§ On the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Ways and Means being read,
§ Mr. F. Maule
had no alternative, but to take that opportunity, in consequence of the communications he had received, to state publicly to the right hon. Baronet the peculiar position in which both the manufacturing and agricultural interests of Scotland were at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman had developed his financial scheme last Friday week. As he himself stated at the time, he had studiously taken care to preserve the utmost secrecy with reference to his plan, and he had succeeded in that respect; scarcely had there been time yet for it to reach Scotland, still less to receive the consideration of those classes who were most to be affected by it, even in the centre of Scotland, before the right hon. Baronet developed the details of his plan, and upon which he now proposed to take the decision of the House in the resolution of a committee of Ways and Means- At the very time the right hon. Gentleman was proceeding to take that resolution, the people of Scotland were informed, for the first time, of the details of his scheme— nay, a portion of the people of Scotland were at this moment still ignorant of them. The right hon. Baronet could not but feel that that portion of the kingdom would perhaps be more severely touched by his Income-tax and tariff duties combined than either of the other integral parts of the kingdom; and he, therefore, wished to put it seriously and earnestly to him, whether in forcing the House immediately to a decision on this resolution, he did just ice to that part of the country, where, he must say, without any wish to exaggerate, there existed a very strong feeling on, the subject of this financial measure. He did hope the right hon. Baronet would feel it to be consistent with his duty to defer taking the sense of the House on this resolution until after the Easter recess, during which the constituencies of Scot- 940 land would have an opportunity by communication with their representatives, of expressing their opinions by petition to that House.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he was sometimes told, that he was afraid to touch an important interest; and now, because he proposed the admission of foreign cattle, it was said, he was affecting injuriously the interests of the whole people of Scotland. He could only say, he had attempted to do what he considered best for the interests of the whole country. On Friday week, he had brought forward his proposal with respect to the Income-lax, and he pro posed going on with the debate on the Monday following; but, at the suggestion of the noble Lord opposite, he had taken Friday for the discussion of the resolution, preliminary to a bill being introduced. He must say, therefore, he could not be a party to the delay recommended by the right hon. Gentleman. He thought the House was now in a position to determine whether it was politic or not to supply the deficiency by an Income-tax, or by a tax of any other description; and, therefore, he could not be a party to any delay with respect to the resolution. The right hon. Gentleman should bear in mind, that if the people of Scotland had any claim for a reduction in the amount of the duty imposed on them, they would have a perfect opportunity of urging it during the progress of the bill in committee. Those whom the right hon. Gentleman represented, seemed rather to feel, that they were too indulgently dealt with; and the right hon. Gentleman spoke as if he meant to propose an increase in the duties, which, undoubtedly, he would not afterwards be able to do. On the other hand, if the manufacturing or agricultural classes had any claim for a remission, it would be perfectly open for him to urge it in committee on the bill; but as to the general abstract principle of whether or no there should be an Income-tax, he could not help thinking the House might fairly at once be called on to pronounce its decision.
§ Mr. F. Maule
repeated, that his object simply was to claim, on the part of the people of Scotland, time between the receipt of intelligence with respect to a resolution to impose an Income-tax, and its adoption by the House. In doing so, he had performed his duty, and the right hon. Baronet, in giving "him such an 941 answer, no doubt, thought he best performed his duty as a Minister of the Crown; the public, however must judge as to the propriety of the course adopted.
§ Sir R. Peel
begged to assure the right hon. Gentleman, that he, too, had received communications from Scotland on the subject of the imposition of an Income-tax, and he must say the feeling of the people of Scotland had been most satisfactory upon the point.
§ Mr. C. Wood
wished to know what was the intention of the right; hon. Baronet about going on with the committee on the Corn Bill?
§ Sir R. Peel
thought he should rather ask what were the intentions of Gentlemen opposite upon that subject? He was most anxious to bring the discussions on the Corn Importation Bill to a close. He had been accused of pressing important matters forward with undue haste; but he could assure the House, that personally it was a matter of entire indifference to him which question was taken first; but the communications he daily received, led him, upon public grounds, to urge, that as little delay as possible should intervene. His proceeding with the Corn Bill would entirely depend on hon. Gentlemen opposite. If they thought that the sense of the House had been sufficiently indicated upon that question, he should be most happy to bring the discussion at once to a close. He had put it on the paper every night, so that if business was over between nine and ten o'clock, no impediment should exist to their proceeding with it. If the hon. and gallant Officer opposite (Sir C. Napier), who had a motion on the paper for tomorrow, would give him precedence, he would be most happy to bring the Corn Bill on then. He had exhausted every means in his power to bring it forward, in order, as speedily as possible, to terminate the discussion.
§ Mr. C. Wood
begged the right hon. Baronet to remember, that be had expressed no impatience whatever, or the reverse. He was anxious, that the bill should be got through that House, and that the great interests now kept in suspense should be set at rest. But, in fact, he asked the question more with reference to getting out of town, than anything else.
§ Mr. C. Buller
suggested to the right hon. Baronet the very simple device of 942 bringing forward the Corn Bill to-night, instead of the Income-tax. The right hon. Baronet's conduct on this subject was very inconsistent. Ten days ago the right hon. Baronet told them the people were all agog with respect to the Corn Bill, and the trade was at a perfect stand still. But now the right hon. Baronet brought forward the Income-tax to the exclusion of the Corn Bill, and called upon the House for an immediate decision upon it. Really, after all, he did not think anybody was in such a confounded hurry to have the Income-tax imposed. The only anxiety seemed to be that of the right hon. Baronet to prevent any expression of feeling in the country upon this subject. He was trying the plan he had tried before-most unfairly endeavouring to coerce their conduct on one measure by appealing to the impatience of the country with reference to another—forcing them to come to a precipitate decision on the Income-tax, in order to overtake the Corn Bill. The right hon. Baronet said, that the Corill had been discussed a great deal too much. [No, no!] The right hon. Baronet said, at all events, the other night, that there had been fourteen nights' discussion on the Corn Bill, and that certainly seemed to imply, that it was too much; but, looking at the state of the Corn Bill, there was a question of the greatest practical importance to the country which required to be minutely sifted—he meant the system of averages—which had never been discussed at all. He hoped the House would not hurry to any decision on the Income-tax. If the right hon. Baronet wished, in consideration of the state of trade, and the anxiety which prevailed on the subject, to come to a speedy decision on the corn question, he had the remedy in his own hands, by making it the first Order of the Day.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he had mentioned, not fourteen, but sixteen nights' discussion. He did not presume to say that was too long, but he certainly thought there had been a tolerably long discussion on the Corn-bill. He did not say too long, because the result had been to cause great satisfaction throughout the country with the measure. He did not in the slightest degree deprecate the discussion which had taken place. He had given notice, and he thought it had caused the greatest dissatisfaction, that as soon as he got the resolution on the Corn-bill as a 943 foundation of the measure, he would ex plain and take the sense of the House on his financial measure. The course he had pursued was exactly in concurrence with his original declaration, and most certainly he thought it would be well that the opinion of the House should be pronounced at the earliest period with respect to an Income-tax, or what should be the foundation on which the new system of taxation should rest. He repeated his anxiety to bring forward the Corn-bill to-morrow, if he could get precedence, his desire being that it should pass as soon as possible; but at the same time he begged most respectfully to say, that upon those days appropriated to public business he meant to press the preliminary resolution relative to the Income-tax before anything else.
Lord J. Russell
believed the right hon. Baronet was under a slight mistake in supposing that the House was anxious to pronounce an opinion immediately on the Income-tax; what the House undoubtedly desired was, that the right hon. Baronet should have an opportunity of stating generally his financial plans, and the commercial alterations he intended to pro pose. For his own part, he entirely agreed with his hon. Friend, that if the public interest was the sole consideration, it would be most desirable to proceed with the Corn-bill, when the question of the averages and other details, which could only be discussed in committee, might be settled. With regard to the new tariff, many parties would, no doubt, be anxious to know the precise duties that would be imposed; but the amount of In come-tax each would have to pay, all must pretty well know that already; so that whether the resolution upon that subject were taken earlier or later seemed to be a matter of very little importance. The right hon. Baronet would, no doubt, take his own course. He could only say, that he should certainly divide the committee upon the resolution, and afterwards on the report, as well as upon the first, second, and third reading of the bill.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he had heard with some regret that the noble Lord proposed to take that course; at the same time that feeling was somewhat qualified by the announcement which the noble Lord had made, that the proposition was so reasonable and so necessary for the public interests that every man, without waiting 944 for the decision of the House, was prepared as to the amount he should have to pay
§ House in a committee of Ways and Means.