HC Deb 18 April 1842 vol 62 cc640-69
Sir Robert Peel

then brought in the Income-tax Bill.

On the question that it be read a first time,

Lord John Russell

said, the House would remember that there had been no division in the House upon the question of the approbation of the Income-tax. The resolution had passed in the Committee of Ways and Means without a division. Afterwards when the report was brought up, he proposed to the House not a simple negative to the proposal for an Income-tax, but a resolution containing what he thought was the plan that ought to be pursued. The question, therefore, upon which the House had then decided, and upon which many hon. Members did not concur with him, was whether the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman should be accepted, or whether some other alternative should be approved of instead. After that division, it being a late hour of the night, and the House, being fatigued by the discussion upon the general question, he thought with the right hon. Gentleman, that it would be the more convenient course not then to take a division upon the question of agreement with the resolution. He therefore came now simply to that question only, without having any alternative to propose, but viewing the case only as an ordinary one of moving to bring in a bill against which he entertained a decided and insuperable objection. Having already troubled the House at length upon the question, he would not again go over the general arguments against the proposal, but he must say, that at the conclusion of the debate last week, those arguments remained entirely untouched by the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters. The general argument which he had intended to establish, and in which several of his hon. Friends had followed him, was, that this tax ought not to be imposed except at a time of extreme necessity—that a case of extreme necessity had not arisen, and that there were no circumstances in the general state of the country which justified the measure, and that financially speaking, there were other and less objectionable measures that might be adopted. The other evening, he had found, that the general course of the argument which he had adopted, had not only been shared by those hon. Members with whom he had, in general, the happiness to act, but that it had been forcibly stated some years ago by the right hon. Gentleman himself against the very same measure which the right hon. Gentleman, as the organ of the Government, proposed now to bring in. He had not, on the last occasion, been aware of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had stated his argument before, but if he had been, his own arguments could not have better tallied with that of the right hon. Gentleman. If the House would allow him, he would read to them what the right hon. Gentleman had said in 1833. In speaking of the conduct of Lord Althorp, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) the right hon. Gentleman was reported to have said— He thought likewise that the noble Lord had done well in not proposing an income or a property-tax. Nothing but a case of extreme necessity could justify Parliament in subjecting the people of this country, in a time of peace, to the inquisitorial process which must be resorted to in order to render that impost productive; and to have recourse to such a machinery for the purpose of raising 2 or 3 per cent, would be most unwise. So it would appear, that with a sort of prophetic foresight of what was to happen in 1842, the right hon. Gentleman, in 1833, had fixed upon his present proposition, and declared it to be most unwise. Therefore he did not think it could be justly ascribed to that disposition, which it was alleged existed on his part, to find fault with everything that was proposed by the Government, that he had ventured to make some opposition to a proposition which was now represented to be so harmless, as an Income-tax. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say— Such a tax was a great resource in time of necessity, and therefore he was unwilling, by establishing the offensive inquisition with which it must be accompanied, to create such an odium against it as might render it almost impracticable to resort to it in time of extreme necessity." That was also an objection he had ventured repeatedly to make. He had not, ventured, perhaps, to express it in such strong terms, but he had ventured to say, that the infliction of this tax upon the country, at a time when there was no necessity for it, would give the country such a distaste against that tax— that it would become so unpopular, that it would be a barrier in the way of any Government which, in time of urgent necessity or peril, might find it necessary to establish it. One of the arguments used in reference to this tax, and upon the effect of which the right hon. Gentleman relied for its popularity, was, that it only affected persons possessed of income above 150l. a-year; and the right hon. Gentleman relied upon this argument, in order to put down the petitions of those who felt themselves ag- grieved by the tax being placed upon them. He thought, that that course was unjustifiable, because the persons directly affected by this tax, although they might have more than 150l. a year, were persons who ought to be as much the objects of consideration to that House as any class whatsoever. There were clergymen, physicians —men of various professions—who struggled with almost as much difficulty as a labouring man, in order to maintain their families in that state of decent respectability which became men of education, who were accustomed to the comforts of life. He had stated, moreover, that although the proposed tax might, perhaps, be said only to affect persons of income directly, yet that it did indirectly affect the labouring classes, who would lose employment thereby. On that point, the right hon. Gentleman had said, With respect to a tax upon property, as distinguished from a tax upon income, he very much doubted whether it would promote the interests of the labouring classes, because it would diminish the funds at present appropriated to the encouragement of industry, and the promotion of labour, and it would ultimately be found, that the tax did not affect the* person who paid it, so much as the labourer, by diminishing his means of employment." That was the wise and considerate sentiment expressed by the right hon. Baronet in 1833; and were they now told by the right hon. Gentleman, as a member of the Government, that an Income-tax was advantageous—that it would fall only upon the rich, and not upon the labouring poor. The House might depend upon it that, so far as regarded the effect of the tax upon the labouring poor employed in trades and manufactures, the opinions expressed by the right hon. Gentleman in 1833 were wise and sound. There was another question with respect to this tax, of which little notice had been taken in the course of the debate, but which was considered of importance in 1833, when Lord Althorp and the right hon. Gentleman spoke upon the subject. It was that portion of the tax which related to Ireland. He was glad that Ireland was to be exempt from the operation of the tax; he deemed it an inquisitorial, oppressive, and unjust tax, and rejoiced that any portion of the United Kingdom was to be free from it, and if other parts were to be exempted also he should rejoice yet more. But he knew not how it could be argued — and that was one part of the plan which he never could understand to be justifiable—that it was not desirable to have an Income-tax in Ireland, but that it was desirable to have taxes upon stamps and articles of consumption. They had pursued a reverse course in these cases to the course they were adopting on the present occasion. If the proposed principles of taxation were good and right, apply them to Ireland as well as to England. If, on the other hand, the course pursued towards Ireland was right, as he believed it was, why not adopt it as towards England and Scotland? It had been said that machinery for the collection of the tax was wanting in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman proposed to lay a tax upon the landed property of absentees, and there must be some machinery in order to find out what that landed property was, and the income arising from it. It was said that the machinery under the Poor-law Act was to be applied to that purpose: if that held good with respect to absentees, it was quite clear that the same machinery might be applied to the other purpose. He could not, therefore, discover that that was the chief reason for not applying the tax to Ireland. But what had the right hon. Gentleman said in 1833, with respect to the application of the tax to Ireland? Lord Althorp having said, that he did not see how he could exempt Ireland from the pressure, the right hon. Baronet observed: The application of the tax to Ireland would be attended with extreme difficulty. He really believed that this circumstance formed the main obstacle to the establishment of the tax. It hardly could be contended that, if a property-tax were established, Ireland should be exempted from its operation. He wished to see Ireland as much favoured as possible consistently with justice; but to impose a property-tax upon England and Scotland, and to exempt Ireland from its operation, would, in his opinion, however unpopular that opinion might be, be exceedingly unjust." He was satisfied with that declaration of the right hon. Gentleman. He could understand the argument that the tax might be inexpedient and oppressive in 1833, but that in 1842 circumstances might be such, that what was inexpedient then might be expedient now; but how that which was unjust in 1833 could be just in 1842 was, he owned, past the limits of his comprehension. He found that the other parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, from which he was then quoting, treated of other subjects; but if there were any passages in which, after having said the tax was unjust, the right hon. Gentleman had proved it to be just, it was, of course, in his power to quote them. He was quite aware of the right hon. Gentleman's ingenuity—of the ability with which, according to the statement of one of his Colleagues, he could dress up a statement for that House; but it would be difficult for even his ability to prove that just which he had shown to be unjust. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman appeared to contain the pith and substance of all the arguments they had heard during the late debate, and it was satisfactory to him to find that, without being aware of it, the objections he had offered to the proposed tax were founded upon grounds precisely similar to those that had been assumed by the right hon. Gentleman in 1833. The book from which he had quoted was a book called Hansard's Debates٭—a book certainly very familiar to hon. Gentlemen on the other side; but he was told, that in another report of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, namely, that in the Mirror of Parliament, epithets still stronger were ascribed to the right hon. Gentleman. There the right hon. Gentleman was made to use the term "disgusting inquisition." Now, supposing the tax to be of that nature, how was the second part of the proposition made out—that the circumstances in which the Government was placed were so extraordinary, and the peril so great, as to induce Parliament to agree to the imposition of the tax? He had indeed heard many attempts made by Members of the Cabinet to paint in darker colours the situation and prospects of the country, and to represent her inability to meet her enemies in less favourable terms than he could have wished to hear. Those expressions had indeed awakened the indignation of his right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, but he thought they had signally failed of success. In a review of the state of the country, let them not omit from their consideration those parts of the empire which they were accustomed to regard in relation to its domestic and foreign position. Take the whole United Kingdom. England and Scotland were tranquil; Ireland was tranquil; the law which at present prevailed in that country was no exception at law, different from that of the rest of the kingdom. Ireland was under no insurrection act, no coercion act; and * See Vol, xvii., third series, p. 344, he trusted the noble Secretary for Ireland would feel proud of the tranquillity which prevailed there. Something had been said with respect to Canada. What had been the state of Canada for a number of years? For some time that colony had had a popular assembly. They represented certain grievances, which were remedied; but fresh demands were made, which rendered it necessary for the Legislature to insist upon what was probably an infraction of a constitutional principle, and an insurrection was consequent upon that act. The events, then, from 1832 to 1837, were unsatisfactory and dangerous in regard to Canada; but now an assembly or Parliament was constituted there, the great majority of which were well affected to the Crown and the interests of the British empire. Therefore, with respect to Canada, there was no danger which called for an extraordinary measure. With regard to our foreign relations with the principal powers of Europe, he could see no immediate danger. An hon. and learned Gentleman had certainly pointed out the means by which the fortunes of this country might be affected, and the circumstances which might lead to war, and he had not failed to observe the eagerness with which that statement was seized by the other side. Everything that looked like a prospect of war was caught up as an argument in favour of the Income-tax. But when, he would ask, had a Minister of this country ever imposed an Income-tax for a future contingent and prospective danger—a danger which he earnestly trusted would never fall upon this land? With respect to the melancholy reverses which we had experienced in India, and the calamities which had befallen our troops there, it had been said, and truly, that as a matter of finance they were to consider how far those misfortunes would be a drain upon this country; and, considered in that light, it had been shown by an hon. Gentleman, who had addressed the House particularly on that branch of the subject, that the present state of India did not require the imposition of a tax allowed to be oppressive, inquisitorial, and unequal. Much had been said about our relations with China, and one of the members of the Cabinet had spoken in terms which might have been used if the Emperor of China had been the Emperor Napoleon, and the fleet of junks at Canton had been the flotilla at Boulogne, If the dangers of 1804 and 1805 had been encompassing us, no Minister could have painted them in stronger colours than those used by the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the war with China. He had no such apprehensions with regard to that war as those expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. It was a war thus distinguished from other wars, that the whole expense was confined to the expense of the expedition itself. If we had been at war with one of the great powers of Europe, or with the United States, it would have been thought necessary to strengthen our colonial possessions, and so to order matters, that neither by sea nor land should the enemy gain advantage over us there. In the present case there was no such necessity. Nobody expected the Emperor of China to capture Jamaica, or to attack Gibraltar. It had been said there was no prospect of peace, but he thought the reverse. If it was meant that we could not compel the Emperor of China to sign a treaty of peace with this country, acknowledging our Sovereign as an equal monarch, there might be some ground for the assertion; but there was an alternative. But, supposing that not to be the case—supposing that it were not possible without incurring a much greater expense than would be advisable, to bring the Supreme Court of China to the terms which England would dictate, even then it would be in the power of this country to hold possession of some part of the Chinese territory—of the island of Hong Kong, or of Chusan, or of some other convenient point from which we might carry on our trade more securely than we had done of late years, and without the danger of having our Superintend-ant insulted or our trade suspended at the caprice of the Chinese. Therefore, with regard to China, he owned he could not see any such danger or ground of apprehension as seemed to influence the minds of the members of her Majesty's Government. That was his opinion of the general state of our relations with China. But supposing that he were mistaken—supposing that this country were annually compelled to pay a sum of 500.000l. to defray the expense of an expedition against China for some years to come, even that, in his estimation, would be no excuse for the imposition of an Income-tax. The second part of the question, upon which he apprehended they would have frequent opportunities of speaking hereafter, and upon which, therefore, he should not enlarge upon the present occasion, was the which related to the tariff. He had no objection to the principle upon which the proposed alterations in the tariff were founded, for he was one of those who advised her Majesty, after stating to Parliament the necessity of considering some means of improving the revenue, to say in the speech delivered by the commissioners, on the opening of Parliament in the August of last year:— Her Majesty is anxious that this object should be effected in the manner least burdensome to her people, and it has appeared to her Majesty, after full deliberation, that you may, at this juncture, properly direct your attention to the revision of duties affecting the productions of foreign countries. It will be for you to consider whether some of these duties are not so trifling in amount as to be unproductive to the revenue, while they are vexatious to commerce. You may further examine whether the principle of protection, upon which others of these duties are founded, be not carried to an extent injurious alike to the income of the State, and the interests of the people. Her Majesty is desirous that you should consider the laws which regulate the trade in corn. It will be for you to determine whether these laws do not aggravate the natural fluctuations of supply, whether they do not embarrass trade, derange currency, and, by their operation, diminish the comfort and increase the privations of the great body of the community." Having given that advice when he was a Minister of the Crown, he could not now object to the principles upon which the present changes in the tariff were proposed; but he begged to say, with regard to those changes that he thought it would have been far easier to have carried them through Parliament, and that they would have produced much less of the panic which was now understood to prevail in many parts of the country, if the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had last year stated that these were the principles upon which he proposed to undertake the Government. Differing as the right hon. Baronet did from the late Ministry upon many points of policy, and declaring as he did that they were unworthy of the confidence of the House of Commons and of the country, it would still have been competent to him to have stated clearly and explicitly that with regard to the principles upon which our commercial tariff was at present founded, he thought there were many articles upon which the existing duly might be reduced to a mere nominal amount, and that there were other ar- ticles in respect to which the principle of protection was carried to an excessive and prejudicial extent. Had the right hon. Baronet done this, the people of the country, and especially the farmers of the country, who liked plain dealing upon subjects of this kind, would have understood what the right hon. Baronet meant to do; and seeing that both the great parties in the country, and the leaders generally on both sides of the House, were agreed upon these great principles, they would have had time and have taken means to consider whether they would not concur in those principles as proposed either by the one party or the other. But, even now, when the right hon. Baronet adopted these principles, it appeared to him that the right hon. Baronet had a hesitation in saying that which was the only proper thing to be said upon the subject. He had always said that the carrying of those principles into execution might at the first moment occasion inconvenience, might occasion injury, might occasion loss to many interests directly involved in the existing system; but that that injury and that loss would be repaid, and more than repaid, by the future and general prosperity of the country. But the right hon. Baronet did not say this. He was continually saying, with regard to corn and to articles of agricultural production, that the alteration in the tariff was to do two things. Whenever he spoke to the country generally he pointed to the revised tariff, and said, "This will diminish the cost of living—this will lessen the cost of articles of subsistence, and thereby the general welfare of the labouring and middle classes will be improved"—but when the right hon. Baronet spoke to the producers of these articles—when he addressed himself to the farmers, and to persons interested in agriculture, he said— "Prices will not be diminished—no material alteration will take place—your produce will be of the same value in the market." It was needless to remark that the right hon. Baronet in making these adverse statements was placing himself in an untenable position. As a matter of arithmetic it was plain and palpable, that this, which was to cost less to the consumer, could not be sold at the same price by the producer. The right hon. Baronet could not by possibility achieve the two things of which he spoke. He might accomplish the one, or he might accomplish the other. But the accomplishment of the two being impossible, would it not be much more frank and fair, much more like plain and honest dealing, if the right hon. Baronet, instead of shuffling between the two great interests of the country, were to tell them boldly and candidly what he really contemplated as the result of his proposition? If the right hon. Baronet adopted sound principles, let him be prepared to avow them. Let him not shrink from the truth—let him not be ashamed to own that he was acting upon sound principles of trade and commerce; upon principles which all the most enlightened writers upon these subjects had generally agreed, and which he (Sir Robert Peel) would not blush to own nor fear to defend, if they were called in question. For his part, when these questions came under discussion, he should act according to the principles he had always professed. He might probably think that with respect to certain articles the right hon. Baronet proposed to take off the protection rather too suddenly; with respect to others, he might think that the principle of reduction was not carried far enough; but generally, and as a whole, the principle which pervaded the proposed tariff was such as met with his approbation and would receive his support. He would mention one instance, in which he confessed he thought some explanation would be necessary. Hitherto there had been a heavy duty upon the importation of foreign copper; but the smelting of foreign copper in this country was not forbidden. The consequence was, that very considerable quantities of foreign copper ore had been brought here for the purpose of smelting, and the persons engaged in smelting it had afterwards sold that copper at a much lower price than British copper in foreign countries. A few years ago, when there was great activity in the dock-yards of this country and of France, he remembered perfectly well, that copper went from England to France 15 percent, cheaper than it could be obtained in the dockyards of thi3 country. That was a part of the absurdity of the old law. The right hon. Baronet proposed, and very properly proposed, to change that law. But if the right hon. Baronet proposed to alter the restriction which had hitherto affected the importation of foreign copper, the right hon. Baronet must abandon the argument that he had urged, with respect to the importation of foreign sugar; because, in the proposed change with respect to copper, the right hon. Baronet was favouring the mines of Cuba. Mines worked by slaves. The right hon. Baronet would be giving an advantage not hitherto enjoyed to the producers of copper ore in a colony where the mines were worked by slaves, slaves subjected to the hardest and most oppressive kind of labour. How could the right hon. Baronet reconcile these inconsistencies in his proposition. If the principle upon which he proposed to act in respect to foreign copper were right, then why did he not stand to it in respect to foreign sugar. The two cases were exactly analogous; then why apply two different principles to them. With respect to the tariff, then, all that he would now say was, that whilst he approved generally of the principles upon which it was founded, he hoped that in some respects the right hon. Baronet would reconsider it, and that in others he would extend and enlarge it. He had stated at the commencement of his speech, that he had now no proposition to offer to the House. The question with respect to corn and some other articles had already been decided in that branch of the Legislature, Upon those topics, therefore, he should now be silent, but he conceived that in any view of the subject, the Income-tax was at this moment unnecessary; and that, if not based on the ground of great public necessity, it would be attended with all the disadvantages which were so ably pointed out in the year 1833 by the present Prime Minister of the Crown. In his opinion, it would tend to weaken the resources of the country in time of real emergency: it would teach the people, at a time when the impost was not imperatively necessary, to find out all the objections to which it was justly liable, and would lead them to resist or evade it in the hour of absolute emergency, when no other resource might be left to the Government. He could conceive that in a time of great peril, even though the people might see their way to an evasion of the tax, yet that they would be governed by too much of public spirit and of patriotism to avail themselves of it, and would consent to pay to the very last farthing that they were justly chargeable. But what was the testimony of the right hon. Baronet himself to the feeling of the country with respect to the Income-tax at the present moment? The right hon. Baronet said, that although he thought it generally approved of, yet that every class wished to be exempted from it, or to lay some ground of favour in respect to it. In his estimation there could not be a stronger proof that this was not the moment to propose such a tax. Take fifty of the persons who declared themselves to be generally in favour of an Income-tax, and he (Lord John Russell) would venture to say that forty-nine out of the fifty would differ as to the mode in which it should be carried into execution. No stronger proof could be offered to show that this was not the time for such a tax. Let the hour of absolute necessity arise, and the country would submit to the imposition without raising so many grounds of exemption or modification. He was fully persuaded that there were other sources from which the present wants of the Exchequer might be supplied. Looking at the taxes which had been reduced since the year 1830, he ' was persuaded that there were ample means of replenishing the Exchequer without having recourse to this unjust and inquisitorial tax. With that feeling upon the subject he should conclude by moving as an amendment that the bill be read a first time that day six months.

Sir Robert Peel

The noble Lord had felt it incumbent upon him in the discharge of his public duty to take the very unusual course of resisting the first reading of the bill which he had brought in, in conformity with the resolution of the House. The chief part of the argument upon which the noble Lord justified that unusual course of proceeding had been rather general—a sort of argumentum ad hominem, addressed personally to him; and in which the noble Lord very fairly and candidly said that, having had some difficulty in discovering any valid and sufficiently satisfactory arguments against this bill, he had done him the honour of referring to a speech made by him in the year 1833, in which he found the arguments against a property-tax much stronger and much better put forward than any that he had yet heard. He confessed that, up to this period, he had thought that all the arguments advanced against the present proposed Income-tax were exceedingly weak and inefficient, and he did not think, when the circumstances under which the speech of 1833 was made were considered, that the noble Lord had much strengthened his case by referring to what he then said. When an authority was quoted, it was always of great importance to refer to the period and to the circumstances under which that authority spoke. When he stated his strong objection to the imposition of an Income-tax in 1833—objections, the force of which he felt at the present moment—what, at that time, was the financial position of the country? According to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there was then a net surplus of 1,500,000l. Lord Althorp proposed a considerable remission of taxes upon articles of consumption, amounting to a loss of revenue to the extent of about 1,000,000l. The immediate loss to the revenue would be greater; but Lord Althorp calculated upon an increase of consumption which would make up a part of the deficiency, and that the total loss that he would sustain by the proposed reduction of taxes would still leave him a net surplus of about 516,000l. That was the financial position of the country when he was called upon to deliver an opinion upon a projected tax upon property and income. Proposals were made to reduce the malt-tax, the house-tax, and the window-tax; and it was proposed to impose a property-tax by way of commutation for the house-tax and the window-tax. He decidedly objected to the imposition of a property-tax to effect that commutation. And even now, if the Exchequer were in possession of a surplus of 500,000l., and a proposition were made to reduce the malt-tax, the house-tax, and the window-tax, and to substitute in lieu of them a property-tax, he should offer to such a proposition the most strenuous opposition. He stated in 1833, that the house-tax and the window-tax partook of the nature of a property-tax, and that, having at that time a surplus of 500,000l., he would not consent to the imposition of a direct property-tax —which he admitted to be open to many objections—with the view of relieving the country from a corresponding amount of charge upon houses and windows. What was the course which he took in 1833? Lord Althorp had lost the malt-tax. Lord Althorp asked what course he thought ought to be pursued. He replied, You may rely upon my support in the maintenance of the public credit; and if you come down to rescind the vote by which you have lost half the malt-tax, you may depend upon my support in utter oblivion of all political considerations." He felt it to be his duty, under any circumstances, to maintain the public credit. He accordingly voted with Lord Althorp in rescinding the resolution of the House with respect to the malt-tax, and assisted him to the utmost of his power in upholding the public credit. And he begged to tell the noble Lord, that it was mainly in consequence of the assurance so derived from him that Lord Althorp took the strong and decided measure of calling upon the House to rescind the vote it had previously given upon the subject of the malt-tax. What was the vote in reference to a property-tax that Lord Althorp at that time asked him to join him upon? It was proposed to take off part of the malt-tax and part of the house-tax and window-tax. Lord Althorp met that proposition by another proposition. If the malt-tax, the house-tax, and the window-tax were reduced, this was the way in which Lord Althorp proposed to make up the deficiency that would be occasioned in the revenue— all this, be it observed, was in a time of profound peace, and when the only ground for the proposition was one of financial emergency—this was the way in which Lord Althorp proposed to proceed:— That the deficiency of the revenue which would be occasioned by a reduction of the tax on malt to 10s. a quarter, and by the repeal of the taxes on houses and windows, could only be supplied by the substitution of a general tax on property, and would occasion an extensive change in our whole financial system, which would at present be in expedient. Four days after Lord Althorp moved that amendment he gave his vote in favour of Lord Althorp's proposition. When the noble Lord referred to his opinion, with respect to Ireland, he had done him an injustice in quoting only a part instead of the whole of the opinion he had expressed. He was willing to admit that Ireland had no claim to an exemption from a property tax to which England and Scotland were subject; but his reason for exempting it now was, because there was no machinery in Ireland, by which such a tax could be collected. He proposed, however, to raise a corresponding sum by an additional amount of taxation upon stamps and spirits. From those sources, the latter of which partook in some degree of the nature of a property tax, he calculated upon obtaining an equivalent for a general property tax in Ireland. When the noble Lord charged him with having changed his opinions upon the subject of the property tax, perhaps it would have been more fair if he had read the opinions which he expressed on the occasion. His words were these:— He repeated, that the repeal of the half of the malt duty carried with it the repeal of the whole; and if the whole duty were repealed, and the house and window-tax were repealed, they would not be able to satisfy the public creditor; for it was a perfect delusion to suppose that the deficiency could be made up by increased consumption and by a reduction of expenditure. The only alternative, then, was a property-tax, to which he was decidedly opposed. He would not pledge himself beyond the present occasion; but he would say that, in the present circumstances of the country, and at the present period of the Session, either a property or an Income-tax would be a great calamity." * Those were the opinions which he expressed in 1833, admitting the inquisitorial character of the tax, and objecting to it, by way of commutation for other taxes, at a time when there was a clear surplus of 1,500,000l. in the Exchequer. But he asked whether the condition and circumstances of the country were not now so different as to justify him in taking a different view? The noble Lord said, that the Income-tax was one that would excite discontent, and even disgust in the country, as soon as it should come into actual operation. He admitted that it was not likely to be popular. But if he were to encounter so much of disgust, dissatisfaction, and unpopularity—if he were to be met by all the difficulties and obstructions which the noble Lord had pointed out, and some of which, perhaps, he could himself foresee —what reason could he have in proposing a measure which would bring these consequences upon his head, except a firm belief that it was absolutely necessary to maintain the public credit, and a conviction that that credit could not in any way be. so well maintained, or in a way so little oppressive to the country generally as by a property-tax. The noble Lord said, that there was no such pressing necessity which warranted the imposition of a property-tax. Why, at the end of the present year the deficiency upon the last six years would not be less than 10,000,000l.; and upon the current year, ending April, 1843, the deficiency, exclusive of any expenditure that might be rendered necessary by the course of events in India, the deficiency would be at least 3,000,000l. In addition to that, he calculated upon a loss of 1,200,000l. from the reductions proposed upon the tariff, so that the gross deficit for which he should have to provide would not be less than 4,200,000l. After all that had been stated in the course of the * Hansard Vol, xvii. third series, p. 815, long and protracted debates upon the subject, he owned he could not see how he was to raise such an amount of revenue as would enable him to meet that large deficiency, without having recourse to such a tax upon income as that which he now proposed. Considering that they might confidently expect that the revival of trade and additional consumption would enable them to relieve the country from this tax, he thought they would much less disturb the industry of the country and the application of capital, by imposing a tax on property, than by trying to revive the taxes on such articles as salt, malt, and leather, which would have to be paid by all those whose condition they were so anxious to improve. He was firmly of opinion that he was consulting the interest and security of those who owned property, by the imposition of a property-tax, far more than he would have done had he subjected the great masses of the working classes to indirect taxation. Considering the manner in which property had accumulated, and considering the emergency in which the country was placed, he felt, that he was perfectly justified in the proposal which he had made to raise a deficit of 4,200,000l. from the incomes of the landed aristocracy, and from the profits—for where no profits were made there would be no taxation— of those engaged in trades and professions, and he felt firmly convinced that his proposal was not only consistent with justice, but also with the interests of those by whom property was possessed. He believed, that among the consumers there was a feeling of satisfaction with his proposals, and a conviction that by the alterations proposed in the tariff they would be compensated for the inconvenience to which the tax would subject them. Notwithstanding the opinion which he formerly expressed, and which he still retained —that, with a surplus of 1,500,000l., an Income-tax would be most unjust; and not denying its inequality or its inquisitorial character—still, from the result of the debates, and from the communications which he had received from various parts of the country, he was confirmed in the strong opinion which he had previously entertained when he opened the question to the House—that his proposal at the present emergency was both called for and just. He had not, in discussing the question, travelled beyond the limits which the noble Lord had prescribed. He had confined himself to answering the speech of the noble Lord, particularly that part of it having a personal reference. He thought it inconvenient to enter upon any discussion at the present moment in respect to the tariff. He thought he should be able to show, when the proper time came, that they might confidently rely on a reduction of price on the articles of subsistence, and that that reduction could be made consistently with the promotion of the interests of the producer as well as of the consumer. He would, however, take the present opportunity of stating, that he should propose two modifications in the measure, for the purpose of remedying the objections made in the course of the debate. One was, in reference to the position of tenants in Scotland, which had been stated, and truly stated, to be differing from the position of tenants in England. The tenant in Scotland was not subject to any payment on account of tithes, nor was he subject to any of those payments which in England usually fell on the occupying tenant, but which in Scotland were borne by the landlord; and this was the reason why, in the act of 1806, a distinction was made—apparently, but not in reality—in favour of the occupying tenant in Scotland. He wished to place the tenant in Scotland on the same footing, or as nearly as it was possible on the same footing, in this respect, as the tenant in England. If the English tenant occupies land tithe-free, he will be entitled to a deduction of one-eighth from the amount of assessment. That was clearly a deduction to which the tenant in Scotland was entitled. Again, supposing the landlord of the English tenant paid the usual charges, and this he almost universally did, the tenant in that case would be entitled to a remission. When he came to compute the amount of these deductions, he found that substantial justice would be done by charging the Scottish tenant on about one-third, instead of one-half of his rent, making him liable for 2½d. instead of 3d. in the pound. He believed that this would place the tenantry in the two countries on nearly the same footing. He thought it better to do this than to call on the tenant in Scotland to make a return of the amount of his exemptions. In regard to the other modification which he had made, he was aware that one great objection to the tax was its inquisitorial nature. It was said, and said with great force, that it was unfair to subject the trader, or any other person liable to con- tribution under schedule D, to the inquisition established by the act of 1806; and it was further said, and no doubt justly enough, that the case of a trader or of a professional man differed from that of the landed proprietor or of the person possessing funded property, whose incomes were generally very well known. The arrangement which he proposed to make respecting the property in schedule D was to leave the act of 1806, in reference to this point, as he found it—namely, to permit those who preferred it to go before a local commissioner, appointed by parties independent of the Government; but in case any one objected to go before the local authority, and this might happen where the commissioner was a competitor in trade or a rival in manufactures, or where the disclosure of a person's income before a particular commissioner might be prejudicial or vexatious—if, then, any person objected going before the local commissioner, it was proposed to give the party the option of either doing so or of sending a return of his income to a sworn officer, the inspector of stamps. He proposed also that surcharges should be brought before that officer, with an appeal to a special commissioner, and that any person should have the option of disclosing his affairs to a special com-missioner appointed by Government, with the same power as the other commissioners. He had attempted to reconcile as far as possible these two objects, the impartial and just imposition of the tax, and the prevention of evasion and fraud; he sought to apply a remedy to those special evils, which were alleged to arise from an inquisitorial examination of the concerns of the trader or professional man. He hoped that he had removed at least some part of the objection by the remedy which he had proposed. His belief was, notwithstanding the predictions of the noble Lord the Member for London respecting the disgust with which the tax would be hereafter viewed, and the unpopularity which would visit those who had proposed it, —notwithstanding this prediction, he must say, that there were indications throughout the country generally of a strong prevalent impression that the maintenance of public credit required the adoption by Parliament of some vigorous and decisive course—his belief was, that among those parties who possessed property—and he spoke of property em- barked in trade or manufactures, as well as property of a more permanent character —among such persons he believed there was a strong prevailing opinion, that if they were to raise 4,200,000l. for the purpose of maintaining the public credit, it was perfectly consistent with justice, as well as policy, to impose the burden on property, rather than to curtail the comforts and enjoyments of those who constituted the great mass of the working classes. He would not enter any further into the discussion of this subject. He did not know whether the noble Lord opposite would feel it his duty to take the sense of the House on the present occasion or on the second reading. If, considering the peculiar circumstances of the discussion, the season of the year, and the immense importance to the trade and manufactures of the country, that the sense of Parliament should be ascertained and the question settled—if the House, considering all these things, should think it advisable to make a temporary relaxation of those rules which confined their discussions on this subject to two days in the week, he would willingly propose to devote more than two days to the consideration of the Income-tax and the tariff.

Mr. Villiers

said, that the right hon. Baronet had in one respect, he thought, made one of the most important speeches which he had delivered since he announced his financial scheme, for it had done what his former speeches had left undone, in giving the country some insight into what were his general views and intentions with respect to the peculiar tax which he was about to impose on the country. His scheme had been so ingeniously contrived, and his speeches so cleverly composed, that up to this moment he had succeeded in leaving many, and particularly those who were opposed to him in doubt, as to the course they should pursue. There were many, and he was among the number, who were far from satisfied with the justice and operation of our present system of taxation; who thought it was oppressive to the poor and partial to the rich, and who were strongly in favour of transferring from poverty to property the burdens of the State. There were many who saw nothing to approve in the particular purpose of this tax and the occasion selected for its imposition, but who yet thought that it was the recognition of a sound principle as regarded taxation, and that it would be wise to endure its inconvenience, with the view ultimately to its general application; always assuming, however, that this was the view taken by the right hon. Baronet; and that, alive to the evils of which they complained, as to many of the taxes, Was not wanting in will to apply the remedy. The speech they had just heard, however, will dissipate this illusion at once, and enlighten the country as to the right hon. Gentleman's views of the object of a property-tax—for, called upon tonight to vindicate his consistency for opposing a property-tax in the year 1833, the right hon. Baronet candidly tells us that the ground of his opposition then was one that he would maintain now; that a property-tax in lieu of those indirect taxes which existed now, of which the people complained, was one which the right hon. Baronet would join any party in opposing. No man should be found more firm in opposing any substitute for the duties on malt, on soap, or any of those indirect taxes which now existed; and the right hon. Baronet had distinctly said, that all which he proposed the Income-tax for now, was as one means of maintaining the public credit, as a means of getting more revenue, and with no intention of ever proposing it as a substitute for any other tax, and much less for any indirect tax then pressing upon the people. This, then, was candid and intelligible, though calculated a little, he thought, to influence that impression to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded as prevailing in the country in favour of his plan, but which he (Mr. Villiers) thought had been produced by the vague, uncertain, and inconsistent things which had hitherto been said upon this subject of taxing property, and which pervaded every speech the House had heard from the right hon. Baronet, in which he seems to mark out the rich as the proper objects of taxation, and expresses sympathy for the necessities of the poor. It would be clear, however, hereafter, that this is a tax now imposed not in lieu of any other, not in any spirit of benefitting the poor, but in aggravation of every other, and because other means are not resorted to for getting the money; and it ought to settle those doubts now floating about on this side, as to whether evil should not be supported that good might come; for, certainly, now, the right hon. Baronet had confirmed the view which he had entertained from the beginning, that the financial difficulty which it was intended to remove resulted from the commercial and financial system maintained so long and opposed so long in this country, and that this tax was really to meet for its necessary consequences. It was that peculiar system which placed the people of this country under the twofold contribution of paying taxes to the State and taxes to particular classes, which had caused our present condition; and as one of that party, who had long since deprecated the principle and predicted the effects of that system, he would only consent to relieve the difficulty by removing its cause. The fact was, that that peculiar system of finance which made the revenue dependent upon the general condition of the people was now breaking down, and its failure was caused by monopoly in their food and restraints upon their trade; the former, in exhausting men's means by enhancing the cost of subsistence, and the latter by narrowing the field for employing their labour. The revenue now began to feel its effects, and the struggle was really between the means of maintaining public credit and maintaining monopoly. The real question the House had to examine was, whether we would uphold public credit by abolishing monopoly or by imposing fresh taxes; and he was glad to think that this year, at least, those who took that view of the influence of monopoly upon revenue were spared the trouble of proving what they had so often said, for as a fact it may this year be numbered with those many admissions on which the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, had declared there had been such unanimity. Last year he was tauntingly asked what the Corn-laws had to do with the budget, and when he replied that they were not only a heavy tax imposed upon the community for a class, but inasmuch as the article corn was essential to life, it was the first tax that people had to pay, and it depended upon the amount of it what was left for the State, it was treated as a vision of the free-trade party, and one of course to be neglected; this year, however, we hear of the influence of the cost of living upon the value of an income, and the connection between harvests, which means the cheap-ness and dearness of food, and the revenue derived from customs, and excise, and notwithstanding all the vulgar tirades they had heard against commerce and manufac- tures, they now heard of solicitude expressed for the languor of commerce, and the importance admitted of easing the springs of industry. It was well that it should be so. It was time the old note should be changed; but the thing that the House had now to see was, that these admitted truths should be acted upon and applied. He for one had yet to suspect that they were not very earnestly entertained, or they would not, he thought, have seen such a Corn-bill as had been passed—nor have had such a tax as that on income proposed, nor would so small an instalment of what was due to the people have been offered as in the proposed tariff. And, indeed, he thought it incumbent upon those who had proposed this tax explicitly to declare to what they ascribed the declining tendency of our revenue, what they thought of its cause, and its character, for upon that turned the prospect the country had of its duration, and also of the proportion of the burden not being increased. For it was not because it was a direct tax that he opposed it; that was not the objection that he had, or that his constituents had to it, many of whom thought, and justly, as he considered, that property was a good test or evidence of a man's ability to contribute to the State, and he had received a memorial from those politically opposed to him to this effect, approving of the principle of the tax quà property-tax, though greatly objecting to the rude and reckless manner in which it was proposed to be applied— assessing, as it was intended, all income without reference to its origin, or its liability. But it was not because property was directly assessed that he or they objected to it; on the contrary, they were ready for the application of that principle when an equivalent advantage was to be gained by it, or necessity required it. But it was not enough to say, in the present state of our finances, that the deficiency occurred under the late Government, and that the supporters of the late Government could not, there-fore, object to supply the deficiency in the way proposed. That was not the view that satisfied those who stood aloof from both parties. They believed all the harm that Whigs said of Tories, or that Tories said of Whigs, when those charges had reference to matters of which they had no other cognizance; the people were, he believed, nearly satisfied as to what class have so long had the manage- ment of their affairs. They had enquired in whose hands the Government had been placed, that had brought them to their present state. And, if he mistook not, her Majesty's commissioners, on the hand-loom weavers, a short time since, satisfied that question in their report upon the condition of that unfortunate portion of our fellow-subjects, and whose state they were led to connect with the operation of our commercial laws, and they seemed to have been led into a reflection upon the character of the Legislature in consequence, and they reminded those who ruled this country that the Government of this country dwelt in a small minority of the community, who occupied entirely one branch of the Legislature, and who greatly preponderated in the other, and whose interests were entirely identified with one description of property, and cautioned them on the importance of their acts being above the suspicion of partiality, as such a Government could only rest upon public opinion, which would not sanction legislation observed and known to produce the misery and sufferings of the masses of the people. This, then, was announced on authority to be the real Government of this country, and the people being neither Whig nor Tory, were disposed to think, that the monopolies springing out of what they termed class legislation, had so far exhausted the means, and restricted the energies of the people, as to be answerable for the decline of this great industrial nation. The people, too, would soon learn, that the tax now proposed to be imposed on income was only a mode of escaping one of its temporary, but necessary consequences of the system. The people were not so dull and not so easily deluded as hon. Members opposite thought, when they supposed that they believed that this tax was favourable to them, because it apparently fell upon those above them. He had heard the opinions of many of them on the subject, and they said, "We shall take no part in the matter, but we are not deceived by the notion, that so far as we are dependent on the capital possessed by those above us, but if that is taxed or diminished, we must feel it in the diminished demand for our labour, but with regard to a means of extending our political power we are not blind to the effects of making the middle classes discontented. They believed, thoroughly, that the resources of this country have been wasted by those monopolies, and those arguments which are used in favour of part of this scheme, when the importance of reducing the cost of living is dwelt upon, leaves them no doubt of what has hitherto been lost to this country by that means. This, then, being the 'case, if permanent improvement is intended, why has the root of the evil not been avowed and struck at? What hope was there of ever discontinuing this tax, or making the others productive without that being done? And why has a tax been resorted to, which of all others, if the deficiency springs from the poverty of the people, must aggravate the evil. And at least, why have you not looked round to see if those who profit by those monopolies, contribute their due and fair proportions to the State. That source should at least have been exhausted before you resort to a tax that all must admit is oppressive to men in trade, and unequal to those who live by personal exertion. And is there not yet a fund untouched in these unequal taxes? It was but a few weeks since that I enumerated myself nearly one million that had been taken off the landed classes, and out of pure favour to them. Has any body denied that they were exemptions favourable to that interest, and that if the House were to re-impose them under the present increased value of real property, they might probably yield more than that million now? Has any satisfactory reason been assigned for that duty which is imposed upon the descent to personal property, not attaching to the succession of freehold property. Some subtlety was employed, he knew, the other night, to make it appear that some landed property was assessed for this purpose, but could any man doubt that a very large sum might be annually derived from this source; and can any man doubt that it is foregone merely to favour the landed proprietors. But the right hon. Baronet said to-night, that in spite of all that had been said, we had a deficiency to make up, and that there was no certain way within his knowledge, but that of taxing the income of the people. But the right hon. Baronet precluded himself from making that statement by an admission that he made himself, though not called upon the other night—the right hon. Baronet said what of course is true, and is well known, that there might immediately be collected a very considerable revenue on foreign sugar, now almost prohibited by lowering the duty on it; this hitherto had been met by the taunt that this was one of the theories of the political economists, of getting revenue by reducing duty. The right hon. Baronet knows, and now admits, however, that it is the fact, and that to-morrow, if he chose, the coffers of the Treasury might be replenished, if he would suffer the people to consume foreign sugar. He would like to place the necessity and the policy of an Income-tax, as explained this evening before the country, and let the sensible and humane people of this country judge fairly upon this issue, whether the expectation of preventing slavery in a foreign country, by not consuming their produce, was sufficiently well grounded to warrant the policy of precluding the people of this country from the advantage of a cheap necessary, and for imposing a fresh and heavy burden upon this community. He had seen a comment upon this policy in a foreign paper, which he really thought just, and they called it the laughable hypocrisy of the English; and under all circumstances he thought the description just, for few people believed it would succeed, and most people believed it was insincere. Why, if there was any sincerity in this talk about slavery, the real sacrifice to make was not to send goods to a slave producing country; for it was to buy goods that sugar was produced. It was to get those goods that men were retained in slavery, and it was notorious that these slave-holding communities was now becoming some of our best markets; and that if they were to refuse our goods, or to raise these duties unfairly against us, we should be more disposed to go to war with them on that account, than commend them for adopting this means for preventing slavery. He, however, was not indifferent to the opinions of many benevolent men, who were of opinion that dealing with slave countries was a means of encouraging slavery, but he knew many, who no less benevolent, no less zealous or serviceable in that cause, were of opinion that this partial restraint on the trader with such countries was calculated rather to do harm than good. For instance, let them see how this policy might work for the continuance of slavery. What did you practically tell the West-India proprietary? Why, that as long as slavery continued in other countries their monopoly was safe. Why, then they had a strong interest in maintaining slavery; and they had something else, they had very great influence over the British Government, they always have had, and it continues; how then can any Government better secure the adherence of these partisans than by not remonstrating effectively with these slave states as they now are professing to intend to do? The West-India influence may and will depend probably upon their not doing it. Again, it was said with great justice, he believed, that if those countries saw, that sugar would be produced by free-labour more cheaply than by slave-labour, and that our markets were supplied by those countries, which they might be, in which there were no slaves, it would be more likely to influence those countries who, it is said, are now wavering about slavery, than by any impotent threat or feeble remonstrance on our part to withdraw our custom, more important to ourselves than to them. Was it not notorious that the sugar grown in those parts of the world where labour is free, is brought to the European markets as cheaply and as good as that from Brazil? There is the sugar from Manilla, from Java, from Siam, from Cochin China, all produced by free-labour, all supplied to different countries at one-half, or less than one-half of the price of our plantation sugar. You say that we are bound by treaties with Brazil, not to let in the sugar from those countries on better terms than it is introduced from Brazil. But that is the reason for opening our ports to all. The only country where there is a chance perhaps of getting any terms for slaves is in Brazil. I know in that country there are districts, or provinces, where the proprietors question the importance to themselves of maintaining slavery, attended as it is with expense and insecurity. But they are a minority in the legislature of that country, and if you succeed in making them abolish slavery, you cannot let in their sugar unless you get the people of Cuba to do the same, of which, as you know, there is not the remotest chance; they profit too much by it from the manner in which the slave-trade is carried on; and I believe that by treaty you are bound not to show favour to trade with Brazil more than you do to Cuba. What a fancy, then, is it if it is an honest speculation at all, that by refusing to allow their produce to come out of the warehouses of this country, (for it is a fact that you allow it to come into the country and export it refined, and receive payments for other manufactures by means of other slave produce sent here or to other countries on your account), that you can abolish slavery in those countries, and what vast sacrifice you are making for this purpose, at all times, and in particular at this moment, when you are about to visit the trading classes with this odious assessment, sooner than get revenue without the addition but by the remission of the duty on this article. He really should wish the question to be rested upon this issue; for it is an obvious, easy, advantageous manner of supplying the revenue. For the purpose of maintaining the credit of the country immediately there were, he believed the ready means in the equalization of the stamp duties, and other duties which were now imposed with the view to favour the landed class, and by the reduction of differential duties on tropical pro. duce, for what he said of sugar applied to all differential duties, which implied that the same article was brought to this country at different prices from the countries where it was produced, the very object of which was to preclude the community from consuming the cheaper article, but which if they were allowed to do they would consume more extensively, and the duty being collected upon the whole amount, would add to the revenue, while it lowered the cost to the consumer. Looking, then, at the right hon. Baronet's whole scheme then, he objected to the Income-tax, part of it as mischievous, uncalled for, and not imposed with the admission of or with the view to remove the real cause of the deficiency, and therefore likely to be continued beyond the time now intended. He did not, however, underrate the importance of those changes in our wretched commercial system which were proposed by the right hon. Baronet. He liked the disturbance of the system, and expected that it would lead to a far wider and more beneficial change than was yet proposed, He, for one, must say, he should like to see more changes made in the spirit in which the timber duties were altered; that was, he was satisfied, a very beneficial change, and one he thought, that was underrated at present in the country. He did not speak altogether in ignorance on the subject, for he had once called the attention of the House to this matter, and upon that occasion he had made a very full inquiry into the case, and he was really surprised to find the extent of the evil produced by the timber duties, and the vast importance to an old, cleared, densely- peopled manufacturing country like this, of a cheap and abundant supply of wood. Next to food, he really believed that there was not one thing that the circumstances of this country rendered us so necessarily dependent upon other countries for, and that it was such an object to have in abundance. He might be wrong, but he doubted if there would be so great a sacrifice of revenue as people imagined from the change, for the same quantity of timber which used to come from Canada, and which came (though bad) on account of the differential duty, will now come from the Baltic, and pay 25s. instead of 10s. There would be then an increase of duty of 150 per cent, upon that portion of the timber; and he might mention another circumstance that he thought would secure to the consumer the full advantage of the remission of the duty, which some said they would not have, in consequence of the price rising in the Baltic countries. He thought this rise would not occur if those countries had again to apprehend the competition with Canada, which, with the duty entirely re-remitted there would be, and he thought, therefore, that would be an increased supply from the Baltic without addition to the price. In saying this, however, with regard to the advantage of the remission of the duties on timber, he said nothing in favour of an Income-tax proposed under the present circumstances. He was speaking of the change in a commercial point of view, and he should say generally, that if a temporary deficiency of revenue is occasioned by making some beneficial change in our commercial dealings with other countries, with the prospect of recovering the loss both by improved commerce and in revenue, he said that was a case in which a loan by issue of Exchequer-bills or otherwise, to meet that deficiency would be justifiable, provision being made upon the success of the experiment for the repayment of such loan. He did not think loans justifiable in time of war, where the money was certain to be never recovered, and the debt was rendered permanent. But when changes were made in this spirit, and with the purpose of the reduction now proposed in the timber duties, the country would justify and approve a loan. This, however, was really the only case that he knew of where any great sacrifice of revenue was expected in this tariff for a commercial purpose or with the view to benefit the consumer; the tariff is said to be the boon in return for the tax, yet most of the alterations in the tariff were, as the right hon. Baronet had told the House to-night, changes from prohibition duties to those that could be collected; and, in fact, the tariff, so far from making a sacrifice, was really an application of that principle which recognises the revenue to be dependent on the easy access of the consumer to the articles that are taxed, and which is the only sound principle to apply as long as we continue the present system of indirect taxation, and while taxes fail on the articles that the general consumer demands, and this was the fault that he had to find with the scheme of the right hon. Baronet, that he did not carry this principle out, and that by this tax he would even diminish the ability of the people to consume those articles on which the revenue depended. If the revenue sinks because the people are poor, the object should have been to have increased their means, not to have added to their burdens. They would now no longer deny the connection between the cost of living and the ability to consume; it had not been recognised certainly in the Corn-bill, but it was their argument in support of the tariff, which made, however, the anomaly more striking of a scheme which purports to relieve the consumer, and add to the revenue, and yet does nothing to reduce the price of that which he must first pay for and consume, before he can touch any other article, and where the connection between the price of corn and the amount of revenue was established beyond a doubt, and while they were seeking to supply a deficiency, to do nothing to cheapen that article, the cheapness of which seems to determine the state of the revenue! He believed that he could demonstrate that by an extract from official returns. The hon. Member then read the following document:—

A Comparison between Price of Wheat and Produce of Revenue, in 1835, 1836, and 1837; contrasted with 1838, 1839, and 1840:—