HC Deb 14 February 1845 vol 77 cc455-510

The House in a Committee of Ways and Means,

Sir Robert Peel

said, Mr. Greene, although, Sir, I have had considerable experience in the discharge of official duties, and although I have frequently had occasion to address this House on matters of great public concern, yet I cannot approach the discussion of that subject which I am now called upon to discuss without great anxiety, and without a deep consciousness how imperfect and inadequate will be the explanation which I shall be enabled to give. But, Sir, though I rise under some disadvantage, from the period of the year at which this statement will be made, yet, after the announcement contained in the Speech from the Throne, that Her Majesty's Government meant to propose a continuance of the Income Tax for a further limited period, we felt that we had no alternative—whatever might be the precedents, and whatever might be the ordinary course as to financial statements — but at the earliest day to submit to the House and the country the general views of Her Majesty's Government with respect to our financial position and our future commercial policy. Sir, it will be my duty to present to the House a general view of the present, financial position of the country; to make an estimate of the probable Revenue; and to discuss the great question—whether it be consistent with the public interest that the present amount of expenditure should be retained, or whether it be not fitting that there should be, in respect of some important branches of the Public Service, an increased vote beyond the expenditure of preceding years. If the House should entertain that proposition for the reasons which I shall adduce, it will then be incumbent on me to propose for the consideration of Parliament whether it be fisting that that increased expenditure shall be made from the ordinary sources of Revenue, or whether it be more advisable that that Tax imposed in the year 1842 on Property and Income shall be continued for a further limited period, for the double purpose of providing efficiently for the exigencies of the Public Service, and for enabling Parliament to reduce and repeal other taxes bearing more immediately on the industry and commercial enterprise of the community. Sir, I am convinced, on the one hand, that this House will duly appreciate the magnitude of the task which I thus undertake, and that, whatever be its difficulties on account of my inadequacy to contend with them, those difficulties will not be aggravated by any want of patient and indulgent attention on the part of this House; and, Sir, on the other, I shall attempt, on this occasion, to lay before the House as fully and as comprehensively as I can all those considerations which appear to me the proper elements of its future decisions. I shall not enter into any statement or make any observations connected with past party considerations. I shall make no invidious contrasts; nothing shall fall from me to-night which can prevent any Gentleman from exercising, in respect to such important matters, a dispassionate judgment, uninfluenced by mere considerations of party. I know I must necessarily touch on topics that have been, and will be again, I doubt not, the subjects of fierce political contention; but I shall postpone that contention to some future period, and I shall to-night, attempt, as I said before, fairly and dispassionately, to lay before the House the present financial position of the country, and explain the views of Government in respect to the course of policy we propose, to adopt. Sir, I will, in the first instance, begin by referring to that estimate of the finances and expenditure of the country which was made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he last brought the Budget under consideration of Parliament. My right hon. Friend, speaking, I think, at the latter end of April, 1844, calculated the Revenue for the current year (that is, for the year ending the 5th of April, 1845) at 51,790,000l. My right hon. Friend calculated the Expenditure at 48,643,000l. leaving an estimated surplus of 3,147,000l. That calculation was disturbed, on the one hand, by a reduction of taxation to the amount of 400,000l. I allude to the abolition of the wool duty, and to the duty on glass, remitted at a subsequent period of the Session; but then, on the other hand, credit was taken for a demand of 400,000l. on account of the expenditure for the expedition to China, which vote it was not necessary to apply; and, therefore, the estimated Expenditure of my right hon. Friend involved a saving on the one side exactly balancing the reduction of taxation on the other. My right hon. Friend stated at the same time that, in consequence of postponing the payment of 769,900l. for the purpose of equalising the payments on dividends reduced, the apparent surplus would be reduced by that amount to a real surplus of 2,376,930l. Now, Sir, I have the satisfaction of stating that that surplus, as estimated by my right hon. Friend, was, in point of fact (making up the account to the 5th of January), very considerably exceeded. It will appear by the balance sheet, referring to the Revenue and Expenditure up to the 5th of January, that there was a surplus of 3,357,000l. Instead of 51,790,000l., the sum calculated upon by my right hon. Friend, the amount of net receipt of Revenue on the 5th of January was 54,003,000l. That increase chiefly arose from the increased receipt of the Customs. Instead of 21,500,000l., as estimated by my right hon. Friend, the actual receipt was, up to the 5th of January, 22,500,000l. The Excise, which was taken by my right hon. Friend at 13,000,000l., actually produced 13,308,000l. There was some money received under the Treaty with China, amounting to 385,000l. for which my right hon. Friend had not taken credit; and the result was, on the 5th of January last, an actual income of 54,000,000l., instead of the estimated income of 51,790,000l. The expenditure on the 5th of January, 1845, on account of Debt and Consolidated Fund, amounted to 32,862,000l., and on account of the payments then made for the Army and Navy and other Public Services, 17,784,000l., making a total expenditure of 50,646,000l., and leaving a surplus, as it appears on that account, amounting to 3,357,000l. At the same time, although that is the actual account, as appears on the 5th of January, yet the House will be naturally anxious to have an estimate of the account as it will probably appear on the 5th of April next. The House will of course recollect that at the period of which I am speaking, I can only submit, in a matter of this kind, an estimate rather than a positive statement; but certainly I have every reason to apprehend that the balance, comparing the probable receipts of Revenue within the year, on the 5th of April next, with the probable Expenditure, will amount to a sum of above 5,000,000l., for the year. That account, to one cursorily reading the Papers presented to the House, will appear rather confused, on account of the arrangements which have been necessa- rily made in the different quarters of the year, for the payment of the public creditor. At one period, if you take the year to end on a particular day of one quarter, the charge for the debt will appear considerably more than the same charge for another year terminating on the same day of another quarter. I will not trouble the House with minute details on this point, but I think it may be safely estimated (and I am ready to lay before the House as exact and complete a statement of our financial condition as I can)—I think, I say, the House may calculate upon our being in possession, on the 5th of April next, of a surplus of Revenue received during that year, as compared with the expenditure of, at the very least, 5,000,000l. Now, I know, as my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reminds me, that this sum will not appear on the face of the accounts, because, the sum of 2,000,000l. has been applied to the payment of Exchequer Bills, on account of the opium compensation. I do not wish, however, to deal to-night with the intricacies of accounts. I wish to state to the House what is the real practical position of the finances, severed from all questions of the mode of drawing up the annual accounts; and I think that I am justified in stating that such has been the improvement of the Revenue, apart from the Property Tax, that the surplus will be as I have stated, viz, a surplus Revenue of at least 5,000 000l., on the 5th of April next, as compared with the Expenditure. A part of that receipt of Revenue is made up from temporary and casual sources. I am now speaking of the actual receipt of Revenue within that year. About 385,000l. will have been received on account of China money; there are other small sums received from the South Sea Company; and, taking them altogether, perhaps the whole amount received from casual sources will be 500,000l. which we cannot speak of as permanent supplies. Of course a portion, and a very considerable portion, of the Revenue is derived from the Income Tax, which has produced 5,190,000l. If it had not been for the receipt of this sum from various casual sources, and the receipt of the sum I have mentioned on account of the Income Tax, the Revenue, which in that case would be derived from ordinary permanent sources, would not quite equal the Expenditure. I think the best course which I can now take is to submit to the House the estimate which has been prepared by my right hon. Friend and myself, of the probable receipt of Revenue in the next year. I have no right to assume that this House will sanction the continuance of the Income Tax, and I think, therefore, it will be better that I should, in the first place, estimate the Revenue, supposing the House should determine not to continue the Income Tax. We are disposed to estimate the receipt from the Customs, in the year ending the 5th of April, 1846 (I am not now speaking of the probable estimate which I before alluded to, and which I shall presently lay before you, up to the 5th of April in the present year, but I am now addressing myself to the prospects of the coming year, from the 5th of April next, to the 5th of April 1846), at 22,500,000l. But there has been a very large receipt from the duty on foreign corn this year, and the revenue from Customs has also been a very large one, independently of that source, and, perhaps, the experience of past years would induce us not to calculate too confidently, after one very productive year, on the necessary continuance of the equal productiveness of the Customs' Duties. Making an abatement, therefore, on account of the probability that the corn duty received in the next year will not equal the amount received in the present, and bearing in mind that the last year has been one of a productive Customs' Revenue, we are not inclined to take the estimate for the coming year at more than 22,000,000l. The Excise was estimated to produce 13,000,000l. and it did produce 13,300,000l. We feel ourselves warranted in estimating it at 13,500,000l. for the coming year, because, there has been for some time past a progressive increase in the Excise Revenue, and because it has been found by experience that the Excise recovers more slowly from depression than almost any other branch of the Revenue. During a period of distress, habits of economy are formed, which after the removal of the pressure continue to operate, and the Excise then recovers less rapidly than the Customs; but still experience would lead us to suppose that where the improvement has been progressive, it will go on advancing, and that we may be warranted, therefore, in estimating the Excise Revenue in the coming year at 13,500,000l. The Stamps we propose to take at nearly the sum which will be actually produced this year, that is, 7,100,000l.; the Taxes, that is, the Land and Assessed Taxes, we estimate at 4,200,000l. The Post Office Revenue, we feel ourselves warranted, from the increase of it during the last year, and the facilities which have been recently given for an increase of foreign correspondence, in estimating (as the probable produce of next year) at 700,000l.; it has actually produced 690,000l., and, therefore, that seems a reasonable estimate. The Crown Lands produced 155,000l., and we take them at 150,000l.; the Miscellaneous we will take at nearly the same; it actually produced 250,000l. I have here been speaking of the ordinary permanent sources of Revenue; the total amount of permanent Revenue which we estimate for the coming year will be 47,900,000l. We calculate that during the coming year we shall receive 600,000l. of China money, net receipt, above any demands to be met; and even if the House should refuse its sanction to the continuance of the Income Tax, we still shall be entitled to take credit for the receipt of half a year's Income Tax, amounting to 2,600,000l.; and, therefore, on the 5th of April, 1846, we shall be enabled to add to the ordinary permanent Revenue for that year two sums of 2,600,000l., and 600,000l. on account of China money, making a total of Revenue, even if the Income Tax be discontinued, on the 5th of April, 1846, of 51,100,000l. I will now state what would be the demand upon that amount of Revenue, supposing the Estimates which were voted last year were continued at their present amount, and there were no increased demands made of expenditure. The charge for the Debt we can of course calculate; the charge for the Debt in the year ending the 5th April, 1846, will be 28,450,000l.; we shall then have the full advantage of the reduction which took place last year in the interest of the Three-and-a-Half per Cents. The charge for the Debt, funded and unfunded, will be next year 28,450,000l. The charge on the Consolidated Fund we take at 2,400,000l., making a total of 30,850,000l. on account of the Debt and fixed charges on the Consolidated Fund. The Estimates voted last year amounted to 17,700,000l,; the total charge, therefore, assuming the Estimates to remain unaltered, would be 48,557,000l. Deduct that sum from the total of Revenue—that is, 48,557,000l. from 51,110,000l., and there will still be left a surplus, on the 5th of April, 1846, of 2,543,000l., assuming our estimate of revenue to be correct. I hope the House will pardon the length of these details; I know not how I can discharge this duty, unless I make this trespass upon its patience by entering into them. If I were to deduct from the Revenue of the next year the receipt of the Income Tax, and the casual and temporary receipt from China money, and assume that to be the amount of revenue in the following years—that is, the year ending 5th of April, 1847, and assuming the Expenditure to remain the same, there would in that case be a small deficiency of Revenue as compared with Expenditure. Now, Sir, the question is, whether or not we are justified in making a demand for increased expenditure on account of the public service?—and I feel it to be of the utmost importance to attempt to satisfy the House that the demand which we intend to make is a just demand. I do not hesitate to admit that no financial prosperity, no surplus of revenue, relieves a Government from the paramount obligation of considering whether, consistently with the public interests, a saving can be made in the public expenditure. There is no more justification for unnecessary and profuse expenditure when your revenue is flourishing, than when your revenue is falling. I am under just as stringent obligations to justify increased demands upon the public puree, when there is a surplus of 5,000,000l., as I should be if there were no surplus at all. It is impossible, Sir, for my right hon. Friend and myself to have performed that duty which has devolved upon us within the last short period, of reviewing the taxation of this country, of seeing how many taxes there are which it would be most desirable to reduce, if considerations of public weight and public interest permitted, without fully estimating the importance of making every practicable saving in the public expenditure which would permit the continued reduction of taxation, At the same time I am afraid that there is generally prevalent an erroneous conception with respect to the nature of the public expenditure, and the means of making reductions in its amount. It is generally supposed that all that portion of the public expenditure which does not consist of payments to the public creditors is a fund which is available for the purposes of reduction. But that is not the case. If you take the expenditure of the present year, amounting to 48,243,000l., you will find is consists of the following charges:—These is 28,450,000l. on account of the payment of interest to the public cre- ditor. The naval and military half-pay, and civil compensations, amount to no less a sum than 4,991,000l. The charges actually fixed on the Consolidated Fund amount to 1,878,000l. In those charges are included the provisions for the Judicial Establishments, as there are included in the amount of 4,991,000l. for Naval and Military Half Pay, and Civil Compensations. There are also the Russian Dutch Loan, and various other permanent charges independent of the debt, which have received the sanction of Parliament, amounting in the whole to no less a sum than 35,309,000l. Deducting that sum from the 48,243,000l., which constitutes the total charge of the expenditure, there does not remain more than a sum of 13,000000l. appropriated for the public service, in respect to which, so far as the Executive Government is concerned, reductions can be made. You may say that the charge for naval and military pensions is too high, and ought to have been reduced; but I am now distinguishing the amount of charges due to the public creditor, and which has actually received the sanction of Parliament, from that amount of the public charges which depends on the Annual Estimate, and which is immediately under the control of the Executive Government, and is annually voted by Parliament. The total amount of that sum will not exceed in the present year 12,933,000l. Among the other charges which have received the sanction of Parliament, is the charge for the Civil List. And here I may be permitted to say, that any Executive Government that would have a due regard to the exercise of a wise and judicious economy, could not do better than follow the example which has been set them by the control exercised over Her own expenditure by the Sovereign. A settlement was made of the Civil List on Her accession to the Throne, On the occasion of Her marriage no addition was made to that Civil List. It has pleased God to bless that marriage by the birth of four children, which has made a considerable additional demand upon the Civil List, in the course of last year three Sovereigns visited this country; two of them the most powerful Sovereigns in the habitable globe—the Emperor of Russia and the King of the French. Those visits, of necessity, created a considerable increase of expenditure; but through that wise system of economy, which is the only source of true magnificence, Her Majesty was enabled to meet every charge, and to give a reception to those Sovereigns which struck every one by its magnificence, without adding one tittle to the burdens of the country. And I am not required, on the part of Her Majesty, to press for the extra expenditure of one single shilling on account of those unforeseen causes of increased expenditure. I think that to state this, is only due to the personal credit of Her Majesty, who insists upon it that there shall be every magnificence required by Her station, but without incurring a single debt. I know it may be said that I have not adverted to other sources of reduction in the public expenditure. It may be said that offices might be abolished, and that emoluments might be reduced. I admit that no office ought to be retained which is not necessary for the public service. I admit that no emolument attached to any office ought to be retained which is not necessary to secure the faithful and efficient performance of the duties necessary for the public service. On that principle we are entirely agreed. I vindicate no sinecures, and when an office becomes vacant, we go through that process which has been so frequently recommended, of considering if the retention of it is necessary for the public service, and if the emoluments will admit of reduction consistently with a due regard for the public interests. Now, with regard to the charges for the collection of the Revenue, it should be borne in mind that the extent of the Revenue Establishment is not merely to secure an efficient collection of the money due to the State, but that it is of the utmost importance that every facility should be given for the transaction of commercial business. It is our duty to reduce those establishments, as far as it is consistent with public convenience. I do not vindicate the retention of one single useless officer; but the public is interested in giving to the despatch of public business every facility that can be given consistently with a due regard to economy, and, therefore, so far as the principle is concerned that the Revenue ought to be collected at the least possible expense, and that you ought to make every reduction you can, upon that point I apprehend there can be no difference of opinion. But, still, after that admission, you will find that the subject has constantly occupied the attention of every Government, and that great reductions from time to time have been made. But it would be a delusion and a fallacy to expect that you can materially reduce the public burdens by any diminution of the salaries of the persons employed. At the same time it might be said that those great public establishments for which a vote is taken every year, and which constitute the main charge on the Revenue, independent of the fixed charges—such as the Army, the Navy, and the Ordnance of the country—may admit of some reductions. I, first of all, will state the estimate we propose for the expenditure on account of the Army. Now it is impossible to determine whether that expense be justifiable or not without adverting to the extent of the Colonial empire of this country. In point of fact, the main expense on account of the Army is caused by the extent of your Colonial possessions. You have these Colonial dependencies, and to make no provision for the relief of the troops serving in them would be inconsistent with humanity in the first place, and inconsistent with prudence in the second. Apart from all considerations of humanity, in point of economy nothing can be more precious than the life and health of a soldier. The army that you are thus obliged to possess is a very expensive and complicated machine, and you may depend upon it you will not consult true economy if you permit it to be dislocated and deranged by attempts at reduction without the calculation of consequences. Now, in the year 1792, which has frequently been referred to as the criterion of what our military establishments ought to be—in the year 1792 you had 22 Colonial dependencies; in the year 1820 you had 34 Colonial dependencies; and in the present year, 1845, the Colonies, which were 22 in 1792, have increased to 45. It is the number of your Colonies, and the dispersion of the forces employed in them, that leads to the necessity of frequent relief, and imposes on you, with reference to your army particularly, as distinguished from the armies of the Continental Powers, in order to maintain the efficiency of that force, a considerable annual expenditure. It may be said that it was unwise thus to extend our Colonial empire; but I deal with the fact that you have Colonies—that having them you must provide a competent force for each, and that having a competent force, you must have an adequate and sound system for relieving the soldiers in them. Sir, I should be unwilling, though I know our Colonies are expensive, and I know they are numerous—I should be unwilling to give up that policy which laid the foundation in differ- ent parts of the globe of dependencies animated by the spirit of Englishmen, speaking the English language, and laying the foundation, perhaps, in future times, of free, populous, and commercial states. Looking to our own population, looking to its numbers, looking to its enterprise, I cannot say that I think it is unwise to provide an outlet for that population, and a wide field for that enterprise. Be that as it may, though it may be attended at times with some considerable expense, you must remember the fact that you have at the present moment forty-five Colonies, for the military defence of which you must provide. For the service of these forty-five Colonies you have a force, consisting, first, of three battalions of guards; of 6,500 cavalry, rank and file, and you have 112 battalions of infantry, consisting, rank and file, of 92,500 men; that is the amount of the British Army with which you are to garrison all these forty-five Colonies, with which we are to provide against occasional internal commotion, and the chance of foreign attack, and to provide also for the service of the country at home. And this is to be effected, and is effected, by an infantry force of 112 battalions, amounting to 92,500 rank and file. Now, what is the rule established with regard to the relief of the soldiers? The rule is this. That a regiment shall remain ten years abroad, and five at home; and I think no one will say that that is an unreasonable regulation, or that it would not be desirable for the efficiency of the army, that every regiment in the British service should, if reliefs could be regularly afforded, not remain more than ten years abroad, and that it should have the advantage of remaining five years at home. After the return of a regiment it generally arrives in such a state that it requires a year to bring it into an efficient condition. Nevertheless, if Her Majesty's Government thought it consistent with true economy, with humanity, and with the efficiency of the service to reduce the military force, it would be their bounden duty to recommend the reduction. But what is the fact with regard to the service of regiments abroad? Of the 112 battalions of infantry in the British service, there are now twenty-three in India, fifty are serving in the Colonies, and four are on their passage, making in all seventy-seven battalions actually employed in the defence of your Colonial empire. You have thirty-five battalions at home — not, as it is supposed, for the purpose of restraining the population, but for the purpose—and you effect it incompletely—of maintaining the system of relief for your regiments serving abroad. Your rule is, five years at home, but ten years abroad; but you have not been able to adhere to it. The military force that you have at home does not enable you to supply the demands of what you describe as a necessary relief. Now let me take a series of years, from the year 1824 to the year 1842, a period of eighteen years of profound peace—at least there was during that period no general warfare, though there were occasional interruptions to tranquillity—from 1824 to 1842, and the number of battalions during that time has remained the same, namely, 112. Now, what was the foreign service during that period the average service of the whole of the battalions—was it ten years abroad and five at home? For the whole of the battalions during those eighteen years, the colonial service was fourteen years, and only four at home. It may be said that I speak of rank and file, and that there is necessarily a number of officers included. Now, look at the effect of attempting to reduce the number of officers. You had a reduced establishment of officers in India, and what did you hear from Sir C. Napier? He said at once, you have so reduced your number of officers, that you are endangering the efficiency of your regiments, and we were obliged to increase the number of officers in consequence of his representations. What is the fact with respect to the service in India at the present moment? There are twenty-three battalions in India, twelve of them whose period of foreign service has been upwards of thirteen years; there are four battalions in India whose period of service has been upwards of twenty years; and there is one battalion in India which has been on foreign service for twenty-three years, which is now returning home; and if it be allowed to remain five years at home, and then be sent out again for ten years, when it comes back at the end of the ten years, it will have been thirty-three years abroad on foreign service, and five at home. Now, if you adhere to your own rule of five years at home and ten years abroad, you would require no less than forty-seven battalions at home. If you said that regiments in Australia and India should serve ten years, you would require ten additional battalions at home to give them the proper relief. Independently of the depôt companies, we have only thirty-five battalions at home; and I ask the House whether Her Majesty's Government would be acting consistently with their duty, if, after the facts which I have staled, they recommended a diminution of the British Army? I know, Sir, that some temporary popularity might be gained by advising that reduction; but when I look to the system of relief, however imperfectly those principles upon which it is founded, with the present force at home, are carried into effect, I am bound to say, that I do not think it would be consistent with sound policy, or with economy, to propose — while you retain your vast Colonial empire—a reduction in the military establishments of the country. I hope the House will excuse me for dwelling thus in detail upon our expenditure, because, as I said before, I feel that no financial prosperity can justify any increase in the expenditure which can be avoided. We propose no increase in our military establishments; but, at the same time, we do not think it would be desirable to re-commend to the House to diminish the military force of this country. Consequently, we propose that the vote for the Army Estimates in the present year, shall be a vote of 6,600,000l., the same as the last year's estimate. I now proceed to call the attention of the House to the state of the Navy, and the demand we shall feel it our duty to submit to the House for an increase in the Naval Estimates. We shall propose, in the course of the present year, an increase in the number of men serving in the Navy, of about 2,500 more than those that are now actually employed, and of about 4,000 more men than those voted last year. We shall make that proposal on the following grounds:—that on account of our extended Colonial empire, and the new commercial interests connected with it, there is a growing necessity for protection of our commerce in almost every part of the world. Within the last few years three great naval stations have grown up in distant parts of the globe. There is one on the coast of Africa, one in the Pacific, and one in the China seas. Now I will just compare the number of men employed in these several stations in 1841, with the number of men we felt it our duty to employ; for, really we had scarcely any option to exercise with respect to that employment in the course of the autumn of last year. In 1841, on the coast of Africa, there were employed 690 men. Last year, for the purpose of making a more vigorous attempt for the suppression of the Slave Trade, there were employed on the coast of Africa 2,590 men. In the Pacific, in the year 1841, there were employed 760 men; in the last year there were, and there are at present, employed, 2,437 men. In the China seas, in 1841, there was only a small frigate. I believe that was previous to the commencement of hostilities; but our ordinary relations with China were conducted by the occasional presence of a small frigate. But at the present time, in consequence of the Treaty which we entered into with China, there are employed on the coast of China 2,105 men. We have attempted to reduce the number. In the China Treaty, however, there is a stipulation that we should have one vessel off each of the five ports at which our commerce was to be carried on. We attempted to reduce the number. We tried to adopt the plan of having a steamboat to pay occasional visits to those ports. But we were immediately met by the strongest representations from the most eminent authorities—from Sir Henry Pottinger, and his successor, Mr. Davis—earnestly intreating us, in consideration of the new state of things, our new relations, and of the importance of imposing a check upon those who frequented these ports, and preventing any infraction of the Chinese laws, immediately to dispatch an additional force; and so convinced were we of the justness of the representations thus made to us, that we at once acceded to the demand of Sir Henry Pottinger and Mr. Davis, and dispatched an additional force to the China seas. Now comparing, in these three stations, the number of men employed in 1841 with that employed at present, there is an actual increase in the number employed now of about 6,000 men on those stations. It would not be proper to go into more minute details; but the House will recollect what took place in the course of the last year—the complaints made that we had not a sufficient force at this island or that; and if I had the opportunity, I certainly believe that I could convince every dispassionate mind that we could not with safety or wisdom reduce the force that we now have either in China or the Pacific. Not, indeed, that an increase is wanted for any purpose of war or oppression; but our commerce is greatly extending on the west coast of South America, and it is impossible to deny that the presence of a British vessel has very great effect in maintaining relations of peace. I am sure that upon those three stations alone there has been an increase in the men employed at a distance from this country of not less than 6,000. You must observe, too, that the very dispersion of your naval force has an effect like that produced by the dispersion of the army. The necessity of having your naval force dispersed over the habitable globe, does in fact diminish the efficiency of the naval force at home. We purpose, therefore, with perfect confidence in the justice of the requisition, to increase the naval force for the present year by 4,000 men. Now the charge for the expenditure caused by that increase will be 184,000l. And here let me add, that I do not intend this increase merely upon the ground of protection to our distant possessions. For I do say, without hesitation, that I think it is of great importance that this country should have the means of perfecting discipline, of improving its officers, and of having ready at its command a certain number of ships of the line. I do not believe that it ought to give, or that it would give, any cause for jealousy, if this country should have at its command a fleet of nine or ten sail of the line. It is of great importance that opportunity should be given for our vessels to act together—it is of great importance that we should have the opportunity of testing the sailing and other qualities at vessels, and we have no means of duing so efficiently, unless we are enabled to send them to sea. But, Sir, I am afraid that the approbation of the gallant Officer opposite (Sir C. Napier) will be neutralised by the disapprobation of some hon. Gentlemen who sit behind him, and who may not be so convinced of the policy of this increased expenditure as the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself. We do not, Sir, propose this increase under any apprehension of war; we do not propose it with any view whatever to aggression, but in the conviction that it is proper and politic that this country should have at its command a few line of battle ships to place where she will. The increase of the number of men by 4,000 will not enable you, if you attend to the requisition for the protection of your commerce in distant parts of the glebe, to have more than ten sail of the line. Sir, it is also impossible, I think, for this House to overlook the progress which is now making in improving steam navigation. Last year this House sanctioned a rule for two basins for the construction and repair of steam-vessels—one at Portsmouth and another at Devonport. We shall, therefore, propose to take a vote in the present year for proceeding with the formation of those basins which received the sanction of the House last year. The vote I propose to ask for is 187,000l. We shall also take a vote for the purpose of enabling us to maintain the steam navy of this country. I shall propose, I say, a vote to give us the means of constructing vessels which shall keep up in this country a respectable steam navy suited to a peace establishment. Now, Sir, on account of the services connected with the Navy, and of the Ordnance in immediate subordination to the Navy, there will be this year an increase in the Estimates of nearly 1,000,000l. The Estimate which I will now present to the House is for the total Expenditure for the year ending April 1846. The Charge for the Debt is 28,395,000l., for the fixed charges on the Consolidated Fund 2,400,000l., being a total of 30,795,000l. The Vote of Supply for the Army is 6,678,000l., for the Navy 6,936,000l., for the Ordnance 2,142,000l., for the Miscellaneous Estimates 3,200,000l., being together 18,895,000l., and added to the charge for the Debt, and for the fixed charges on the Consolidated Fund, 49,690,000l. For the Revenue of the next year I will take 51,100,000l. The charges for the present year, 49,690,000l. For this increased expenditure, the Revenue for next year, even if the House did not determine upon the continuance of the Property Tax, would provide. That Revenue as I have said, will amount to 51,100,000l., and the Charge anticipated being 49,690,000l., on the 5th April, 1846, there would still be a surplus of revenue with the half-year's Property Tax which is yet to be received. I am not now estimating the permanent revenue and expenditure of the country. I am stating what will be the state of our finances on the 5th April 1846, with the proposed increase of expenditure. It is quite clear that if this expenditure were to be continued, and if the Income Tax was not to be renewed, unless there were to be some considerable increase in the Public Revenue from other sources, there would probably be a deficiency in the years following. I have thus attempted to lay before the House the present financial condition of the country; I have estimated the Revenue to the 5th April next, and also for the year ending the 5th of April 1846; and I have also laid before the House what will be the amount of Expenditure Her Majesty's Government, with a provident care for the public interests, will feel it to be their duty to recommend to the House. The next question that arises is—and it is a most important one—in what manner this increase of expenditure is to be provided for? Will you run the risk of entailing a deficiency in future years, by making no provision for the time to come, and seeing that in 1846 the Revenue will be sufficient to meet increased expenditure, will you postpone the consideration of what will be fitting to do until that year shall have expired? Her Majesty's Government do not consider that that would be a prudent course, or that they would be doing their duty by acting without regard to the future condition of the country. I know it does not conduce to popularity to make a proposition for increased or for continued taxation; but it is the duty of a Government to consider the prospects of the future, as well as the present exigencies of the country, and if they are satisfied that the public interest demands a continuance of taxation, even though it may be unpopular, it becomes their duty respectfully to submit to this House the consideration of a proposal on that important subject. We are convinced that it is our duty to propose a continuance of the Properly Tax for a further period; and before I am led to ask the assent of this House, or any Gentleman in this House, to that proposal, I feel it is absolutely necessary that I should explain, as I shall now proceed to do, what are the views of Her Majesty's Government with respect, to the appropriation of the surplus revenue which will be placed at their disposal after fully providing for every exigency of the Public Service. I know well, as the noble Lord opposite stated the other night, that it is impossible to give an opinion upon the question, abstractedly, can the Property Tax be continued or not? without knowing what are the measures in respect of relief from taxation which would follow as a consequence of its continued imposition. Let me assume for the present — and I merely assume it for the purpose of argument and to make my statement more clear—let me assume, I repeat, for the present, that the House has granted the continuance of the Property Tax. I will then give a short estimate of the revenue arising from it, together with other sources, Suppose, then, the Property Tax to be continued, the estimate of the Revenue for the next year, on the 5th of April, 1846, aided by the 5,200,000l. of the Property Tax for the whole year, would be 53,700,000l.; and as long as the other sources of the revenue remain equally productive, and as long as the Property Tax is continued, 53,700,000l., subject to a reduction of 600,000l., will be the amount of the Revenue. This 600,000l. is the amount received as China money; it will be continued next year; but as that is merely a temporary addition, I think it is better, for the purpose of calculating the Revenue to strike it out altogether. The Revenue for the year, then, on the 5th of April, 1846, assuming the Property Tax to be continued, deducting this sum of 600,000l., will be 53,100,000l. The charge for the debt, and on account of the different branches of the public service, will be 49,690,000l.; so that there will be left, on the 5th of April, 1846, and in successive years as long as the Income Tax continues, and the other sources of the revenue remain equally productive, a net surplus of 3,409,000l. That is the surplus that will remain if the House should acquiesce in the proposal which I shall make to increase the expenditure on the Navy, and shall also determine that the Income Tax shall be continued. I now, Sir, approach that most important part of my statement I have this night to make, namely, what is the mode in which that surplus, or any part of that surplus, shall be applied for the relief of taxation. What are the inducements, apart from that of providing effectually for the public service, which I can hold out to the House of Commons as a motive to obtain their consent to the continuance of the Income Tax? I should not have proposed to the House the continuance of the Income Tax unless I had the strongest persuasion, partly founded on the experience of the last three years, that it will be competent to the House of Commons, by continuing the Income Tax, to make such arrangements with respect to general taxation as shall be the foundation of great commercial prosperity, and shall materially add to the comforts even of those who are called on to contribute to the Income Tax. When the question is, having a considerable surplus, to determine how that surplus can be most efficiently employed, the subject becomes worthy of the most important and serious consideration. In the first place you have to consider the claims which may be urged in favour of a reduction of taxation on account of the heaviness with which certain imposts press on articles of general consumption. You are bound also to consider what taxes press on the raw materials which constitute the staple of the manufactures of the country. You are also bound to consider what taxes cause a great increase in the establishments necessary for their collection, and what are those taxes the remission of which will enable us to diminish those establishments, so as to reduce the expense of collection. We are bound also to consider what are those taxes, the removal of which will give more scope to commercial enterprise, and occasion an increased demand for labour. I will not say which of these considerations ought to be the most predominant—all ought to occupy our serious attention, for all are of the very greatest importance. If we receive the sanction of the House for the continuance of the Income Tax, we shall feel it to be our duty to make a great experiment with respect to taxation, and we shall hope that the general prosperity which will result there from will contribute to fill up the void caused by the cessation of the Income Tax in future years. We do not propose to maintain any material surplus of revenue over expenditure, confident that, whatever may happen, this House is determined to maintain the public credit. We have determined to recommend extensive reductions in those taxes which, in our opinion, press more onerously on the community than the Income Tax. I first propose to take those taxes which are collected by the Customs Board, and I shall submit to the consideration of the House on that point, what are the views of Her Majesty's Government in respect to a reduction in the duty on Sugar. The House will recollect that upon this subject an arrangement, temporary in its character, was made in the course of last year, by which sugar, the produce of countries where the article was cultivated by means of free labour, was admitted into competition with sugar, the produce of our Colonies. There was at that time no reduction proposed in duty on the produce of our own Colonies; but propositions were made regarding the importation of free labour sugar, which I think were generally considered as indicative of an intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government, in the course of the present Session, to call the attention of the House to the Sugar Duties, and to propose a reduction in them. The amount of dis- criminating duties proposed upon sugar, the produce of countries where sugar is cultivated by free labour, was 10s. 6d. Sir, we propose now to adhere to the general principle upon which we acted in the course of last year. We propose to restrict the competition of sugar, the produce of our own Colonies, to sugar which is the produce of countries cultivating it by means of free labour, or which are entitled to the admission of their sugar into this country under reciprocity Treaties which already exist. [An hon. Member made some observation, which was inaudible.] I beg it may be distinctly understood that I do not wish to provoke any discussion on this subject now. All debate upon it had better be deferred to the time when the question of the Sugar Duties is regularly before the House. At the same time it is important, indeed necessary, that I should make a general allusion to the subject in the statement I am now making. The discriminating duty proposed to be established by the Act of last Session was, on free labour British plantation sugar, 24s., and 5 per cent., and that upon free labour foreign sugar, 34s., and 5 per cent.; making upon the former, a total amount of duty of 25s. 3d., and on the latter of 35s. 9d. But, in the course of the discussion last year, it was proposed, as a just protection, to establish a higher discriminating rate of duty on free labour foreign sugar that was clayed or equivalent to clayed. We declined, however, to accede to that proposal, as we found that there was no such rule established with respect to this sugar the produce of our own Colonies, but that there was a uniform rate with respect to all our sugars, except refined sugar; and we were unwilling to establish a different rule with regard to the different qualities of sugar from other countries. We stated, at the same time, that if it were possible to establish a classification applying to our own as well as to foreign sugars, the subject might be well worthy of consideration, and it might be a proper arrangement to make. Some hon. Gentlemen who spoke on the other side of the House endeavoured to establish the policy of a distinction between the coarser and the finer kinds of sugar. We have since that period had communication with officers conversant with the details of the matter, and it has been certified to us that it is possible, both with respect to our own and foreign sugars, to establish such a distinction. We propose, therefore, with respect to all sugars, except refined, the produce of our own Colonies, to make this arrangement of the duties:—In respect to brown Muscovado sugar, now subject to a duty of 25s. 3d., we propose to make a reduction of 11s. 3d., and to reduce the duty to 14s. With regard to Muscovado sugar, that reduced duty will apply to all British plantation sugar—to sugar the produce of the Mauritius—to sugar the produce of our West Indian Colonies; but with regard to the produce of certain districts in British India, to which a different rule now applies—I allude to those districts which are permitted to import foreign sugars—and with regard to those districts we propose to retain the same relative proportionate duty, and that duty in respect to Muscovado sugar coming from them shall be 18s. 8d. We propose that the amount of protective duty shall not exceed 9s. 4d., and the duty on free labour foreign Muscovado sugar will, therefore, be 23s. 4d. [An hon. Member: What will be the case under a reciprocity Treaty?] Of course, as to countries with which reciprocity Treaties are in force, we cannot deprive them of that which is their right under these Treaties. With regard to white, or clayed sugar, or sugar which by some process is made equal to clayed sugar, we propose that the duty on British plantation or East India sugar shall be reduced from 25s. 3d. to 16s. 4d., and that the duty on sugar imported from those parts of India into which foreign sugar may be imported, shall be 21s. 9d., and that the duty on free labour foreign sugar—that is, clayed, or sugar equal to clayed, shall be 28s., thus retaining the whole amount of discriminating duty which last year was 10s. 6d., but applying it in a different manner, giving 9s. 4d. protection on Muscovado sugar, and increasing the protection to 11s. 4d. on the more valuable and costly article of clayed or white sugar. The average amount of discriminating duty, therefore, will remain the same as it was last year. The duty on Molasses we propose to reduce and preserve in the same proportion. It is necessary that I should make the intentions of the Government well understood; but at the same time, without going into minute details, reserving all those for consideration when the Sugar Duties come under the attention of the House, we propose to make a further reduction with respect to the admission of refined sugar. We propose to remove the prohibitory duty on refined sugar, imported from those British possessions which are entitled to import Muscovado sugar at 14s. duty, and to place upon such sugar a proportionate import duty—viz., on refined sugar 18s. 8d., and 21s. on double refined, the 14s. including the 5 per cent. Now, it is important that I should give to the House the best estimate I can form of the probable amount of sugar to be derived from the possessions of this country abroad. For the purpose of obtaining information on that subject we have applied to four independent sources, with the view of obtaining an estimate of the probable supply of sugar from British possessions for the next year, and I will now read to the House, with its permission, the estimates that have been formed. The stock of sugar on hand on the 1st of January last was 45,000 tons, and the estimate made by the Customs of the probable production of the British plantations is as follows:—From the West India Colonies, 135,000 tons; from the Mauritius, 40,000 tons; and from British India, 70,000 tons, being the supply of sugar for the present year, independent of the stock on hand, of 245,000 tons. I trust that there may be reliance placed on the accuracy of this estimate, as it has been procured from the best sources of information. The next of the authorities which we have consulted calculated the produce of the British plantations at 140,000 tons, the Mauritius at 40,000, and British India at 70,000, making a total of 250,000 tons of sugar to be supplied during the next year. The next authority we consulted has not given so flattering an account. It estimated the produce of British plantation sugar at only 120,000 tons, the Mauritius at 40,000 tons, and British India at 70,000 tons—making an estimate of 230,000 tons. The fourth estimate formed independently, as I said before, of any communication with the authorities for the other estimates, is this. The estimate for British plantation sugar is 130,000 tons, the Mauritius 40,000 tons, British India 65,000—making a total of 235,000 tons. The lowest of those estimates is 230,000 tons, and the highest is 250,000 tons. If you add the highest to the stock in hand, that gives a supply of 295,000 tons; and if you take the lowest, it will give a supply of 275,000 tons. We consider that the effect of the reduction of duty upon sugar will be, on the whole, a reduction of price, so far as duty enters into price, will amount to ⅛d. per lb., or not quite so much as 1¼d., But if you add other charges that accom- pany a high rate of duty, we think the full effect of the reduction of the duty will be not much short of 1½d. per lb.; because, as the duty increases, there are charges incidental to that increase, which also increase. I next propose to give to the House the best estimate we can form as to the probable loss to the Revenue which will arise from that proposed reduction. As I said before, we calculate, independent of any supply of free-labour sugar—we calculate on a supply, including the stock in hand, of at least 275,000 tons for the present year. The greatest amount of consumption, I believe, has not been more than 207,200 tons in any one year. We think it is probable that the effect of the reduction of the duty may lead to an increased consumption of perhaps 43,000 tons. Of course these estimates must be taken as very general, but it appears to us probable that the increased consumption of sugar, consequent upon the reduction of duty, will amount to a total not much short of 250,000 tons. The consumption of British Muscovado sugar to the extent of 160,000 tons, at 14s. would give 2,240,000l. The consumption of clayed sugar at a duty of 16s 4d. on sugar equal to clayed, to the extent of 70,000 tons, will give a revenue of 1,140,000l.; foreign free Muscovado sugar, 5,000 tons, at 28s. 4d., will give a revenue of 116,700l.; of free-labour foreign clayed, or equal to clayed, 15,000 tons, at 28s., will give a revenue of 420,000l. As I said before, these estimates must of course be very general; but supposing them to approximate to the truth, the consequence will be that we shall receive from the duty on sugar, in consequence of the reduction, the sum of 3,916,000l. The Revenue derived from sugar in the last year was 5,216,000l. There will consequently be very probably a loss in the next year to the Revenue of very nearly 1,300,000l. upon sugar. Now, postponing any further discussion on the subject of the Sugar Duties, until the period when they will come immediately under consideration, I proceed to enumerate the other duties of which we shall propose, as a consequence of the continuance of the Income Tax, the reduction or the remission. It will be recollected that, when the Tariff passed, in the year 1842, there were some small duties still retained upon exports from this country—exports either of raw materials, or manufactured articles so nearly approaching raw materials that they could scarcely be distinguished from them. At the same time, it will be remembered that we abolished generally the duties on exports, which yielded, I think, about 108,000l. They were all abolished, with the exception of a few articles, such, for instance, as, I think, china-stone, and some others of the same description. We propose to adopt, as a general rule, the abolition of export duties on all articles. [An hon. Member: Including coal?] Not excepting coal. I am indifferent to any temporary triumph. I and my right hon. Friends will do what we conceive to be our duty, without regard to whether we may please or displease particular persons. We shall be actuated by other and higher considerations. Applying, then, a general principle to exports of every kind, we do not think it would be wise to reserve coal as an exception. We do think it will be an important principle to establish, that with respect to exports, there shall be no duty leviable; and, in establishing that principle, we agree that coal should be included in it. We are the more willing to act up to the full extent of the principle, inasmuch as the amount of revenue derived from coal has not met the expectation which was entertained when the tax was first imposed. The calculation of the amount to be received was 160,000l., as a clear net revenue, whereas the sum received last year from the duty on coal did not exceed 120,000l. I believe that the export of coal has been greatly impeded in consequence of the combinations which have taken place amongst the colliers and the owners of coal mines. These I consider to have been the main cause why the revenue derived from the exportation of coal has not amounted to more than the sum I have named. But I do not take as the ground of the exemption of coals the fact of the revenue not having amounted to the estimate. I do it from an unwillingness to make any exception to the principle which I have already enunciated—namely, that with respect to exports no duty shall henceforth survive. But this I must say, that, after having removed the burden to which coal on its export to foreign countries is now subject, I do trust that the proprietors of coal mines will give to the people of this country the full advantage of that remission. There is an impression—I know not whether it be well founded or not—but there is a general impression that the price demanded for coal sent to the metropolis, and to other parts of the country, is higher than the price of coal exported to foreign countries. If that be so, there could not be a more powerful justification of this export duty than the fact, that by means of combination a greater price was demanded from the subjects of Her Majesty for English coal, than from the subjects of foreign powers. I must also think that it is a great abuse of natural monopoly, if there be combinations among coal-mine proprietors for the purpose of restricting the supply and enhancing the price of coal in this country. And I trust that this voluntary abandonment on the part of Her Majesty's Government of a tax so much complained of by the coal proprietors, will be met by that body in a corresponding spirit, and that we shall hear no longer of two prices for coal—one for foreigners and another for Englishmen, and that we shall hear no more of combinations among proprietors of coal property for the purpose of restricting the supply, and dividing the amount of that supply among themselves. So much, Sir, for the duties upon exports. [An hon. Member: What was the total amount of the coal duty received by the Government?] The total amount of duty on the exportation of coal does not exceed 118,000l.; and the revenue on the other articles exported is very small indeed. The loss which the Revenue will sustain by the repeal of the coal duties, taking last year's receipts as a test, will, as I have just stated, be about 118,000l. I now come to the duties which are levied on imports, and which, in amount, are very small on individual articles which are used as raw materials in our manufactures. I dare say, most Gentlemen have referred to the Paper which has been prepared by direction of the Government for the purpose of exemplifying the operation of the present system of import taxation, and of the late changes in the Tariff. It may probably have been observed that by that document there are no less than 813 articles included in the Tariff, 430 of which produce a very small amount of revenue indeed. We propose, Sir, to include in our financial arrangements the abolition of the duties which are now levied on those 430 articles. But in considering the policy of altering these duties, a material question arises; namely, whether it be desirable to abolish the duty altogether, or whether it be desirable to retain a small and merely nominal amount of duty for the purpose of detecting imposition, and of securing the acquisition of useful information. We have given a good deal of consideration to that subject: it is a difficult one, and deserves much reflection. It will be absolutely necessary, in any event, to retain important means of inquiry with respect to the importation of foreign articles; first, for the purpose of obtaining accurate statistical information. To secure this, it is necessary to ascertain the weight and quantity of the articles imported. In the next place, it is absolutely necessary to retain the power of strict examination, because, of course, we must guard against the possibility of fraud by articles, on which duty is leviable, coming into this country under the pretence that they are articles on which no duty is chargeable. But, upon the whole, we have arrived at the conclusion, while retaining the power of examination, and while retaining the power of ascertaining the quantity and the weight of the articles imported, that it is desirable in making a great reform of this kind, in respect to the receipt of these small duties, that we should abolish them altogether, rather than retain any portion of them. By retaining a small portion of such duties, it may be said that we should increase the vigilance of the Custom House officers, in ascertaining the weight and quantity of articles imported. But if such duties were, as they ought to be, merely nominal, it does not occur to me that the collection of a merely nominal duty would give such an incitement to Custom House officers as that which a duty of considerable amount might excite. But, observe, by abolishing the duties altogether, we get rid of a great number of troublesome accounts which must be kept if any duties whatever are to be levied. If fraud be practised—if on examination it be found that the law is not strictly obeyed or openly evaded—we must then appeal to the House for the purpose of establishing precautionary measures, and for re-establishing a small and nominal duty. But we are willing to try the experiment of abolishing the duties altogether, retaining the power of examination as to the weight and quantity of the articles, so that statistical information shall be secured, and precaution taken against the import duty being evaded on articles still liable to duty, under the pretence that those articles are free of duty. Now, we apprehend that the repeal of these duties will be of great advantage to the trade of this country. Observe, it dispenses with the necessity of warehousing these small goods, a practice which prevails throughout the country, though I believe it is more extensively observed in the City of London with respect to goods on which small duties are levied than in other parts of the country. Yet even in other towns and cities the removal of a temptation to warehouse such goods will be a great advantage. Upon the whole, therefore, not being very confident of the perfect correctness of our decision, yet we do feel it our duty to advise the House to try the experiment which we did try last year with respect to foreign wool, and admit the importation of those articles to which I shall presently refer without the payment of any duty being assured that if necessary the House will re-establish such an amount of duty, not for the purpose of raising a Revenue, as shall be considered sufficient to guard against fraud. The articles on which we propose to abolish the duties will be those generally which are the raw materials of our manufactures. The list of these articles contains 430 specific items; and, as that list will be printed, I do not think it necessary to make such a trespass on the patience of the House as to read over the whole of them. I think it, therefore, better to postpone the minute consideration of those articles till another opportunity; but I may state that the total number of articles that will be absolutely swept away from the Tariff will be no less than 430. These will include those fibrous materials, such as silk, hemp, and flax, which now pay a nominal duty; yarns of different kinds, with the exception of worsted yarns, which are subject to some peculiar regulations. We also propose to abolish the duty on furniture woods. There is a great trade growing up in this country, which it is very desirable to promote; and for that purpose I propose abolishing the duty on all cabinet-making materials. The amount of duty at present levied on cabinet woods is very low, and we think that the same principle which has already been applied to sheep's wool ought to be applied to those materials. We propose, also, to abolish the duties on animal and vegetable oils. These were included in the Tariff. We propose likewise to remove the duty upon ores and minerals, with the exception of copper ore, with respect to which an arrangement was made in 1842, and which has worked exceedingly well. The duties on iron and zinc, in the first stages of manufacture, will also be abolished; and we intend to remove the duties on all dye-stuffs, and on drugs universally, with the exception of some that are very noxious, and liable to be used as adulterations. There are some other articles with respect to which, partly from this and partly from other considerations, this total removal of duty will not take place. I do not propose materially to interfere with the general principles which we have applied to the Timber Duties. We were charged with throwing away a large sum by our alteration of the Timber Duties; but with regard to the great article of foreign timber, I think it will be seen that there has been recently a large increase in the import of Baltic timber—that import is increasing, and although as yet the measure lately passed has not had a fair opportunity of showing its results, I have a very confident hope that eventually my estimate of last year will be realized. The amount received for Timber Duties during the course of last year did not fall much short of 950,000l. But there is one particular article, standing on very special grounds, in respect to which, when speaking of Timber Duties, we think an exception ought to be made: I allude to the article of Staves. We have given the most deliberate consideration to this subject; we have read the various memorials which have been presented to us on behalf of the coopers of this country, and we do think that they have made out a case of peculiar hardship, which entitles them to an exemption from the duty on an article which is, in point of fact, the raw material of their manufacture. The cooperage trade has been gradually decaying in this country. Even in our own possessions the export of staves, and the articles that are made from them, is exposed to a formidable competition on the part of the United States. The United States are now supplying our West India Colonies with this important article of trade. The trade of the cooper, again, in consequence of the failure in our fisheries, has fallen off materially. The amount of duty levied on staves this year, for the purpose of manufacture, is not less than 30 per cent. on the value of the raw material, as it may properly be termed. We have considered whether it would be possible to adopt any mode of relief, at the same time retaining the revenue duty; but it appeared to us that this plan must give rise to such a system of fraud, and that it would afford such opportunities for evasion, that we thought it better on the whole to class the article of staves with those that are raw material, and permit a free and unrestricted import of staves for the use of the coopers. Of course it will be necessary that we should limit the length of the staves, so that they may not be applied to other purposes; but without very minute and vexatious regulations, it will be impossible to prevent the importation of staves altogether which may be used for other purposes, though not contemplated by the law, than for cooperage. Upon the whole, however, we think it better to submit to that evasion of our intention, rather than establish a vexatious system of minute regulations for the purpose of preventing it. I do hope that the removal of this duty will restore the prosperity of a trade which finds employment for some of the most ingenious and respectable artizans in this country; and that the House will consider that we are perfectly justified in taking this one article out of the general category of the Timber Duties [Mr. Labouchere; Do you remove the duty altogether?] Yes, we take it off altogether. [Mr. Labouchere: What is the amount?] The amount of duty on this article, I think, is about 33,000l. We remit it altogether. We diminish the temptation to apply staves to the ordinary purposes of furniture, by making a simultaneous reduction in the duty upon all cabinet timber. [Mr. Labouchere: What is the estimated loss to the revenue?] I think the loss of revenue by the remission of the duties on all these 430 articles will be about 320,000l. I now come to that article, which of all others is the most important to the manufacturing and commercial prosperity of this country. I come now to the duty upon Cotton Wool. The present duty on cotton wool is, so far as the revenue is concerned, 5–16ths of 1d. the pound weight; but as that duty is applicable to the whole amount of cotton wool imported, and as about one-fifth of the total amount of cotton wool is unavailable for the purposes of manufacture, and is necessarily waste, the duty, of course, presses with increased severity upon that portion of the whole amount which is capable of being used for manufactures. It is estimated, and I believe the estimate to be a reasonable one, that we ought to add one-sixteenth more to the five-sixteenths, in order to calculate the full amount of duty paid upon the whole of the Cotton Wool that is actually manufactured in this country. Six-sixteenths, or three-eighths of a penny per lb. weight may, therefore, be taken as the total amount of duty paid on cotton wool. Now when the price of cotton wool is 4d. a lb. on the average, three-eighths of 1d. per pound is a duty of 9 per cent. on the value of the raw material. If the price of cotton wool be, as it has been of late, not more than 3d., a lb. three-eighths of a 1d. per pound is a duty amounting to not less than 12½ per cent. on the value of the raw material. This duty so levied falls with peculiar severity on the coarsest description of cotton goods. Upon the finer muslins you can hardly estimate the amount of duty, it is so small; but the coarser the fabric, and the more it is in common wear, the higher is the amount of duty. It is in respect to the manufacture of the coarser fabrics that the manufacturers of the country are exposed to the most formidable competition in South America and China, and even in our own Colonies. Of course, in respect of the manufactured cotton of the United States, we labour already under great disadvantage, from the ready access which the people of that country possess to the raw material; and they are formidable competitors of ours in the manufacture of all the coarser descriptions of cotton goods. Now, we have already repealed the duty on sheep's wool, and so far as experience has gone, we may justly say that the best effects have resulted from that measure. It has given a great stimulus to the manufacture, and, speaking generally, there is now prosperity existing where a short time since there was depression and gloom. But in my judgment the removal of the duty on sheep's wool forms a great and additional ground of claim on the part of the manufacturers for the removal of the duty on cotton wool. I know it will be said that this trade is now in a flourishing condition; but we must not disregard the formidable competition to which it is exposed; we must consider how materially this cotton manufacture has contributed to the strength of the country, how materially it aided in enabling us to go through successfully that great conflict in which we were some thirty years ago engaged, and we must consider the thousands and tens of thousands of persons who are now indebted to it for their occupation and subsistence. Seeing and considering these things—seeing the amount of duty imposed upon the coarser fabrics—seeing the extent of competition to which they are exposed — seeing the importance of this manufacture to the commercial greatness of this country, we are prepared to advise the abolition of the duty upon cotton wool. The estimated loss to the Revenue by the abolition of the duty on cotton wool—taking as a guide the amount received last year—will not be less than 680,000l. In respect, then, to the revenue derived from the Customs' duties, we do not propose to make any further alterations than those to which I have now referred. Sir, we have also closely and carefully reviewed the various duties levied by the Excise, with a view of determining, after taking care that a sufficient amount of revenue shall remain available for the purposes of the nation, what are the duties which appear to us to press most grievously upon the interests, and more especially upon the industrial classes of the country. Now, with respect to the Excise duties, no man can look at them without feeling bound to admit that in reference to each of them a pretty strong primâ facie case may be made out for its repeal. I do not mean to say which of these duties which we do not mean to touch would be first entitled to relief in future years, because I conceive that nothing is more likely to damp and check manufacturing enterprise than to hold out vague promises as to any one particular article being considered to have claims on the Government for relief above the rest. But what I mean to say is, that looking abstractedly at the various articles that are subject to Excise, and without reference to the Revenue, I think all of them possess claims upon Parliament, and that for every one of them a good primâ facie case can be made out in favour of having that tax reduced, if not altogether repealed. But there is one source of revenue paid to the Excise which does appear to us to be open to peculiar objections. Nevertheless there has been no clamour raised for the reduction of this duty. I am not quite sure whether or not greater popularity might not have been obtained by proposing a reduction of the duty on some other articles than the one I am about to name; but I am satisfied that it is the duty of the Executive Government to take those articles which, whether there has been any clamour for a reduction of duty on them or not, are articles in respect of which any duty at all is open to the greatest objection. Now, to the particular branch of duty to which I refer. The attention of the Government may not have been called by any clamour out of doors; but I will undertake, before I sit down, to demonstrate that there is no branch of the Excise more entitled to reduction than that to which I have alluded, and which I am about to mention. I have already said that in respect to this particular article to which I am referring, we have not been subject to any peculiar pressure from without. It is a duty which we have selected, from the conviction, after mature deliberation, that it is one of the most objectionable in point of principle—and the repeal of which will be of great advantage to the public. The duty to which I refer is that duty on the free transfer of property, which is called the Auction Duty. This auction duty is leviable in each part of the United Kingdom. It is a duty which was levied for the first time, with very little consideration, at the commencement of the American war. It is a duty from which other modes of transferring of property are completely exempted. But if you choose to sell your property by auction, in that case a heavy duty is levied. It is therefore a duty which is severely felt by those whom distress compels to resort to that mode of sale. Can there be a greater condemnation of the principle of this duty, when, after you have established it, you have been obliged to grant exemptions from it in no less than thirty-two different cases. Since the Act originally passed, there have been scarcely less than thirty-two different laws passed granting exemption from its operation. When Commissioners were appointed to examine into the Excise duties some years since—after examining the whole of them, they made this remark with respect to auction duties:—"The duty on auctions should be among the first of the taxes to be repealed." Now, observe; all sales which take place under the direction of the Court of Chancery are exempted from the auction duty; and there have been many instances in which estates have been placed even within the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, in order that the sale of them might be totally exempted from the auction duty. And what is now the practice with respect to the sales of estates? Every newspaper is full of advertisements for the sale by auction of landed property. The estate is exposed for sale, the value of the property is ascertained, and then it is generally the understanding of the parties that the estate shall be bought in, and the highest bidder shall buy it by private contract. The estate, therefore, is not sold by auction, and the intention of the law is defeated. This is the mode often pursued. The auction is simply a means of ascertaining the value, but the purchase is made privately the next day, and the payment of the duty is altogether evaded. To give the House an idea of the impolicy of this tax, let me look at the general results. In the year ending the 1st of January, 1841—that is, in the year 1840, the whole amount in value of property exposed to auction, of which the Excise were obliged to take an account, was not less than 45,232,000l., in respect to the whole of which there was the necessity of an examination, and of keeping an account by the officers of Excise, who had exactly the same troublesome duty to perform in respect to property advertised for sale by auction, although it was not sold, as they had in respect to property which was sold. But while the total amount of property subject to be taken an ac-count of by the Excise Office was 45,232,000l. the actual amount on which the duty was paid was only 8,760,000l., consequently there were upwards of 36,000,000l. of property exposed to sale which, on account of exemptions and the mode of evading the law, were free from any duty whatever. Are not these two facts—there being thirty-two exemptions from the duty, and there being only 8,000,000l. of property on which duty is paid out of 45,000,000l. exposed to sale—are not these strong and almost conclusive proofs of the impolicy of this duty? The present Commissioners of Excise reported, three years since, when recom-commending the repeal of the Auction Duties, that there was more trouble given, and that more intricate questions arose on account of attempts to evade the law, and on questions of exemption in respect to Auction Duties, than on all the other branches of the Excise Revenue. The total amount received for Auction Duties in England, Scotland, and Ireland, is 300,000l. There is no duty the remission of which will, in my opinion, lead to such a great reduction of the Excise Staff. There is no duty so objectionable in principle as a duty upon the transfer of property; and the duty, be it remembered, is quite independent of the stamps for conveyances, which apply to all transfers of property. To select one particular mode of transferring property, and to subject that to a duty, is a course open to grave objections; and I do hope that I have satisfied the House, that although there is no external demand for this reduction, and although articles might be selected upon which a reduction would be more popular, yet looking comprehensively at the in- terests of property, and considering the advantage which is conferred on a great commercial and manufacturing country by facilitating the transfer of property, I do not think you could confer a greater benefit upon the United Kingdom if you selected other duties of the same amount in preference to that which is thus proposed to be reduced to the extent of 300,000l. Every auctioneer is under the existing law compelled to take out a license. In the first instance, he takes out a general license of 5l.; but if he is afterwards called on to sell any particular article which is not included in that license, there is then a demand made upon him for another license of 5l., and, consequently, there are auctioneers who pay 25l. for licenses, because some articles are exposed to sale by auction, where they have to officiate as auctioneers, which are not covered by the general auction license. Now, I propose, instead of the principle of requiring separate licenses, to enable auctioneers to dispose of every description of property by taking out one license. I propose to fix the amount of that license at 15l., thus enabling the auctioneers who take it out to sell every description of property. I think it is highly probable that the number of auctioneers will be increased by the reduction of the duty. The present number of auctioneers is, I think, about 4,000. A license duty of 15l. on each will raise a revenue of 60,000l. subject, of course, to the reduction of the present auction duty. I not believe that one general license of 15l. would be felt at all as an onerous impost, while I think it probable that the number of auctioneers would increase. We propose, therefore, to repeal the duty upon auctions, and to substitute for the present system of licensing one uniform license, the maximum cost of which will be 15l. [Mr. Collett: Will each member of a firm be required to take out a separate license?] It is proposed that each member of a firm shall be required to take out a license. There still remains an article upon which there is an Excise Duty, which we propose to repeal; after what has passed regarding the auction duty, I shall make no preliminary observation, but mention it at once—Glass. It seems to us that glass has special claims to the repeal of the duty. The duty on glass has been doubled since the year 1815, and during that period it has never experienced any diminution. I think I can also show that with respect to glass, without denying the case that may be made out for other excisable commodities, supposing we had an abundant revenue, there are grounds upon which it may be said to be entitled to a preference of consideration. Let me recite some of the most prominent of those grounds. In the first place, the amount of duty is not less than 200 to 300 per cent. upon the value of the manufactured article. A contract was lately made for the supply of glass, and the charge made for it was 1s. per square foot, and the manufacturer was asked at what price he would undertake to furnish the same quantity of glass if it were duty free; and his answer was, that he could probably supply it at 3d. per square foot, but at any rate it could not possible exceed 4d. per square foot. In a case of this kind, we must not estimate the weight of the burden by the mere amount of pecuniary interest. There is no duty, which, in order to levy it, requires such a system of perpetual and vexatious interference with the manufacturer as this duty on glass. Compare the export of glass, the manufacture of which is exposed to this perpetual and vexatious interference, with the export of another article which has the good fortune to be exempt from duty. Your export of earthenware last year doubled that of glass, it was to the value of 751,000l.; but the export of glass, subject as I have said, to the duty, and to constant, vigilant, and annoying interference with the manufacturer, in order that it may be collected, was only to the extent of 388,000l. I am about to state another important fact in regard to glass; there is no excise duty on glass in France, Belgium, or Bohemia; and what has been the consequence? That in Bohemia, in particular, the manufacture, by the application of chemical arts, has been brought to a state of admirable perfection. There, glass, under the application of the most beautiful chemical principles, is exposed at different stages to various degrees of heat, and thereby contracts a diversity of colours that produce the most beautiful effects. We have peculiar facilities for accomplishing the same ends; we command the alkali and the coal, and yet we cannot compete with foreigners in the manufacture of glass. What is the fact? That, as there is no excise duty in Belgium, Bohemia, and France, there is no necessity for interference by the State with the process of manufacture. What takes place? There is a great import of foreign glass into the bonded warehouses of this country, to be afterwards exported, being liable to no duty, and it is now beating our own manufacture, not only in foreign markets, but even in the markets of our own Colonies. I think I can make out this point without entering into details; for it is most important to observe the progress of gradual encouragement in the export of foreign glass from this country, as compared with glass of our own manufacture. During the last seven quarters there has been a gradual increase in the foreign glass brought into our bonded warehouses, and afterwards exported, as compared with glass the produce of our own domestic manufacture. Is not that a strong fact to exemplify the policy of some new arrangement in this respect? If you permit this article to be free of duty, it is difficult to foresee, in the first place, to what perfection this beautiful fabric may not be brought; and, secondly, it is impossible to say to what new purposes glass, manufactured by our own skill and capital, may not be applied. I hold in my hand the balance-spring of a chronometer, made of glass, instead of the ordinary material, steel. I understand that it possesses a greater degree of elasticity, and that it has a greater power of resisting the alternations of heat and cold. The manufacture is so expensive, and it requires such skill on the part of the workman, that I do not believe, under the present system of restriction, that this exquisite discovery can be generally applied. The fact is that a chronometer, with this glass balance spring, was sent into the North Sea, at the time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Wood) was Secretary to the Admiralty, and was exposed to comparison with ten other chronometers: the result was that the report was in favour of the chronometer with a glass balance-spring as compared to all the others. So much for the application of glass to a purpose of the utmost delicacy and nicety, in close connexion with the progress of astronomical science. I have read too in a French newspaper, the Courier de l'Europe, within the last month, that in France they are now manufacturing glass pipes for the conveyance of water, which cost nearly 30 per cent. less than pipes manufactured of iron, and which will bear a greater external pressure than iron pipes. They are luted together with a species of bitumen, and as far as health is concerned for the conveyance of water, glass-pipes are greatly entitled to the pre- ference. That, be it remarked, is in a country where there is no excise duty upon glass, but where the manufacture of it is entirely free; and taking all the articles between these two extremes, the balance-spring of a chronometer, and the pipe for the conveyance of water, who shall say to what purposes this manufacture may not be applied among us when it is wholly relieved from the impost? It is to be borne in mind also that the cost of collecting the duty on flint glass is not less than 57 per cent. In order to prevent fraud, it is necessary that you should have a series of most minute and troublesome regulations as to the melting of glass: notice must be given to the excise officers respecting annealing and other parts of the process, which so encumber it as to make the application of additional skill and ingenuity almost impossible. What we propose is, to relieve it altogether from this burden, and to place it on the same footing as in Belgium, Bohemia, and France. This course will give full and unrestricted play to capital and enterprise in this country, where we enjoy the peculiar advantage of materials in the command of alkali and coal. My belief is, that with this change, if we do not supply almost the whole world with glass, we shall, at least, be able to enter into competition with other nations, who have hitherto had the benefit of that supply. There are many other arguments that might be used upon this point, but by what I have said, I do think I have shown that so far as the manufacture of glass is concerned, in comparison to other manufactures, there are peculiar reasons why the duty on glass should be repealed. A case has been got up in favour of the remission of the window duty; but let us just take the case of glass, to see what a much more beneficial effect, upon the laborious portion of the community will be produced by the reduction of the duty on glass, than by the repeal of the window-tax. It is estimated that there are in Great Britain about 3,500,000 houses, of which not more than 500,000 are chargeable with the window-tax; therefore there are 3,000,000 of houses which require glass for the comfort of the inhabitants; and if the House sanctions the removal of the duty upon glass you will thereby confer on the poorer classes a most extensive benefit. I am afraid that I weary hon. Members by these particulars, but we have had occasion with the greatest care to look at every side of the question, and I wish to satisfy those who think that other taxes have just claims to our attention, that no desire of popularity, but good and substantial causes, have induced us to give a preference to the reduction of the duty on glass. See how it will affect social improvement. Let us take the arts—what an advance has been made in the art of engraving; reduce the price of plate glass, and you may be said to offer a premium upon still further improvements in the art of engraving. Look next at the consideration of health; nothing prevents the passage of heat so much as glass; the passage of heat into a room, through glass, is as ten to one less than through any other material; but if you interpose between two plates of glass a certain layer of air, you prevent that passage; therefore, for the purpose of health you facilitate the application of double windows, by which the influx or efflux of cold or heat is impeded, and health and comfort promoted. This may be viewed in some respects as a minor consideration, but at all events it is not immaterial. Give me leave to add, that the Land Commissioners of Ireland have lately made a Report, which I received, in fact, the day before yesterday, and they could not have had the slightest conception of what might be the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers in this respect; but in their Report it is said that there could be few measures which would contribute more to the comfort and improvement of the lower classes in Ireland than to be able to procure glass at a cheap rate. That observation comes from persons who have had their attention particularly directed to the condition of the lower orders in Ireland; and it is a singular confirmation of what I have advanced on the reduction of the duty on glass. The glass manufacture exists in Ireland and Scotland, as well as in this part of the United Kingdom, so that Ireland will derive a direct benefit from the abolition of this duty; and I do not see why she should not in future be the seat of a most extensive and successful glass manufacture. Even if she be not, the extinction of a duty which is 2 or 300 per cent. more than the value of the article, will give to the people of Ireland, as to the people of Great Britain, the command of a commodity which is essential to comfort and convenience. Looking at it, therefore, in every point of view—whether it be the amount of the duty, which is 2 or 300 per cent. above the value of the article—whether it be the annoying and trouble- some restrictions by which levying it is necessarily attended—the numberless purposes to which it may be applied, or the direct addition to the comfort of the working classes of the community, I do hope that this House will acquiesce in the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government, and will select glass as one of the articles in respect to which the present Excise duty ought to be entirely removed. The loss to the Revenue from the entire abolition of the duty on glass will amount to 642,000l. I have now exhausted the articles in respect to which Ministers intend to propose a remission of duties, and I will here venture to recall the recollection of the House to the estimate I made of the amount of the Revenue, on the assumption that the Income Tax would be continued. I will also state the immediate effect the reductions will have in lessening the surplus in our hands. I estimated the surplus, in case the Income Tax should be continued, which would be available on the 6th of April, 1846, at 3,409,000l.; and I will now recapitulate the reductions of the Revenue which will arise from the repeal of the different duties I have enumerated. I mentioned them specifically as I went on; but I will now state the aggregate amount of diminution. I estimated the loss upon sugar at 1,300,000l., the loss upon coal at 118,000l. The loss upon minor articles of import, the raw material of manufacture, I stated at 320,000l.; the loss upon cotton wool I calculate will be 680,000l.; upon auctions it will be 250,000l.; because I reckon upon some receipt for licenses, which will wake up some part of the loss. The loss by the abolition of the duty on glass will be 640,000l.; the loss upon staves is included in the 320,000l. of loss on articles of import. Thus the total loss to the Revenue, supposing the House to sanction the course I have recommended would be 3,338,000l., very nearly absorbing the actual surplus of 3,409,000l. I have stated already, that in proposing the continuance of the Income Tax, I do not propose it for the purpose of having a large surplus revenue; for I should think it right, after defraying the necessary expenses, to appropriate it to the removal of taxes which, in my opinion, are the most oppressive. The House will observe that I have taken no credit for the ultimate saving there will be in the reduction of the public establishments. The diminution of clerks will affect a material saving. And I have, be- sides, taken no credit for that increase to the Revenue which will arise from the removal of heavy restrictions upon manufactures, equally onerous to the amount of the duties. I do not hesitate to state that the experiment I propose to make is a bold measure; I do not hesitate to state that: but, looking at the result of past experiments—looking at what is now the state of the Customs' revenue, after the reductions we have made—seeing that the Customs' revenue, on the 5th January, 1845, presents a surplus, as compared with the preceding year, of not less than 1,305 000l., after deducting the loss of 122,000l. which arose upon cotton wool last year, and 61,000l. upon sheep's wool—seeing, I say, that the Customs have increased, notwithstanding these losses, to the extent of 1,305,000l.—I am not afraid, although I am responsible for the financial condition of the empire, to make this great experiment on the Revenue. I propose that the Income Tax should be continued for a further limited period, because I have the most confident persuasion that the reduction in the prices of articles of great importance which will follow and arise out of the repeal of taxation will be, if not a complete, at least a material compensation for the burden of the Income Tax. When I recommend the imposition of the Income Tax, independently of other objections, I was told, "You will be disappointed in your receipts; the amount paid under the Income Tax will operate unfavourably on other branches of the Revenue, and you must expect a diminution in this way nearly equivalent to the gain under the Income Tax—at any rate you must look for a diminished consumption, and the revenue that you will receive with one hand you must distribute with the other." This is the warning I received. Now, what is the fact? There has been no reduction traceable to the Income Tax. There has, indeed, been some small reduction of 40,000l. or 50,000l. in the duty on carriages and horses, but that reduction is to be attributed to the progress of railway conveyance; and it is only extraordinary that it has not been greater. But if you exclude the operation of this cause of diminution, my belief is that the receipt of the assessed taxes during the operation of the Income Tax has been larger than it was before. I say, therefore, that it cannot be apprehended from the experience of the Income Tax that it must necessarily reduce the revenue from the assessed taxes, because under the Income Tax that revenue from the assessed taxes has materially increased. Remember this—and I do not conceal the fact, for it ought to enter into your consideration when deciding the question, whether you will continue the Income Tax—that during its operation the Revenue has so prospered that the receipts at present, independently of the Income Tax, are almost equal to the national expenditure. Such has been the increase of revenue from permanent sources of income during the existence of the Income Tax, that we might have avoided making this experiment; we might have provided for the supplies of the present year without making any application to Parliament in respect to increased taxation; but we propose to continue the Income Tax for a further period, not for the purpose of providing the Supplies for the year, but distinctly for the purpose of enabling us to make this great experiment of reducing other taxes. The term for which I suggest the continuance of it will not exceed that for which it was originally imposed. I cannot say, when urging these extensive reductions—I will not say that it might not have been a wiser course to give a longer period to test the efficacy of the plan; but at the same time it is natural that Parliament should ask to have the control of the tax at a period not more remote than that for which it was in the first instance enacted. Therefore I do not propose that it should be renewed for more than three years, and I hope the House will not insist upon a shorter period. It would be impossible to enter upon these extensive reductions of taxation, unless we had the assurance that this great source of revenue would not be dried up at least during the next three years; and at the expiration of three years it is my confident belief that that will have again occurred which has now occurred, and that it will be competent to Parliament then to dispense, as it might now, with the Income Tax. I have that reliance upon the elasticity of the resources of this Empire, that I do expect, before the termination of three years, that this repeal of taxes will have produced beneficial effects, and that we shall find an increase of revenue probably enabling us to dispense with the continuance of the Income Tax. But let the House remember that the pinciple on which we have gone, and gone advisedly, is the absolute repeal of taxation in many cases; we do not diminish a tax, on glass for instance, keeping on one-quarter or one-half of it; we do not lower the duty on auctions, on cotton wool, or on articles of smaller imputation: but we propose the absolute repeal, expecting from the increased consumption of other taxed articles, an equivalent improvement in the Revenue. We do hope that the direct and instant effect will be increased consumption of many articles now subject to duty, invigorating the industry and extending the commercial enterprise of the country through other channels, and supplying the void we cannot hope to fill up by direct taxation. Sir, I believe I have now executed the task I proposed to myself. I have, however imperfectly, explained the views and intentions of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the financial and commercial policy of the country. I trust that the House will now, as it did on the former occasion, without pronouncing a hasty or a precipitate judgment, take into its consideration comprehensively the whole of the plan. I hope it will reflect, whether or no, upon the whole, it be for the interest of the country to adopt it; and, after mature deliberation, I confidently believe that the decision of the House will be in its favour. Whatever may be the decision, at any rate, we have the consolation of knowing that we have not sought popularity by avoiding the question of continuing the Property Tax: we have not acted in deference to popular clamour, for we have selected taxes for reduction and abolition against which there has been no agitation. I know it will be said that the principles I have laid down are capable of much further extension, and that in deference to them I ought to have made much greater reductions in Import Duties; but it is our object, while we establish good principles, to allow for the present state of society, and viewing the magnitude of the interests involved, the consequence to those interests of rash and hasty interference, it is our desire to realise the utmost degree of good, without disturbance or alarm to interests which cannot be disturbed or alarmed without paralysing industry. Sir, I submit, this proposal on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to the judgment of the House. We have taken this course after careful consideration, and we recommend this plan from a deliberate conviction that if sanctioned by Parliament it will conduce to the extension of industry, to the encouragement of enterprise, and that the result of that extension of industry and encouragement of enterprise will be the benefit of all classes of the community, whether they are directly or indirectly connected with commerce, manufactures, or agriculture. Our conviction is, that by the adoption of this proposal, industry and commerce will be immediately benefited, and that indirectly all classes of this vast community will find its welfare promoted.

The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving,

"That it is the opinion of this Committee, that, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the respective Duties on Property, Professions, Trades, and Offices, and the Stamp Duties in Ireland, granted by two several Acts passed in the fifth year of Her present Majesty, be continued and further granted to Her Majesty for a time to be limited."

After the Chairman had put the question,

Sir Robert Peel

again rose, and said that he wished the Chairman to report progress, and did not mean to ask the House to come to a vote to-night. He trusted, however, that hon. Members would see the great importance, for the sake of many branches of trade and commerce, to proceed at once to the consideration of the repeal of taxation. Delay would materially affect many branches of industry, and he hoped therefore that the House would be prepared on Monday to pronounce an opinion, not on the details, but upon the general outline of the plan. This course would not preclude the House from discussing and deciding upon the various parts of the proposal hereafter.

Lord John Russell

I am glad that the right hon. Baronet has attended to the request I made on a former day, that he would not call upon the House at once to vote upon this question. It is due to the importance of the subject, that Members should not be required to pronounce an immediate opinion. When the right hon. Baronet urges that various interests may be injured by delay, I may remark for myself, that I will not ask for a day's postponement beyond the period he has himself fixed. I shall be ready to proceed with the debate on Monday next. The right hon. Baronet must expect, however, that I shall then take a view of the whole proposal, and not merely of the special subject immediately under consideration in the Resolution proposed. I say this, because with reference to the Sugar Duties, the right hon. Gentleman said, that the question could be discussed when those duties at the proper season came before the House; but I consider his proposal as to sugar the most important part of his plan, and liable to much objection. I shall, therefore, not refrain on Monday from making observations upon that subject as part of the whole scheme. At the same time, I readily agree not to defer the debate beyond Monday next. I shall then be prepared to offer my opinion.

Mr. Collett

asked at what period it was intended that the changes should come into operation?

Sir R. Peel

meant the duties to be repealed on the earliest possible day, with the exception of glass: there were reasons why the repeal of that duty should be postponed for two or three months. He wished the repeal of the cotton duties to be immediate, and he might say the same of the duties on articles of import.

Mr. W. Williams

wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet meant to make any allowance for stocks on hand?

Sir R. Peel

did not.

Mr. Liddell

could not help taking the earliest opportunity of thanking the right hon. Baronet for the abolition of the duty on glass and upon the export of coal. He should not, however, have presumed to occupy the attention of the House for one moment, if it had not been for an observation which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet as to the combination in the coal trade, and which was received with considerable sensation in that House. He must admit, that, although much evidence had been given, on various occasions, upon this subject, by most competent parties, before Committees of that House, a variety of misrepresentations still appealed to remain. He should dispose of the subject in one single sentence, which was, that he wished those misrepresentations to be entirely cleared away; and he could only state that, if any hon. Member thought proper to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the subject of the alleged combination of the coal trade, he should be happy to support such a proposition.

Viscount Howick

said, that he entirely agreed with his hon. Friend who had just sat down, in thanking the Government for the abolition of the duty on the export of coals; and he could not help expressing a hope that his hon. Friend was now convinced that it was not quite so bad a move as he thought it was last year and the year before, to bring this subject under the consideration of the House, because, though he might be mistaken, he could not help attributing some effect, in accomplishing the present abolition, to that movement which the hon. Gentleman thought to be so erroneous. His conviction was, that if the coalowners had thought fit to sit quietly down under this tax, until the Government had felt inclined to repeal it, the year 1845 would not have been distinguished by the repeal of the export duty upon coal. Fortunately, the case of the coalowners was not in the hands of his hon. Friend. He believed they were indebted to the noble Lord the Member for South Durham, for bringing the subject before the House. Although his hon. Friend was a supporter of the right hon. Baronet, it so happened that on the subject which he had adverted to, he (Lord Howick) agreed with the right hon. Baronet, and not with the right hon. Gentleman behind the right hon. Baronet; because, although he represented Sunderland, he disapproved of the regulation of the Vend, which the coalowners, most injudiciously for themselves, had thought fit to establish. If the hon. Member moved for a Committee, he thought it could be distinctly proved that that system had not done any good to the owner or consumer: it could be proved that the regulation which he had alluded to, like all other plans, contrary to the first principles of fair and open trade, had been most injurious to the parties to the combination. He believed the combination of masters was certainly not less injurious to themselves in the end than the combination of workmen had been to workmen, and which he knew last year had produced extreme suffering among the labourers in the collieries. He would repeat that, in his conviction, the regulation of the Vend within the last few years had been attended with the worst results to the coalowners. Having said thus much, he would adhere to the general sense of the House, by avoiding the expression of any opinion upon the Budget of the right hon. Baronet, excepting on one point, upon which he entertained so strong an opinion that he could not, at that first moment, refrain from stating it; that was his in urmountable objection to the arrangement which the right hon. Baronet had proposed as to sugar. He believed it was a gratuitous sacrifice of revenue; he believed the right hon. Baronet might have given them the whole benefit of the reduction of duties which he had proposed, and might at the same time have guarded the Revenue against any serious loss, had he only consented to act with regard to sugar, as he had so properly done with regard to coals. His last course had been proved to be wrong—the confining the reduction of duty to foreign sugar, the produce of free labour, had practically failed; and he hoped the people of this country would reflect that they were now going to pay for maintaining this distinction, in order that the Government might preserve its consistency, and that consistency had compelled the Ministers to exclude from the list of their reductions several other taxes which might otherwise have been included in it. In addition to the excise duty upon glass and auctions, they knew that the duty upon bricks and soap as well as other articles had been greatly complained of: and some of those duties might have been reduced without affecting the Revenue, had not the right hon. Baronet thought fit to make this unfortunate distinction—a distinction which, as he was reminded by an hon. Friend behind him, they had not even the advantage of being able to maintain, for they had heard that the sugar which had come in under the Bill of last year was not the produce of free labour. He did not intend to have said so much upon this point at that time—he merely rose to enter his protest against that part of the measure which he believed to be most mischievous and impolitic.

Mr. Bell

thanked the right hon. Baronet for the abolition of the duty on the export of coal. He would remind the right hon. Baronet, in reply to his statement about the combination of coal-owners, that since the year 1840 the import of coals into the port of London had increased from 1,600,000 tons to 2,600,000, and that the price had fallen from 29s. to 20s. a ton. He would merely add that the reason why the coals bought by foreigners were purchased at so low a rate was, that they generally bought coals of an inferior quality.

Mr. Hume

entirely agreed with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland as to the combination between the coal-owners. Having been the Chairman of the Committee upon the coal trade, he could not help saying that it appeared to him most impertinent on the part of the coal-owners to stand up, prepared with chapter and verse, to prove that they were pure and innocent parties, whilst they had been throwing so heavy a burden upon the inhabitants of the metropolis. The first part of the right hon. Baronet's speech required great consideration; but at to the principles which he had laid down, and the articles he had selected for the repeal and reduction of duty, he would at once express his approval of the sentiments and the course adopted by the right hon. Baronet, excepting only the subject of sugar. Common sense and prudence dictated to the right hon. Baronet the necessity of discussing the sugar question by itself. With the exception which he had just before alluded to, he thought the right hon. Baronet had made an excellent selection. He joined him in stating that the repeal of the duty upon glass would be of more benefit to the community at large than the repeal of the window duty would have been. The abolition of the duty upon glass, would, in fact, afford an equivalent to the 500,000 persons who had to pay the Window Duty. He hoped, ere long, the right hon. Baronet would be able to remove the Excise Duties altogether from the Statute Book, except the Malt Tax and Spirit Duties, which might easily be transferred to the other Revenue Department. Whatever they might do beside to afford relief to the people, the healthy increase of commerce would more effectually than all their efforts secure the national prosperity and happiness.

Mr. Turner

hoped that some alteration would be made n the duty upon foreign copper ore during the Session.

Lord Clements

commended the reduction of duty upon staves, and hoped there would be some further reduction of the duty on timber.

Mr. Hodgson Hinde

expressed his approval of the general principles which the right hon. Baronet had laid down; he wished, however, to draw the right on. Baronet's attention to the fact, that the stocks in hand of the various articles, the duty upon which would be affected by the Budget, would be depreciated to a considerable extent by the proposed alterations, and be thought the right hon. Baronet should allow a drawback of the duty upon them.

Sir R. Peel

said, that he did not propose to allow drawbacks upon any article; the duty upon glass, however, would not be remitted immediately.

Dr. Bowring

wished the Property Tax could be made a permanent tax. He had heard, with regret, the intention of the Government to augment the Naval Force, which, he presumed, might be attributed to a similar step having been taken by a neighbouring Power, the increase of whose navy must be looked at with anxiety by foreign countries.

Colonel Sibthorp

knew it was totally impossible to please all parties. He regretted that the right hon. Baronet had not proposed among his reductions one—a reduction of the duty on Fire Insurances. The hardship of this tax was, that it interfered with insurances entered into from prudential considerations, which ought rather to be encouraged. There was another point on which he ventured to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet; it was regarding the Post Horse Duties. When they looked at the increased difficulties of post-masters from railway competition, and at the immense sums paid in duty by poor coach proprietors, he thought that some; equivalent tax ought to be put on the railway system, which had ruined so many coach masters. He also regretted that there had been no remission of the Income Tax to farmers.

Mr. Roebuck,

while he expressed his hearty concurrence in the great principles laid down by the right hon. Baronet, and gave him the full credit to which he was entitled for the choice of the particular objects I which he had made for relaxation from taxation; and, believing, also, that in his choice he had been directed entirely by considerations of the public good, and had not been merely influenced by the powers that be, yet there was one great error in the principle of the Budget which the right hon. Baronet had brought forward. It was this: while he imposed certain obligations and imposts on the community, he took off, on the other hand, an exact equivalent; therefore the object was this, that from those imposts he took off he supposed great mischiefs arose to the community; and it was therefore the right hon. Baronet's duty clearly to make out that in the impost he fixed on the community he did not impose one equally unjust. Now, the source of the extra revenue was the Income Tax—a shifting phrase. He remarked that the right hon. Baronet had sometimes used the phrase, "Income Tax," and had sometimes called it the "Property Tax." For his present purpose, he would call it the "Income Tax;" and he considered that the mischief which it did was one of the great drawbacks on the benefits which the right hon. Baronet was about to confer. He thought all the benefits might have been conferred without the mischief. He would have made a distinction between fluctuating income—income (he would state it at once) derived from professional exertions, as compared with income derived from landed property. There was no comparison between them. By drawing a distinction between these two sources of revenue—an Income Tax and a Property Tax, the right hon. Baronet might, had he wished it, have had the whole of the surplus revenue by increasing the Property Tax, which would give the surplus demanded, and on the other hand have taken off those taxes, and relieved the people of the mischiefs, from which he would undoubtedly relieve them by the proposals he had made. From the very boldness of the measures, he regretted that the right hon. Baronet had not gone one step further. If they were to go on every year changing, they would have the mischiefs of change without the benefits. But, for this one grand advance, the greatest he had seen in his political experience, he heartily thanked the right hon. Baronet; he praised the right hon. Baronet for the good he had done, pointing out to him, at the same time, one source of mischief which might have been obliterated.

Mr. Wakley

was not disposed to complain. He could not say one word at present in condemnation of the Income or Property Tax, or with reference to the Sugar Duties. Representing more than a quarter of a million of people, he could not refrain from expressing his extreme satisfaction at the character of every proposal the right hon. Baronet had made. It was true, the labouring classes were not represented in that House; but he was bound to say, in honour of the Prime Minister, that they were not forgotten in his Budget. Almost every proposal the right hon. Baronet had submitted to the House had a direct tendency to improve their condition—to give them more value for their labour—to promote industry, and by doing that he rendered to them and to the nation at large the greatest possible service which could be rendered by any Government. He was too much pleased by the proposals of the right hon. Baronet to say one word in condemnation of any portion of his proposals. The subjects of the Sugar Duties and the Income Tax would come before the House on other occasions; and he could not refrain from expressing how grateful he felt to the right hon. Baronet for what he had done for the working-classes of this country. On the part of the hon. Member for Truro, he wished to ask, did he understand the right hon. Baronet to say, that ores of tin would come in free, but that there would be no alteration on the duties of tin itself?

Sir R. Inglis

hoped that the alteration in the plan of the Income Tax which he had formerly advocated, might be adopted, namely, that its operation might commence only on incomes which exceed 150l.; that was, that persons having 200l. a-year should pay the Income Tax only on the 50l. over and above the 150l. This change would relieve those who most required relief. He concurred with the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that it was highly expedient to exempt from taxation altogether those incomes which were not permanent, but which depended on the life or health of individuals, or on the state of the market. A man holding an office had to pay the same tax from the income arising from that office as if it arose from the solid land. He had to pay the same tax, in proportion, as the Dukes of Northumberland and Devonshire. If his right hon. Friend proposed, without any restriction or alteration, the mere renewal of his Bill establishing the Income Tax, he could not give him unqualified support. He trusted he might not be too late now with this suggestion. In bringing forward his proposal, the right hon. Baronet was not committed to anything; and he hoped he was not asking too much if he asked the right hon. Baronet to give this suggestion his deep and serious consideration. The suggestions he now made were suggestions of principle on a subject as yet not before the House; and as the right hon. Baronet had not stated that he meant to reproduce the Income Tax in its present form, he (Sir R. Inglis) trusted he was not too late in making this suggestion.

Lord Duncan

regretted that the right hon. Baronet had contrasted the window tax with the duties on glass. He thought the window tax had claims quite as great for abolition as the auction duty, on the ground of particular exemptions.

Mr. Curteis

thought it would be taking the country by surprise, if the right hon. Baronet's proposals were discussed on Monday. They ought to have a longer time to ascertain whether the country were with him or against him. If the country were with him, they would give him the advantage of it. He thought the country would be against him. But, at all events, he entered his humble protest against thus taking the country by surprise. There was only one post-day before they were to come to the vote to learn whether the country coincided with the measures of the right hon. Baronet or not. He had only to say, that having acted as a Commissioner of the Property Tax, nothing should ever induce him to support that tax, and if any ten men would walk out of the House with him in opposition to it, he would be one. Having been, as he had said, a Com missioner under the Act, he had seen so much of the working of it, that he had stowed he would oppose the renewal of it, and if he had an opportunity of doing so on Monday, and any ten men would join him, he would vote for its repeal. The right hon. Baronet ought to remember that he was well supported formerly by the Opposition side of the House, when he had not so much support from among Gentlemen on his own side; and that he (Mr. Curteis) wished the agricultural Members on that side of the House to consider before Monday whether it would not be better for the agricultural interests to do away with the Income Tax than many of those taxes of which the right hon. Baronet proposed the abolition.

Mr. Ward

agreed with the hon. Member for Rye that this Budget would take the country by surprise, as few would expect such a large and comprehensive measure of finance to be brought forward as that which had been introduced that night by the right hon. Baronet. He did not intend to attempt to add to the eulogy which had been passed on the statement of the right hon. Baronet; but he felt bound to state that he rejoiced that measures founded on such sound principles of policy were to be brought forward; and that the Government had taken such a sound view of the best interests of the country, and proposed to lay the seeds of a most extended prosperity. Therefore, when the measures were criticised on that side of the House, he could bear his testimony to their excellence. Of course, as regarded the Sugar Duties, there would be a difference of opinion; and he hoped that if such a measure cm this subject as was stated by the right hon. Baronet should be pressed, that it would not pass without the most earnest protest, founded, as he believed it to be, on the most erroneous principles. But taking the whole statement, even with the Property Tax, it was deserving of high credit. If, as the hon. and learned Member for Bath had observed, they made the Property Tax permanent, they must remodel many parts of, and reconstruct all, the Schedules on new bases. The measures, however, which had now been brought forward, contained the most important relaxations as regarded the Revenue, and would operate as the most important springs on the commercial interests of this country. He would only repeat that the measures would confer the greatest benefit on the country.

Mr. Aglionby

did not anticipate that the country would be taken by surprise at the proposal to renew the Property Tax, after the notices which had already been given on the subject. But even if the Property Tax was to be continued, much had been done to relieve the productive industry of the country in other respects. If the Property Tax was modified, much objection to its continuance would be removed. It would lead to further advance in the course taken by the right hon. Baronet that night. He conceived that the present Budget was the greatest boon to the country that had been proposed since he had had a seat in that House, and it would confer greater benefits on the labouring classes than any that had taken place for years. He wished, however, on that occasion, to point out a matter with respect to which he had heard great complaints. He could not speak from practical knowledge of the subject, but he was assured that the present arrangement was productive of great hardship. He alluded to the duties on tea. He understood that there was an uniform tax on all teas; and that the same duty was levied on the low-priced teas drank by the poorer classes, and on the teas of high qualities consumed by the higher classes. He did not know whether he was right in the view which he had taken of this point, but it had been mentioned to him as a great hardship. As he believed that the plan and object of the hon. Gentleman was to confer the greatest possible benefit on the poorer classes of this country, he was sure that if the right hon. Gentleman found the duties on tea press so unequally and heavily on those classes, that he would take into his consideration the propriety of reducing the duty on teas of lower quality. He should be glad to hear the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman on the subject.

Sir R. Peel

was sure that, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied that great inconvenience would arise from a person in his situation expressing an opinion with respect to a tax with which he did not intend to deal, on an occasion like the present, as it must derange all commercial transactions connected with the article in question. He was satisfied that the safest course, if he did not wish to impede commercial enterprise, was not to say anything on the subject. He must also observe, that he could not conceive how the hon. Member for Rye, or the country, could be taken by surprise by the discussion on the proposed renewal of the Income Tax coming on on Monday. The hon. Member, on the second reading of the Bill, would if he chose, be able to oppose it, and take the sense of the House on the principle of the measure, as well as on Monday next. There would be ample opportunities for those who disapproved of the plan of the Government to express their opinions. As for the country being taken by surprise, surely the hon. Member must have seen, from the expressions in the Queen's Speech, that the inference must be drawn that it was the intention of the Government to propose the renewal of the Property Tax.

Mr. Roebuck

observed, that the hon. Member for Sheffield had stated that if the Property Tax was to be permanent, it ought to be remodelled. His hon. Friend should now look upon it as a permanent tax, as he might depend upon it that, for the rest of his life, he would not see it taken off.

Lord John Russell

wished to have some explanation from the right hon. Baronet as to the suggestion made by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. As the right hon. Baronet did not say that he meant in any way to modify the Income Tax, he presumed it was to be inferred that it was to be proposed as it now was.

Sir Robert Peel

replied, that he intended to propose the simple renewal of the Tax as it stood. He thought there was a very essential difference between proposing to enact this Tax permanently, and only for a particular period. He believed, that if it were renewed for three years, that no man at the end of that period who paid it would find that he had sustained any loss, in consequence of the reductions that would take place in other respects. He would not enter into a discussion as to distinc- tions that should be drawn in respect to paying this tax on permanent or temporary interests; but he was satisfied that if any attempt were made to draw any such distinctions, the matter would be found to be surrounded with the greatest, if not insuperable difficulties. Take for instance, the possession of landed property. Would you make a difference in the amount of the tax between a man having a life interest, and another man having a permanent interest? If an attempt was commenced to draw a distinction between the interest of a half-pay officer or a clergyman, and a person having a permanent interest, they would be involved in endless difficulties.

Mr. C. Buller

remarked that there was a great difference between an income derived from property, and a professional income—the latter was not either a permanent or a life interest, but a fluctuating interest. The distinction, therefore, which the right hon. Baronet alluded to between a life and a permanent interest was a very different thing from the gains of a profession. He was not going to follow the example of several hon. Members near him, and praise the Budget as they had done. He confessed that he did not see so much to admire, as he believed that the keeping on the Income Tax did away with much of the benefit which otherwise might have been derived from it. He thought that the country should understand and consider what was the purport of the Budget. The right hon. Baronet proposed that the Property Tax should be granted for three or five years—for there was some doubt as to his phraseology—as he did when he proposed the present Income Tax. He then made a promise that such would be the reduction in the cost of articles of consumption under his new Tariff, that no one would feel the Income Tax; but the experience of the country did not warrant the repetition of such a promise. But whatever were the merits of other parts of the Budget, it completely put an end to all question as to the removal of the Income Tax at the end of three years. The right hon. Baronet, in his present Budget, proposed permanently to get rid of the whole of the surplus revenue; as he did not reduce or modify, but intended to get rid altogether of most of the taxes he had dealt with. Certainly there was an exception with regard to the Sugar Duties; but every other tax the right hon. Gentleman meddled with, he proposed entirely to sweep off. The right hon. Gentleman, there- fore, could not expect to bring the Revenue round by means of his present Budget, for the only effect he could look to was that which regarded the general trade of the country. After the experience they had had of former Budgets, it was idle to expect that they could make up millions of revenue in that space of time from that source. On this ground he could safely state to the country, that the present was not the renewal of the Income Tax for three years, but it was in point of fact the permanent imposition of that tax. Regarding it then as a permanent tax, they should look the difficulties in the face, and see whether it could not be made a just and honourable tax, and not adopt it in the rough and ready manner which they did with respect to the present Income Tax.

Mr. Warburton

remarked that the objection of his hon. and learned Friend to the present proposal with respect to the Income Tax, was, that it would render it a permanent tax. Now, he considered the rendering such a tax a permanent tax, divested it of most of its objections. He was quite satisfied that if the tax were made permanent, and if hon. Members would calmly enter into an examination of the subject, they would see that the whole inequality of its operation arose from its being only temporary. A temporary tax had every characteristic of inequality, but when it was made a permanent tax, it was divested of all inequality. He knew that this was an unpopular doctrine to hold, therefore it was difficult to get parties to listen calmly to the subject, or to investigate the principles to which he adverted. With respect to the Budget, with the exception of the part connected with the sugar duties, where the whole advantage of the reduction would be given to the sugar growers instead of the country at large, all parts of it were most excellent, and deserved the greatest praise. He saw however, that the reduction of the duty on sugar would open the eyes of the people to the evils of protection, and he hoped at no distant period to see the sugar tax put on a right footing.

Lord John Manners

said, that as he understood the principle on which the right hon. Baronet proceeded, it was that taxes should be levied as far as possible on those able to pay them, and that taxes should be removes from those least able to bear them. He fully agreed in this principle, and he trusted that it would be success- fully carried out. It would be presumption in him to give an opinion as to taxes which should be removed. He was sure that those which it was proposed to remove had been selected with the greatest care, and he had no doubt also with the greatest wisdom. He thought, from the countenances of some hon. Members near him, that some disappointment was felt that no tax was to be removed which pressed on the agricultural interest, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen would not now feel greatly disappointed, but would look forward to some future occasion with this view.

Mr. Stafford O'Brien

rose merely for the purpose of saying that he was not aware of manifesting any of that feeling of disappointment to which the noble Lord had alluded. The object of the praises of the Budget by hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to be, to scare the interest to which he belonged, and to set it against the Government of the right hon. Baronet. He did not intend to give any opinion as to the operation of the proposed reductions, but he did not believe that the right hon. Baronet intended to exclude the agricultural interest from a share in the benefits which would result from the reduction of the sugar duties and the removal of the glass and auction duties.

The House resumed.

Committee to sit again on Monday.