§ Colonel Sibthorp
expressed his regret that on his at length bringing forward a motion of vast importance he should be compelled to do so in so thin a House. The duty now paid on fire insurances was a tax of 200 per cent. upon the rate at which insurances were effected; that its excessive pressure operated as a tax upon common prudence and forethought. It was a fact well known that more than two-fifths of the amount of property in England was insured, not more than one-half in Ireland, and not more than one-third in Scotland. If a reduction were made in the rate of duty of 100 per cent., that was to say from 3s. to 1s. 6d. per cent., he was confident it would lead to an increase of the revenue. The total amount of duty now collected was 802,701l. At present there were innumerable instances in which insurances were effected in foreign offices. He knew of one case where a single house insured 100,000l. annually in a French company. The Chancellor of the Exchequer to be sure was in this position, that he was worse off than if he had nothing in his treasury; but let him declare his intention to do something in this matter. The hon. Member concluded by moving "That it is the opinion of this House that the duty now chargeable on all insurances against fire, at the rate of 3s. per cent. on each policy, shall cease; and shall henceforward be at the rate of 1s. 6d. in lieu thereof, on all such policies, being a reduction of one-half of the former amount."
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
contended that the very admission of the hon. and gallant Officer that the exchequer 1845 was in a worse position than if there was nothing in it was the best answer that could be given to the motion. There was a deficiency in the last quarter, as compared with the other, of 865,000l. How could a revenue then of 400,000l. be given up? If there had been a surplus instead of a deficit in the quarter's revenue, the case would have been widely different. At the same time he must declare as he stated on a former day, that in the circumstance of the present deficit, as compared with the corresponding quarter, he saw nothing to create the least alarm with respect to the stability of the finances of the country.
§ Dr. Bowring
concurred with the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp) in the propriety of reducing the duty on insurances.
§ Motion negatived.