes which they now paid, as well as from the troublesome and vexatious means by which they were collected, He was sure that the money necessary for collecting a Property-tax would be considerably less than what was required under the present system. Sir Henry Parnell, a very competent authority on the subject, stated that the collection of the revenue cost 3,500,000l. annually. Now, a very considerable portion of that sum would be saved by doing away with the Excise-laws and the assessed taxes, and adopting a properly tax alone. The inequality of taxation was a ground of general complaint. Ireland paid less in proportion than England and Scotland; but there the lower classes were so miserably destitute as to be unable to pay their taxes, even so well as the people of the same class in this country. Surely this dreadful state of things ought to be remedied. The great landed proprietors of Ireland ought to be taxed for the support of that country, and not be allowed to squander the money derived from their lands there in other; countries. Having made these preliminary statements, he should now proceed to lay his plan before the House. No Gentleman, be it observed, who might support his Motion, would be bound to adopt his plan. It would be the duty of the Committee, if granted, to examine into the propriety of a commutation of taxes, and in lieu of such as their wisdom led them to commute, they might substitute some species of Property-tax. He knew that there was much difficulty in deciding on that point, which undoubtedly was a very nice one. He should commence a property tax on a small scale, so that it might be further extended should a case of necessity for such a proceeding be afterwards made out. He would, however, go to the root of the evil, and take 12,000,000l. or 14,000,000l. of taxes from the shoulders of the labouring and industrious classes. This sum he would supply by a Property-tax, but not in addition to the taxes which property at present paid. The persons who would be affected by this tax would experience a considerable reduction of taxation in other respects. He would abolish the whole of the Assessed taxes, because they were the most odious of all taxes. The House and Window- tax was so unequal and unjust in its operation, that there would not be the least difficulty in establishing a strong case for its abolition. The noble Lord knew what an immense number of petitions were laid before the House on this subject, and what a multitude of meetings had been held all through the country to denounce the tax. But then it might be asked: "Do you not retain the taxes on servants, carriages, dogs, &c., which fall on none but the wealthy?" In answer he would say, that the amount derived from them was so inconsiderable it was not worth while to retain those taxes, since it would be necessary to keep up an expensive machinery for their collection. The inequality of assessment with reference to the House and Window-tax was most glaring. It fell heavily upon populous towns, but scarcely touched the agricultural districts at all. Stowe, the splendid seat of the Duke of Buckingham, was rated at 300l. a-year, Belvoir Castle the seat of the Duke of Rutland, 200l. a-year. The Marquess of Exeter and other possessors of stately mansions were rated in a similar way. In Dorsetshire, a county with which he was well acquainted, he found that there were only four houses rated above 100l. Bedfordshire, the same. Durham, three; Worcester, nine; Carnarvonshire, seven, above 40l,; Radnorshire, eight at 20l., and none higher. He would therefore, repeal the House and Window-tax, together with the whole body of assessed taxes, to the amount of 4,000,000l. He would remove the duties from bricks, tiles, glass, hops, malt, paper, soap, and starch. These taxes he would remove, because they interfered with the industry of the country, and contributed to add to the misery of the labouring poor. Besides, they prevented those articles from becoming objects of foreign commerce. As to malt and hops, every landed gentleman would agree with him on the propriety of repealing the duties levied on them. It was the more advisable that this should be done after the introduction of the Beer Bill, because it would enable individuals to drink beer in their own houses, and they would thus get rid of the complaints which they hourly heard of the evils created by the new beer-shops. This reduction would be about 3,000,000l.; making, with the 4,000,000l. already mentioned 7,000,000l. He would take off half of the Sugar-duties, which would relieve the colonies, and en- able the labouring classes to possess themselves of that necessary commodity at a cheap rate. By the reduction of duty on this article, the amount taken from the revenue would be 2,100,000l. He also considered it essential to repeal one-half the duty on tea, which was also a necessary of life. Under this head the revenue would be a loser to the amount of 1,600,000l. The repeal of this article would become doubly necessary in the event of the anticipated opening of the trade to China; otherwise the smuggling, &c. would be carried on to a dreadful extent; but a repeal of the duty would obviate every fear of this. He should also propose the repeal of the duty on cotton wool. When the noble Lord repealed the duty on calicoes, he said that he could not give it up unless he laid a duty on the raw material. The noble Lord observed at the time that it was against his own feeling, and contrary to the principles of political economy. It ought, therefore, to be removed. Such a blot as a tax on the raw material should not be suffered to remain on the statute-book. The deficiency in the revenue by this would be 360,000l. He also proposed to repeal all duties on newspapers and advertisements, on principles which had been repeatedly laid down in that House. Newspapers were the organs for disseminating that knowledge amongst the people which was indispensable to their welfare, and ought not to be taxed; and he considered that the poor were the chief sufferers by the advertisement duties. In this article the loss to the Revenue would be 650,000l. Altogether, the loss to the Revenue by the repeal of the taxes which he proposed would appear to amount to 15,710,000l. But from this amount he calculated that the House might subtract a large sum, on the principle that the diminution of taxation on articles would promote an increased sale of those articles. If the tax were taken off any particular article, the poor man would of course not only be able to purchase a larger portion of that particular article, but would be also in a condition to buy some other necessary, which, by reason of the tax, he had before been incapacitated from doing. He had taken some pains in making a calculation of the probable addition to the revenue by the alterations he contemplated. The gross apparent amount of the loss to the revenue, by the proposed repeal in taxes, was 15,700,000l. From this, however, they must deduct the sum of 500,000l., which, by his calculation, might be reduced in the collection of taxes. Another sum of 500,000l. he calculated would result from the increased consumption of sugar, and the sum of 400,000l. from the increased consumption of tea, and a fourth sum of 310,000l. which would arise from the increased consumption of other articles. Adding these four sums together, there would be produced the sum of 1,710,000l., which, deducted from the supposed total loss to the revenue of 15,710,000l., would leave the amount of 14,000,000l.; and this amount he proposed to raise by the tax on property. He should leave the matter in the hands of the House; but he hoped, whatever the fate of his Motion might be, that throughout the country it would have the effect of producing an inquiry into the merits of the present system—namely, whether they could go on as they had hitherto done, calling on Ministers for a remission of taxation, which was incompatible with the public service, because no mode was pointed out to make good the deficiency which such a remission must cause. Was it not more manly—was it not more wise—to look the evil boldly in the face, and to endeavour to overcome it? He asserted that there was, at the present moment, a feeling of insecurity in the mind of almost every man with respect to the stability of property and the safety of our institutions. He did not participate in these gloomy feelings; but he thought that the existing state of things was sufficient to induce that House to inquire into the best mode of relieving that branch of the community which formed the strength of the nation. If they did that, and did it honestly, they would restore general confidence, and they would find that there were resources in the country sufficient to meet every difficulty. Such a proceeding would invigorate the industrious classes, and would give them confidence in the integrity of the House. This would be much better than expending night after night in useless debate, without entering into any inquiry on the subject. He should now make a few observations on the subject of a Property-tax. He was sorry that he could not, consistently with his duty, postpone his Motion, as he had been requested to do; but he wished to obtain the opinion of the House on this question before the Budget was brought forward. With respect to the introduction of a Property-tax, he believed the difficulty of effecting that object arose from the want of firmness in the Government to bring forward such a start-ling proposition, and want of willingness ling people of property to pay such a tax. They said: "Can we afford to pay this, ill addition to many other taxes?" Now, he would only ask those gentlemen, if they contributed a greater proportion to the exigences of the State than they now did, whether they would derive no compensation from the plan which he proposed? They would be relieved from the whole of the assessed taxes, and from the duties on malt and hops, &c. Would it be no compensation for the wealthy classes to see the condition of the labouring and industrious classes improved? Would it be no compensation to them to find peace and tranquillity pervading the whole community, and that life, and vigour, and activity, springing up, which were now paralyzed by excessive taxation? Would not such considerations as these induce them to make some sacrifice? But, as an act of justice, he would contend that property was the fit object of taxation, and that labour and industry ought not to be taxed. It was a monstrous anomaly to tax the poor so highly. He had made a calculation of what a working man with a wife and family paid to the State, and he found that it amounted to one-third of his earnings. He would, then, ask gentlemen of property, if they contributed in proportion to the poor man? He would ask those who lived in lodgings, who frequented clubs, and kept no establishment, although they possessed large funded property, and were in the receipt of great incomes—he would ask them what they contributed to the public burthens? And why should they not contribute? Taxes were actually imposed in consequence of this locking up of property. Then, again, great expense was incurred to preserve the peace, and keep down, by the means of civil and military power, those disorders that were engendered by the poverty of the people. He was most anxious, by attending to the calls of the people, to restore that confidence between the poor and the rich which had formerly existed, and which he was sorry to say, was no longer apparent. In consequence of the system that had latterly been pursued, the poor were taught to look on the rich rather as their oppressors than their protectors; while the rich viewed the poor as intruders, who annoyed them with their claims for succour and support. Gentlemen would be astonished at the number of letters which he had received on the subject of a Property-tax. A much more uniform opinion prevailed as to the propriety of laying on such a tax than as to the mode in which it should be effected. Some were of opinion that it ought to be levied on the amount of property funded, and all other property, after it had been valued, subject, of course, to investigation, as to the correctness of the amount; others thought it ought to be levied on the income derived from property; while others were of opinion that it ought to be levied on realized property—property derived from commercial or trading transactions. What the minimum this tax ought to be, he would not venture to say, but he felt that if it were not very low they would not be able to raise the necessary amount of revenue. Another question was, whether there should be a fixed per-centage on every amount of property, or a graduated Property-tax—a tax on all income realized by trade, commerce, or professional pursuits? It was his opinion, that the tax should be a graduated one, because he would not take from a man who had only 200l. a-year, so large a per-centage as he would from him who had 20,000l. per annum. That there was a necessity for some such measure as this was evident. The interest of the public debt was 28,000,000l.; the dead weight was 7,000,000l.; so that there was only 14,000,000l for them to operate on in a Committee of Supply, with all their ingenuity. It was clear, therefore, that they could not effect much by a reduction of their establishments. With respect to their manufacturing industry, foreign nations were gradually approaching this country, in spite of all our manufacturers could do. They were rapidly improving, and they were greatly assisted by mechanics whom distress had driven out of this country. Foreigners were gradually competing with Great Britain in some of her best manufactures. It was only, then, by cheapness that they could hope to secure the foreign market. From the excess of taxation all these evils had arisen. Hence competition had become excessive, and hence lowness of profits, and lowness of wages, and hence all the evils of the factory system, and of that pauperism which had overspread the land. It was be coming the Legislature, therefore, to look fairly and manfully into the stale of the country. They ought without procrastination, and without evasion, such as had heretofore been used, to look at the distress of the country with a view to giving relief. The noble Lord, the other evening, admitted the existence of distress, and he certainly was afraid, if the Session passed away without inquiry, that they would disappoint the expectations of the people and produce consequences the most fatal to the interests of the country. He admitted that the noble Lord desired to do what he could, to improve the condition of the people, and he could not think with the hon. member for Bridport, that if any motion of this kind were carried against the Government, that the Government must retire. He had no reluctance therefore, to make such a Motion, and trusted that if it were carried, means might be found to ease the burthens of the country and lighten the present great pressure of taxation. The hon. Member concluded by moving—"That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and revise our existing taxation, with a view to the repeal of those burthens which press most heavily on productive industry, and the substitution of an equitable tax on property in lieu thereof."

Mr. Warburton

rose to second the Motion. After the remarks which the hon. member for Worcester had made on him, the hon. Member could hardly expect that he would rise to second his Motion; but he was desirous of doing that. He could assure the House that there was no concert between the hon. Member and him. He had no objection to support a Motion for a specific inquiry; but he had opposed the Motion the other evening, because it was of so wide and vague and comprehensive a nature, that, had it been carried, all the petitions complaining of grievances, presented in the whole Session, ought necessarily to have been referred to that Committee. He objected to that Motion more particularly, because there was one subject of the inquiry which went to rescind all the contracts of the country. He objected to the extensive nature of the Motion the other evening, but he approved of the principle of this Motion. He considered it specific enough to engage the attention of a Committee, and there- fore he seconded it. He had formerly been taunted, when he introduced a Bill for regulating the single subject of tobacco, with taking upon himself the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but if his Motion were liable to that objection, how much more was the Motion liable to it which had just been made, and which he seconded. It should, however, be well considered, that our system of taxation was most complicated; and though it undoubtedly required modification, there was great difficulty in meddling with it. The system had so extended itself into all branches of business, that it could scarcely be touched in any branch, without creating, on the part of some of the people, a demand for compensation, or a cause of complaint. Thus, to allude only to the Auction duties—which the hon. member for Oldham, had on a former evening, brought under notice—if they were taken off, would not all the shopkeepers who paid heavy House and Window Taxes immediately complain? Would they not say, that they were subject to heavy taxes for everything they sold in their shops, while those who sold by auction, and kept up no establishments, were exempt from such duties? He stated that as an example to show that it was not so easy, however important it was, to give facility to the transfer of property—to make changes, as to propose them. This was only a sample of the complicated system which had extended itself over the whole country. The hon. member for Oldham had complained of the inequality of the taxes: but it belonged to this complicated system—it was a necessary part of it—that the taxes should press unequally. It was not necessary to specify the unequal pressure of particular taxes, for that was a vice which belonged to the system. It was the nature of taxation so complicated as ours that it was not easily altered, while that system was liable in every part to serious objection. The hon. member for Worcester proposed to tax property, though he did not know whether the hon. Member meant to tax property only, or property and income. He would say, that if the tax on property were to be permanent—if it were not merely a war tax—it would not be doing any injustice to tax income as well as property. If such a tax were permanent, it ought to fall on annuitants as well as others, for it would only touch them as long as they received the annuity. The objections chiefly made to a Property tax formerly were, that it was very unequal and unjust to tax property and income at the same ratio; but make the system permanent, and not temporary, let it not be merely a war tax, and that objection would disappear. Without entering into any question as to the propriety of taxing-small incomes, though perhaps small incomes should be exempt, he saw no injustice in taxing income derived from funded as well as other property. A tax of ten per cent, falling for one year on an annuitant would take ten per cent away from his income; but at twenty years' purchase the proportion of the annuity taken by such a tax would not be near so large. It had been proposed by a very eminent man—to mention whom was to praise him—Mr. Ricardo, that efforts should be made by a general taxation on all the property of the country to pay off the National Debt. His plan was, to lay a tax on every species of property, land, capital, and income, for the redemption of the debt. The leading objection to that plan was, that it was impracticable. The land-owners could never have been brought to consent to renew and change all their mortgages to attain such an object. A new modification of Mr. Ricardo's plan had lately been proposed by a gentleman who had been employed in collecting the Income Tax. That gentleman's name was Saver, and he would recommend his book to the perusal of hon. Members. His plan differed from Mr. Ricardo's, by his proposing to leave it optional with every capitalist and landlord to pay off his share of the National Debt. If the person was unable or unwilling to redeem his share, why it was to remain, and be collected as before, but if he chose to wash his hands of this tax, why it was to be at his option to redeem it. If the subject should ever be fairly taken into consideration, this plan of giving landlords the option of redemption would relieve it of its impracticability, and make the scheme be desirable. The Land Tax might be taken as an illustration, the redemption of which had been allowed on a similar principle. It had been objected to a Property Tax—that it was one which any Government could easily extend. In his opinion it was much more difficult for a Government to increase such a tax than indirect taxes. The indirect taxes were mixed up with the prices of the articles, and the taxpayer never knew either when he was paying a tax, or how much he was paying. But the tax collected on property, brought the tax-collector immediately into contact with the citizens; and in the collection of no tax did so much friction interfere between the citizen and the payment, to stop the Government from running too fast as in a Property Tax. In his opinion, the plan proposed by the hon. member for Worcester was not comprehensive enough. If a Property Tax were established at ail, it ought to supersede ail other taxes, otherwise the change was scarcely desirable. If they raised the same amount of taxes, it was not of much importance whether it were raised by one method or another; for the ability of the people to pay fifty millions of taxes would not be much increased or diminished by the method of collecting it. The hon. Member's plan left three millions behind for collection. It left all the evils and expenses of indirect taxation—all the expense of boards and collectors—which ought to be got rid of as far as possible. Should the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, consider it proper to recommend a Property Tax, he hoped the noble Lord would make so extensive, so sweeping a change, that he would remove the whole mass of indirect taxation. The plan of an Income tax, redeemable at option, would not be liable to any objections of being a breach of faith, such as was implied, he believed, in the Motion of the hon. member for Birmingham. It would leave all existing contracts untouched—it would remove taxes from the industry of the country, and it would place these taxes where they could be best borne—on the large capitalists, and on the large landed proprietors, and on those who ought to bear the heaviest taxation. Against any Motions made with a view to break faith with the public creditor, or to commit a breach of contract, he should come armed with this suggestion of Mr. Ricardo, and say, that it would be far better to impose an Income and Property Tax, than consent to any such Motion. To any Motion implying a breach of faith, he should always give his opposition; and that was one reason why he opposed the Motion already alluded to on a former evening.

Question put.

Lord Althorp

did not accuse the hon. Member who brought forward the Motion of any intention to embarrass the Government. On the contrary, he thought it was a fair Motion, and the hon. Gentleman had brought it forward only, he believed, with a view of stating his own opinions to the House. He did not object to the Motion, because it was his duty, as a Member of his Majesty's Government, to bring forward, if necessary, such Motions; for if the hon. Member chose to save him the trouble of making a financial statement to the House, he should not make any serious objection. He must first allude to what the hon. Gentleman said of the duties of his situation. He admitted that the duty of his situation was to state the truth concerning the affairs of the country. He had always endeavoured to do that. Nothing was so absurd or so injurious as for a statesman to boast of a prosperity which did not exist. At the same time it was his duty not to overlook any advantages, and he was not bound to make the public distress greater than it really was. It was his duty at all times, and on every topic, to state to the House fully and fairly, exactly what he thought on the subject. With respect to what the hon. Gentleman said of his having given his assent to a similar Motion in 1830, when made by his right hon. friend (Mr. Poulett Thomson), it should, however, be remembered that the Motion then made was for the revision of taxation, and it did not apply to a Property tax. At the same time, he would fairly admit, that he had on that occasion used expressions such as those the hon Member alluded to, and had expressed himself favourable to a Property tax. He knew that he had stated, that, though he was opposed to a Property tax in 1816, yet subsequent experience taught him that it might be adopted. He stated then in 1830, that this change of opinion had been brought about by longer experience. But since 1830, he had had a great deal more experience, and experience of a kind calculated to take more effect on his mind than any experience he had had before. His opinion in 1830 certainly was, that a change might be made in the taxation of the country; but, if he had then seen the many difficulties which had since been thrown in the way of making such an experiment, he should probably not have been of that opinion. What was the first financial statement he made to the House? Was it not for a commutation of taxes? Certainly it was, and the experience he then acquired, showed him that such a proposition was not so easily carried into effect as he had before supposed. What did he find then? Every facility was given him by the House to take off taxes; but there was an extreme difficulty to impose taxes in lieu of those removed. He recollected the objections then made by the hon. member for Whitehaven; the hon. Member said, it was "half peace—half war." He was ready to admit, that a commutation of taxes sounded well—a commutation that was to make a more equal distribution—to take off the taxes which pressed on industry, and lay them on more equally; but in practice that was not found so easy or so desirable. The destruction of capital which it produced, the disturbance of trade, the imposing of a new tax on one, and taking it off another class, made the commutation of taxes interfere with many interests. It was not so good in practice as it was perfect in theory. With respect to the principles of taxation laid down by the hon. Gentleman, he agreed in them. The taxes should certainly be removed from the labouring classes, and laid on property. But the difficult question was, to know what taxes pressed most on labour. The hon. Gentleman said, that taxes should not be laid on articles of the labourers' consumption; but, in his opinion, taxes which interfered with the employment of labour, pressed more severely on the labourer, than taxes on articles of his consumption. Therefore he thought, that in taking off taxes, they ought rather to consider whether the taxes to be removed interfered with the employment of labour, than whether they fell on what the labourer consumed. Another point to be considered was, whether a tax was popular or not; for, certainly, one object should be so to regulate taxation, that it should be paid in such a manner as to give satisfaction to the people. It was not necessary for him then to go into the question of the inequality of taxation; he acknowledged that it existed, but that he believed was a necessary part of the system. It was impossible, he believed, to regulate taxation so as to fall only upon the rich. The great mass of taxation must necessarily fall on the middle classes, and, at least, a small part on the labouring classes. The hon. Gentleman proposed a large, an enormous reduction of taxation. The hon. Gentleman stated it at 15,000,000l., he should, however, say that the proposition of the hon. Gentleman would go the length of reducing taxation to the amount of 17,000,000l. The hon. Gentleman said, that the whole sum of 15,000,000l.; or 17,000,000l. would not be lost to the revenue, but a part of it would be made up by increased consumption. He admitted that, and even thought, that the increased consumption would furnish a larger compensation than the hon. Gentleman supposed. The hon. Gentleman supposed that the 15,000,000l. reduced would, in fact, only take away 14,000,000l. from the revenue; but he should say, that it would not take away above 12,000,000l. But in the case of a Property-tax, proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, there would be no increased power of consumption. It would remain the same. That tax would fall on the rich, and the amount they consumed would remain about the same. By removing a Property-tax, they would not increase the consumption of the rich in the same manner as they would increase the consumption of the poor, if they took off taxes which raised the price of what they consumed. His hon. friend had not adverted to the amount of taxation which he proposed to raise; he presumed, however, that the intention was to raise, by means of a Property-tax, an amount of taxation equal to the sums levied by the taxes to be reduced. He would, therefore, call the attention of the House for a few minutes to the Property-tax which was taken off in 1816. The amount raised by this tax was 14,500,000l. if they looked to the sources whence that sum was derived, they would find that the tax was intended to bear on professional incomes, and on the profits of trade, as well as on incomes arising from realized property. From the various evasions to which this mode of taxation was liable, it became difficult to ascertain the true amount of professional incomes, or trading profits; and the consequence was, that a very disproportionate part of the whole amount was derived from fixed incomes. He would also call on the House to remember what was the value of money at the time when a Property-tax existed? If they would look to that point, it would lead them to the conclusion that an Income-tax of ten per cent would not now produce so much as the Property-tax of 1816. Now, he would ask any Gentleman of experience, whether the introduction of such a tax would not have the effect of driving capital out of the country? A Property-tax was suited to a period of war, rather than to a period of peace. During war, there were many counteracting circumstances which prevented capital from being withdrawn. But if, in a period of peace, property were to be deprived of so large a proportion of its emoluments, the natural consequence would be, the withdrawal of capital. His hon. friend, the member for Bridport, had said, that he would take off all indirect taxes, and substitute a Property-tax. But he (Lord Althorp) was assured that any attempt to raise 52,000,000l. per annum by means of a Property-tax, would produce such an effect upon capital, as would strike a most fatal blow at the prosperity of this country. His hon. friend said, that the Property-tax which he proposed was to be a graduated one. Now, he was perfectly free to admit, that every man should pay taxes in proportion to what he enjoyed; and, if it were possible to invent any system which, without these disadvantages, could effect that object, it would be the perfection of taxation. But, in reference to a graduated Property-tax, he could not see upon what principle they were to go. It was nothing more nor less than saying what amount of income a man ought to have. When they laid a greater tax on a man possessing 20,000l. per annum, than on a man possessing 1,000l. a-year, what was it but saying that the man of 20,000l. a-year had too much property? If the principle were to be carried out to that extent, it would come eventually to the equalization of all property. Nothing could be so dangerous as to hold out such a prospect. He did not, however, mean to pledge himself that, to a certain extent, he might not go along with the hon. Gentleman; but he did not think it desirable at the present time that the House should entertain the subject of the commutation of taxes with the view proposed by the hon. Gentleman. If the hon. Gentleman possessed the experience which he possessed, the hon. Gentleman would know, that, by taking off taxes, great individual distress was produced. That, certainly, he admitted, was no I reason for not taking them off, though, unless the case were one which particularly called for it, he thought it desirable that the House should not encourage such commutation. He did think, however, that in one case where he commuted a tax, the commutation had proved advantageous to the country. The case he alluded to, was that of taking the duty off printed calicoes, and placing it on the raw material; although, he admitted, that to place a duty on the raw material was contrary to general principles. He could not consent to this Motion. Were he to do so, he should be throwing on a Committee of that House a duty which was properly imposed upon himself. It was his duty to inquire into and consider what taxes could be reduced most advantageously to the public, and that was one of the first objects to which he must and should always apply himself. He was anxious, perhaps too anxious, when he first entered office, to afford immediate relief to the people; but he had now gained a little more experience, and he could assure the House, that he felt it his duty to give this subject his most serious consideration.

Mr Cobbett

would vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester, not because he thought a graduated Property-tax just, but because he thought it right to get rid of the whole of the present system of taxation. A graduated Property-tax was neither more nor less than confiscation. The House must see—Ministers must see—that in all measures of taxation introduced, the poor were ground down and oppressed, while the rich were allowed to escape almost scot free. Under all the circumstances of the case, he felt bound to support the Motion which bad been so ably brought forward by the hon. member for Worcester.

Mr. Hume

congratulated the hon. member for Worcester upon the change of opinions which had taken place in his mind. He agreed with those hon. Members who said that taxes ought to be reduced, and, most of all, those taxes which pressed most heavily upon the working and industrious classes of society. The taxes upon society pressed most unequally. While there was no more than one per cent imposed upon the rich man, an amount of eight, ten, twelve, or perhaps twenty per cent was imposed upon the poor man. He must here observe, that he was surprised at what had fallen from the hon. member for Oldham; namely, that the imposition of a Property-tax would be nothing short of confiscation. It certainly was true, that every tax was a confiscation to that amount; but then it was a confiscation which could not be avoided, as it was required for the purpose of carrying on the Government of the country. The only question was, how they were to raise the taxes necessary for the support of the State, so as to inflict the least possible evil on the community that paid them? And he would ask the hon. Gentleman, whether experience had not proved that a direct tax on property was levied for about one per cent; and, whether it was not a greater confiscation to levy taxes as they were now levied, indirectly, at a cost of 6l 8l., or 10l. per cent? The principles, with regard to taxation, which he laid down, and to which he requested the concurrence of the hon. member for Oldham, were, that not one shilling more should be raised than was absolutely necessary; and, secondly, that the necessary amount should be raised at the least possible sacrifice. The only objection that he had to a graduated Property-tax was, its utter impracticability, on account of the evasion to which it was liable. He thought, however, that by taking off' the taxes on soap, paper, and other excisable articles, and laying on a Property-tax in their stead, the noble Lord would afford great relief to the working-classes. He hoped the House would not suffer itself to be led away by the observation that a Property-tax would lead to an equalization of property. The fact was, that ultimately the whole of the taxes of the country were paid by capital; and he was satisfied that the capitalist, whether agriculturalist or otherwise, would find himself much better off by paying taxes directly than indirectly. He agreed with much that had fallen from the noble Lord opposite, and also from the hon. member for Worcester; but he thought it was a subject which would be brought forward by the Treasury Bench with more advantage than if it proceeded from a Committee. Approving, as he did, of the general principles laid down by the noble Lord, he could only express a hope that he would act on them as speedily as possible.

Colonel Torrens

said, he would vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester. Though he had paid considerable attention to the question before the House, yet, upon a subject so extensive and important, he would not venture to obtrude his opinions upon the House, were it not that they coincided with those of some of the most eminent statesmen who had guided Parliament and the country. It was well known that Mr. Huskisson, in one of his latest speeches to his constituents at Liverpool, had declared it to be his opinion that the industry of the country was so much oppressed, that it had become necessary to raise the public revenue by transmuting taxation from the active capital which gave employment to labour, to the fixed and dormant property from which merely revenue was derived. The principle of relieving the country from its oppressive burthens had also been propounded by the late Mr. Ricardo. He (Colonel Torrens) had heard with great satisfaction the encomium passed upon that eminent man by his hon. friend, the member for Bridport. The late Mr. Ricardo was a man whose memory ought not to be lightly treated in that House. It was not becoming, it was not decent, to treat his memory with disparagement or disrespect. Born without fortune, he created a princely one; self-educated, he attained the highest place in political philosophy; coming late in that House, he gradually acquired a lead and an ascendancy in it; and, be it remembered, that that ascendancy was acquired in other days than these. It was acquired when Romilly and Mackintosh—when Tierney and when Brougham sat on those seats—and when Huskisson and Canning occupied the Treasury Bench. It was not becoming—it was not decent—to treat the memory of such a man with disrespect. His moral worth was equal to his intellectual power. He had an ardent desire for esteem, and no human being ever succeeded more completely in obtaining it. To his family and friends, he was an object of affectionate admiration; and it was impossible to approach him without feeling that he was a man made to be loved. Mr. Ricardo left his place in that House not likely soon to be occupied, and a void in the hearts of his friends which never could be filled. He begged pardon for this digression. He would now direct himself to the question before the House. Throughout the country there existed amongst the industrious classes general and grievous distress. It was acknowledged, that a large portion of this distress arose from the pressure of taxation; and it was admitted that the most effectual relief which this House could afford, was by taking off the pressure of taxation. But how was this pressure to be removed? Thirty-four millions of the taxes were absorbed by the interest of the debt, and there remained only 20,000,000l. which could be diminished by the reduction of the public establishments. Now, no possible reduction in the establishments of the country could afford any adequate relief while the people paid, out of the produce of their industry, 34,000,000l. for the interest of the debt. Relief could be obtained only by shifting taxation from industry, and placing it upon the fixed and immovable properly which was expended without putting industry in motion. And here he must dissent from the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The noble Lord had just said, that if the proprietors of fixed property were taxed, their revenue would be diminished; they would consume less, and therefore the indirect taxes would become less productive. He (Colonel Torrens) dissented from this. If a landed proprietor, who received 100,000l. a-year, paid 10,000l. a-year as a Property-tax, this 10,000l. a-year would still exist as revenue in the hands of those to whom the Treasury paid it; the whole unproductive income of the country, though differently distributed, would remain exactly the same in amount, and the consumption could not be diminished, nor the revenue derived from indirect taxation be reduced. The noble Lord had stated another position, from which he (Colonel Torrens) must dissent. The noble Lord had said, that were a tax upon property imposed, capital would immediately be drawn from the country, in order to evade the tax. This could not be, were taxation confined, as it ought to be, to fixed and immovable property. Such a tax, instead of driving capital out of the country, would draw capital into it. What was the great evil of taxation? The evil consisted in this—taxation, as now imposed, took so large a portion of the produce of industry from the producers, that profits and wages were reduced. But if you took off all taxes from productive and active capital giving employment to labour, and placed them upon the rent of land and upon the dividends received from the debt, neither profits nor wages would be re- duced. On the contrary, the profits derived from the employment of active Capital would immediately increase, and to obtain the increased profits capital would flow into the country, trade in all its branches would improve, and the demand for labour and the wages of the labourer would both increase. There was one objection to the transfer of taxation from industry to fixed and dormant property, which, before he sat down, he would notice. It was contended that such a transmutation of taxation would be contrary to the principle of justice. He (Colonel Torrens) contended that it would be conformable to the strictest principle of justice. In the first place, the value of fixed and dormant property was regulated by the quantity of floating and active capital employed in conjunction with it. It was the capital of the farmer which gave value to the land of the proprietor; it was the capital employed in setting productive labour which paid the rent of the houses in our manufacturing and commercial towns. When you taxed active capital, and thereby reduced profits and wages, you thereby diminished the rent of land and of houses; and when you relieved industry from taxation, and thereby increased the surplus produce created, you, at the same time, increased the only-fund from which the revenue of fixed property and of dormant capital could be derived. But there was another most important consideration connected with the principle of justice. Upon what principle of Justice could we tax the produce of the labourers yet unborn? The possessors of fixed property might dispose of that property as they pleased, and, to protect the whole, might mortgage a part. But by what right could any existing generation preserve their property by taxing the industry of future generations? It was contrary to all the principles of national justice to call upon the industrious classes of this country to pay the interest of a debt incurred for the protection of fixed property. The people must be relieved, and they could not be effectually relieved while industry paid the interest of the debt. The fixed property of the country, for the protection of which the debt was incurred, should be made to pay the debt. This was what justice demanded, and from the Reformed Parliament the people expected justice. If relief were not afforded, and if justice were not done, a spirit of discontent would arise far greater than that which the Reform Bill had allayed. On these grounds he should vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester.

Mr. Hoy

was glad to hear the opinions which had been uttered by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he should certainly vote with the noble Lord. Since he had been on the Treasury Bench, the noble Lord had learnt that a transmutation of taxes was not beneficial to the country. Employment, he agreed also with the noble Lord in saying, was of more consequence to the people than the mere remission of taxation. If fifteen millions of taxes, for example, were remitted to fifteen millions of tax payers, the relief to each would not be more than three farthings a-day. It was, therefore, clear that employment was of much more importance to the labouring classes than a diminution of taxation. He agreed with the hon. member for Oldham that a graduated Property-tax would be nothing more nor less than a system of confiscation.

Mr. Walter

said, that he should obtrude himself on the House for only a few minutes, in order to explain the grounds of his vote on this important question. The Motion brought forward by the hon. Gentleman was of a nature totally different from that made by the hon. member for Birmingham last week—was not liable to the same exceptions, and therefore ought not to undergo the same fate; though even that Motion died an honourable death, from the interesting nature of the subject to which it related—namely, the distresses of the people. But that Motion was general; and on that account was, he thought, properly rejected, as it proposed inquiry only. This Motion was specific, recommending to the consideration of the House a method of alleviating the public distress, or at least of abating the public dissatisfaction. He begged the House to consider what were the feelings of the country on the present state of taxation. No one imagined that the taxes could be wholly relinquished—that the Government of the country could be carried on without them; yet the cry against taxation was universal, and, in many respects, he thought, just. An hon. Baronet had, a few days ago, proposed the abrogation of the Malt-tax; he meant to have included the tax on hops in his proposition. The Assessed-taxes were generally and earnestly declaimed against; that portion of them which pressed unfairly on the houses and windows of the middle and industrious classes could not, he believed, be maintained much longer. The duty on fire-insurances, on soap, on stamps, on probates of wills, were all exclaimed against and execrated, as partial, oppressive, and cruel; yet if all these were repealed, where would be the revenue to carry on the Government and to pay the interest of the public debt? It followed, then, as an incontrovertible inference—as an undeniable logical conclusion—that if the people of this country acknowledged, as in common justice they must, the necessity of a revenue for the support of Government, and yet expressed their abhorrence of almost every existing tax for which revenue was raised as unjust or impolitic, that, in order to give relief and produce satisfaction, the whole system of taxation must be changed; it must be fixed upon other objects; or the burthen must be so placed, after being lightened as much as possible, as to bear, in a very different ratio from the present, on the several classes of the community. What could be the result of all this, but that a tax upon property—not upon industry, not upon ingenuity and talents, which were the most productive forms in which industry displayed itself—but that a Property-tax, fitly graduated, should supply the place of all other taxes, against which there was so just and general an outcry. In speaking of a graduated Property-tax, he meant such as should apply only in the case of smaller incomes; he thought it would be objectionable to apply the principle to the case of large fortunes. Whoever in that House was an advocate for the repeal of any of the obnoxious taxes which he had just described—the Malt-tax, the Assessed-taxes, or any of the remaining host of nameless taxes by which the middle orders of society were oppressed, and social life disturbed and harassed, must, he should conceive, vote in support of the present Motion; or, by opposing it, deny to the Government the necessary means of self-preservation. He conceived, then, upon every ground, affecting as well the popularity of the King's Government as the character of the Reformed Parliament and the feelings of the whole constituency by which it had been elected, that the present Motion ought to command the assent of his Majesty's Ministers and the House of Commons. The question was one which went home to the common sense of every order of men in the nation. It was eminently a practical subject: there was nothing speculative, nothing fanciful, nothing Utopian in it. The people from one end of the kingdom to the other were anxiously looking forward to some measure which should conduce to their solid and permanent relief; and considering to what little purpose two months of the Session had been already expended, and how small a portion of the public expectation had to that hour been satisfied, he feared their constituents, if a Motion of this nature were rejected, would ask universally: "Of what use is your boasted Reform?"

Mr. O'Connell

said, he would vote for this inquiry. Adopting the sentiment of the last speaker, he would say it was inconsistent with common sense to refuse inquiry on the grounds which had been stated. The Motion did not pledge them to a Property-tax. All they had to do was to consider if it was proper to institute an inquiry whether the system of taxation might not be so altered as to press more upon property and less upon industry. The system of taxation at present was extremely unequal. The Assessed Taxes pressed heavier on the poorer classes than on the richer; and the small house in town was rated high, while the great house in the country was assessed at a comparatively low rate. The Stamp-duties also bore heavier on the lower classes than on the higher; and the excise in general was liable to the same objection. Nothing, indeed, was so blameable in point of principle as the excise with respect to improvements in manufactures. It seemed in fact actually to prohibit improvement, by introducing into the workshop a species of tyranny exercised by excise officers, without whom the imposts could not be enforced. It was a domestic and legal despotism which rendered changes in the process of manufacturing and of course improvements, almost impossible. The Motion did not, of necessity, involve any consideration of a Property or Income tax. It was merely a Motion for an inquiry. The House had already rejected a motion for an inquiry into the distress of the country; and since no relief hitherto had been promised, it was at least the duty of a Reformed House of Commons to inquire. For these reasons he should vote for the Motion.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

did not wish to protract a debate which was evidently drawing to a close. But having been pointedly alluded to by the hon. member for Worcester he must state, as concisely as possible, the opinions which he entertained upon the subject. He must first, however, congratulate the House upon the generosity which the hon. and learned member for Dublin had displayed in supporting the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester. From the terms in which the hon. and learned Member's observations were couched he could scarcely have heard the proposition, because he said that the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester was nothing more than a proposal for a Committee to inquire into the mode of distributing taxation, without having for its object the adoption or substitution of a Property-tax. It was plain that the hon. and learned Member, when he said, that, could not have heard the Motion as it was submitted by the hon. member for Worcester, because it contained not only the terms which, the hon. Member said, formed no part of it,—but the substitution of a Property-tax, for those which it was supposed bore more immediately and oppressively upon the people at large was clearly and avowedly the view taken of the subject by the hon. mover himself. One of the propositions, indeed of the hon. mover, and the argument upon which it was rested, was this—that whereas the Assessed Taxes which he proposed to remit were not at present paid by Ireland—a Property-tax if adopted, would be paid by that country. How the hon. and learned Gentleman then could suppose that in going into the proposed Committee the only consideration would be how taxation might best and most advantageously be transferred from one article of consumption to another, and not how a Property-tax might be substituted for the Assessed and many other taxes it was difficult to conceive. He gave the hon. and learned Gentleman the benefit of the view which he had taken of the question, and repeated his acknowledgment of the great generosity which he had exhibited. But he was anxious to draw the attention of the House to the specific Motion of the hon. member for Worcester, which, however it might have been overlooked by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, was that upon which he rested his defence against any charge of inconsistency that might be brought against him for offering his opposition to it. The hon. member for Worcester had done him the honour to speak in terms of praise of a motion which, two years ago, he had submitted to the House; and the hon. Member asked how, consistently with his conduct on that occasion, it would be possible for him to oppose the Motion. The whole difference rested in this; that, whereas he proposed an inquiry into the taxation of the country, with the view of repealing some few taxes which he then designated—an inquiry, in fact, into the possibility or probability of augmenting the revenue derived from the tax upon some articles, by reducing the amount of the impost upon others; the Motion which the hon. Member proposed was for a sweeping repeal of taxes, amounting to not less than 17,000,000l., and the substitution in their stead of a tax upon property. Upon the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded, it was argued that the result of his motion must be the imposition of a Property-tax; but he expressly guarded himself against such a result; and a right hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House, who was opposed to a Property-tax, agreed in the Motion, and gave it his very able support. That was, in his opinion, a sufficient ground for the opposition which he meant to give to the Motion under consideration. But there were two other grounds upon which he should oppose it. In the first place, he did not consider it advisable to refer a great question of principle, which should only be determined by the whole House, to the consideration of a Select Committee. If it were the general opinion that it was advisable to introduce a Property-tax in lieu of other taxes, let the principle be fairly discussed and debated in the House; let the arguments for and against the question be stated within those walls; and let any Gentleman who came down with such a proposition (upon which he would give no opinion whatever) let any Gentleman at least who came down with such a proposition, give the House at the same time some plan by which he would wish to have the transmutation made; and not tell the House as it had been told to-night "impose a Property-tax, or an Income-tax, which you will, or which you think best—we tell you which are the taxes we wish to have taken off, but we do not pretend to explain to you the nature of the tax which we wish to impose." The other ground upon which he should oppose the Motion was this; that, under present circumstances, the Government was not in the same condition to repeal taxes as at the time the motion alluded to by the hon. Gentleman was made. Since that period, his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had taken off nearly the whole of those taxes, the repeal of which he then advocated. Upon that occasion he stated to the House that the taxes which he was anxious to see repealed, were those upon hemp, barilla, candles, glass, paper, and printed calicoes, making a total of 2,814,000l. Four of these six taxes had since been repealed entirely, and the repeal of a fifth, the tax upon glass, was attempted, but in consequence of difficulties which arose, his noble friend was obliged to abandon his project. He said, then, with reference to this part of the subject, that the circumstances in which the country was placed were no longer the same, since the greater number of those taxes which were specially designated by him as obnoxious, had since been removed from the statute-books of the country. Coming to the second part of the question, namely, the propriety of substituting an Income or a Property-tax in lieu of all those various taxes which the hon. Gentleman had detailed to them, he must say, that there was no part of the speech of his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he more cordially and more heartily concurred, than that in which he said, that although great advantage might ultimately result from a change of taxation, its immediate effect must be to produce considerable disturbance in the various interests of the country. Unless, therefore, the strongest grounds were laid for a change in the system of taxation; and except, after long consideration and a duly weighing all the interests of the country, it would not be wise to undertake it. That a change, in some instances, might be carried into effect with advantage no man could doubt, but when they came to such an extensive and general change as that proposed by the hon. member for Worcester, the effect would be, to unhinge many of the best and most valuable interests in the country at the same time it would utterly fail of producing any of the benefits which the hon. Member seemed to expect from it. But in stating this, he must also observe, that he was far from wishing to express himself altogether unfriendly to the principle of change, and the substitution of Income or Property-taxes, for those which bore more immediately upon the necessaries or conveniences of life. He regretted, however, that no Gentleman who had spoken upon this occasion had favoured the House with any precise explanation of what he intended by a Property-tax. The hon. member for Worcester stated that of the three projects which he named he should prefer a graduated Income-tax, pressing more immediately and more heavily upon fixed or realized property, than upon incomes derived from professions. The hon. member for Bridport laid down, in his opinion, the only fair rule by which it would be possible to fix a tax of this kind; but then the hon. Member attached to it the condition that it must be permanent, making it quite evident that, in its origin, it must be unequal and unjust; because capital upon which the tax would, in the first instance, be levied, would naturally be invested for different degrees of duration. For instance, some capital was vested for ten years, to be returned in ten years, while other was vested in perpetuity. Of course, the income derived from the capital vested for ten years, only, would be greater than that derived from capital vested in perpetuity. To levy the same tax, then, upon incomes derivable from property so differently vested, would be manifestly unfair and unjust. The hon. member for Middlesex, to his utter astonishment, had that evening come forward as the advocate of a graduated Property-tax. It was with great satisfaction that he heard from the hon. member for Oldham, his entire repudiation of such a scheme; and he fully concurred in the propriety of designating it a "confiscation of property." In his opinion, that was the proper term to apply to such a tax. That the hon. member for Middlesex, who professed to be guided by the principles of political economy, should have advocated a tax which struck at the root of one of the first objects of that science—the accumulation of property—appeared to him to be utterly inconceivable. The result of his proposition would be, to fix a limit to the amount of the fortunes of every individual in the country, and to put a total and complete stop to the accumulation of properly. It was undoubtedly in the power of the House to do that; but he asked whether it could be considered just, or wise, or prudent, to adopt such a course? But the hon. member for Oldham, whilst he decried the scheme of a graduated Property-tax, asked why the House continued to impose an unequal tax upon the poor through the medium of the Stamp-duties. Into that question he would not at present enter; but it certainly appeared to him that there was this very simple reason for the inequality of which the hon. Member complained; namely that it would be unwise to ordain a tax which they could not by possibility collect. If the House were to endeavour to impose the same rate of taxation upon stamps for a large amount, as upon stamps for a small amount, no doubt could be entertained, but that means of avoiding the duty would very soon be found out, and that, in point of fact, stamps for a large amount would never be used. If, in the instance of bills of exchange, the duty were increased in proportion to the sum, the cost of the stamp for a bill drawn upon a merchant in London, at a few months' date, for 1,000l., would be somewhere about 70l. This might have the effect of reducing exchanges to barter, but it certainly would not operate to relieve the poor from any part of the taxes which they were compelled to pay. Throughout the whole of the discussion no definite proposition of any kind whatever had been offered as to the nature of the tax to be imposed. He wanted to know whether it was proposed to impose an Income-tax similar to the last, or a Property-tax, founded upon fixed and permanent property alone. He should be glad to see any feasible plan brought forward; but at the same time he very much doubted the possibility of introducing any measure, taxing property, and not taxing income, which it would be proper to adopt as just and fair. He would ask those who were inclined for such a tax, how they would manage to collect it upon that species of property which was constantly transferable throughout the country? But he would not enter into the discussion of that part of the question. He would merely advert to one other point which relates to the imposition of the tax, and which he considered to be of the deepest importance. If a Property-tax were imposed to the full extent suggested by the hon. member for Worcester, namely, to the extent of 15,000,000l., what would become of the property of the country? The proposition had been advocated, because it would impose a tax upon absentees. But if such a tax were imposed, absentees would take their property away with them, and instead of reaching those who lived abroad, their property would be transferred to some other country where it would not be liable to such an impost. That the Property-tax had no such effect during the war was no argument, because the times were perfectly different. The Continent was then closed to Englishmen; but he believed, that, with the desire which now existed to obtain a larger rate of profit upon capital than could be acquired in this country, there was already too great a desire to transfer property from hence, and certainly the finishing stroke would be given to the effects of that desire, if such a tax as that now proposed were to be levied. In answer to what had been asserted of the total absence of relief from taxation, and of the little that had been done for the benefit of the working and productive classes of the kingdom, he would refer to the taxes which had been repealed since the war. As nearly as he could, he would classify them into two descriptions: first, the taxes which may be considered as pressing upon productive industry; and second, those which bear more immediately upon property. He made that distinction in obedience to the expressions used in that House, rather than in conformity to his own feelings, because he was firmly convinced that any tax which pressed upon property, must, in a great degree, impede productive industry. He did not believe in those distinctions which were drawn; because a tax was paid upon capital in the first instance, that it therefore pressed upon the rich alone,—or, because a tax was paid upon the article consumed by the poor man, that therefore it weighed upon the poor alone. He believed that with a population such as that of England, all taxes must ultimately be paid by capital, and out of the profits of the capitalist's stock. The amount of the wages of the labourers, would always depend upon the competition of capital for the employment of his skill or industry; so that any tax which at first sight appeared to press more immediately upon the wages of the poor, must ultimately be paid by capital. However, for the sake of others, and for the purposes of this discussion, he would make the distinction; and that hon. Gentlemen might not run away with the idea that nothing whatever had been done to relieve the country from the burthen of taxation, he wished very shortly to state what imposts had been taken off since the termination of the war. The total amount of the taxes which had been repealed since the war was 34,137,000l. In that sum was included the Property-tax the amount of which was 14,600,000l. Since the year 1819 or 1820, there had been repealed taxes on articles principally consumed by the lower classes, or which, in his opinion, was a matter of much more importance, on the raw material and other articles used in manufactures, no less a sum than 16,864,000l. Those articles had been principally soap, coffee, tobacco, silk, windows, beer, leather, candles, printed cotton, &c. Under the present circumstances, when the revenue very little exceeded the expenditure, the utmost caution ought to be used on the subject. When it was proposed to repeal at once a tax producing 4,500,000l. he hoped hon. Gentlemen would have some little regard for the engagements which the country had contracted; and that they would not allow themselves, in consequence of any immediate call on the part of their constituents, to do anything which might materially affect public credit; for he was persuaded that those constituents were far too honest and upright to entertain a deliberate wish to relieve themselves from taxation at such a price. It should be always remembered, that all the revenue of the country except about 14,000,000l. was engaged in a manner to which the public faith was solemnly pledged. In disposing of that 14,000,000l., he trusted that the Government with which he had the honour to be connected, had not shown any indisposition to economise as far as was possible.

Mr. Harvey

was not at all surprised at the natural disinclination of Gentlemen, most of whom were men of large property, to hear arguments, the tendency of which was to show that property ought to be more heavily taxed than at present. That feeling of dislike would, however, be a lesson to the new Members (a larger body than had ever before appeared in Parliament). The mode in which the proposition of the hon. Member had been treated must show them, that it was very easy to divert attention from the principle of a Motion, by introducing a number of unconnected details. The speech, for example, of the right hon. the Vice President of the Board of Trade, although, as usual, one of considerable ability, had little bearing on the question before the House. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman accused the hon. member for Worcester of not sufficiently defining his notion of what the proposed Property-tax ought to be. It was not necessary that the hon. member for Worcester should do so; that was a subject to be considered in the Committee, Ministers pretended to object to the Motion, because the hon. member for Worcester had thrown out the idea of establishing a Property-tax; but every one knew, that if the hon. Member had merely proposed the repeal of 15,000,000l. of taxes, without suggesting the means of providing a substitute, Ministers would have risen one after another, held up their hands, and exclaimed, "What a monstrous proposition to ask us to repeal 15,000,000l. of taxes without finding a substitute!" Then, the question if taxes were to be repealed, and if a substitute must be found for them, what was that substitute to be? Ministers knew full well that the only substitute was a Property-tax, and yet, because that was suggested, they said they would negative the Motion. Ministers, and particularly the right hon. Gentleman, had upon this occasion assailed a Property-tax most vigorously, because they knew that they were addressing, on that point at least, a partial audience. Among other arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman, he had urged that it would not touch absentees. But if people went away from the country, they must leave their property behind them subject to taxation, or they must find customers for it, who would alike be subject to taxation. As to the depreciation of the funds, the 28,000,000l. of interest on the national debt, would be taxed, and the amount of that tax would be the same, whether Consols were at sixty or at par. Equally fallacious was the notion of absentees carrying away their property, unless they could travel like snails with their houses on their backs. The hon. member for Oldham had endeavoured to throw an odium upon the proposition of the hon. member for Worcester, by the use of a single word; he had declared, that a graduated Property-tax would be a confisca- tion. Why, all taxes were, in one sense of the expression, a confiscation. His (Mr. Harvey's) notion of a graduated Property-tax was, not a tax which would seize the whole of any property, but a tax which would apply with equal weight to properties of unequal amount. For instance, that if property of 200l. a-year were taxed two per cent, that property of 10,000l. a-year might be taxed five per cent, and property of 20,000l. a-year twenty per cent. Confiscation! Could there be a more infamous system of confiscation than that which, by the present system, was carrying on against the industry of the country? The average wages of a labourer were 12s. a-week, or 30l. a-year. Of this sum it had been ascertained, by able calculators, that thirty-three percent was struck off for taxes paid by the labourer on the necessary articles of consumption; in other words, that 11l. out of 30l. were taken from him. But what was the case with a man of 30,000l. a-year? To subject him to equal confiscation, 10,000l. of his income ought to be taken from him. But as matters stood, he might, if he chose, live on 300l. a-year, and invest the remaining 29,700l. in the funds, which were protected from all taxation. He would ask the hon. member for Essex, and his colleague, if there was any subject in the district which they represented, on which so intense an interest was excited, as on this subject of a graduated Property-tax? The public mind was impressed with an idea that there was a general disposition on the part of his Majesty's Government to look at the subject of taxation with a generous wish to relieve the industrious classes of the community, and yet his Majesty's Ministers now opposed a Motion for a Committee to inquire into the subject, and to substitute for the present oppressive taxation a graduated Property-tax. Under such circumstances, what relief could the public expect? There were two classes of individuals in that House, both eager for the repeal of taxation, but rivals with respect to the mode by which that repeal was to be effected. The Representatives of the landed interest claimed the repeal of the Malt-tax; while those connected with towns and manufactures were equally pressing for the repeal of the Assessed-taxes. But how could either of these parties redeem the pledges which they had made to their constituents, if they recognized the validity of the declaration made by his Majesty's Government, that they were not prepared even to sanction the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the subject? He would advise the country Members to tell their constituents at once that they need not trouble themselves upon the subject, for that his Majesty's Ministers would not take off the tax on malt; and he would advise town Members to tell their constituents to be quiet, for that his Majesty's Ministers would not take off the tax on houses and windows, According to the doctrine maintained by the right hon. Vice-president of the Board of Trade, it was impossible to hope that any efficient relief would be afforded to the people; for that right hon. Gentleman had truly stated, that the amount of revenue on which a diminution could be effected was only fourteen millions. The most, therefore, that could be expected from that source was but a million or so, and that would go but little way—five barley loaves and a few small fishes would go but little way among so many. Nothing could be more clear to him than this, that, although they might drive the matter off for one Session, the time was rapidly approaching when they must either diminish the burthens of the people, or give them the means of sustaining those burthens. "But, (said the right hon. Gentleman), how restless you all are! Thirty-four millions of taxes have been repealed since the war." True; but did the hon. Gentleman recollect that the pressure of taxation depended, not so much upon its amount, as upon the means which the people had to support it; and that the people might be better able to pay the larger taxation in 1814 than the smaller taxation of the present day? Let the House recollect, that if they acceded to the present Motion for a Committee to inquire into the expediency of repealing taxes, and substituting a graduated Property-tax, they would do so as free agents. But would that be the case two or three years hence? Now they might substitute such a tax, then they must do so. It was always the evil of British legislation that it came too late. Its measures were always adopted in hurry and alarm; they were rarely the result of sober and dispassionate reasoning, but were hatched under difficulties and constraint. Instead of conceding with a good grace, the Legislature deferred concession, until it was wrung from it by necessity and violence.

Mr. Halcombe

said, that the object of the present Motion was not to embarrass or inconvenience Ministers, and that he should vote for it, on the general ground that it was expedient to institute an inquiry into the subject. No man would be pledged to the result of the investigation and it would afford the means of ascertaining whether any substitute could be found for 17,000,000l. of taxes. The noble Lord (Lord Althorp) had not declared himself altogether adverse to a Property-tax; and the right hon. Vice-president of the Board of Trade had not expressed himself decidedly hostile to an Income-tax; and this very uncertainty afforded a strong reason for complying with the Motion of the hon. member for Worcester. As the Church property Bill had been mentioned he hoped to be allowed to request hon. Members to look very carefully into its provisions. As he was a new Member, he threw himself on the usual courtesy of the House, especially as he was only adverting to a topic already introduced by others. It was not to be disputed that the King was the guardian of Church property. That Bill would at once put an end to the trusteeship of the Crown as regarded Church property and he believed that many of its advocates were not aware that it would establish what was at present contrary to the law of the land.

Mr. Pease

thought, that the appointment of a Committee might lead to some desirable commutation of taxes; and if the inquiry took place without delay, the result would possibly have an important effect upon the forthcoming Budget. Much of the present taxation bore with unjust and unnecessary severity upon the lower orders, and the inequality called loudly for a remedy. For example the Post-horse-duty was unjust, a man who hired a horse for fourteen days as many of the middle classes did, paid one guinea duty, but a man who hired a horse for a whole year, as many of the rich did, paid only the guinea. Again, stones dug from the quarry paid no duty, quarries were, however, generally the property of the rich, bricks were made by the labour of the poor and they paid duty. He contended that there was a clear and an important distinction between a Property-tax and an Income-tax, much in favour of the former. One great advantage of a Property-tax would be, that it could be cheaply collected; for at present of the 16,000,000l. or 17,000,000l. imposed, not more than perhaps 12,000,000l. or 13,000,000l. found its way into the Treasury.

Mr. Robinson

briefly replied, and the House divided. Ayes 155: Noes 221—Majority 66.

List of the AYES.
ENGLAND. Harland, W. C.
Adams, E. H. Harvey, D. W.
Aglionby, H. A. Hawes, B.
Attwood, T. Hawkins, J. H.
Baillie, J. E. Henniker, Lord
Barnard, E. G. Hodges, T. L.
Barnet, C. J. Hodgson, J.
Bayntun, S. A. Hornby, E. G.
Benett, J. Hughes, H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hume, J.
Bewes, T. Humphery, J.
Bolling, W. Hutt, W.
Bowes, J. Hyatt, W. H.
Brigstrick, W. P. Ingham, R.
Briggs, R. James, W.
Briscoe, J. I. Keppel, Major G.
Brocklehurst, J. Key, Sir J.
Brodie, W. Langton, Col. G.
Brotherton, J. Lennox, Lord W.
Buckingham, J. S. Lennox, Lord G.
Bulkeley, Sir R. W. Lister, C.
Bulwer, E. L. Locke, W.
Cavendish, Lord Lushington, Dr. S.
Cayley, Sir G. Marshall, J.
Chaplin, T. Marsland, T.
Chapman, A. Nanney, J. E.
Chaytor, W. R. C. Newark, Viscount
Chichester, J. P. B. Palmer, R.
Clay, W. Pease, J.
Cobbett, W. Peel, Col. J.
Collier, J. Philips, M.
Cornish, J. Plumptre, J. P.
Curteis, H. B. Potter, R.
Curteis, E. B. Ricardo, D.
Dare, R. W. H. Rider, T.
Davies, Lieut.-Col. Roebuck, J. A.
Dawson, E. Romilly, J.
Dick, Q. Rotch, B.
Dundas, Hon. J. C. Russell, C.
Evans, W. Shawe, R. N.
Ewart, W. Spry, S. T.
Faithfull, G. Stanley, E. J.
Fenton, J. Stewart, J.
Feilden, J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Fryer, R. Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.
Gaskell, D. Thicknesse, R.
Gisborne, T. Todd, R.
Goring, H. D. Tooke, W.
Greene, T. G. Torrens, Col. R.
Grote, G. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Guest, J. J. Tynte, C.
Gully, J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Halcomb, J. Tyrell, C.
Hall, B. Vaughan, Sir R.
Handley, W. F. Vernon, Hon. G. J.
Handley, B. Vincent, Sir F.
Handley, H. Waller, J.
Wason, R. Fitzsimon, C.
Watkins, I. L. Grattan, H.
Wigney, I. N. Lalor, Patrick
Wilks, J. Lynch, A. H.
Williams, Col. G. Maclaughlin, L.
Willoughby, Sir H. Martin, I.
Windham, W. H. O'Brien, C.
Wood, Alderman O'Connell, D.
Young, G. O'Connell, Maurice
SCOTLAND. O'Connell, C.
Dalmeny, Lord O'Connell, J.
Gillon, W. D. O'Connell, Morgan
Johnston, A. O'Connor, Fergus
Maxwell, Sir J. O'Dwyer, A. C.
Maxwell, J. Roche, W.
Oswald, R. A. Roche, D.
Oswald, J. Ruthven, E. S.
Sinclair, G. Ruthven, E.
Stewart, R. Sheil, R. L.
Wallace, R. Sullivan, R.
IRELAND. Vigors, N. A.
Baldwin, Dr. TELLERS.
Barry, G. S. Robinson, R.
Butler, Hon. P. Warburton, H.
Finn, W. F.
Paired off.
O'Connor, M. Molesworth, Sir W.