§ Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer
rose to submit a Motion to the House for the repeal of the Stamp-duties on Newspapers. The hon. Member said:—Sir, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, that I am exceedingly glad of the delay that has taken place in the bringing forward of this Motion. I am exceedingly rejoiced at the conversation which has just taken place, and which, I am satisfied, will be hailed with the greatest pleasure by the country. I am also glad that my Motion has been delayed, until so many and so respectably-signed petitions have been presented in favour of it. The present Motion is not a novel one, as on two former occasions a similar one has been brought forward, and therefore I can assure the House, that I will not occupy its time for more than a few moments. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) will acquit me of the least desire to embarrass the Government. I have supported the Ministers out of power, humbly, zealously, but disinterestedly; but I support them with still greater pleasure now that they are in power, because hitherto they have nobly justified the grounds on which I desired their restoration to office, and never, I believe, more than by their speeches of this evening. That considerable excitement prevails upon this subject throughout 836 the country, it is in vain to deny. I will appeal to the Member of any manufacturing town, and ask him if the Repeal of the Taxes on Knowledge is not one of the most popular demands among his constituents? I have looked at the Report of the Select Committee on Public Petitions, and I find that the number of petitions presented upon this subject, during the present Session, greatly exceed the number in favour of Municipal Reform, and are double the number praying for the abolition of tithes. More, in fact, have been presented praying for the repeal of this, than have been presented for the repeal of any other tax. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day with great propriety and great eloquence, that he would not consent to purchase popularity upon false and unreal grounds; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman one question—What has made the real, lasting, and merited popularity of the present Government? Has it not arisen from their consistent advocaey of liberty of opinion? In Catholic Emancipation—the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, in Parliamentary and Municipal Reform Bills? This has been the main principle of their policy, and it has had its reward. Is it, therefore, on unreal grounds that I ask of my right hon. Friend to repeal this tax. The Ministers have given voice to opinion, and that voice has supported the power which created it. All I ask of my right hon. Friend is, to give the same liberty of opinion to writing, which he and those associated with him have obtained their influence and reputation by giving to speech and action. The whole expression of public opinion, in a periodical shape, is at present confined to the narrowest oligarchy that ever disgraced a free country. No man can publish a newspaper—that is, no man can write periodically upon the news of the day, or the debates in Parliament, or any domestic or foreign affairs—without paying four-pence upon every sheet in the shape of a tax. The result is, that the legal market is altogether confined to great capitalists, and exclusive monopolists, while a large and cheap market is opened to smugglers. I am aware that if you take away the whole duty, papers such as the Times will still require an immense capital, but still a number of payers, upon a thousand subjects interesting to the great bulk of the population, will be published, which will not require so much capital. It is perfectly absurd to see only five or six morning papers for the active, thoughtful, and stirring 837 population of this country. This is not the case in America, where a single district supports as many morning and evening papers as the whole of England. But I need only refer to England itself to show the operation of this tax. In 1792 there were thirteen morning and twenty evening papers published in London—although at that time the population numerically must have been much less, and the reading population not one half what it is at present. It is absurd to talk about the liberty of the Press in England so long as the taxes on knowledge continue as at present—it is in vain to make holyday speeches about it saying, "it is the very air we breathe, and if we have it not, we perish," when the Press is the only means of expressing the opinions of which the condition is a large capital and the result a severe monopoly. It has been urged that if the newspaper Press is rendered cheap, it will become bad and worthless, and that if the market is widened, the commodity will be deteriorated. Why, if this argument were used as to any other article of trade a man would be set down as an idiot. If a dozen persons only were allowed to sell spectacles, and a proposition was made to allow every person to sell them, would not the statesman who told you that in that case spectacles would be good for nothing, deserve to be laughed at? The analogy holds good with every thing—the greater the competition the greater the chance of excellence, and the wider the market, the better the commodity. But this truth obtains more with respect to literature than any thing else. Does the history of literature tell you that a man writes well in proportion as he is wealthy, and that the extent of his knowledge or genius is in proportion to his stock in the three per cents? I am afraid you will find that the reverse is the fact. If a tax of 200 per cent, which is that now imposed upon newspapers, were placed upon any other species of literature, it would long since have put an extinguisher upon all the best literature in the country. What extinguished the Spectator?—was it not the tax of one penny?—The eloquence of Addison and the wit of Steele, could not make head against a penny tax. How many Spectators in politics equally talented may you not have extinguished by a tax of four times the amount? I will ask my right hon. Friend what difference is there between political periodical writing and any other writing? Are they not subject to the same laws—created by the same intellect—influenced by the same competition, 838 and improved by the same causes. There is only this difference between them, that political, and particularly periodical political writing, is much more generally useful and important than any other description. If I was a poor man, and that I had not read the Rambler, or the Spectator, or Shakespeare, or Milton, I do not well see how I should stand a greater chance of being imprisoned, or transported, or hanged. But were I a poor man and did not read the newspapers—if I did not know what new laws were passed surrounding me with punishments—if I did not know what was legal and what was illegal—I should be liable to suffer through ignorance, and thus tins tax of fourpence which keepsnumbers of persons from obtaining the more useful knowledge, subjects them to crime, and exposes them to the gallows. I can compare the system to nothing but the monstrous tyranny of shutting men up in a dark room, and declaring that they shall be severely punished if they stumble against the numerous obstacles by which they are surrounded. I confess I do not share in the feelings entertained by some hon. Members against the present newspaper Press. Where a great power exists it is sometimes abused, but the wonder appears to me to be that its powers have been so seldom abused. I hope I have shown that I am above the meanness of flattering or fawning upon this formidable engine of praise or censure, by having been the first person to bring forward a substantive Motion for the Repeal of the existing monopoly; and, therefore, it is, that I think I may be allowed to bear witness to the talent, respectability, character, and accomplished education of the great mass of the gentlemen connected with the periodical Press. I use this, not as a compliment, but as an argument, in favour of my Motion. It is precisely because the Press is thus able and excellent that we ought to extend its advantages as widely as possible. Can any one suppose that these gentlemen will write worse when they have a larger community to address? But it is said, "if they write for the multitude they must pander to their base passions." Whoever makes that assertion knows very little about the multitude. Look at the papers which please the great mass of the people, and you will find articles on science, trade, education, the steam-engine, and matters which would appear tedious to us. They do not desire their bad passions to be aroused—they SPck to have their minds enlightened. They live by labour and seek 839 to know how that labour may be best directed. I am afraid it is we—the idle rich—"the lords of luxury and ease, "who require a false and meretricious excitement—who alone support the disgraces of the Press—who encourage the slander and scandal, the venom and frivolity, which were first wrought into sundry libels, not by a radical journal, not by a heartless demagogue print, but by a paper professing a hatred of democratic principles and dignifying by its support the Tory cause. It pretends to furnish the gossip of the Court, and the tittle tattle of the aristocracy. If you look at the large Newspapers which circulate among the great mass of the people, you will find in them the most varied information, the most argumentative writing, and a great freedom from private calumny, vulgar slander, and personal abuse. But it may be said—If you make the Press free, many dangerous and revolutionary political doctrines may be published. Doubtless, there will be, as now, doctrines of all sorts—the good and the bad? But who is to decide what is good and what bad? Some hon. Members on the other side of the House tell us that the doctrines of the present Government are revolutionary and dangerous; whereas, from what I have heard this very night, if I were asked what doctrines were most likely to weaken the just influence of the Crown, separate the different classes, incense the people, and produce and hasten the course of revolution?—I should say that it was the doctrine of the Conservatives. Who then shall decide the question as to what is good and what is bad—what is useful, and what is revolutionary? None can do so: scarcely timem itself can decide it. In the words of an able writer—"Truth requires no inscription to distinguish it from darkness; and all that Truth wants is the liberty of expression." Has not the terror of the propagation of dangerous doctrines been used against the progress of enlightenment? Is it not for this that censors have been placed upon books, and inquisitors upon opinions? What effect have these prosecutions produced? The French Court prohibited the works of Voltaire, and Voltaire became at once endowed with the power to shake old opinion to its centre. Geneva burnt the Social Contract of Rousseau, and out of its ashes arose the phoenix of its influence. Tom Paine had not sold ten copies of his notorious work, when the English Government thought fit to prosecute him, and within a week from that period there were sold 30,000 copies. Go- 840 vernment never has prevented, and never can prevent, the propagation of dangerous doctrines by prohibitions, either in the shape of a tax or a law—the only effect of persecution is to render the doctrines more dangerous and the people more eager to learn it. If I want a new proof of the truth of this argument, do I not find it in the very tax I ask you to repeal? For how many years have you been endeavouring to put down the unstamped Press, whose doctrines are alleged to be dangerous, and for how many years has it enjoyed impunity, and deluged every manufacturing town? The market has been literally overstocked with its productions. If you were to repeal the whole tax to-morrow, there would not be a single new publication of these dangerous inflammatory doctrines, for during the last seven or eight years every one who wished to publish them has done so with impunity. By the imposition of the tax upon the more respectable class, you have prevented any reply to these dangerous publications. You have given up the field to those who have sown it with noxious weeds, and prevented the good husbandman from labouring in it. You are now at last embarked in an obstinate war with the unstamped Press—a war in which I am sure you will not succeed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, does he think for a moment that he can succeed so long as the tax is 200 per cent upon the article smuggled? My right hon. Friend is aware, better than myself, that the only way to diminish smuggling, where it has risen to an enormous height, is to reduce the tax, and that is what I now urge upon my right hon. Friend. I do not ask a total repeal, but only a reduction to one penny. By this reduction, I think, a very great advantage will be gained. We shall materially extend the advantages of knowledge, without in the least diminishing the amount of revenue. The Stamp duty at present produces (after allowing for the discount) three pence and a fraction upon each paper; and if it were reduced to one penny, we should require only three times the present number of papers to be sold to replace the loss suffered by the revenue. Does not every man acquainted with the habits of the working classes know—does not every man who is aware of their extraordinary desire for knowledge, scientific and political, feel that we should then have three times as many papers published as at present? Besides, my right hon. Friend having made this concession, would then be justified in coming down to this House, and demanding new 841 and more efficient laws for the suppression of smuggling—the result of which would hring all, or nearly all the slippery fish that at present creep out of the meshes, into my right hon. Friend's net. In addition to the increased circulation, there would he the increased advertisement duty, and the increased paper duty; so that without being at all sanguine, I say that the revenue would not, by any means, be a loser. Suppose the Stamp Duty reduced, as I have proposed, to one penny, such papers as the Times and Chronicle and the Herald, which require a large capital, would not be able to sell for less than fourpence. But new papers not requiring so large a capital would he called into existence—papers partly literary, and containing the news of the day—half scientific and half commercial, which would thus attract many readers. Above all, many religious publications would be called into existence, supported by different religious societies, and coming forth two or three times a week. Thus a new class of periodicals would be called into existence, and all productive to the revenue in three ways—by the Stamp Duty, the Advertisement Duty, and the Paper Duty. It was stated in a periodical, a short time since, that if the whole duty were taken off, ten times as many papers would be published as at present; and, therefore, with only a tax of a penny, I have a right to assume that three times as many would be published. The amount of a penny tax upon three times the present number of sheets, would be 400,000l. I greatly underrate the Paper Duty if I take the increase at 30,000l., and the increased Advertisement Duty at 20,000l., making a total of 450,000l., which equals the sum produced by the present fourpenny tax. The increased Paper Duty I have greatly underrated, as a high duty diminishes the profit and the sale to a very considerable extent. In a calculation made respecting the Penny Magazine, it has been shown that if a tax of one penny was imposed, the sale would be decreased one-tenth, and comparing the increased duty on the stamp with the loss of revenue on the paper, it has been clearly ascertained that the Exchequer would lose, on that paper alone, 400l. a-year. Apply this argument generally, and you will see how much the revenue loses by the present high rate of duty. The system has robbed the revenue on the one hand of more than it has paid into it on the other. I shall not detain the House much longer; but, before I conclude, I must say, that the pre- 842 sent Government owes something to the provincial Press; and, with few exceptions, the Provincial Press has petitioned for some relief. The provincial Press has supported the Government nobly, and without its assistance I doubt much if any liberal Government could have made head against the determined and vehement attacks of three morning papers of great circulation and influence. Yet the provincial papers are cramped in their exertions, and limited in their power, by the audience they address being narrowed and limited by the Stamp Duty. You owe something also to those who, adopting opinions more (I should say) determined and dreaded than your own, have yet supported you frankly and generously. The panegyric which my right hon. Friend has to-night pronounced upon that class who, professing these opinion' have yet compromised them to a certain extent, and given to the Government the independent and undivided support, is an-other argument in favour of my Motion; for there is no concession which will be looked upon as a gracier on, nor none which will be repaid more largely and generously by the party who, whether in praise or blame, are called the Radical party, than a concession upon this point. If any body of men have ever acted from the purest public motives, patriotically and disinterestedly, I believe it is that party, and, therefore, I do say that my right hon. Friend owes them some concession. The last argument I shall use is, that the Government owe it to themselves and to their own consistency, to make some concession to the Press. They will not in such a case be sacrificing their own opinions to please a great body of the public, and of their supporters—they will be merely following up those sentiments which they have expressed on former occasions. There are few now on the Treasury Bench who have not, on some former occasion, expressed themselves favourable to the measure. The right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and even his Majesty's present Attorney-General have given dignity to the question by their acknowledged affection to its principle. I have the greatest confidence, therefore, in the present Government, and I hope upon this question, as upon all others, I shall live to see them faithful to the great principle of Reform, which proportions power to intelligence, and which, while it renders the Constitution more popular pre- 843 vents the danger by rendering the people more enlightened. So strong is my reliance upon the objects and intentions of the present Government, that I am satisfied the more widely their sentiments are diffused and known, the more generally will they be approved. I regret to see them shut themselves out from half the national enthusiasm, and half tbe popular support which would be theirs, were the laws they enact, and the principles they advocate, brought cheaply, easily, and familiarly before that great class of the community for whose benefit they have laboured, and in whose cause they have won their most imperishable renown. It is with this hope that I now move that the House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider the question that, for the more general diffusion of knowledge, it is expedient that the Stamp Duty on Newspapers be reduced to one penny.
§ Mr. Hume
I rise, Sir, to second the Motion of the hon. Member with very great pleasure. My opinions upon this subject are so well known to the House and the country generally, that it is scarcely necessary for me to repeat them, and there is little danger of their being misunderstood. I shall merely observe that the arguments of my hon. Friend appear to me so convincing, that I cannot but hope they will have due weight with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If his Majesty's Government, after the declaration of this night, believe that we have given them our sincere and honest support, I ask of them to grant us but this one boon; I do not ask it for their own sakes, or for their own advantage, but as a boon to the country that has so magnanimously supported them; and even if they differ a little from us upon this question, let them, as we have done, sacrifice a little of their opinions, to reward those who have stood by them in the struggle. I do not recollect the exact number of petitions which have been presented upon this subject; but I believe there is scarce a large town in England that has not appeared by petition at the Bar of the House, and given expression to its wishes for the repeal of this tax. Why, Sir, all the parties who had supported his Majesty's Government, from 1830 up to the present moment, and enabled them to carry through the important reforms projected by them, are deeply interested in this question. The people are asking in every quarter, who are the persons who have imposed these taxes that have kept us in darkness? Who are 844 those who have shackled the press, and what objects have they had in view in so doing? Sir, the people are able to see pretty well what these objects are. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government are relieving the people of Ireland from the pressure of taxation; and surely the time has come when something ought to be done for the millions of this country: let the Government, then, give them this cheap knowledge, and they will confer upon the country one of the greatest boons possible. I say, therefore, to my hon. Friends who are below me, I speak to them as one most anxious to keep them in the situation they are now in, I call upon them not to throw away the millions of people who are anxious to give them every support. Let them do this, reduce the stamp duties, and they may laugh to scorn the opposition of those who are now on the other side. Ministers were carried into office on the shoulders of the people, because they were thought to be anxious for the welfare of the people. Then, let them give this boon to the people, and their support will not only be continued, but so much increased as to enable them to put aside the opposition going on, either in this House or in any other place. Let the right hon. Gentlemen at once then abrogate those laws which they should remember were imposed by their opponents and the enemies of the people. It cannot surely afford these Gentlemen any satisfaction to know that 511 persons have been imprisoned by them.—[The Chancellor of the Exchequer: "Not by the Government."]—I do not care, Sir, whether the law is put in force by the Government or by common informers, but the fact is, as I have stated, that from the time they came into office up to March, 1834, no less than 511 persons have suffered imprisonment for a breach of these laws. Let the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, make a trial of this plan. I must say that the recommendation now before the House does not go to the full extent of my wishes. I would have these laws entirely done away with, and the Press entirely free. But, Sir, I am willing, if any compromise could be made, to take any part of the good which I can get. I, however, would prefer to see newspapers without any stamp, and a small postage charged upon their transmission into the country. I give this advice most sincerely; and if, upon a late occasion, I expressed myself too warmly, in speaking of my hon. Friends below me, it 845 was merely because I was most anxious to drive them forward in that course which I considered would be for their good. I speak strongly, because I know that I am speaking on behalf of the millions of my fellow-countrymen.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said—Undoubtedly, Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of complaining of the Motion of my hon. Friend, or of the speeches in which the question has been brought forward, but for the purpose of returning thanks to my hon. Friends for the observations they have made so favourable to us, and for the calm and temperate mode in which they have approached the subject. I do not complain of the Motion itself, although I will take the liberty of praying the House not at the present moment to agree to it. I do not complain of the subject having been brought forward; it is fitting that it should be discussed, and that upon the principle which was opened by my hon. Friend (Mr. Bulwer). It is gratifying to me also that it has now been brought forward, because upon this subject I have been much misrepresented. On the one hand, it has been said that I have broken pledges which I have given for the total repeal of these duties, while, on the other hand, I have been represented as being a stickler for them, and totally opposed to their repeal. I will not now stop to justify myself, but I will say before this House, that the one accusation is as false as the other. Passing on to the Motion, Sir, I shall deal with it fully, fairly, and with all the respect that is due to the spirit in which it has been brought forward. I consider it one of the greatest mistakes that can be entertained, both in point of reason and in fact, to assume that the cause of sound political information and the character of the Press are to be kept up by a tax. I think that neither one nor the other requires it. It is not by the means of a stamp-duty that either can be maintained. The character of a press depends upon the character of the people, and he who supposes that a moral press is to be procured, if I may so speak, by the instrumentality of a stamp-duty, commits an egregious error in point of principle. I do not defend the tax. I repudiate it as to any protection it may be supposed to afford to the diffusion of political information and of sound knowledge. When I come to show the evils which arise from high duties on the Press, I bring to my aid evidence which is not open to suspicion upon the 846 subject, I lay before the House the character given to the unstamped press by Lord Brougham, in his evidence before the Committee on the Law of Libel. He therein characterises it as slandering the public authorities from the King downwards, circulating personal slander as well as political, as containing of blasphemy and obscenity a considerable store—as entering into vulgar competition with others in the publication of ribaldry of every description—as underselling the respectable press—as maintaining the lawfulness of rebellion, and even the propriety of assassination. I have laid down the principle broadly, that upon the grounds whether of policy, of morals, or of the protection of sound political doctrine, the present high rate of stamp-duty is not to be defended or maintained; but I have stated, and now repeat, the grounds which I think are sufficient to justify me in the course I must pursue. I say distinctly, that if we look at this measure as a question of finance, I believe that ultimately, though at some risk, I might obtain an equivalent to a considerable extent, by the imposition of other duties, if we were in a condition to try such experiment, which we are not. If I had a surplus which would allow me to entertain it, the question is one which would occupy my most serious attention; but with a revenue borne down by the peculiar demands of the present year—which I have already explained to the House at a length that has been imputed to me elsewhere as a fault, but which, if I attained by it my object, namely, that of making the House understand the subject before them, I cannot regret, because such is the end of every Parliamentary exposition,—I then explained that under no circumstances can I this year have a surplus, such as any prudent Minister would wish to have at his command; and I now say that with it, such as it is, I am not in a condition to try this experiment. And I ask the House to stand by me in my determination not to impair the sources of the revenue by any premature reductions, especially as I have, within a short time, contracted a loan which I am pledged to make good, and which promise I think the House will not wish me to violate for the sake of making a financial experiment. I therefore urge upon my hon. Friend to consider the inexpediency of pressing this question to a division. I must confess, the question has been brought forward and discussed in the most fair and reasonable manner; but I am not at present prepared to entertain the proposition, nor do I see 847 that any contingency is likely to arise which will enable me to propose to Parliament the remission of the entire amount of the duty. A proposition to remit 450,000l. altogether, is one which the House cannot entertain. I go further, and say I feel that it is one which I feel I should not be justified in entertaining; because there are other claims on the country, which are entitled to receive at least as much attention. Therefore, I think my hon. Friend has done wisely in saying, "I do not ask you for the entire remission of the duty, but simply for a reduction, such as will secure the better diffusion of sound knowledge and information." A means of providing an equivalent has been suggested, which I think to be of a very questionable nature; but as the plan seems to have taken considerable hold of the public mind, I deem it necessary to offer a few remarks upon it: I mean the plan of subjecting newspapers to a postage duty, a proposition which is insupportable by argument, and utterly impracticable. In the first place, it would cause great injustice to be done as between town and country; it is the country part of the empire which stands in need of knowledge not only political, but moral, literary, and scientific. Congregated together in a mass, the people in a city have naturally the greater means of obtaining information and knowledge than in other places. This was proved by the course of events during the discussion of the Catholic Relief Bill. From whence was the support of that Bill derived? It was from cities and large towns. It was found the most difficult thing imaginable to obtain such support for it in the more remote parts of the empire, in consequence of the comparative want of a diffusion of this sort of knowledge among the people of those parts. Now by a postage duty, however the means of information might be increased in large towns, those districts would still not be benefited. Another proof that the circulation of the papers would neither be expedited nor increased by this scheme is found in the fact, that although the papers are now freed from postage, yet, for the sake of earlier delivery, the proprietors frequently prefer sending them by other paid conveyances; it is a delusion, therefore, to imagine that a postage duty will bring up the loss of revenue arising from the reduction of the stamp-duty. It has been said, that because this plan answers in America, it must answer here; but there may be a cause for its success in America, which does 848 not exist here. In the wild and distant parts of that country the mail may be the best, and, perhaps, the only mode of conveyance for them; but the best proof to the contrary here, is that the parties who might command a free transmission by that source, prefer sending their papers by another, notwithstanding the cost of carriage. Then this plan would be subject to another and great inconvenience; for in order to preserve the revenue, it must be penal, as in the case of letters, to send by any other conveyance, and you must have an inquisitorial power to search all the Red Lions and Saracen's Heads in the country, or you would be foiled in your postage duties altogether. Then, as to the question of reduction, I say if the measure is to be remunerative, it must be a bold measure of reduction; as to the amount of it, it is not necessary to express any opinion at present. I have stated the general principle, I hope in a manner satisfactory to the House, of my inability to concur in the Motion; but if even I could venture upon the step, there is another reason why I should not take it at the present moment. Much must be done to protect the press itself, before it is done; it may be difficult to devise it, but something in the shape of a principle of copyright is necessary to be established. Let us suppose one of the largest newspaper establishments in the country at much expense for foreign correspondence, for their system of reporting, and for the means of securing publication at the earliest hour in the day. Now, if there be not some such protection devised, perhaps through the means of the press or of lithography, some person may cause a duplicate to be made, possessing themselves thereby, and making a profit, of all the information collected at so much expense, without having expended a single farthing to procure it. I know that this is an extremely difficult part of the subject; but I say it is one which should by no means be overlooked. I have now answered the statement of my hon. Friend. I repeat it, that in the present state of the finances of the country, I cannot, by any possibility, run the risk of making the experiment. I am not afraid of the result of it upon political grounds; I do not consider that the constitution of the country is likely to be injured by the greatest possible circulation of the productions of the daily press: on the contrary, I am convinced that the more our institutions are brought within the reach of the people, the more they are led to consider 849 them, the more accurately they are taught to weigh the proceedings of Parliament, the more closely they are led to examine the principles upon which our laws are framed, and the obligations by which they become liable to them, the more certain are we of contentment if the laws be right, and of reform if they are wrong. I do not consider it quite an accurate statement that this is a tax upon knowledge; yet I believe i that politically much depends upon it. As there are persons at present degraded enough to diffuse poison for the people, I should wish to provide the means of furnishing an antidote to that poison. I rejoice in the statement made by my hon. Friend, that if the measure should pass, it must be accompanied by one of protection for the collection of the revenue. If I should hereafter make a proposition which the Parliament thinks proper to sanction, for a remission of part of this duty, let it be remitted honestly and in earnest; let what will still remain of that duty, like every other, be protected. I ask for no protection against the press itself, but I ask you for a law to enable me to collect the revenue, and to protect the honest trader, who contributes his fair share to the State, from the encroachments of the man who does not. I now thank the House for their attention, and my hon. Friend for the manner in which he has discussed the question: there is no difference between us on principle, although it is inexpedient at present to enter practically into the discussion of it; first, because I cannot afford the proposed remission of this duty; and next, because even if I could, there is now no time to discuss the measures by which it ought to be accompanied. Having given a pledge as to the future adoption of the principle of the measure, I must reserve to myself the right of taking full time to lay the comparative claims of one class of the community against the other, that I may not expose myself to the imputation of inconsistency or absurdity, merely for the sake of financial experiment.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
I am sure if the right hon. Gentleman should obtain any unpopularity, it will not be for the manner in which he has treated this question, though I am sorry that he does not go further. If, at any other time, he has made any unpopular observations, he has now shown himself decided on the justness of the principle, and he has thrown aside all the odious arguments by which these taxes have been supported in past times. He 850 has admitted them to be bad, and he has only asked for time and due consideration to be enabled to remit them. But I am not convinced that he might not safely have repealed them this year. It is said they produce between 400,000l., and 500,000l., and that if they were taken off, the revenue would be deprived of 350,000l. because there is a surplus of only 200,000l. But if he had reduced the stamp duty to twopence, probably there might be a deficiency of 100,000l., which, if it were the case, I am sure could easily be made up by a duty on salmon, for example, or any other luxury. It has been shown that these taxes do not cause an increase of publication. This may be seen in the circulation of The Penny Magazine and other cheap publications. I am acquainted with the circumstances of another part of the public Press, the circulation of which is very large, I mean the Sunday papers. The weekly papers generally sell for sevenpence, but they are published only once in six days, so that in fact the consumers of these papers only pay sevenpence in six days, while those who purchase the other papers pay six times 7d. in six days. It appears that the weekly papers circulate twenty millions per annum, and that the circulation of the daily Press is but fifteen millions a-year. There is, however, reason to believe that the readers of the weekly papers are eight times as many as those of the daily papers. I say too, that if you will go into these calculations you will find it will give a large majority of readers to each weekly paper, and this ought to satisfy the Chancellor of, the Exchequer that the revenue would not suffer by such a reduction, because each of these weekly readers would become daily purchasers, and there would be a considerable increase of the old daily readers. The only question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer is,—is not a large portion of the public Press injured by the great extent of smuggling? If we could get a fair account of the number of unstamped newspapers, we should find that they exceed by thousands the stamped newspapers, and we should see that the revenue is actually suffering, and that the morals of the community are suffering too, by the retention of this tax under the present system. Some of the better kind of the weekly papers have suffered to a great extent. I shall perhaps get no great popularity for this, but I think a good and rational law of libel ought to be established, which would secure its freedom as well as 851 its purity from slander, and if we take off the duty, we should not think of doing so without putting this check over it. This, too, must either do harm or good, and if it does not do good it must do excessive harm, for it deprives men of the means of knowing the laws, which they are called on to obey, and under which they may be convicted of unconscious crimes. With these laws the people cannot be acquainted while we prevent the use of the only means of affording them this very necessary information. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that the people are deprived of political knowledge, and the truth is, that that knowledge is not only the most useful, but indispensable, and we see this by the success of publications which gives them this knowledge, though imperfectly, and sometimes of a very bad kind. I congratulate the House on the support of this Question, for it is now proved that this House has no desire to prevent the spread of political knowledge, and that it is not opposed to this great moral force if rightly and correctly used; and that the Ministers and the men who achieved the glorious Reform Act, only wait the fair opportunity to give a fresh impetus to the diffusion of political knowledge and salutary information.
§ Mr. Grote
I can assure the House that it is my intention to trespass only for a very short time; but I think after the speech of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to which I have listened with much pleasure, I think I may be allowed to say it evinced a much more enlightened and generous spirit than has been known to be displayed by any Member of any Executive Government before. But I must also say, that after having heard pointed out in the most clear manner, and so much more forcibly than I can do, the mischievous consequences of retaining these taxes, a much stronger reason than that founded on mere financial considerations is necessary to justify their continuance. I think the right hon. Gentleman seemed to admit in his financial statement, that there was strong probability that the reduction of this tax from 4d. to 1d. would be attended with no loss to the revenue; in my opinion there would be such an increase of circulation as would by the paper duty alone make up for any loss the revenue might suffer by reducing the duty. That is my firm conviction. Now, Sir, I would take the liberty of submitting to the right hon. Gentleman's consideration, whether the liberal tone he has taken will not tend to 852 increase the objections to this tax? I really would wish to impress upon him how he, of all others, can depend upon the continuation of this tax, of which he has so ably pointed out the mischiefs, unless it can be shown to be unquestionably necessary to our public credit. But the right hon. Gentleman has fallen very far short of that. Now, Sir, with reference to the additional protection to the fair trader, I must be allowed to remind the right hon. Gentleman that reductions, in my opinion, fair reductions, would be the greatest protection to the fair trader. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's idea as to copy-right, I fully approve of it; but it seems to me the matter is so simple that a few lines in an Act of Parliament would be quite sufficient for all practical purposes. I will refrain from troubling the House at greater length than by expressing the great interest I have and feel in this important Question, and the strong feeling, the growing feeling there is upon this subject throughout all the great towns of this country. There is that, Sir, going on upon this subject of which the right hon.Gentleman does not seem sensible, or he would not decline to take off this tax. Although I should be sorry to put the Government to any inconvenience, yet in my opinion, if there are no other or better grounds for retaining this tax than those stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it ought to be taken off. I say, once more the right hon. Gentleman has not made out any ground for retaining this tax, and, therefore it is that I regret the resolution to which he has come.
§ Mr. Buckingham
This tax, in my opinion does not bear any proportion to the price of the article, and I would venture, therefore, to suggest, that if this tax were taken off newspapers, and one of a penny or less put on, it would so increase the circulation, that a greater revenue would be acquired by it. If also free transmission was given to newspapers to all parts of the country, the revenue, in my opinion, would be increased. I think, on the whole, there ought to he a graduated duty relative to newspapers.
§ Mr. Warburton
Sir, if there was any time in which I should feel it my duty to oppose the Government it would be the present. After the declaration that has been made by the right hon. Gentleman on two most important subjects, first, the declaration with respect to the internal politics of the country; and secondly, the declaration that he has made with respect to 853 the duties on newspapers, nothing can be more satisfactory than the declaration the right hon. Gentleman made, when he stated that the present high duty on newspapers could neither be defended on principle or practice. What greater condemnation of the existing system can be pronounced than such a declaration coining from such an authority, I cannot find out. The case of low duties may be compared to the state of things which existed before the invention of printing, and printing itself. All the arguments in the defence of high duties, all the arguments for the purpose of restricting the circulation of newspapers has been grappled with, and, therefore, it will be unnecessary for me to say anything further upon the question. Now, if I should decline, on account of the declarations of the Government, to go along with those who support this Motion, I must say on account of the situation in which we are placed after this declaration, and after what we know to be the state of the difficulty in collecting the revenue on newspapers, recollecting what that difficulty is, I must say there never was an occasion on which I felt more inclined than the present to dispute the grounds taken by the right hon. Gentleman. It is notorious that without a system of persecution and inquisition, which will no longer be borne, you cannot continue the tax. In my opinion, it will be utterly impossible to continue it six months longer after the condemnation that has been given to it by the right hon. Gentleman. If you continue this law for another six months, in what state will you leave the country, the people longing for a free communication, and the seizing of presses which print newspapers persevered in? Under such circumstances, is it possible, I ask, for the Government to carry on the duty much longer? The truth is, the course that has been adopted by Government has led the public to doubt the sincerity of their intentions, and their wishes and desires with respect to this tax. The declarations that have been made on this subject, were also made several years ago. My hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, knows that we waited on the Chancellor of the Exchequer three or four years ago, and we had then the assurance that it was only on account of the then state of politics, the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared to us, that he did not bring in a Bill to repeal these duties. Now, we have been waiting for a liberal Government to carry these intentions into effect, from that time until the present mo- 854 ment, and what have we got now? Why, the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they persevered in their former intention to keep on the duty on newspapers. It will probably be observed, that it is only with respect to the question of finance that the duty has been kept on. I think upon that question also, the decision which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has come to, is not the right one. Look to the seizures that have taken place. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer compare the state of his receipts from this tax and the dissatisfaction that prevails, and I think he will find that he will have great difficulty in maintaining those receipts as long as that dissatisfaction prevails. I have no hesitation in saying he will not be able to maintain them. Now, Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has talked of taking off the duty of one particular class; I hate the name of taking off the duty on particular classes. The object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in my opinion, ought to be to take off those taxes that will give relief to all classes, and I should like to know where that class is to be found that does not read newspapers? I fully agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that something ought to be done for the protection of copyright; but I do believe that an hour's conversation with the editors and proprietors of two or three newspapers by the Solicitor to the Treasury would enable him to draw such a Clause as would be abundantly sufficient to answer all the purposes required. I looked, Sir, with alarm, when the right hon. Gentleman talked of greater powers, for I cannot think that greater powers are necessary. And why do I say so? Because I am persuaded if a proper duty was placed on newspapers, much less power than the Government has at present would enforce their payment. Greater powers were not found necessary when the tax was moderate, and I firmly believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in what he has done, has very much miscalculated, and that he will find that out ere long. Sir, in conclusion I must say that I shall be inclined, whatever the hon. Mover may think right to do, to go along with him. If he divides, I shall divide with him, and if he thinks proper to defer the question I shall acquiesce in the propriety of the adoption of that course.
Sir, I must protest, in the first place, against the opinion given by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer as being correct with respect to the whole of the unstamped Press; for there 855 are, I must say, many most meritorious exceptions. I have had many persons with me on the subject of the recent seizures that have taken place—they came to me very angry, but they left me very calm; for I told them that the present state of things could not long exist. After all that has been admitted upon the subject, the only point in my mind that should be really pressed upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the reasonableness of trying the experiment. Let him look to the papers in Ireland, and see if they are not over-taxed. What is the whole amount of the Stamp-duty in that country, in which there are no less than eight millions of persons? It is only 8,000l. a-year. Why is it so small? Because the Stamp-duty is so heavy—and there are so few persons who purchase newspapers in consequence of it. The advertisement duty yields little or nothing, but it would be greatly enhanced if the Stamp-duty were so small as to increase the circulation. I think, therefore, you have given ground for pressing this experiment. I cannot help congratulating the House and the country upon the sentiments which have this night been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, that the fullest reliance may be placed on the principle that actuates the Government to put the Press on the best footing. What an admirable contrast does this form with the Government of a neighbouring country? There are in this country no infernal machines—and why are there not? Because no man will venture here to persecute the Press even in obedience to the law—such is the force of public opinion. One regrets to see the country, I allude to in the state in which it now is. How is it to be accounted for? Why, by stifling public discussions and putting down the freedom of thought. A traitor Ministry and a King forgetful of the principles that have placed him on his throne, caused all this. I have to submit to my hon. Friend, who has brought forward this Motion, whether the implied pledge that has been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is not in effect a pledge for the ultimate reduction of the tax. Three or four months cannot elapse before we meet again, and I am sure my Friend, when he sees that Parliament cannot meet for a week, without having this Measure brought forward, will see the propriety of postponing his present Motion till the first Supply day in the next Session, when I have no hesitation in saying it will meet with no opposition.
I am sure that what has 856 passed to night will give universal satisfaction to the country. I think, however, that every facility ought to be given to the circulation of newspapers through the means of the Post-office. A large addition to the revenue might be afforded by a better system of management at the Post-office, which would not only make any defalcation good, but also leave a large sinking fund to meet future expenses.
§ Mr. Baines
Sir, I feel anxious to make a few observations on this important subject. I entirely approve of the Motion made by my hon. Friend. I think with him, that there should be a reduction, not of the whole, but the greater part, of the tax. I am persuaded that if the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer will adopt this resolution, and I infer from his observations that he will ultimately adopt it, he need not apprehend that the revenue will suffer from its adoption. I am persuaded that there are means by which great advantages may be derived from the reduction. But there is one subject which has not been attended to, and which I feel is entitled to as much observation as the reduction of the duty upon newspapers, and that is the reduction of the duty upon the paper itself. By the reduction of the duty upon paper, you will give advantages to all classes of society; whereas, by the reduction of the duty upon newspapers, you give advantages to one class only. The readers, and I need not say that they are a great many, of books, will all receive advantages by the reduction of the duty on paper. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he takes this subject into consideration, will not lose sight of what, in my opinion, is of very great importance—the reduction of the duty upon paper. With respect to the observations that have been made upon the propriety of imposing a postage duty, I conceive that that would be an extremely prejudicial measure. It would in my opinion operate to withhold information from those persons who stand most in want of it. It is also objectionable in another way. Many faults would be found with the duty upon postage by those who now make no objection to paying the full expense of a newspaper. Many would object to pay postage who have no objection to pay a duty upon the article from, which they derive benefit, and for which they receive value. I do think that this view of the subject with respect to postage ought not to be lost sight of. If there shall be a duty of one penny upon postage, 857 all those who now defraud the revenue by selling and purchasing unstamped papers will contrive to send and receive their papers by other means than through the Post Office; they will avail themselves of those opportunities to continue these frauds upon the revenue. It will operate very much in this way, also, that it will have the effect of continuing a practice of doing injustice to the revenue, and at the same time accustoming people to those habits which it was most desirable should never prevail. I feel perfectly convinced, that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall ultimately determine upon the adoption of this measure, he will not find the revenue suffer. He certainly will not find it suffer to any great extent. I, myself, most anxiously desire, that the revenue should not suffer, but even under the circumstances in which we are placed, I do not feel any doubt but that the right hon. Gentleman would find himself in a situation of perfect security, although he should determine to make the reduction this year. I can conceive, that considerable difficulties may stand in the waj of making the reduction at the present moment; and among the rest the reduction in the duty ought to be made so as to give protection to the fair trader; and I apprehend that we could not find sufficient time during the present Session to enact such laws as would give that necessary protection. With respect to the conduct of the proprietors of Newspapers, though they have been called monopolists, and stigmatised in the course of this debate, their conduct I am persuaded when fairly seen, will be thought perfectly reasonable. They have gone to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and said to him, "We do not ask you whether you will augment or diminish the duty, all we ask is, that you will place us upon a footing of perfect equality with all other persons in the same trade; if other persons publish newspapers on unstamped paper, all we ask is to enjoy the same privileges; but if, on the contrary, we are placed under the necessity of publishing on stamped paper, we require that all other persons shall be liable to the same restriction. I consider that claim to be perfectly reasonable, and such as the publishers of newspapers have a right to make. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed his intention to give security to copy-right which I should consider a wise system of legislation, and such as I have no doubt, if adopted, will be found perfectly satisfactory to all those who 858 are engaged in conducting the public Press, and will be found alike conducive to the interests and the wishes of the public at large; and will inspire them with a lively interest in the support of that Government of which the right hon. Gentleman forms a part.
§ Mr. Robinson
I will not detain the House with more than a few observations upon this very important question. I believe, that every Gentleman who has spoken has decidedly advocated some alteration in the Stamp Duties. I can assure the House that there is a strong feeling upon this subject amongst my constituency, and the most respectable and influential portion of them decidedly advocate an alteration of the duties upon newspapers, and I have during the present Session presented petitions from them, praying for its repeal. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether; after the very strong expressions he has himself used this night upon this subject, his Majesty's Ministers can hope to maintain these duties in their present state? The question is in fact disposed of—and I am very glad to observe the general concurrence of opinion on the part of those who usually support the present Government. And I hope, that after the general expression of the feeling of all sides of the House, that the hon. Member for Lincoln will not press his resolution. The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) has abandoned the tax upon principle, and I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will not press the House to a division. I merely rose to express my own opinion, and to ask this plain question—whether after the declared opinion, openly given in the face of the public, upon the principle of this tax, his Majesty's Government have determined upon the maintenance of this tax upon only one ground, that of finance—a ground which I consider to be wholly untenable? Can it be said, that in this great country—where we have a revenue of fifty millions—after the House of Commons with one opinion has pronounced this a most objectionable tax, that it is yet to be maintained upon the principle of revenue alone? I will not further occupy the time of the House. The only question is in what way this tax may be most advantageously altered. I will not enter into the subject whether or not a substitute should be adopted in lieu of the whole or of a portion of it; but I am most decidedly of opinion, that if his Majesty's Government will direct its at- 859 tention during the recess to some alteration of this tax, they will be only acting in consonance with the public voice. I will only beg leave to add, on the part of the trading community, that if, in addition to some remission of the Stamp-duty, there was a reduction of the advertisement duty also, it would yield still more satisfaction. If the revenue sustained some loss by the change of taxation, the House of Commons I am sure, will never consent to see a Chancellor of the Exchequer placed in difficulties from the necessity of raising such a sum. In the present duties there must be some change.
§ Mr. Wakley
Sir, it rests with the hon. Member who has made the motion, whether we shall any longer continue to have stamp duties or not. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has invited the House to vote. He has said that this is not a tax that can be defended upon principle, and he says also that it is inexpedient in practice; and what, I ask, could a Chancellor of the Exchequer say more? He has said, that this tax could not be recommended; that in every sense of the word it is injurious to the morals of the country; and after this declaration, I consider that this House, deserted as it is by the Conservatives,—[great laughter—the Opposition Benches were almost empty]—will not do its duty if it does not press this Motion. I am most anxious to give the present Ministry all the support it is in my power to give them, because I believe that they are sincerely desirous of benefitting the best interests of the country. But anxious as I am to support them, I have a much greater anxiety to see every clog removed from the vehicles that convey political information to the people. The people have petitioned in thousands and tens of thousands for the repeal of this tax. If the public only knew the benefit they would derive from that repeal, ten thousand more would petition for its repeal. I sent to Somerset-House to know exactly what was to be done before a man could publish a newspaper, and the information I received was to the following effect: If it is a weekly paper, there must be given in the names, residences, and occupations, of two responsible sureties to secure the payment of the duty, to the amount of 500l., and if a daily paper, to the amount of 1000l. Are not these clogs? Further, there must be names, residences, and occupations, of two more, as a security against the publication of blasphemous or seditious libels, to the 860 amount of 300l. Thus the Press is clogged in every way. The public can only derive information in large towns. In small towns and rural villages, they are in a state of utter political darkness, and yet the art of printing has been in our possession for four hundred years. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has refused to give any distinct pledge for the reduction of this tax next Session, and he has alluded to the reductions already made to the amount of forty millions; and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks that the public will derive a benefit from the reduction of the Stamp-duties. How? Why is it that this discovery has never been made before? Because it was only lately they had applied to it the pressure in that House and out of it. I do not allude to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer; because I believe he was always persuaded of the evils of the existence of this tax, and anxious to relieve his mind from the disagreeable necessity of continuing it. It is admitted on all hands to be an odious tax, it presses upon the country, and renders the whole people subject to tyranny and despotism. If the right hon. Gentleman does not like this motion—if he will not be persuaded to reduce this tax—would he like to put the tax up to a public bidding? If the reduction takes place, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will put the tax up to a public auction, the subscription lists will be filled in less than four hours, and I am satisfied that the contractor will make a most excellent bargain who takes the tax at one penny. There is not a man in this House who does not believe that if the tax were reduced to one penny, the circulation will not be more than trebled. Is there any man here who entertains a contrary opinion? In many country towns at present the people have no newspapers. A newspaper goes down thither occasionally, but they have no such thing as a printing establishment where a newspaper is published. Only take off this tax, and we shall soon have established in all small towns a newspaper. There will not be a town with 3,000 inhabitants which will not have one or two newspapers, and the consequence will be a great increase of the revenue from the paper duty, which will in my opinion make up for any diminution that will arise from the reduction of the Stamp-duty. I, therefore, hope that my hon. Friend, the Member for Lincoln, will press his Motion, unless the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, gives a most distinct pledge that 861 the tax shall come off in the next Session. The public, if we bring forward such Motions as this, and do not press them, will consider them as so many farces. They will say these Motions are brought forward to serve personal or individual purposes, and the public interests are entirely sacrificed. I hope that our conduct this night will satisfy the people that we have no such view on this occasion; and that we propose to look to the public interests, and not to our own. Sir, I am prepared to maintain this principle in this House; I have advocated it out of this House; and when I see any means of serving the public interests, I feel that I ought to make use of it. I know no way in which I can more effectually serve the public interests than by supporting the present Motion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sir, I am anxious to offer a few words in explanation. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has argued as if I had invited the House to take the course he has stated. Sir, I stated that I never would consent to take this course; that I would never be responsible for taking it, because I consider it inconsistent at the present moment with the financial state of the country. I must say, that it is not very generous in the hon. Gentleman to take advantage of my frank admissions.
§ Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer
I consider that the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) has in his speech pledged himself—I have a right to use that expression—to the repeal of the Stamp-duty. I consider that he has pledged himself in that speech as strongly as any man can pledge himself. I believe that this Duty cannot last. I believe that it will be repealed in the next Session. The only question remaining now is one of delay. If I press this Question to a division at this moment, I am not sure that I shall carry it; and if I do carry it, it will be with great moral disadvantages. In the first place, it will weaken the Government at a moment when it ought to have collected round it its whole strength. In the next place, it will expose us to divisions when we ought most to be united. And in the third place, we shall render ourselves liable to the accusation of acting against his Majesty's Government, at a time when I sincerely believe they are in possession of the national confidence. Under all these circumstances, I feel that, on this as on similar questions, our object will he best attained—the Government acknowledging the principle, and 862 asking only time and opportunity to carry it into effect. With these views, and feeling that no personal motive can attach to myself, I feel that I should not stand well with the country if I pressed my Motion to a division.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to consider that I have pledged myself against the principle of this Tax, which I never can support; but if he means to say that I have pledged myself, under all imaginable circumstances, to repeal this Tax next Session, I must say that I have given, and am prepared to give, no such pledge. I may have the same difficulties to contend with—the financial arrangements of the country may be exactly the same—and in that case, I shall be under the necessity of continuing this Tax. I have stated, as distinctly as I could do, what my opinions were upon this subject, and from those there shall be no departure or compromise.
§ Mr. E. Bulwer
I consider the right hon. Gentleman to pledge himself to the repeal of those Taxes, if the revenue can bear it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
Aye, supposing the revenue can bear it. But I must say, at the same time, that this is a different state of the Question to what it was at first.
§ Mr. Hume
I am of opinion, after what has been stated, that even if the finances of the country remain the same, the right hon. Gentleman is bound to find a substitute for this Tax. I consider that he is called upon, after the general expression of the opinion of the House, so to do. I will only add, that if I had had any idea that the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Lincoln, was pledged not to press the Motion to a division, I would never have seconded it.
§ Mr. H. Bulwer
My hon. Friend, the Member for Lincoln, never stated that he was pledged not to divide; he only stated that he did not think it adviseable, under the present circumstances, to divide the House. When the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has admitted the principle of the Motion, I do not see how my hon. Friend could divide the House.
§ The Motion was withdrawn.