§ Question again put on the Resolution moved by Sir R. Peel on Friday.
§ Lord John Russell
I am very glad that the House, and the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, on Friday evening consented to postpone for another day the decision of the House upon this question, because the more I consider the question the more I conceive that its importance should be placed higher, and its magnitude regarded 543 greater, than the right hon. Gentleman seemed disposed to contemplate. If, like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kendal (Mr. Warburton), who seemed to be enamoured with the Income Tax, and who thinks that it ought to be rendered permanent, I could approve of such an impost, then I should rejoice very much in the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, inasmuch as it is quite evident that the wish of the hon. Member for Kendal is approaching very near to its accomplishment. But for my own part, I have always been accustomed to consider the Income Tax as a tax, necessary indeed in times of great emergency — necessary, for instance, in the carrying on of a war of an arduous and costly nature, but at the same time that it was a tax subject to some of the greatest objections that could be urged against any tax. I have always been of opinion that inequality, vexation, and fraud were inherent in such a tax. It is impossible to deny its inequality, for no man can say that it is equal for a person who has an income derived from a landed estate, or from the funds, which he could leave to his children entire, is in the same position as a person in a profession—a surgeon or an artist—whose bread depends upon his health and the vigour of his constitution, and who, by the loss of a limb, or a defect of eye-sight, may at any moment be deprived of the means of earning any income at all. No man can say that these two persons were similarly situated. Neither can any person fairly deny that great vexation is inseparable from this tax. No one can deny that a person who is engaged in trade, and who must either submit to the payment demanded of him, or show all his accounts, and expose all the matters in which he is engaged to the persons appointed by the Government—no one can deny that such a person is not subject to very great vexation. And then, with regard to fraud and evasion, I believe no man who has been concerned in the collection of this tax will deny that his experience has shown that great frauds are practised under this tax—that the man of the most integrity and the most honour, and who gave his returns fairly, was subjected to the greatest imposition of the tax; while those who wished to evade the tax either found the means of doing so, or entangled themselves and the Government in the most expensive proceedings. Such being the faults of this tax, and having 544 heard from the right hon. Gentleman on Friday night that they were faults inseparable from it, I might have well conceived that by different modifications, and by alterations with respect to uncertain incomes, and by changing particular provisions which bore hard upon particular classes, the tax might be made more equal and less vexatious. The right hon. Gentleman has now had three years to overlook and observe the working of this tax, and there can be no reason, that I am aware of, why he should not make it more equal and less vexatious if he chooses. But the right hon. Gentleman declares that to be impossible, and he says that he will show by argument that any attempt of that kind would be an aggravation of its injustice. Now the right hon. Gentleman did not pretend to show—for that would be impossible—that the tax was not unequal, and that it was not accompanied by a vexatious and inquisitorial process; but what he argued on the last occasion when the Property Tax was imposed was this, that if they attempted to make any alteration it would lead to a greater injustice than that which it would cure. So that the right hon. Gentleman did not prove that these defects were such as could not be remedied, but he only endeavoured to prove that defects were inseparable from the nature of an Income and Property Tax. Now, I will not say whether I consider the right hon. Gentleman to be right in that statement or not; but at all events the right hon. Gentleman is a great authority for the assumption of that fact. What, then, is the conclusion? Why, that this is a tax whose great merit is its productiveness to the Revenue; and that it could only be imposed under the pressure of great necessity, and under most urgent circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman himself, when he proposed the Income Tax three years ago, stated special grounds for its imposition: he stated the necessity of providing for a financial deficiency; and said that although we were at peace with the Powers of Europe, yet we could not fairly be considered as living in a period of peace: and he then alluded to the events which were passing in the Mediterranean; to the war then waging with China; to the wars then carrying on in India; and to the expenses incurred from Canada in the West to the Indus in the East; and all these circumstances he pointed out as, although not amounting to an European war, yet as constituting a case of 545 emergency which, in his opinion, justified the imposition of this tax. Now, whether these circumstances amounted to a justification or not, I wish to make one remark upon the nature of the case which the right hon. Gentleman then attempted to establish. The right hon. Gentleman, in his further observations on that occasion, said, that in imposing an Income Tax he would not consider only the sum which it was requisite to raise in order to balance the income with the expenditure of the country, but he would make provision by an alteration of certain duties in the Customs for increasing the commerce and invigorating the industry of the country, and thereby make an experiment which he hoped would succeed in improving the condition of the people, and in time get back the revenue which he thus for the moment sacrificed. I think I am not inaccurately stating the grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman placed the tax when he originally proposed it. We had a statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, last year, to the same effect. That right hon. Gentleman, when bringing forward the Budget, said, that he would not at that time mention the effect of the various reductions of duty which had been made in the Tariff, because there were several reductions which had not come into full operation till lately, and he had not, therefore, the proper materials before him to make any statement; but he observed, that in the course of the next year the House would have the subject fully before it, and would then be enabled to see what effect those reductions of the duty had produced, and would be able to form a judgment whether the imposition of the Income Tax had been beneficial to the country or not. The right hon. Gentleman, stating the question in his usually very fair manner, remarked that he was not able, in the short experiment which had been made, to judge of the result of the changes which had taken place, still less could he say what course the House would next year think it proper to pursue; but that in that year the Income Tax must necessarily come under the consideration of the House, and it would then be their duty to determine what course they would take with respect to its continuance.Such being the circumstances," (said the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer,) "I think it is obvious that I should not be acting a candid, or even an honest part, were I to attempt to induce the House to consent to a large reduction of 546 duties, the effect of which would be to prevent Parliament coming with an unfettered judgment to the consideration of the question, whether or no the Properly Tax should be continued; because, if they were to assent to that large reduction of duties, the only option that would be left to them would be either that of continuing the Property Tax, or of incurring the risk of national insolvency.This was the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) last year. The right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, on that occasion said, that he reserved the expression of his opinion on other subjects connected with duties and customs; but, I presume, the right hon. Baronet did not altogether conceal his intentions from his right hon. Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and that right hon. Gentleman naturally supposed that these were the grounds on which a proposal for the continuation of the Property Tax would he made; namely, the circumstances of the time and the result of the Tariff of 1842. Now, Sir, in bringing forward his proposition on Friday evening, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, lost sight of both these grounds. I certainly expected that the right hon. Gentleman would have shown, when calling for this impost—an impost of so important and unpopular a nature—what had been the effect of the reduction of the Tariff of 1842, and what were the peculiar circumstances of the present time which justified that call; but the right hon. Baronet scarcely touched upon either of those topics; nay, with regard to the reduction of the Tariff he never touched upon it at all. The right hon. Gentleman took another course—a very popular course certainly—and one which was well calculated to excite much enthusiasm on this (the Opposition) side of the House; but which is a course, I confess, that appears to me attended with considerable danger to the country. The right hon. Gentleman showed, in the first place, that if they went on without an Income Tax there would be a small deficiency of Revenue, as compared with the Expenditure, either this year or the next. That, it was contended, would have been a ground for the continuance of the Income Tax for a short time; and the right hon. Gentleman then referred to the statement which has recently been published and placed before the House as a justification of such a continuance. But the right hon. Gentleman went into a further detail, and enumerated a great number of taxes and 547 duties which he proposed to abolish; and when he had thus totally destroyed the surplus which remained, and left only a small surplus of 70,000l., he then took advantage of that popularity which so sweeping an abolition of the taxes was sure to create, and then said to the House, "Now, you will, of course, consent with me to the re-imposition of the Income Tax." The result must be, that the tax which the right hon. Gentleman proposes is not a tax for three years, but is a perpetual Income Tax. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman had taken this course—if he had said, "Look at my Tariff, see what it has produced; see whether, even if I have not yet recovered the loss of revenue in consequence of the reduction by an increase of commerce, there is not sufficient ground to believe that, in less than three years, the full revenue derived from these reduced duties will be restored." If the right hon. Gentleman had adopted that language, then I should conceive that he would have been holding out some prospect that at the end of three years he might be able to abolish the Income Tax. But the right hon. Gentleman took no such course; he referred to those taxes, the greater part of which he proposed entirely to abolish. Now, I do not quarrel with him for going the whole length of abolishing a tax; for, in many cases, to abolish a tax altogether is better than to reduce a portion of it. This much, at all events, is clear, that the taxes enumerated by the right hon. Gentleman are entirely gone; you have no longer any revenue whatever from them. Such being the case, I ask, can you, at the end of three years, when you will have no less than five millions of taxes abolished, expect that those five millions will be replaced by an increased revenue derived from an increased commerce, consequent upon the reduction of those taxes? Can anybody mention a period in the history of this or any other country in which, in the course of three years, the general revenue was augmented by no less than five or six millions in consequence of the abolition of taxes? Let, then, the question stand upon this ground—that we are not indeed taking a final step, but that, unless some provision is made by Parliament hereafter—unless, while the Income Tax is passing through the House, some vote is come to, we shall be consenting to the imposition of a permanent Income Tax in a time of peace. This has always been considered essentially a war tax; and its imposition 548 is not justified by any circumstances short of those of peculiar danger in our foreign affairs; but the right hon. Gentleman says that we are living in a time of profound peace. It is not justified by any consequences which a reduction of duties may hereafter produce. That reduction may, no doubt, produce a great decrease of revenue; no great increase, indeed, can be expected from it. This, however, is the only ground alleged for the reimposition of the tax. If, therefore, you consent to the whole measures of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) in their present shape, it will be neither more nor less than the imposition of an Income Tax, to be renewed, indeed, from time to time, but always to be renewed. Because the question will be, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated last year, that you would have no option between the renewal of the Income Tax and national insolvency; a view, I know, which many in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would propose to the House when parting with five millions of revenue. Having a deficiency to that amount might be, figuratively, termed a national insolvency. Well, then, let us look a little at the statement which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) made on Friday evening, both with respect to the financial grounds, and with respect to the commercial grounds on which it was founded. First, with regard to the financial grounds, I am not disposed to dispute with the right hon. Gentleman as to a great deal of what he said. With respect to Her Majesty not calling for any increase to her Civil List, we must all be rejoiced, at the same time that we are by no means surprised, that Her Majesty, with her usual feeling towards her people, should not wish to increase their burdens on her own account. The right hon. Gentleman stated also that there would be no increased charge on account of the Army; and in making this statement I thought he went to an unnecessary length in explanation of the Army Expenditure. The statement had often been made before by successive Secretaries at War, and by many of my Friends who are now near me. It had also been made by Sir Henry Hardinge, the right hon. Gentleman's late Colleague. That this country requires a very considerable Army is an argument which has always been successfully urged by every administration—as well Whigs as Tories. No Secretary at War ever failed to urge it on account of 549 his party. With regard to the Navy, I am rejoiced to find that the right hon. Baronet has devoted his attention to that subject. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have neglected this important branch of the public service when in power in 1834, and also during the last year; but I am delighted that this neglect is now giving way to a more vigilant attention, and a more earnest determination to promote that paramount establishment so essential to our insular position. Neither do I think that the right hon. Baronet need be at all alarmed, that this strengthening of our Navy, so essential to the very existence of this nation as a maritime power, will give the least umbrage or ground of complaint to any Foreign States. The increasing of our Naval force to the extent of ten sail of the line cannot possibly be a cause for jealousy, when it is borne in mind that England has always been considered a maritime power by other nations. It appears, however, by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that the estimates which he proposes are certainly very large—much larger than one would have been led to expect from the absence of all those causes which led to the necessity of increasing our expenditure some few years ago. In the year 1841, up to the 5th of January, 1842, our expenditure, including half a million expended in Canada and China, was 18,167,000l.; from the 5th of January, 1842, to the 5th of January, 1843, our expenditure, including 1,350,000l. expended in Canada and China, amounted to 19,118,000l. The amount proposed for the present year, as I understood the right hon. Gentleman to state, is 18,895,000l. These are very considerable estimates, without any peculiar causes for an increased expenditure, except in the Navy. For my part, I hope, when the Government shall propose these estimates, they will be able to show sufficient reason for their amount. I do not contemplate joining in any vote for any material diminution of those estimates. The consequence of voting them, however, will be to leave us, if we agree to the Income Tax, with a surplus of 3,400,000l. I now come to consider how this surplus is proposed to be disposed of. I could wish that it was to be applied in a manner that would give the greatest possible relief to the trade and commerce of the country. No doubt many of the articles which have been selected by the right hon. Gentleman, on which the duties are either 550 to be reduced or altogether repealed, are, as might be expected, well and judiciously chosen for relieving trade and promoting the commerce of the country. The tax on cotton is peculiarly well selected. Indeed, to impose a tax on the raw material is a system so utterly against all sound commercial principles, that I rejoice that the Government have taken the opportunity to get rid of that most erroneous system. With respect to the duty on glass, likewise, I quite concur with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, I believe that that tax has very much impeded the improvement of that manufacture, and prevented our glass manufacturers from competing with foreign manufactures. The right hon. Gentleman has, therefore, in my opinion, acted wisely in repealing the duty altogether. But with regard to some other of the taxes which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with, I am not quite so ready to concur in the wisdom or expedience of the course which he proposes to pursue. Take the tax upon auctions, for instance. I really do not see, if you wish to keep up a surplus, why 300,000l. should be given away by the abolition of auction duties. I am not much in the habit of concurring in the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), but I do think that the reduction of duty on fire insurances would have been a better application of the surplus, and would have given more relief than the abolition of the auction duties. The right hon. Gentleman said that no one had ever complained of the auction duty, and he really seemed to think that it was a merit on his part to have found out a tax for repeal, the imposition of which was not felt as a grievance by any one. I think that when a tax bears with undue pressure on the people, they are generally disposed to give the Chancellor or the Exchequer some gentle intimation of it. There have been some strong intimations made to that right hon. Gentleman, founded on very high grounds, against a tax which is connected with an article of great importance to the country. I allude to the article of soap. It does so happen that it is the only remaining tax on the necessaries of life which are commented upon by Mr. Adam Smith. He says that the taxes upon the necessaries of life are salt, leather, candles and soap. The taxes on salt, leather, and candles have been taken off, and soap is the only article of necessaries remaining subject to taxation. However, I am not now calling upon the right hon. 551 Gentlemen to abolish the tax upon soap. On the contrary, I am rather of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman has gone too far already in taking off taxes. I think, in fairness, he ought to have said to the House, "I am proposing a perpetual Property Tax; do you think that a Property and Income Tax can be justly maintained by taking off the taxes which I now show you to be objectionable?" I now come to another part of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, which has reference to his commercial plans. I should have expected that he would have shown the effects of the reduction of the duties by the Tariff of 1842. I think it would have been only fair to the House to have shown them the effect which those reductions have produced. Instead of which we have had a general statement that there has been an increase of revenue; and that the Customs have given a much larger return than was estimated; but we heard not a single word from the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the particular measure of 1842. Now, as far as I have been able to judge of the result from the elaborate table which has been presented to the House, it is quite possible, with regard to all those duties which were reduced by the right hon. Gentleman in 1842, that there has been a considerable loss of revenue, and that the great increase of revenue has almost entirely resulted from articles, the duties on which were not touched by the Tariff. With regard to the articles in the 5th, 1st, and 8th schedules of the Tariff, the total loss has been 550,000l.; with regard to the 6th schedule, the gain has been about 17,000l., but that is upon articles on which the duty was not touched by the Tariff. On the 7th schedule, there is a gain upon such articles as were not touched by the Tariff, of 1,695,000l., while there is a loss on those articles in the same schedule on which the duty was reduced of 686,000l., leaving a total of gain on that schedule of 1,009,000l. So far, therefore, as that statement goes, it would appear that the principle followed by the right hon. Gentleman in his new Tariff has not been successful—that the gain which has taken place had been entirely owing to the improved condition of the country, to the bountiful harvests which we have had, and to the revival of trade and manufactures, and in no respect has it been owing to the changes made by the Tariff of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of 552 Trade may have a case to show against this, which, on its first appearance, is primâ facie evidence against the measure of 1842; but, if it be so, I think the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury should have informed the House what his case is, and why it is that there has not been, as he expected, a considerable increase in the consumption of those articles upon which he has reduced the duties. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to deal with no less than 430 articles, on which Import Duties are now levied, by abolishing the duties altogether. With respect to some of these articles, the reason why they produce so small a revenue is, that the right hon. Gentleman, in 1842, changed the duty upon them. I think it is a rather strange proceeding, first to diminish the revenue on these articles, and then to say, because they produce so very little revenue, you will repeal the duty altogether. At the same time the principle no doubt is a good one; it is better than that of merely reducing the duty, for the more simple you can make the Tariff the better, and in regard to many of the articles no doubt the course of the right hon. Gentleman is proper. But there is another branch of duties with respect to which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt differently. With regard to duties on exports, the impolicy of such duties, in a commercial point of view, has long since been agreed upon by all men who have devoted their minds to the subject. The proposition that trade ought not to be fettered by the imposition of export duties on the produce, or import duties on the raw material of the manufactures of the country, has been assented to by every statesman whose opinion is of any value. These principles, both the abolition of export duties, and that no duties should be charged on the raw materials of any manufacture, are excellent, but they have been for a long time acknowledged. In the year 1721, Sir Robert Walpole made an alteration in our Commercial Laws very similar to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, in which no less than 130 articles were affected. In respect to them there is very little to dispute—everybody is glad to have the advantage of such a change. No one wishes to contend against the right hon. Gentleman, that it is not a good thing to take off the duty on cotton wool. No one, especially if belonging to the north, wishes to see the export duty on coal continued; 553 therefore, the right hon. Gentleman has done right in taking the opportunity of acting upon these great principles, where he is not likely to meet with any opposition to their application. But there is another principle which was not so early acknowledged, on which the right hon. Baronet ought also to act. It is a principle of which Sir Robert Walpole and the statesmen of his day were ignorant, but which was fully developed and proved to demonstration by that great man and great writer, Adam Smith, and was afterwards acknowledged to be a most just principle by no less an authority than Mr. Pitt: it is the principle which affirms, that you ought not to have protective duties—that in endeavouring to protect certain branches of manufacture, or certain classes of industry, you are in fact doing injury to one part of your fellow-subjects for the apparent benefit of another; that, after all, this benefit is only apparent, because that very class on behalf of whom you commit injustice—on behalf of whom you deprive the consumer of the article he would wish to buy—that very class itself is, in the long run, injured by the diminished trade in their own produce. But this, though a sound principle, and though proved by the greatest writers, though acknowledged by Mr. Pitt, by Lord Grenville, by Mr. Huskisson, and by all who have ever taken part in commercial legislation worthy to be named, is not yet recognised by the party at the head of which the right hon. Gentleman himself at this moment stands; but is still opposed, or at least scarcely admitted, by a large class of the community. On the contrary, whenever any change of that kind has been proposed, it has always found fierce and violent opponents in the protected interests, who contend that, not only they themselves, and those belonging to their class, but all who are connected with that branch of national industry, are concerned in opposing the application of that sound principle. Seeing the opposition that will always be made to getting rid of such protection, and the manner in which various interests in the state are interwoven, it is of course difficult to accomplish an abrupt change; and the theoretical writers and statesmen I have mentioned, showed their wisdom in recommending caution and deliberation in such a proceeding; but they never doubted that it is our duty to proceed onward from time to time towards the complete adoption of this wholesome principle of legislation, to 554 treat all classes equally, and not to interfere with what is the proper and inherent right of the subjects of the State. If there be no law on any such subject, it is not in itself a fit matter for legislation. If you find a person committing a fraud or a felony, it is a proper subject of legislation to punish him, and to prevent such crimes in future; but when a man is toiling from morning till night in order to produce a piece of manufacture which he wishes to exchange for some other article by which his family may be maintained, it is an act worthy of all praise, and you ought not to interfere and check his exertions by legislation. How perverted, then, is that legislation which turns from its legitimate object of punishing crime and checking vice, which it insufficiently prevents, and discourages industry by interfering with the exchange of its products, and tries to control that spirit by which men are naturally impelled to obtain an honest subsistence, and improve their condition. If these be just principles of legislation, and if the great men I have mentioned are authorities, it ought to be the endeavour of a person so enlightened as the right hon. Gentleman professes to be, and really is, on these questions, not merely to acknowledge sound principles, but to break down restriction and to abolish unjust monopoly, and with all due care to restore a more natural condition of society. With one of those great monopolies the right hon. Gentleman interferes on the present occasion, namely, with the article sugar; but, let me ask, does he interfere in such a way as to promote, and, in the end, bring about a just plan of legislation? On the contrary, does he not propose to continue, by a law he is about this year to introduce, a prohibition as to other countries, which, but for that law, would send us sugar at a cheaper rate than we can procure it from our own Colonies? The right hon. Gentleman intends to persevere in the existing prohibition, on the ground, repeatedly urged, that the excluded sugar is produced by slave labour. I think, with regard to that pretext at least, that we should drop it, and proceed upon more rational as well as honest principles. Suppose that a negotiator, whose name I do not know, but who is said to have been sent from Brazil to Germany, should visit this country on his return, and propose to us to admit sugar produced in Brazil, he would say,—"You have no objection to admit slave-grown coffee, cotton, and tobacco?" 555 Our answer would be,—"None in the world;" and he might continue,—"You have no objection to admit other slave-grown articles, and even with respect to sugar itself you have no objection to send your manufactures to Brazil, and bring back sugars which you afterwards export to the north of Europe." "We have no objection whatever to that," we must answer; "and we have no objection also to consume the articles we get in return, whether hemp or other commodities. Upon that point we feel no scruple; and it is very true also that slave proprietors obtain our manufactures; and it is much the same to them whether we consume or only export their sugars." "But still I understand," the envoy would continue, "that by the legislation of last year, though you have scruples in admitting Brazil sugar, you have no scruple in admitting free-labour sugar; and as to certain countries, entitled to the benefit of the most favoured clause of your reciprocity Treaties—but which are slave States—you have, by an Order in Council, admitted their sugar; there is, for instance, a positive order allowing the introduction of sugar from Venezuela." That fact cannot be denied; and after allowing it, how can the Legislature of this country say,—"It is very true that we admit slave-grown coffee, cotton, and tobacco; it is very true that we receive slave-grown sugar, refine it, send it to the north of Europe, and consume the articles obtained in exchange; it is very true that we take the sugar of Venezuela; but still we have scruples which prevent us from consuming the slave grown sugar of Brazil." Would not the Brazilian agent have a right to laugh in your face when he listened to such ridiculous pretences? Then, as to the other objection to the plan about to be proposed this year. I heard the right hon. Gentleman say, in answer to a question from my right hon. Friend, that he did not at present think of proposing that the Sugar Duties should be made perpetual, but that it would be expedient to continue them in the usual mode. It is much the same whether he does or does not continue them from year to year; while he keeps up such absurd distinctions, every year the Sugar Duties must be discussed in this House. It does not much signify whether the subject is formally brought forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is sure to be brought forward by somebody. I do not object that the right hon. Gentleman makes a distinction—if the Custom House 556 Officers and others say that it can be made—between raw and clayed sugar. A different degree of manufacture is a distinction—if it can be ascertained—in the same way that you distinguish between leather, and boots and shoes. In cases of that kind you are justified in imposing a different duty; but in the case under discussion, opinions are likely to vary, and you are not justified in imposing a discriminating duty. This, however, is a question of practice into which it is at present unnecessary to enter. But as to the great sacrifice of revenue — 1,300,000l. — which must be made under the right hon. Baronet's plan, I think that you might have made a great approach to the principles of free trade, by at once admitting the sugars of other countries, under an equitable duty, and yet have maintained the amount of revenue you at present possess. There is no need to abandon that large portion of the national resources; and I say of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman in general, that to propose an immediate reduction of nearly the whole amount of your surplus of 3,400,000l.—for the plan of the right hon. Gentleman will absorb the whole of that, except the small sum of 70,000l.—and to propose to put your Income Tax on under such circumstances as may, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, leave you no alternative three years hence but either to continue the impost, or be in a state of national insolvency, is, I think, very impolitic. I do not think it fair to the House to propose such an alternative, without a declaration on the part of the Government that such is the intention; and without answering this question—whether they consider the Income Tax to be one of the best sources of permanent revenue? If they are of that opinion, let the House fairly deliberate upon that point; and let it ascertain, likewise, either through the intervention of a Select Committee, or by means of a Committee of the whole House, whether some of the great injustice and inequality of the tax may not be diminished. In the next place, I say, with regard to your commercial reforms, that you have hesitated to follow up right principles—and principles which you acknowledge to be right—upon matters where you were likely to meet with opposition. You have, indeed, acted upon these principles, when your doing so is agreeable to everybody, and when no contradiction is to be expected; but where great interests are concerned, where opposition 557 may be looked for, but where the Government is bound to declare what is the real interest of the country, there you propose, not only to continue, but to aggravate the monopoly you find in existence. My view is, that as the Income and Property Tax is to be renewed for the present, the right hon. Gentleman should not make all the reductions he proposes; he ought to make the reductions on cotton and glass; but with respect to other articles, some I would not touch at all; and as to the great article, sugar, I would recommend that you should take a totally different course. I have already said that I consider protection the bane of agriculture. I maintain that opinion with reference to all the protected interests; and I think it was shown demonstrably, when Mr. Huskisson many years ago proposed his alteration of the Silk Duties, that monopoly placed the manufacturer in a condition of continual variation; and that if at one time he was making large gains, at others he was in a state of miserable depression. On the subject of the Timber Duties, I apprehend it has been proved that the undue favour shown to Canada has been productive of injury to the great interests of the Colony. That fact has been affirmed by Mr. M'Gregor, who examined into the state of our North American Colonies, and looked into the books of some of the farmers in our North American possessions, and found that they had made a profit by the cultivation of the soil, but that they had been ruined by their speculations in timber. It will be the same with other protected interests; but I have said already, and I say again, that such interests are to be touched with care—that the system is to be changed gradually, and carefully, rather than suddenly and abruptly. That is a matter for future deliberation and discussion; but of this I am confident, that if you wish to get rid of the Income Tax you should take the mode of endeavouring to improve the condition, and increase the prosperity of the empire, by opening new markets, and admitting large imports, increase your exports, and find a fresh demand for labour; and by augmenting the consumption of those articles which you restrict by your imaginary favour and protection. Then, indeed, you might look forward, at the end of three or five years, to the abolition of your Income and Property Tax; but if the question be between a perpetual Income Tax, and the continuance of monopoly and restriction, I declare for the Income 558 Tax, and a diminution and final abolition of all monopoly. Entertaining these opinions, I certainly cannot give any hearty assent to the proposition in the hands of the Chairman. At the same time, I see that it is impossible for me to refuse my assent to the renewal of the Income Tax for three years; but I give it, not from the wish of making the tax permanent. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has taken a course which may make it necessary to continue this burden from time to time; but my hope is that the pressure of this inquisitorial impost will at length open the eyes of the people to the disadvantages they suffer as consumers from existing restrictions and monopolies, and induce them to seek to set trade free, not only in order to procure greater benefits and enjoyments, but to put an end to a tax which I think, in time of peace, ought not to be imposed.
§ Mr. Roebuck
felt disappointed by the conclusion of the speech of the noble Lord, who had impugned every principle of the plan of the right hon. Baronet, and opposed almost all the items of the Budget, yet ended with a declaration which the noble Lord knew could not be fulfilled. The noble Lord knew as well as he (Mr. Roebuck) did, that the statement that the Income Tax was to be renewed for three years, was a mere phrase in the mouth of the right hon. Baronet, and that henceforward it would be a permanent tax. On this account he had been disappointed by the speech of the noble Lord. Why had it been made? For what purpose was it intended? He supposed, simply to find fault, and to guard the noble Lord from any consequences that might follow the scheme. He would not take the noble Lord as his model; he believed the proposal wrong in principle from beginning to end, and he therefore intended to conclude by a substantive amendment. Seeing that the noble Lord objected also to the principle as well as to the items, he hoped that the noble Lord would divide with him. He would assume, for the purposes of argument, that the Income Tax was to be permanent, and although the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Warburton) was not present, and although he (Mr. Roebuck) was not pari tanti viri on such a subject, he thought he could show that the permanence of the tax would add to its odious consequences. In reference to the Budget, he thought it right to draw a broad distinction between the proposition of the Minister and the plan which the House 559 sanctioned. The right hon. Baronet might be in a position to do no more good than he proposed; and the evil, therefore, was to be laid at the door of the House. He believed that the Minister had attempted as much as he could hope to accomplish;—he had gone farther than his predecessors, and the benefit he was about to confer was great. He had propounded good principles, but he had hesitated, as the noble Lord said, in applying them, and the hesitation arose out of the influences by which the right hon. Baronet was surrounded. To those influences he (Mr. Roebuck) would afterwards advert, and not visit the Minister for erroneous measures which were imposed on him by the House. He would assume that the estimates of the right hon. Baronet were accurate; and the right hon. Baronet had stated that in April, 1846 and 1847, the income would, in a small degree, fall short of the expenditure. He would not quarrel with this opinion, and he would concede that the statement of the Minister was correct. The right hon. Gentleman had said that a great portion of the Expenditure was beyond his control, and that the interest of the National Debt, which they could not touch, was 29,000,000l. The payment of that debt was a sacred duty, and he hoped never to live to see the day when a British Minister would attempt to withhold the payment. There were 7,000,000l. besides, with which the right hon. Baronet could not grapple, including the Civil List of Her Majesty. The right hon. Baronet, in phraseology which had a little alarmed him, had told the House that he was not about to ask the House to increase that Civil List by a single shilling; he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman did not mention this by way of a vain-glorious boast, at the performance of an imperative duty by Her Majesty—he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to lay the foundation of a future appeal for an increase of the Royal Income, which was already larger than that of any monarch in the world: the right hon. Baronet's object, he believed, was to show that Her Majesty set an example of rigid, necessary, and honourable frugality to Her subjects. In Her peculiar position She was especially bound to observe that frugality, seeing that She lived on the labour of others. Yet, inasmuch as the temptation to a contrary course was great, the right hon. Baronet had wisely held up to observation and praise the frugality of his Sovereign. This he took to have been 560 the object of the Minister, and he (Mr. Roebuck) would concede at the outset that the right hon. Baronet could not meddle with 35,000,000l. or more of the National Revenue; but he had admitted that there was still a margin of 13,000,000l. with which he could deal. There were two great branches of the expenditure with which they were compelled to meddle, the Army and Navy. The right hon. Gentleman contended that the sum of 13,000,000l. could not be reduced. He admitted the accuracy of the description which the right hon. Gentleman had given of the Army; and as far as the present system of reliefs to the Colonies was concerned, he was disposed to admit that the right hon. Baronet had made out his case. It was, however, a matter of grave consideration whether our Colonial Empire bestowed upon the mother country all the benefits implied in our anxiety to retain it; but, if we were determined to indulge in such expensive luxuries—if we must have an Empire upon which the sun never sets—of course we must pay for them. The expense of maintaining an enormous army for that purpose was not to be laid at the door of the Minister; it was the act of the House. Such was not the case with the items of the Navy, which the right hon. Baronet proposed to increase. He had stated that there were three new naval stations — China, the Western Coast of Africa, and the Pacific. He would dismiss the others, and go at once to the Western Coast of Africa, the most disgraceful and the most expensive. The right hon. Baronet, in alluding to this subject, had led the House to believe, as he (Mr. Roebuck) believed, that all our efforts to put down the Slave Trade had failed. All experience taught that the foreign Slave Trade would never be put down by the exercise of the Right of Search. It only exasperated existing evils; it would lead only to expenditure and disaster, and moreover must inevitably end in collision with the commercial navy of the world. Of the application of public money to any such purpose, he, therefore complained; and he thought that the right hon. Baronet, pursuing another course, might have saved the public money, and ensured the general peace. He now came to another point. In April, 1847, there would still be a small deficiency, and for the purpose of supplying it the Income Tax was to be continued. As the Income Tax produced 5,000,000l., it would be at least 3,000,000l. more than was wanted. The 561 right hon. Baronet was bound, therefore, to make out these propositions:—First, that the expense he wished the House to incur was legitimate expense; next, that the proposed means of meeting the expenditure was not only better than that to which he should presently allude, but the best within his power. The right hon. Baronet went a step farther. He not merely asked Parliament to incur the expenditure, but to alter a great part of the commercial taxation of the country. The right hon. Baronet was bound, therefore, to establish that the Income Tax was not only easily paid, but that it was better calculated than the other taxes to promote the interests of the country. Granting for the moment that the expenditure must be incurred, he asserted that the Income Tax was onerous, mischievous, and obnoxious, and that the taxes proposed to be remitted were not so onerous, so mischievous, nor so obnoxious. In the third place, he was prepared to prove that there was another and a far better mode of meeting the deficiency. He was about to oppose the plan as a fiscal regulation, independently of the mode of meeting the expenditure. He would undertake to show that there was in the power of the Minister a legitimate, honourable, honest, and equitable tax which would procure the 2,000,000l., which was all that was needed. He maintained that the Income Tax, whether permanent or temporary, was unequal. He took it to be a rule in taxation, that each man ought to be taxed according to his power of payment; that power depended on the amount of his wealth, and he would now proceed to show that a man who derived an income from fluctuating labour, was not so rich as the man who derived an equal income from the fee-simple of land. He would instance the case of two men, forty years old, each with 1,000l. a-year, the one arising out of his labour, and the other out of his land; the one from professional exertions, the other from fee-simple inheritance. He would place these two men on the Exchange as about to sell their property; and while the landowner would easily obtain thirty years' purchase, the talent-owner, under the most favourable circumstances, would not obtain six. Thus it was indisputable that the real wealth of the two parties was widely different; and the pressure of the tax upon the one was infinitely more severe than upon the other. The right hon. Baronet could not quarrel with this proposition; but what was his 562 answer? That the variation in the nature and value of property was so fluctuating, transient, and imperceptible, that it was impossible to draw a line between them. The Income Tax had this peculiarity—that it was not determined by any general rules; that it depended upon each man's particular case; and that when A. or B. sent in their return at 2,000l. a-year, the tax-gatherer was to ascertain, if possible, whether they did not in fact gain more. Thus special circumstances determined the amount of the tax without any general rule. Why, then, should not this plan be adopted, instead of that of the right hon. Baronet? Let every man return the extent of his income, and the sources of it, together with his age, and let a fair calculation be made of the worth of the property, and of how much per cent. ought to be taken from it. Every man's circumstances would then be judged of as now. The plan would not be more intricate than now: but the evil of inequality would be remedied. He did not agree in the complaint against the inquisitorial nature of the Income Tax; but he believed that the feeling of the public was quite the contrary. He admitted that the tax was odious and oppressive, but not inquisitorial. But the question was, how to get rid of the difficulty? His answer to the question was, that for a fiscal regulation, and the class from which the revenue would be derived, sufficient protection would be afforded to the State if the oath of the party were taken. This proposition might startle the Chancellor of the Exchequer and men accustomed to official life; but he would call to the recollection of the right hon. Baronet that the doctrine of chances was now extremely well understood, and that at this moment a society had been established, and attended with great success, to protect parties against the frauds of servants. In a remarkable original work, recently published, entitled, "Vestiges of the Natural History of the Creation," he found the following passage:—It was proposed to establish in London a society for insuring the integrity of clerks, secretaries, collectors, and all such functionaries as are usually obliged to find security for money passing through their hands in the course of business. A gentleman of the highest character as an actuary, spoke of the plan in the following terms:—'If a thousand bankers' clerks were to club together to indemnify their securities by the payment of 1l. a-year each, and if each bad given security for 500l., it is obvious that two in each year might become defaulters 563 to that amount, four to half the amount, and so on, without rendering the guarantee fund insolvent. If it be tolerably well ascertained that the instances of dishonesty (yearly) among such persons amount to one in five hundred, this club would continue to exist, subject to being in debt in a bad year to an amount which it would be able to discharge in good ones. The only question necessary to be asked previous to the formation of such a club would be, may it not be feared that the motive to resist dishonesty would be lessened by the existence of the club, or that ready-made rogues by belonging to it might find the means of obtaining situations which they would otherwise have been kept out of by the impossibility of obtaining security among those who know them? Suppose this be sufficiently answered by saying, that none but those who could bring satisfactory testimony to their previous good character should be allowed to join the club; that persons who may now hope that a deficiency on their parts will be made up, and hushed up, by the relative or friend who is security, will know very well that the club will have no motive to decline a prosecution, or to keep the secret, and so on. It then only remains to ask whether the sum demanded from the guarantee is sufficient? The philosophical principle on which the scheme proceeds seems to be simply this, that amongst a given (large) number of persons of good character, there will be, within a year, or other considerable space of time, a determinate number of instances in which moral principle and the terror of the consequences of guilt will be overcome by temptations of a determinate kind and amount, and thus occasion a certain periodical amount of loss which the association must make up.What was the application of that principle, if applied to the Income Tax? Statistics would soon tell them the number of cases in which a chance of immorality of that description would occur, and they might therefore guard against the consequences of it. But he would make this appeal to the House, to the country, and to the right hon. Baronet himself—could it be said that the morality of this country was reduced to so low an ebb that they could not trust the classes upon whom they levied this tax, upon their oaths, to state their power of paying it? Could it be said that the country was so reduced in morality as that all classes were unworthy of belief? He thought, however ludicorous it might appear at first sight, that they would find this to be by far the fairest and safest guide to go by, and thereby they would avoid the inquisitorial nature of the tax, obtain what they required in the way of revenue, and not work all those mischiefs 564 of which the people now so much complained. But now he came, supposing the right hon. Baronet should not change his views; supposing he was determined to continue this obnoxious tax—he now came to the next part of his principle, namely, to take off a certain portion of taxation for fiscal purposes: and he was bound to make the inquiry, were the mischiefs of the tax about to be imposed less, in the first place, than the mischiefs of the various taxes about to be taken off; and had the right hon. Gentleman determined on the mode of taxation which was best calculated to ensure the public benefit? What was the principle upon which he proceeded? Unfortunately for this country, every Minister in the right hon. Baronet's position was obliged to look round him, and say, "What are the interests which I have to face?" The noble Lord, the Member for London, had remarked that the right hon. Baronet had been influenced by certain interests—and what were they? He had swept away, in round numbers, 3,400,000l. of taxation, but not one of the articles upon which he was about to remit taxation crossed any one of the great interests of this country. The right hon. Baronet had certainly done great service—he had cleared away much of the brushwood which encumbered the land, but he had left the giant trees of monopoly standing erect and untouched, to be hereafter assailed by some more powerful hand. But now that the right hon. Baronet had cleared away the brushwood, he hoped to see the time when some one, following in his footsteps, would cut down these overpowering monopolies. What were they? The monopoly granted to the landowners, and to the Colonial interests of the country. He was surprised to see the delicate manner in which the noble Lord handled this part of the subject. In speaking of the sinister interests of agriculture, the noble Lord touched it most lightly, as with the hand of an artist. There was great reluctance to attack the sinister selfish interest of agriculture. ["Oh!"] Yes, he would not mince the matter! He meant those who derived advantage from the Corn Laws, and they had a party in the House strong enough to coerce the Minister to support them; and the Minister was really hardly to be blamed, when so beset as he was. The interest of agriculture was the predominant one in this country: not only protecting its own monopoly, but, by a sort of sympathy natural to such sinister, selfish interests, 565 it protected all other similar monopolies. The landowners said to the Colonial interest, "Support me, and I'll support you; you support Corn Laws, and I'll support Sugar." Now, for a moment he would leave out of consideration this giant evil. He knew it was useless to talk about it at present — it was all predominant, and would do pretty much as it liked: but what he complained of in this case—and he would show it clearly to the right hon. Baronet, the House, and the country — was, that the right hon. Baronet had made a concession upon two articles that would cover the deficiency for which he the right hon. Baronet demanded the Income Tax. Those two articles were sugar and timber. The right hon. Baronet said that, by the sugar duties, which he was about to take off, he would incur a loss of 1,300,000l.; and by the timber duties which he had taken off last year, there had been a loss of 900,000l. There was then upwards of two millions of money lost to the Revenue by these changes. "Oh, but" (it would be said) "do not we confer a great benefit upon the community? Have we not given them (as the right hon. Baronet said on Friday night), sugar at 1½d. per pound less?" No, they had not, and he would show it. If, instead of reducing by this 10s. (or whatever it might be) the duty upon Colonial sugar, they had equalised the duty upon that article coming from all parts of the world, the people would have had it as cheap as the right hon. Baronet had now promised them; and he would not have lost the 1,300,000l., because capital being employed, as it would then have been, most productively, sugar would have been sold at the same rate, and yet have paid the duty. But the right hon. Baronet had sacrificed the 1,300,000l. a portion of which he had given to the West India interest, and a large portion he had utterly thrown away. He should like to hear an answer to that. He did not want to hear the nonsensical story about free and slave-labour sugar. He should like to hear the right hon. Baronet explain how he avoided the consequence resulting from such a measure. He should like him to show how the curiously worded Act of last Session could let in slave-grown sugar from Venezuela, and yet not touch upon that great principle of which the right hon. Baronet was the ardent supporter. He wanted to know, too, how it was that he admitted the enormous import of slave-grown cotton. Did not that excite his feelings at the horrors of slavery 566 just as much us the import of other articles from Virginia and Brazil? And if he (Mr. Roebuck) was not much mistaken, the sugar grown in China, Manilla, and India, might be the produce of slave labour also; and, therefore, the whole distinction from the beginning to the end—though upon that the House was called upon to act—was a farce. It was clear that if the right hon. Baronet had lost 1,300,000l. by this change in his fiscal regulations, that, as he had before said, the benefit of it would be partly given to the West India planter, and a large portion of it thrown away. And why? Because the capital would be employed less productively, and to get the same supply of sugar they must employ more labour and capital, and all the difference between that and the capital and labour which would be employed, if capital were left free, would be thrown away. In the case of timber, it was precisely the same, with this addition—he did not know whether Brazilian sugar, at the same price, was much better than West India sugar—but this he knew, that they got from Canada a timber not only dearer, but much worse in quality than Baltic timber. They were compelled to buy that timber at a higher price, it rotted sooner, and therefore they lost at both ends. Thus, then, was the 900,000l. also thrown away. He knew something from experience of this matter, and it must have been known from the beginning that this loss would take place; but if the duty had been equalised upon Baltic and Canadian timber, they would have had from Canada the large fine timber for the purpose of masts which that country produced; and oak, and all other durable timber, would have come from the Baltic, where it could be obtained at a cheaper rate and of finer quality. But had the right hon. Gentleman equalised the duties on timber from the Baltic and from Canada; on the pines and firs from Canada for tall masts and similar purposes, and on the hard oak from the Baltic, the consequence would have been that the 900,000l. now lost, would have been returned to the Exchequer, and the people of this country would have got a better and a cheaper commodity. What was the answer made to this? The right hon. Baronet was now about to impose upon this country an Income Tax, odious, oppressive, and unequal. What was his justification? "That he was about to favour these Colonial interests in these two fiscal alterations, which were based on a principle that was false in every way, and led to the conclusions to which 567 he had adverted, and to which he should very much like to have an answer." Having, therefore, impugned the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, that there was a necessity for the change, let not the Chancellor of the Exchequer meet him by starting the difficulty of a national bankruptcy. He believed, that by putting on a fair Property Tax, without reference to income, all the ordinary demands could be met. But for all the remaining portion of the expenditure, there was no answer to be derived from the plea of insolvency; the question must be explained on other grounds; and he asked Her Majesty's Government why they did not meet the increased expenditure that was about to follow by equalising the duties on sugar and timber, and at the same time free this country from the odious inquisition of an Income Tax? He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman could face the agriculturists and landlords of this country. He did not think it was in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to do so; or he would carry out the principle so often announced, and ensure the reality of a free trade, so that capital in the hands of intelligent men should not be interfered with. There was great art exemplified in the formation of the right hon. Baronet's scheme. There was a curious appeal silently made to many powerful men. Paisley, Glasgow, Manchester, and other places were finely touched off, and certain allusions were made to certain interests; and then there was the right hon. Gentleman's operation upon coal. Let the House understand that the right hon. Gentleman's operation upon coal would not benefit this country one atom. [Mr. Warburton: "Hear, hear."] He understood the terrors connected with the cheer of his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal about coal; but he was not under the influence of those terrors at present. If the alteration would be beneficial to anybody, the coal-owners of the north, and those who dealt in coal in foreign countries, were the persons; and so far from agreeing with the noble Lord in his principles of political economy, that exports should not be taxed, he believed that the real political economy, was to tax exports, because that was the way to preserve the resources and productions of the country for its own use. For that reason he would put a tax upon the export of coal. He would say nothing about the auction duty, but that he thought there were many more pressing taxes to which the right hon. Gentleman might have given 568 his attention. However, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that an enormous expense was attendant upon the levying of that duty, and that while it was a very onerous tax upon the public at large it was of very little value to the Revenue, because it did not return in proportion to the expense. That he understood to be a very good argument, as far as it went; but he thought that far less ingenuity than the right hon. Gentleman possessed would have suggested hundreds of instances in which he might have considered matters pressing more strongly than this duty for consideration. Generally viewing the whole subject, however, he might state it would yet be found that the right hon. Gentleman had done much good by his proposition. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman was clearing the way for reforms yet to come, some day or other, of a more beneficial character. The right hon. Baronet appeared to him to be making a series of experiments. He was going through them and clearing the ground; and by and bye the three or four large monopolies would be left standing naked to the gaze of the world, and all the world would see their noxious and overwhelming influence, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be compelled to assail those overwhelming mischiefs. This he believed to be the greatest advantage to be derived from the labours of the right hon. Gentleman. Not that he believed, as the right hon. Baronet believed, that there was any likelihood of an increase of trade in any one point. He did not expect any advantage to the community at large from the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, except in a roundabout way. But it was right that the House should understand their position, and to what extent they were to be committed to this scheme. He believed it would lead neither to an increase of the means of the country, nor to a decrease of its burdens, but that it might give facility to those who should come hereafter to attack and destroy the monopolies left standing by their predecessors. One word with respect to the tax upon glass. He was not about to anticipate the discussion upon the window duties, which he hoped the noble Lord his hon. Colleague would bring forward as early as he could; but he could not understand the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, who said he would give cheap glass to the people, which would be a much greater benefit than the repeal of the window duties. What was the fact? It would be seen that this cheapness of glass would 569 be a benefit accruing to the rich rather than to the poor, to those who required the fine chandelier and the large conservatory, rather than to those who wanted food and raiment. But finally, seeing that the repeal of the duty on glass would go to remove some disagreeable excise regulations, he thanked the right hon. Baronet for it. Yet as the duty on glass was admitted to be an exceedingly onerous and vexatious one, so it followed, in the same category, that the right hon. Gentleman would find that the same argument, which in 1845 was overwhelming in respect to glass, would, in years to come, be overwhelming with respect to soap and other important articles of consumption. He would now propose to leave out the words, "professions, trade, and offices," from the Resolution submitted to the House, by the right hon. Baronet; not for the purpose of excluding them from taxation altogether, but for the purpose of hereafter subjecting them to that regulated species of taxation which he had already described. He wished hon. Gentlemen not to understand that he was attempting here simply to propose a Property Tax in the ordinary and common acceptation of the term, but to introduce the principle which he should like to see carried out, of making a man pay according to his means. For that purpose he used the word properly in the Resolution, thinking it would include all the sources of income, and that the House might hereafter make any regulations, if requisite, in relation to the Act. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by formally moving the Amendment he had just announced.
§ Sir G. Grey
wished to ask any Member of the Government, before the debate proceeded further, to clear up the ambiguity which attached to the subject since the notice had been given of the proposition which the right hon. Baronet on Friday night had submitted to the House. In the Speech from the Throne, it was intimated that it would be recommended to Parliament to consider whether it might not be expedient to continue for a limited time the Tax upon Property and Income, and to consider also whether other taxes which bore upon industry might not be taken off. The right hon. Baronet, in strict accordance with that recommendation, had placed upon the Notice Book a Resolution which went to pledge the House to the continuance of that tax; and in his speech of Friday night last, after having taken an extended survey 570 of the financial state of the country—having stated what his views were with regard to the reduction of taxation, the right hon. Baronet had stated again in emphatic language—in a tone marked with unusual sincerity—that it was his confident expectation, in making this proposition to the House, that it might be in the power of the House, at the expiration of the limited period of three years, for which he asked that the tax should again be renewed, to dispense with it altogether. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House, appearing as the exponent of the policy of the Government, had, however, told them, with a gesture of significant contempt—if the hon. and learned Gentleman's version of the right hon. Baronet's speech was correct, that it was all a farce, and that they were acting under a gross delusion if they attached any credit to the statement, so confidently, and apparently so sincerely, made by the right hon. Baronet. He, therefore, trusted that either the right hon. Gentleman or one of his Colleagues would state the grounds of that confident expectation before they called upon the House to affirm the Resolution. He for one, opposed as he was to this tax three years ago, was then fully prepared to give his assent to the tax as he was now to re-impose it, provided it was bonâ fide to be continued only for the limited period mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. He would not even positively call for a pledge that the tax should be removed at the end of the three years, provided, at the end of that period, the House had the power of exercising its discretion as to whether the tax should be continued or not. He thought, looking at the financial state of the country, nothing was more reasonable than that the Government should propose, considering that they at first contemplated the continuance of this tax for five years, that it should now be renewed for three years with a view to the removal of taxes which pressed upon the industry of the country, and the removal of which, it was said, would be of the greatest benefit to commerce, and place the finances of the country in such a condition as would put it in the power of the right hon. Gentleman at the end of the three years to do away with the Income Tax. But, looking at the speech of the right hon. Baronet, he could not discover any ground for the confident anticipation that such would be the result. He did not propose to go through the different items with which the right hon. Baronet 571 intended to deal; he would touch only on that one which embraced the principle of the whole, namely, remitting a portion of a tax which he said might have the effect of increasing the consumption, and thereby restoring the revenue, which must in the first instance be sacrificed. But, looking at the scheme as a whole, he could not, from the mode in which the right hon. Baronet proposed to deal with sugar, entertain any well-founded belief that in three years to come the revenue upon that article would be so increased as to enable them to dispense with the Income Tax. He believed that if the proposition of the right hon. Baronet as to the alteration in the Sugar Duty was unfortunately adopted by the House, he would gratuitously sacrifice a large amount of revenue, and not give the consumer of this country the benefit of what was lost to the State. The right hon. Baronet said, that he adhered to the principle upon which the Government had acted on this subject—that principle was, if he understood it, a distinction between sugar the produce of free labour, and that grown where slave labour was employed for the cultivation of sugar. Now he assumed that the right hon. Baronet was sincere and honest in the application of that principle. He would go further, and assume, that it was in the power of the Government to apply that principle, and carefully exclude from our market sugar which might be the produce of slave labour, and which had not the right to claim the admission of it by virtue of the most favoured nations' clause of the Reciprocity Treaties. The right hon. Baronet had calculated that in consequence of the reduction of the duty there would be an increase in the consumption of the next year of 43,000 tons of sugar. Now, where was such supply to come from? Were our Colonies to supply the increase which the right hon. Baronet took credit for? He denied that they could do so in their present state; neither could those countries which bonâ fide might be able to supply free-labour sugar. If three-halfpence in the pound was to be the reduction in the price in the ensuing year, there would be, he repeated, a greater demand than could be supplied by sugar the produce of free labour. He did not, however, believe that the price would come down to what the right hon. Baronet had assumed, and that, therefore, the loss of revenue, instead of benefiting the consumer, would go into the pockets of those for whose benefit the right 572 hon. Gentleman proposed still to continue the monopoly. He believed the distinction to be absurd and impracticable. He believed also that the right hon. Baronet did not entertain a very confident expectation that he would be able to exclude from our markets sugar in the growth of which slave labour had been employed. He was sure that a great portion of the sugar consumed in this country would be the produce of slave labour. If that were the case, do not let them hypocritically assume that they could act upon a principle which was absurd and impracticable, and acting on which would benefit one class at the expense of the body of consumers. Let the distinction therefore be swept away, and the revenue would be increased, and the odious Income Tax might be got rid of. He must say, that when he stated he should not oppose the Resolution for the continuance of the Income Tax, he abstained from opposition with the intention of opposing the distinction between free and slave labour sugar, which he believed, if enforced, would have the effect of creating more injurious monopoly than at present existed. But he believed it could not be enforced; and he had the further intention of supporting the Resolution of his hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester, behind him, which went to affirm that no arrangement of the Sugar Duties would be satisfactory which did not involve an equalisation of duty on foreign and Colonial sugar; he thought no settlement of that question could be considered permanent, which did not abolish all distinction between sugar the produce of free and of slave labour. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he had heard nothing from him at all satisfactory as to the means of practically carrying out the plan which the hon. and learned Gentleman recommended. If they had the melancholy prospect of looking to this tax as a permanent tax, it would be their duty to endeavour to diminish its vexations and inequalities; but he for one, hoping that the right hon. Gentleman had some grounds for being sincere in what he had announced as to its duration, certainly should not be disposed, by any experiment of this kind, to remove the vexations of this tax; for the more they were felt the more likely they would be to get rid of it altogether. It was an incubus on the industry and energy of the country, which it was the duty of the House to remove at the earliest possible period.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that differing in the result from the hon. Members who had spoken that evening, there were at least several points upon which it appeared there was great uniformity of opinion. No hon. Gentleman who had yet spoken objected, either with or without modification, to the continuance of the Income Tax. Another point of agreement was the additional expenditure stated by his right hon. Friend to be necessary for the Naval Service of the country; he believed no Gentleman when he saw the Estimates on the Table would refuse to give them in detail his approbation. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, asked upon what ground he thought the Income Tax would not be renewed at the expiration of the period for which it was now sought to prolong it? He told the right hon. Gentleman that his anticipation for the future was grounded on his experience of the past. His right hon. Friend, on the former occasion, said that if the Estimates for the present year could be the same as those proposed in the last or in former years, we might safely abandon the Income Tax which was imposed in 1842. It was in order to meet this necessary increase of expenditure, with respect to the propriety of which all agreed, that an increased revenue became imperatively necessary. It must be in the recollection of the Committee that when the present Income Tax was brought forward, it was not only intended to meet the large deficiency in the Revenue which then existed, but to afford means for the removal or modification of taxes on a number of articles, the continuance of which, in their then form, imposed great burdens on the industry and the commercial energy of the country. His right hon. Friend, in considering the nature of these duties, suggested that by the removal of them you would give such a stimulus to the industrial energies of the people, and lead to such an increase of revenue from other sources, that it might not be necessary, as was originally intimated by his right hon. Friend, to take the Income Tax for five years; and he added, that he trusted that at that time, the revival of the general Revenue of the country would be such that he should be able to dispense with a further continuance of the tax on Property. Now, what was the situation of the Revenue? He held in his hand a most important return, showing the amount of Public Revenue made up for each year, 574 to the month of October, derived from the customary sources. He found that the return of income for the year ending the 10th of October, 1842, and, taking only the ordinary Revenue—namely, the Customs, Excise, Post Office, Stamps, and Crown Lands, and, excluding all adventitious or incidental sources of revenue, amounted to 47,000,000l. Now, the measures for the removal and modification of various duties introduced to Parliament during that year and last year, apparently withdrew from the ordinary sources of revenue the sum of 1,400,000l. annual income. But, taking the Revenue for the year ending the 10th October, 1844, and only including the ordinary sources of revenue which he had stated, did there appear in the return of the same description of taxes a reduction of revenue to the amount of 1,400,000l.? No, certainly not; for he found that last year the amount of Revenue was not 47,000,000l., as it was in the year ending October, 1842, but more, it was 47,499,000l. If, therefore, from this they might fairly judge of the effect produced on the National Income by reductions judiciously made, by the activity which the remissions produced, and by the encouragement which they gave to industry, there was good ground for anticipating that, by pursuing a similar judicious course of reduction, such an increase would take place in the consumption of other articles, that in the period of the ensuing three years the same effect might be produced as in the antecedent period. On this ground, he trusted, that the measures which he hoped the House would be induced to sanction, although they might affect the Revenue immediately, still would, within the period which he had stated, give such an impetus and encouragement to industry, both agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial, that the increased consumption in other taxed articles would make up any deficiency which otherwise would arise, and place it in the power of Parliament to discontinue the Income Tax if it pleased, in the year 1848. He would leave it with confidence in the hands of Parliament to decide whether or no they would make further experiments similar to those which were so successfully carried out in 1842. The noble Lord said, that the effect of that reduction of duty had been a failure, because in some particular articles there was no indication of increased consumption. The noble Lord must excuse him for saying 575 that he thought he was inaccurate as to the facts; but even if the facts were correct, he was inaccurate as to his deductions from them. He was sure his right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax would hardly say that the reduction, or rather the removal of the duty on wool had not given a great extension to that most important branch of industry, and by giving an increase of employment to those engaged in that manufacture, enabled the persons thus employed to become consumers of exciseable articles which otherwise they would not have been enabled to obtain. Therefore it was taking a very narrow view of the subject to look at reduction of taxation as merely leading to the increased consumption of the particular article, instead of regarding its general effect. If the noble Lord's principle were to be adopted, it would be an argument against all repeal of taxation, as they never could show an immediate and direct gain, because the tax being removed, the article could not be productive of revenue. He, however, would proceed to show by practical experience that the effect of the removal of taxes which pressed on the industry of the country, was to enable the public to purchase other articles which were still subject to taxation. He said that the experience of past times supported this argument. It was proved incontestably by a paper which had been laid on the Table some time ago, with regard to the effect of the reduction of taxes. The period to which he should first allude, was that in which he was in office, and in the latter part of which year the noble Lord and his Friends succeeded to office. Shortly before the change of Government in 1830, there was a large reduction in taxation, and he found that in that in the succeeding year taxes to the amount of upwards of 5,000,000l. had been remitted. The amount of the Revenue previous to the remission was 50,700,000l., and it might be assumed that with this reduction of 5,000,000l. the amount of the Revenue would be reduced to 45,000,000l.; but they found that, in 1831, instead of the public Revenue being only 45,000,000l., it had recovered itself to such an extent that it had increased upwards of three millions, so that the Revenue that year amounted to 48,000,000l. If then in the course of three or five years after such extensive reductions of taxation, the Revenue was equal to what it was before the duties were modified, did it not afford a striking instance 576 of the effect of a judicious reduction of taxation? With respect to the sound and judicious reduction of duties in 1842, and that now proposed, he thought that he might safely assure the right hon. Member for Devonport that it was not without some grounds, if Providence was pleased to bless us with ordinary seasons, and if the population of this country continued to manifest that industry, enterprise, and talents which had hitherto distinguished them, that he concluded that at the expiration of the period for which the Property Tax was to be renewed, the House would be in the situation to consider whether or not it should abandon this tax, or whether it should continue it for a renewed period, with the view to further relaxation of restrictions on trade. The question, then, before the House was, as in 1842, whether they should avail themselves of the Property Tax, and by the continuance of it for a limited period afford extensive relief to the industry of the country, which they would be unable to do if they allowed the Income Tax to expire. It must be obvious to all who considered the nature of many of the taxes with which the Government proposed to deal, that they were imposed in periods of war, in times of great necessity, when but little regard was paid to the nature of the taxes imposed; provided they gave the amount which the public exigencies required, little regard was had to the effect of these taxes on foreign trade, because our merchants did not come into competition with those of other nations in foreign markets; indeed such competition had then no existence. The taxes at that period were not imposed with any regard to commercial purposes, or in consideration of the effect they might produce on trade, but the whole object was to derive from the people of this country that large amount of expenditure which was necessary for the national defence. It was to be expected, therefore, that many of them would be found on the return of peace little suited to the altered circumstances of the country, and would press on and cripple our trade, exposed as it was to competition in foreign markets. It was requisite, therefore, to consider whether they should not be repealed or materially altered. It was to be considered, whether by continuing this tax, they might not release the country from other burdens, which were not felt in time of war, but the effects of which were severely experienced in time of peace. He, therefore, trusted that the House would 577 concur in the proposition before it. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had moved an Amendment, the object and effect of which was, to exempt particular classes from the operation of the tax, and to make some arrangement by which these classes might get the benefit of the application of what he considered a more equal tax. Now, what was the project of the hon. and learned Gentleman? He said that land and funded property was realised capital, and therefore should bear the burden of this tax, but that other incomes, not being derived from realised property, should not bear the same proportion of burden. This was not a new argument, for it had been put forward when Mr. Pitt first introduced this tax. Mr. Pitt then said:—If you attempt to arrange your taxes in a manner which shall effect the diversion of capital from one employment to another, you will produce greater evils in the internal state of the country than by any other course you could possibly adopt.Mr. Pitt maintained—and justly — that it was not the duty of the Legislature to hold out inducements for the removal of capital from one description of employment to another, but that the adoption of the suggestion of drawing a distinction between one source of income and another, would hold out the encouragement to sell out of the funds or landed property, to invest it in such a manner as to exempt it from the payment of this tax. But was there any justice in such a proposition, considering the view with which this tax was proposed? The object was, by means of it, to remove from the public generally other taxes which were found to press on the industry of the country, and upon the consumers of several important articles. The removal of those taxes was not of more consequence to a man with an income derived from capital, than to one with a professional income of equal amount. The hon. and learned Member might depend upon it that he would feel the advantage of this arrangement in the reduced prices of various articles. The hon. Member must take into consideration the reduction in the price of sugar which he consumed, and of the reduced price of glass. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could not conceive any reason why the hon. and learned Gentleman, or any other person with a professional income, who would benefit by the reduced price of these articles of general 578 consumption, should not bear a due share of the burden of the Property Tax. But how did the hon. and learned Member propose that his plan should be carried into practice? The hon. Member proposed that every man should be called upon to make a clear and distinct return of the income which he enjoyed, and the sources from whence it was derived, and that this was afterwards to be verified in a manner to which he would presently advert. The noble Lord had objected to the inquisitorial nature of this tax. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) admitted that this was a serious objection; but would it be removed by the plan proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman? The hon. Member said that he did not so much object to this: but he admitted that there were the most serious objections to the inquisitorial nature of this tax entertained by the public; but would this be obviated if the proposition of the hon. Member was adopted? The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he would be satisfied with the oath of any party as to the amount of his income and its sources. The right hon. Member for Devonport said that he was altogether adverse to any such proposition, and that he conceived there were insuperable objections to it. Now he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) entirely concurred in this view of the case. The plan was entirely at variance with the principle on which they had been legislating for years. They had been for years removing unnecessary oaths, and, above all, those connected with the Revenue, from their Statute Book. The feeling of the House for years past had been to remove all the Custom House oaths, and others of a similar nature, connected with the Revenue, as they had become a scandal to the world. What was the effect of the system of oaths in former times in connexion with this tax? When Mr. Pitt introduced the tax, he called for returns of incomes which the parties might afterwards be required to verify on oath. At that time the return of the Revenue from this source was five millions; but when they adopted another course, and did not trust to oaths, the amount raised by the same tax was increased to fifteen millions. If, then, they consulted either the morality of the system, or looked at the fair produce of the tax, the proposition of the hon. Member was entirely inadmissible. The hon. Member stated, however, a reason in favour of his plan, which certainly appeared most singular. The hon. and learned 579 Gentleman had quoted from some book a passage respecting bodies of clerks insuring themselves against losses which they might incur from any of them being guilty of default; and he suggested that by some such means a security could be afforded against loss respecting the returns to the Income Tax. [Mr. Roebuck: No. not that.] At any rate, the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated a paradox, which he could not understand. The noble Lord had objected to several of the items of reduction in taxation which it was proposed to submit to the House. The noble Lord cast some ridicule on the reduction of the duty on auctions. If the noble Lord would only look at the results of the auction duties, he would at once see how objectionable they were, and how constantly liable they were to evasion. At present, when landed property was sold, it was liable to the duty of 1s. in the pound, but this money was not paid when the property was bought in. The consequence was, that property was apparently bought in, and afterwards disposed of privately at the price bid for it at the auction, and thus the payment of the duty was evaded. Personal property paid 7d. in the pound when it was sold, and means were constantly found of evading the duty. If the noble Lord had made the slightest inquiries of any person carrying on the trade of an auctioneer — if he had but read the Reports before Parliament on the subject, he hardly could have stated any of the objections which he had that night raised to the proposed removal of that tax. The noble Lord said that he would rather have coalesced with the gallant Member for Lincoln for the repeal of the duty on fire-insurance than have supported the removal of the auction duty. Now he would venture to assert, that if the noble Lord would take the trouble to look into the subject, and to read the Report of the Commissioners of Revenue Inquiry, he would not do anything of the kind. The noble Lord had said, with respect to the alterations in the Sugar Duties which would be proposed to the House on a future day, that the whole plan was founded on an erroneous principle, and that they would incur a great loss of revenue, without any adequate relief to the country. It would be improper for him then to enter upon a full discussion of this question, as it was foreign to the proposition immediately before the Committee, and the question must be brought forward at an early day, when it 580 could be more properly dealt with. He should, therefore, only deal with one or two points. He was directly at issue with the noble Lord as to there being no distinction with reference to the admission of foreign sugar the produce of slave-labour, and slave-grown cotton and tobacco, for in his opinion, to allow the introduction of the former was a direct encouragement of Slavery and the Slave-trader, which was not the case with the latter articles. He repeated, that there was this broad distinction between the cultivation of sugar by slaves, and of cotton and tobacco. He knew that such was the case. They had before them the fullest information upon that point, and they had evidence to show that in the states of Brazils which cultivated cotton, the proportion of Africans imported to the Creole Africans born in the Brazils was extremely small; while in the sugar estates the proportion of imported Africans was beyond all comparison with the number of those born in Brazil. The same kind of argument as that now urged against this distinction, was urged some thirty or forty years ago against the abolition of the Slave Trade, and they were told that that trade would go on whether they passed a Bill to abolish it or not, and that the only effect would be that, if they adopted that measure, the trade would be carried on with greater violation of humanity by other nations. That, in fact, all the ameliorating circumstances which had been adopted in connexion with it would be got rid of, and it would be carried on in a way to greatly aggravate the present sufferings. Now he considered that the argument which the noble Lord applied to the admission of slave sugar was equally unsound as that urged against the abolition of the Slave Trade. He, however, would not then go further into details on this point, as they must discuss the whole subject fully within a very short time. To-night it was sufficient to know that, generally speaking, the House was not disposed to object to the Resolutions before it. It was enough for the House to decide whether the Property Tax was for a limited time desirable, and whether they would consent to introduce in it an alteration which would undoubtedly destroy its efficiency as a measure of revenue, would aggravate the evils that that tax in particular was subject to in respect to its inquisitorial, and perhaps, vexatious character, and would tend to introduce a mode of ascertaining the income of individuals in a manner most 581 liable to evasion and fraud. The noble Lord had told them of the frauds that were practised in respect to this Income Tax; but he had altogether omitted to speak of the frauds that had been repeatedly practised in regard to many of their other taxes. Would the noble Lord tell him that there was more fraud induced by the Income Tax, than in the attempts to evade the heavy duties of the Excise — above all the auction duties? He would ask whether there was a greater temptation in the one case to make a false statement, with a view of relieving an individual of a small charge to which he was subject, than in the case of a manufacturer who perhaps carried on business on a great scale, where by a successful evasion of the duty to which he was properly liable, the most profitable and beneficial results were likely to follow? Let them set the fraud on the one side against that on the other, and do not attribute the liability of fraud to the imposition of this tax in particular, when it could be attributed to all taxes. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told them that this proposition to repeal the duty on glass was, in fact, to take off the duty from the chandelier and conservatory of the rich man, and to leave the windows of the poor man unaffected. The hon. and learned Gentleman by this observation appeared to be ignorant of the details of the subject upon which he was speaking, or he certainly would not have made such an observation. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had made himself acquainted with these details, he surely must have known that the duty upon the chandelier of the rich was out of all proportion low as compared with crown glass—the one was liable to a duty of about 50 per cent., whilst the crown glass was subject to a duty of 250 per cent., and produced to the Revenue upwards of 600,000l. The hon. and learned Gentleman must then excuse him for saying he thought that he had not given the subject the consideration which was necessary, or he would not have made this observation. As he had said before, there did not appear to be any disposition to combat the main part of the Resolution which had been placed in the Chairman's hands with respect to these disputed points. In respect to sugar, glass, and auction or customs' duties, he thought that he should best consult the convenience of the House, and promote the advantages of free discussion, if he should reserve those observations he should 582 otherwise be inclined to make until the period should come when those subjects would be naturally brought before the House. He would, therefore, forbear entering further into detail.
§ Mr. C. Wood
should not disturb that unanimity of the House to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded by disputing the necessity of continuing the Income Tax for a short and limited period, but he certainly had expected when the right hon. Gentleman rose, that he would have shown the grounds on which he expected that the sources of revenue left would rise so as to enable him to take off the Income Tax at the expiration of that period. He did think that something more was required than the assertion of a general principle, that in some cases the reduction of taxation was followed by an increase in other articles of revenue. The whole question turned on what the right hon. Gentleman stated—a judicious selection of subjects on which the reduction was to be made. They were perfectly agreed on this, that if the selection of articles for reduction were judiciously made, that in that case nothing was so likely and probable as that an increased consumption of those and other articles should follow; and they (the Opposition) calculated as much as the right hon. Gentleman, that the Revenue might rise to such an extent as to enable them to get rid of the evil of an Income Tax, provided the measures which were proposed for the modification of taxation were wisely chosen. But the point on which they differed, and which the right hon. Gentleman had left untouched was, whether the selection which the right hon. Gentleman had made was a judicious selection or not, and whether the selection afforded a reasonable prospect of the Revenue rising again in three years. With regard to the general argument against the Income Tax—to its inequality and injustice, and vexation, no attempts had been made to answer it. That tax had been acquiesced in because he believed that there was in the minds of the people of this country the most fixed determination to support the credit of the country. He believed more than that, that circumstances had contributed to its being borne with patience more than they could expect. In the manufacturing districts the Income Tax was calculated in a period of low profits; since that time trade had increased, and an amount of tax determined by a low scale of profits, had in fact been paid when the profits were high. He did not 583 know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to continue that imposition at the same amount as it had been during the last three years; if he did not, an outcry would be raised against it, in districts which have not hitherto contributed their proper amount. But above all the tax had been borne in the firm belief that it was intended merely as a temporary tax. Now, there seemed to be but little reason to suppose, from the announcement of the Government, that it was to be continued only as a temporary tax. The right hon. Gentleman thought it desirable that Parliament should keep this tax under control by a revision of it every three years. He had not heard anything from the right hon. Gentleman opposite which denied the conclusion that the effect and scope of these measures were to render it of a permanent and not of a temporary character. It was said when it was imposed, that it was to make good an existing deficiency of 2,500,000l., and even that sum was not thought sufficient; but the right hon. Gentleman had prayed in aid the accumulated deficiencies of three or four previous years. The majority of the House had acquiesced in it as a temporary tax, as was stated by the hon. Member for Brecon, and they who had opposed the tax had, on that ground, been left in a minority. If the prospect at that time had been held out of the continuance of this tax, as now proposed, he very much doubted whether it would have met with that universal acquiescence which it had done. Two grounds had been stated at the time, and referred to again on Friday night, by the noble Lord, the Member for Newark, which had led very much to acquiescence in the tax. One was, that it was a tax which pressed exclusively on the rich, and took no deductions from the employments of artizans. So far from its being a tax which pressed exclusively on the rich, he believed that it pressed on the labouring population by diminishing the means of giving them employment. But he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself could think that it was a tax which bore exclusively upon the rich; because, if he did, why did he not impose it in Ireland? He (Mr. Wood) remembered that the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it was a tax only to be imposed in time of war or great necessity; and if imposed it would be unjust if not imposed on Ireland as well as on England. He (Mr. Wood) had never been able to discover any reason why in Ireland gentlemen 584 of 5,000l. a year should not pay this tax as well as an English gentleman of 5,000l. per annum. The rich Irishman was exempt from the assessed taxes. He saw no reason why the rich man in Ireland should be exempt. But in that country it was notorious that the want of employment among the lower orders was greater than in England; and if there were any one country in the world in which it was desirable that a tax should be imposed which pressed exclusively on the rich, and not on the people generally, it was in Ireland. What did the right hon. Gentleman do? He exempted Ireland from this tax, supposed to press on the rich, and imposed a substitute in the Stamp Duty Tax, pressing on the population generally. It was impossible that he could be guilty of such inconsistency, if he really believed that the Income Tax pressed upon the rich, and not upon the poor. But they were told that from various articles upon which the duty was reduced in the Tariff of the right hon. Gentleman, they were to derive a benefit equal to the burden of the Income Tax. They had had some experience as to this; and he should be glad to know if any Gentleman would get up in the House and say that the reduction made on articles of his expenditure had made up for the Income Tax. He did not think that any Gentleman in the House would make that assertion. But that was the assertion made by the right hon. Baronet three years ago—that the Income Tax then imposed would be compensated by the reductions on other articles. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to articles on which the duties had been reduced, and wished the House to believe that there really had been a largely increased importation of those articles on which the duties had been reduced in the Tariff. He referred to the reduction of the duty on wool. His noble Friend beside him had voted with him for the reduction of that duty. It was not one of the articles on which a reduction had been made at the time of the Tariff. It was not a little remarkable that the importation of those articles in the Tariff on which reductions of duty had been made in 1842, had not materially increased, compared with those articles upon which no change had been made. The increased importation of articles upon which no change whatever had been made was greater, or, at least, as great as the increase on those on which the duty had been reduced. Referring to the Paper on the Import Duties, he did not 585 find that any articles on which the duties had been taken off had increased to any great extent, with the single exception of coffee. The articles of consumption, on which the duties were changed by the Tariff of 1842, and which had increased, were:—
When they went further, and saw what the great articles were in which increased importations had taken place, they found that they were actually articles which no one would say contributed in the slightest degree to the comfort and happiness of the great body of the people. The six articles on which the chief increase had taken place, were chamomile flowers, boots and shoes, bugles, watches, corks, and damasks. There was, indeed, one article of raw material—copper ore—of which 66,000 tons had been imported; and this, be it observed, is raised by slave labour. But when they came to the great articles of consumption, with which the right hon. Gentleman did not deal in the Tariff, they found that a great increase had taken place upon succades, oranges, East India sugar, molasses, tea, currants (before the reduction of the duty), and raisins. These were articles of which there had been great consumption, on which there were heavy duties untouched, and of which there had been an enormous increase of importation; besides these, on silk waste, cigars, nuts, sponge, and some other things there had had been great increase. The increase was not from the reduction of duty, but from the great prosperity of the country—not, he apprehended, a prosperity arising from the small increase of those articles on which the duty had been reduced; he, therefore, did not see the merit which the right hon. Gentlemen were claiming. They had been blessed with two or three good harvests, with increased exports to China, and with a revival of trade. But, in making this statement, he did not think that the increased prosperity of the country was owing to any reduction in the Tariff of 1842. But no doubt there was one great redeeming quality in the Income 586 Tax, which was the amount it produced. He was happy to see an abundant surplus, an overflowing Exchequer. He had thought it unjustifiable to impose so odious a tax for so small an amount as the right hon. Gentleman had calculated on, at the time of its imposition, viz., 2,700,000l. It had produced, in fact, nearly twice that sum; and the error of the right hon. Gentleman was the best ex post facto justification of his course. But now it was proposed to renew this tax on totally different grounds — grounds which did not exist when it was imposed — which totally changed the reason for assenting to it, and which it was now necessary to examine, in order to see what prospect there was of its being taken off in three years. They were now told that this tax was imposed for the purpose of carrying through a great experiment in taxation. He did not object to continuing it on those grounds. But it made a great difference what that experiment was. If it was to give time for the reduced duties to recover, that was one thing which afforded a chance of the Income Tax being taken off; if, on the other hand, the experiment was such as to amount to a total loss, with little prospect of the duties rising again, that was another and a totally different prospect; and it behoved the House, before it voted those measures which were proposed as an equivalent for the Income Tax, not to suffer itself to be led into a course which rendered the permanent continuance of the Income Tax necessary without the House having the power of helping itself. He knew that there were some Gentlemen behind him and around him who were in favour of a permanent Income Tax, and thought that a good source of permanent revenue. He did not believe that that was the opinion of the majority of the House. He believed the majority of the House to be opposed to the continuance of the tax as a permanent source of revenue. But he warned the House not to agree in the proposal to deal with the tax on sugar and with other taxes in the manner which had been submitted to them. They might delude themselves now with what hopes they pleased, but they would not have the power in three years of helping themselves. Every measure of that kind rivetted faster and faster the chains imposed on them, and from which they could not escape. He now wished to take the right hon. Gentleman's estimate with regard to the Receipt and Expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman had stated the Expenditure of last 587 year to be 49,700,000l. He (Mr. Wood) entirely concurred in the necessity of increasing the Navy, of providing additional fortifications to our ports, and of a large expenditure for the steam navy; and he had no reason to suppose but that the whole of that expenditure would be necessary. The right hon. Gentleman stated that his Receipts were—
1841. 1844. cwts. cwts. Potatoes 1,700 99,000 Lard 97 76,000 Rice of British Possessions 213,000 302,000 Coffee, British Possessions lbs. lbs. 14,000,000 20,000,000
Now, with that surplus he proposed to deal in rather a summary way. He (Mr. Wood) entirely concurred in the propriety of leaving out of calculation the receipt of the China money, inasmuch as that was an income of a merely temporary nature, though it was to be hoped that the Emperor of China would properly fulfil his contract. The right hon. Baronet proposed, with a surplus of 3,400,000l., to dispose, by one means or another, of revenue to the amount of 3,310,000l., leaving himself, on his own calculation, an actual surplus of only 90,000l. With regard to the articles on which the right hon. Baronet proposed to make alterations of duty, they might be divided into two classes—those on which merely a reduction of duty was to take place, and those on which the existing duty was to be wholly repealed, and the repeal of which would cause a total loss of revenue. Among the latter was the article of glass, the duty on which he (Mr. C. Wood) believed to be one of the most objectionable duties in the country; but still the repeal of the duty would be a total loss to the Revenue. The same might be said of the reductions of the small duties; the same of the abolition of the duties on cotton wool; the same, or very nearly the same, of the reduction of the auction duty. He could not see that it was a very good argument which the right hon. Gentleman had employed in behalf of that part of the scheme which related to the reduction of the auction duty, that nobody had ever yet discovered that it was a grievance. On this subject he must beg the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) to be a little cautious in future in quoting his predecessors in office. He, of course, was not aware what communications the right hon. Gentleman might have had with his right hon. Friend 588 (Mr. F. Baring), who was at present unfortunately absent, or what his means of knowing his right hon. Friend's opinions might be; but he rather thought that the right hon. Gentleman had very gratuitously assumed the statement which he (Mr. Goulburn) had put in his right hon. Friend's mouth; he rather thought that his right hon. Friend held a very different opinion with respect to the auction duty from that which the right hon. Gentleman had represented him to hold. However, he (Mr. C. Wood) did not suppose that the subject of the auction duty would be brought before the House before his right hon. Friend (Mr. F. Baring) would be able to attend in his place, and then the right hon. Gentleman would have an opportunity of learning specifically what his right hon. Friend's opinion on the matter really was. Then, the abolition of the export duty on coals was another total loss to the Revenue. He was not going to give an opinion then on the policy of that step; but he did not think that his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal (Mr. Warburton) would be very happy to see that duty taken off; for himself, he should only say that he did not find it very easy to reconcile the wisdom of now taking it off with the wisdom of imposing it two years ago. Whether the wisdom lay in putting it on or taking it off he could not say; but it was beyond his skill to reconcile the wisdom of the two courses. The duties on these sources of revenue, then, the right hon. Baronet proposed to remove altogethee; they amounted on the whole to 2,000,000l. sterling, which was so much total loss to the Revenue. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) had not told the House, nor had the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer told them, upon what other articles of revenue they expected such an increase of revenue as would make up that total loss. The right hon. Gentleman had already assumed an increase of 500,000l. in the Excise, and he (Mr. C. Wood) did not expect that a much greater increase would take place in that department. Then there were various parties, as the manufacturers of paper and of soap, and bricks, who were all pressing for a reduction of duty, for all whom a strong case might fairly be made out. All things considered, then, he did not expect any great increase of revenue from the Excise, beyond what the right hon. Gentleman had included in his estimate. Now, to come to the Customs. The First Lord of the Treasury 589 had told them, that last year there had been extraordinary receipts in that department. What hopes, therefore, were there of a further increase there? He did not mean to say that there would be no increase, for he hoped the country would go on in a state of increasing prosperity; but, at the same time, when they saw an increase so extraordinary, what reason was there to suppose that they would have a further increase? But there was one duty of great importance with respect to which it was worth while to observe how the right hon. Baronet proposed to deal. He was not going into the whole argument of the Sugar Duties, nor going to dwell on the total absurdity of the distinction attempted to be established between foreign free-labour sugar and slave-grown sugar; there would be plenty of opportunity for that; he was then only going to offer some remarks on the question considered as a question of revenue. Now as very great difference of opinion existed upon this subject among great authorities, it was very desirable that the question should be settled as early as possible. The right hon. Baronet estimated that 70,000 tons of British clayed sugar would be consumed next year; and on this sugar a higher rate of duty was to be paid. It was presumed that these 70,000 tons were East India sugar, and if this was so, and this East India sugar was to be admitted on worse terms than at present, then the growers would have great reason to complain of the harshness of the alterations as regarded their interests; because a few years ago the duties had been equalised with those on West Indian sugar, and on the faith of that arrangement capital had been sent out to the East Indies, and engagements made for a supply of sugar from that country to this, which would, of course, be affected by the change. If the new system were established, and a new rate of differential duty imposed, those persons would certainly have reason to complain. But if this was not so, and if the sugar from this source would not come in as white clayed sugar, the right hon. Baronet's differential duty of 2s. 4d. a cwt. was thrown to the winds. That would be a loss of 160,000l. to the Revenue. Whether the result of this part of the plan would be a hardship on the people of India, or a loss of 160,000l. to the Revenue, he should not take upon him to decide. With respect, however, to the amount of protection which the right hon. Gentleman said he gave to British 590 Colonial sugar, he must say that while he kept his promises to the ear, he broke them in spirit. He adhered to the letter in retaining that protection at about 10s. per cwt. But a protection of 10s when the whole duty on foreign sugar was 23s, was very different from a protection of 10s. when the duty on foreign sugar was 34s.; indeed, he did not think there was anybody in the House who would maintain that a 10s. differential duty, where the lowest duty imposed was 14s., was the same thing in reality as a 10s. differential duty when the lowest duty was 24s. It was quite true, the present duty gave a protection of 40 per cent. in favour of British Colonial sugar; but, according to the plan of the right hon. Baronet, it would be 65 per cent.; and if all the supply came as white clayed sugar, this differential duty would be a differential protective duty in favour of British Colonial sugar of no less than 100 per cent. He would not go further info the subject than was necessary, for he wished to deal with it as respected revenue only; and he begged to ask the right hon. Baronet how he expected to get the revenue from sugar which he had estimated it would yield? The highest consumption of sugar ever known in this country took place in 1831,—that amount was 207,000 tons; it was the highest consumption ever known. Now, it had often been stated that 17½lb. was the consumption per head in that year. That amount of consumption with the present amount of population would give 210,000 tons for the necessary supply, and that, therefore, was the greatest amount of consumption that we could with certainty calculate upon. The right hon. Gentleman expected a consumption of 250,000 tons; he anticipated an increase in the consumption to the extent of one-fifth more next year than had been known in the year of the greatest consumption; and unless that great increase took place in this one year, the right hon. Baronet would not get the revenue on which he calculated. As he (Mr C. Wood) had said, he only meant to discuss the subject as regarded revenue: all he could only state at present, that in the amount of revenue which the right hon. Baronet calculated upon, he had already reckoned the duties arising from an enormous increase in the consumption of sugar, and an increase much greater than he could get in the course of a year; and he (Mr. C. Wood) wanted to know whether it was on a still greater increase in the consumption 591 of sugar it was that the right hon. Baronet reckoned to making up the loss to the Revenue by the reductions he proposed. The right hon. Baronet had no right to calculate on an increase of consumption and consequent revenue from sugar beyond that he had already assumed; and therefore he (Mr. C. Wood) said, that neither from the Excise nor the Customs could the House expect such an increase of revenue as would make up for the effect of the right hon. Baronet's reductions. At the same time, he had not the slightest doubt, that by a judicious reduction of taxation, all that was required might have been done. He had not the slightest doubt that if the Sugar Duties, for instance, had been dealt with on a just principle, a great increase to the Revenue might have been realised, and an enormous boon conferred upon the people of this country. As it was, he thought that the reductions on sugar were so much revenue in great part thrown away, and not given as a boon to the population of this country, but as a boon to the planters. He (Mr. C. Wood) thought that the right hon. Baronet had not dealt with other duties as he might have done. For instance, he might have dealt with the Spirit Duties so as to produce an increase of revenue from them. He thought that if the Customs' Duties had been dealt with properly, the House might have been able to take off the Income Tax by the end of the three years; but if those duties should not be so dealt with, they might depend upon it they would not be able to take off that tax at the end of the period for which it was about to be reimposed. The principle on which the right hon. Gentleman had legislated with respect to the Timber Duties and to Canadian corn were those which he now applied to sugar; and the House might take warning that if they adopted that principle now, they would have to endure the Income Tax for the rest of their lives. The principle the right hon. Gentleman proceeded on was, to lower the duties on Colonial produce, and put a high differential duty on foreign produce; the necessary result was a minimum of revenue from both sources. Thus the reduction of the duty on British Colonial sugar would apply to the great mass of the sugar which supplied our consumption; and thus diminish very greatly the revenue arising from that source; the high differential duties always operated to exclude those products which paid the highest contributions to the Revenue; the consequence was, that from both sources the 592 least possible amount of income was produced. This, it was clear, had been the case hitherto; and if the House of Commons adopted that course, indirect taxation would fail as a source of revenue; and they would have no resource but direct taxation; that was to say, no resource but the Income Tax for ever; and this would undoubtedly be the case, unless they were prepared to reduce their differential protective duties. By abolition or reduction of those duties it was that they could alone hope to raise their revenue up to their necessary expenditure. He should say no more on this subject; he merely wished to warn the House in time of the inevitable consequences of the measures now pursued. The statement of the right hon. Baronet had opened the whole of the Budget for remark; and he wished the House to be warned in time what the necessary consequences of those measures were, that they might be prepared when the time came to say how far they would sanction a course which would render necessary the establishment of the Income Tax as a permanent tax. He thought it would be right that they should have this question fairly and fully discussed, namely, whether the Income Tax was to be regarded as a permanent source of revenue? Let it be discussed on its own merits — on its own ground—but let us not be led on step by step into a course from which it would be impossible after a time to extricate ourselves. Passing, however, from this subject, he came now to the general financial statement of the right hon. Baronet. He did not think that the position in which the right hon. Baronet would leave the Revenue by these measures of his, would be very satisfactory to the people of this country; he knew of no point in their policy which had been made more a matter of objection against, the late Ministry than their financial policy; and he believed that such objections to a certain extent were well founded, and that they were open to those attacks; he believed that many monied men had been alarmed by the state in which the finances of the country had been for two or three years previous to 1842. They thought that the finances of this country ought not to be left without a surplus of revenue above expenditure in each year. But that evil had been cured, and for some years now the Revenue had shown a surplus each year; but when the country had smarted under the pressure of the Income Tax for so many years, it was 593 too much that at the end of that time they should have a surplus no greater than they frequently had seen in years previous to the imposition of the Income Tax. The House was aware that such was the case on the right hon. Baronet's own calculation: 3,400,000l. was the surplus the right hon. Baronet estimated he should have; of this he proposed to dispose of no less than 3,310,000l. by reduction or abolition of duties, leaving an estimated surplus on the 5th of April, 1846, of 90,000l. This, and no more, was the surplus with which he proposed to meet the year to come. But then the House were bound to look whether the right hon. Baronet was justified in calculating that he could have the whole amount of revenue, without which he would not have a surplus even of 90,000l. Now, unless the right hon. Baronet had an increased importation of sugar to the extent he expected, and so got the whole amount of income which he calculated he should have from that source, he would not have a surplus even of 90,000l. He (Mr. C. Wood) did not believe that the right hon. Baronet would get that increased importation; he did not believe that he could get it within the year; and he (Mr. C. Wood) was confirmed in his opinion by many authorities, who thought, as he did, that the increase in the importation of sugar would not be by any means so great in the course of the year as the right hon. Baronet expected it would be. But if this increase did not take place, a very considerable amount must be deducted from the amount of revenue which the right hon. Baronet expected to have. The right hon. Gentleman calculated on an increased consumption of 43,000 tons; but he might be mistaken; and if this increase did not take place, how could the Revenue stand? He (Mr. C. Wood) assumed, that the sugar which was higher taxed, would, in this case, not be brought in. The right hon. Baronet expected that 15,000 tons of foreign clayed sugar would produce 420,000l.; 5,000 tons of foreign Muscovado sugar would produce 116,000l.; and 23,000 tons of British clayed would produce 375,000l.; making altogether the expected increase of 43,000 tons of sugar, and producing 911,000l. of revenue. This 911,000l. of revenue depended entirely on these 43,000 tons of sugar to be imported into this country beyond the greatest amount of importation ever yet known. The right hon. Baronet's calculation, therefore, in which he claimed no more, on his 594 own showing, than the paltry surplus of 90,000l., depended after all, on a great uncertainty as to no less a sum than 910,000l.; and, indeed, if the supposition should be correct that East Indian sugar would not pay the duty of clayed sugar, but only that of Muscovado, it was perfectly possible that the right hon. Baronet's estimate might fall short no less than one million of what he calculated would be his revenue; but, taking only half that amount, to the extent of which he (Mr. C. Wood) was told by high authorities that it was perfectly possible the right hon. Baronet might be mistaken, and supposing that there should be an actual deficiency at the end of the year of one-half a million, then it would be found that with an Income Tax put on for the purpose of supporting the credit of the country, and maintaining a surplus of revenue over expenditure, the right hon. Baronet, nevertheless, would be left with a deficiency to that extent. It was true there was the China money to set against this half-million; but still, giving the right hon. Baronet the China money, the Revenue would only just equal the Expenditure, and that he did not think a right state of things for this country. Were the House perfectly sure that they would have no expenses to meet in the course of the Session, which had not been announced to them as yet? He would only refer to one subject. A Report had been made by the Commission appointed to inquire as to Harbours of Refuge on the South-east Coast—he (Mr. C. Wood) did not know whether the Report was on the Table of the House, but it had been printed in all the papers, and they had recommended the establishment of certain Harbours of Refuge, and a station for steamers. He (Mr. C. Wood) did not say whether the whole of the recommendations of that Commission could be adopted or not; but, however that might be, the Commissioners recommended works to be undertaken which would cost 4,000,000l. and upwards, and he (Mr. C. Wood) thought that no time ought to be allowed to pass by before something was done; the present year ought not to pass away without some works being commenced. Too much time had been lost already in the inquiry, and he thought it was absolutely incumbent on the Government to undertake these works without further loss of time. That, of course, would demand a large expenditure. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him 595 that a deficiency was much more likely to take place at the end of the year than a surplus. He must say that it was not for the honour of the country that they should commence the financial year with such prospects. Let them look to the other side of the Atlantic; he did not wish to dwell on the subject, but it was impossible to shut one's eyes to what was going on there; and the possibility of a national dispute with the United States on a question which ought to have been settled in the last Treaty with that country; he would not say any more, but there was not a man who could say that it would be a wise mode of beginning the financial year without a prospect of a much more considerable surplus than the right hon. Baronet anticipated. He (Mr. C. Wood) had stated already that 90,000l. would be the actual surplus; that was the utmost the right hon. Baronet stated as likely to accrue; and he (Mr. C. Wood) had shown, that in order to get even that surplus the right hon. Baronet must have an increase in the importation of sugar, which he (Mr. C. Wood) could not think was possible. He regretted that no Member of the Government had yet uttered a single word on this subject; that they had not been favoured with any statement beyond the general declaration of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, and that to his apprehension was a statement of a most unsatisfactory character. With regard to the immediate question before the House, he felt no hesitation as to the course he should adopt. It was true, according to the statement of the right hon. Baronet, that, in the year immediately ensuing, there might be a surplus revenue of upwards of 1,000,000l., even if the Income Tax were not continued; but it must be remembered, that half-a-year's Income Tax, 2,600,000l. would be brought into the account of the next financial year. If they did not look beyond the next year, it might be possible to give up the Income Tax; but, in the following year, 2,600,000l. (produced to the Revenue by the Income Tax) ceasing, there would be a deficiency of at least 1,250,000l.; and in the following year that deficiency would be still further increased by the termination of the payments from China. They must, therefore, provide either by the Income Tax, or by the substitution of other taxes, to meet such deficiency, and the increasing deficiency which would otherwise result. For his own part he 596 considered it far better to continue the Income Tax for a limited period than to impose any new taxes; and on these grounds he did not hesitate to give his vote in favour of that proposition, though he would strongly object to any attempt at rendering the Income Tax a permanent source of revenue. He would only say farther, with regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck), that if they were dealing with the Income Tax as a permanent tax, it might be advisable to consider whether it might not be modified; but as this was not the case, he would vote for the proposition simply to renew that tax for a limited period.
£ From ordinary sources 47,900,000 Income Tax 5,200,000 Making a total receipt of 53,100,000 The Expenditure was 49,700,000 Leaving a surplus of 3,400,000
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that some of the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House had been at great pains in endeavouring to prove that the Income Tax was not merely to be continued for a limited period, but that it was intended to become a tax in perpetuity. Now he did not hesitate to express his conviction that great advantage had resulted from that tax. There could be no doubt that the Income Tax had relieved us from that deficiency of revenue which existed some years since, and against which the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. C. Wood) had warned the present Government. He would state the grounds upon which he approved the continuance of the Income Tax. The Income Tax had had the effect of greatly improving public credit; and the consequence was that not only had the nation been relieved from the payment of a large amount of interest on the public debt, but the general rate of interest had been greatly reduced. He felt himself particularly called upon to state that he considered great benefit had been conferred upon the country whence he came, which was very destitute of capital, by that tax; for its effect had been to relieve the great distress of the landed interest. Numbers of landed proprietors in Ireland had been enabled to relieve their estates. Did hon. Gentlemen think that was not a public advantage? [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh and mock if they chose, but he could show them that the Income Tax had benefited the landed proprietors, and that benefit had extended to all classes of the people. Much of the landed property in Ireland had been encumbered to so great an extent that the owners were unable to improve their estates, or to afford employment to the labouring poor. He was acquainted with a number of persons, some 597 of whom were his particular friends, who, in consequence of the reduced rate of interest had been relieved from their embarrassments, and who were consequently enabled to undertake extensive improvements on their estates, which afforded advantageous employment to the poorer classes, Now, if this was more generally the case, it would have a powerful effect in preventing that excitement and agitation which had been the bane of Ireland; and the people would become industrious, happy and contented. If Parliament consented to renew the Income Tax for three years longer they would afford security for the maintenance of public credit; and the spirit of enterprise which had recently been excited in Ireland would be greatly extended, with most beneficial results to all classes of the people, especially to the labouring population. It was mainly in consequence of the reduction in the rate of interest on money that so many railways had been projected in Ireland; and he believed the rigid scrutiny instituted with regard to those schemes by the Board of Trade would secure to persons who invested capital in such Irish enterprises the probability of certain remuneration. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. C. Wood) had expressed an opinion that Ireland ought to be subject to the Income Tax. Now, he was ready to avow his conviction that the Irish nation owed a debt of gratitude to Parliament for the consideration which had been evinced towards her when the Income Tax was imposed; and he applauded the soundness of that policy which had induced Government to adopt other means for raising that portion of the revenue which Ireland was called upon to contribute. This circumstance, he considered, must prove to the Irish people the advantages they derived from English connexion; and he felt bound to add that in the plans which had been promulgated by Government during the present Session, a fair and a kind consideration for the interests of Ireland had been manifested. He conceived that the financial policy of the Government was calculated to confer great benefit upon Ireland. If their proposals were adopted, the upper classes in that country would be relieved from serious and pressing embarrassments; the farmers would be enabled, by the extension of railway communication, to send their stock and produce to markets with economy, regularity and despatch; and the employment afforded to the lower classes would estrange 598 their minds from exciting political topics, and induce them to devote their energies to the cultivatiom of the soil, and the improvement of their circumstances. He believed that the abolition of the duty on glass and of the auction duty, proposed by the right hon. Baronet, would be a great boon to Ireland. The latter measure had he believed, been suggested by the Commission presided over by the Earl of Devon, to whom he was happy to take this opportunity of expressing his gratitude. The repeal of that tax, which had led to great abuses, and which was absolutely unprofitable to the public, was, he considered, a most humane and judicious step. He would only, in conclusion, express his fervent hope that the measures adopted by Parliament with regard to Ireland might promote the peace and happiness of that country.
§ Mr. G. Bankes
said, that he felt assured the hilarity which had prevailed in the House during the speech of the hon. and gallant Member was occasioned by the gratification afforded from his account of the prosperous condition of Ireland; and he trusted that the Irish people, with that sense of justice for which they were so eminently distinguished, would now insist on bearing an equal share of the taxation of the Kingdom. For he did assure his hon. Friend, that there were at this moment, in many parts of England, depression as severe, distress as alarming, as any which the hon. Member described as having prevailed, and as having been happily overcome in the sister kingdom. It was a circumstance of pain to him and to his friends that they were called upon at that moment of agricultural depression to give their judgment on that important question, and to say whether or no they would for three years more endure that heavy tax, which was imposed at a period even when matters seemed for this interest far more flourishing than at present. The noble Lord opposite and the hon. and learned Member for Bath, had alluded to this interest. He had, indeed, no observations to make in reply to the speeches either of his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, for they had not in any way mentioned or alluded to that interest. He (Mr. Bankes) could not bat notice that circumstance with regret, because undoubtedly the Government had been apprised in plain terms that great distress did exist. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had taken occasion to 599 speak of the predominating and preponderating power of the agricultural interest at a time, as he (Mr. Bankes) thought, not very happily chosen for the observation. But if it were true that they had that predominating and preponderating power, as the hon. and learned Member had asserted—a power so great that they could govern even those who sat in the high places of Government, surely a more generous or a more noble interest could not be found; for then the Members of that interest had been the creators and promoters of the Budget of the right hon. Baronet—of a Budget which gave everything to the manufacturing and commercial interest, and did nothing for the agricultural. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had observed upon the great attention which had been paid to Manchester and Glasgow, more especially in regard to the repeal of the import duty upon raw cotton; and he knew that he gave expression to the feelings of the whole agricultural body when he said, that he rejoiced in the repeal of this restriction, trusting that the manufacturers would derive all the benefit which they anticipated from this measure, and well assured that the true interests of manufacture and agriculture are so intimately involved the one with the other, that the prosperity of the one must lead to the benefit of both. He felt no jealousy; but he must say that not only in the reduction of taxation and in the reduction of duties, but it was in the increase of expenses also, that the same attention to the manufacturer was observable. Why were the Navy Estimates to be increased upwards of 1,000,000l.? Why but because that in the China seas and in the Pacific new regions had opened to our commerce, and larger armaments were required to protect it. Why, too, was there no reduction in our Army Estimates? Was it that our agricultural population being impoverished and distressed are dangerous and disaffected? Certainly not. He believed that there was not at this moment, except for recruiting, one soldier in the county that he represented. But it was to protect their Colonies. The army must be so maintained; and why so protect our Colonies, but for our commerce? Did they complain of that? Were they jealous of that interest? By no means. But, then, if the commercial interest said the agriculturists were all-powerful and predominant, let them not be taunted with being also selfish and 600 unjust. The noble Lord, the Member for London, had also alluded to the agricultural interest; but the noble Lord had not as yet held out great hopes to the agriculturists if they should look to another government to aid them. The noble Lord had not, indeed, spoken so warmly against the agricultural monopoly as it was called, as he had perhaps at some other periods; but he had alluded to a subject which had before not unfrequently been touched on in that House, with reference to the abolition of protection, and which had been referred to in a tone of triumph. He meant the noble Lord's allusions to the silk trade, with regard to which the noble Lord said, that up to the moment when the duty was so greatly altered, and protection to our home manufacture so much reduced, there were great variations from high prosperity to low embarrassment. At last, however, the question was settled, as they all knew, by crushing entirely the whole class of people then existing by silk manufacture in London—a class very large numerically, though comparatively small when viewed in comparison with that preponderating portion of the population of the Kingdom which depended upon agricultural pursuits. With such an instance before their eyes, of destruction caused by the extinction of a monopoly which protected that smaller class, he trusted that they would find in that example no inducement for abolishing the protection on monopoly, if they pleased so to call it, which sustained the interests of this far larger class. And at the present moment they had this peculiar advantage in sustaining the argument in favour of protection, that the hon. Member for Durham had informed them that if there were a free trade in corn that article would be somewhat dearer than now; and he said that in the Channel Islands, where there was a free trade in corn, it was actually selling at a higher price than here. They were, then, as it appeared, at this moment supporting a monopoly which made food cheap. With reference to the present Vote, those who felt that they represented districts and people who were greatly distressed, could yet only act as circumstances would enable them; and, as they saw that Gentlemen on both sides of the House were about to support the proposal for an Income Tax, they could do nothing but accommodate their votes to the same proposal; for they had no other choice. He should certainly view with very great alarm the prospect of the permanent imposition of that tax, when 601 he knew that the farmers had been paying it during the past year (the greater proportion of them,) out of their capital instead of out of their profits. His impression was, that the farmers, as a class, were ill able to pay it, and he should be glad, during the discussion on these financial measures, to support any proposition that could benefit the agricultural community, and hoped to find that some opportunity for doing so would be afforded.
§ Mr. Warburton
was quite prepared to agree with the hon. Member for Halifax, that if Government were prepared to act with energy in laying open the industry of the country in those great branches of trade in which it could be laid open, by abolishing great monopolies, the revenue of this country might, in three years, be made to equal the expenditure. He altogether disapproved of the proposal of the right hon. Baronet with respect to the differential duties upon sugar, a proposal which not only went to continue the differential duty in favour of West Indian sugar, but to increase that duty. It ought to be recollected, that nearly all the West Indian sugar which comes to this country, comes in the state of what is called Muscovado sugar, whilst that which comes from the East Indies is principally in the state of clayed sugar; so that the proposal of the right hon. Baronet was practically to add 2s. 4d. to the differential duty; and make it 12s 4d. instead of 10s. The sugars which came respectively from the East Indies and the West Indies might be divided generally into Muscovado and clayed sugar; and it would therefore be seen, that the proposal of the right hon. Baronet would have the effect of increasing the differential duty to the amount of 2s. 4d., with respect to a great portion of that sugar. He should not have risen on that occasion if it had not been to refer to some remarks which were made upon his observations on Friday night, on the subject of a Property and Income Tax. He should on that occasion state his belief that the prosperity of the country would be found to increase if, instead of a system of indirect duties and taxation, they adopted a system of direct taxation. He believed, that if such a system were adopted in preference to that which is now in operation, the amount of such direct taxation which would reach the revenue would be so much larger than in the case of indirect taxation, that the country would be greatly benefited by it. He thought, that since the proposal of the right hon. Baronet had been 602 brought forward, he had been able to notice symptoms in the House of perceiving the advantage that might be derived from direct taxation, instead of the indirect taxation which now prevailed; for they had been told the other night of the great service which it would prove to the glass manufacture, if, instead of the trammels under which the Excise Laws placed that manufacture at present, they adopted in reference to it a direct system of taxation. He thought he perceived, in the approval of the proposal of the right hon. Baronet, a desire to adopt a different principle to that which is now applied to the glass manufacture, an approval of the adoption of direct over indirect taxation. He believed that the direct system would be a great advantage, and that the mass of the artisans and small traders would quickly participate in those benefits, and join in their approval of it. However, considering the manner in which the present amount of direct taxation was levied, he would join with the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in characterising it as unequal. He did not, with the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal, prefer that direct tax to an indirect taxation, because it did not operate in the sister country, or because it had the effect of forcing capital from employment in England into Ireland, for he did not think that this formed a recommendation of the tax. The present plan, as proposed by the right hon. Baronet, was to lay on the Income Tax for a limited period, and place short annuities and long annuities on the same policy. What could be more unjust than to tax short annuities and long annuities at the same ratio for a short period? That principle was in itself condemnatory. Let them suppose, for the sake of argument, that the tax was to be imposed for one year. It was, in that case, proposed that the man who had an income from landed estate, from fee simple, and the man who had an income derived from a lease which was just expiring were to pay the same proportion; what could be imagined more unjust than that? It was a most unequal mode of levying the tax, and was contrary to the principle on which direct taxation ought to be established. Now, let them look at the substitute which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had offered them for that unequal and unjust system. He could not agree to the proposition of the hon. Member for Bath; for he did not care whether a man's income arose from his professional toil or his manufacturing or commercial industry; but he maintained 603 that it was an unequal system to make short annuities and long annuities pay in the same proportion—to make a short annuity, arising, if they would, from professional toil, which was worth only six years' purchase, pay in the same proportion as an annuity arising out of landed estate. The substitute which the hon. and learned Member for Bath offered was this, and he (Mr. Warburton), in looking at it, would suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Income Tax was to continue only for the space of one year. The hon. and learned Member for Bath said, that he would lay on a heavier per centage on incomes from land, or the funds, than upon incomes derived from professional toil, or manufacturing or commercial exertion. Why, he would ask, did the hon. and learned Member make that distinction? If he proposed to lay on a heavier per centage on the person who had land in perpetuity, or for a period subsequent to the expiring of the year—if he taxed his reversionary income for all the years after the expiring of the Income Tax—then that principle would apply both to the person in possession and the person who had the reversionary interest. If he would apply the tax not only to the income for the year during which the tax should be proposed to continue, but also to subsequent years, then he must on the same principle apply it to those who had a reversionary interest, for that was the only mode by which he could equalise such taxation. If he proposed not only to tax the income during the year, but also the income from landed or funded property which was to arise in subsequent years, then, in order to equalise the application of that principle, he ought to lay it upon those who had annuities in reversion, and to tax parties in reversion would be clearly impracticable. If a person expected a reversion at the end of three years, it might happen that he would not be in possession at that period;—or if his annuity were to depend on the expiration of a lease, he might not be in possession of it at the end of three years. The proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath examined by that light was clearly impracticable as well as unjust. He was of opinion that levying this tax for a limited period, was the source of its injustice; and, that the substitute which the hon. Member for Bath proposed, would be found to be impracticable. The only just mode would be to establish a system of direct taxation for a longer period. It was plain that its injustice was proportionate 604 to the shortness of the period for which it was established; and the only way by which it could be made just was by making it permanent, but he did not think that there was any probability of its being made so. If he thought that there was the smallest chance of defeating the plan—looking at it as a tax for only three years—he should—although he differed in almost every political opinion from the hon. Member for Dorsetshire,—vote with that Gentleman. He believed, however, there was no chance of effecting such an alteration in the measure proposed as would make such a system of direct taxation just and equal.
§ Mr. R. Palmer
could add his testimony to the speech of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, as to the view which the agriculturists took of the proposed measures of the right hon. Baronet; for he was able to state that great disappointment prevailed throughout the country amongst those who were connected with agriculture, in consequence of the distribution of taxation which had been proposed by the right hon. Baronet in his speech on Friday night. No one who heard the speech of the right hon. Baronet, in introducing his financial measures, could fail to admire the talent and ability which he exhibited. In his power of making a financial statement, he exceeded any Minister whom he remembered; and he only regretted that, in the able display of the right hon. Gentleman on Friday night, he had not dwelt more upon the condition of those whose whole subsistence was derived from the land, and whose profits had been decreasing for the last three years. It was supposed by that class—he could not say whether justly or not — that the depression which existed amongst agriculturists, and the decrease of their profits for the last three years, had been produced by the measures affecting agriculture which had been introduced during that period: and, under those circumstances, he did not think it was too much for them to look forward to some proposition for the relief of agriculture in the Budget; particularly when, previous to its being laid before the House, it had been ascertained that there was so much surplus revenue. He regretted very much that no such proposition had been made; and that when such a reduction of taxation was proposed, the agriculturists had been passed unnoticed, or, at least, not mentioned until the last line or two, according to the reports of the right hon. Baronet's speech which he had seen. It 605 was true that the right hon. Baronet might expect the financial measures which he proposed would be beneficial to the commercial and agricultural interests; and he hoped that in such an anticipation the right hon. Baronet would not be mistaken; but there was still a considerable degree of disappointment experienced amongst the agricultural class. He would not contend that the reduction of taxation which was proposed, would not be generally beneficial; for so extensive a reduction as three millions and a half must be felt somewhere. He hoped it would be felt by all parts of the community; and he sincerely hoped that it would be felt by the agricultural portion of the population, in common with others. He had heard with satisfaction, when the renewal of the Income Tax for three years was proposed, an opinion expressed by the right hon. Baronet, that if the House consented to its continuance, it was probable the Government would be enabled to propose its remission at the end of that period; and he (Mr. Palmer) had a strong opinion that his impression was correct from what he had heard at the other side of the House. He hoped that the time was not far distant when they might look for the remission of the tax altogether, for it would be an intolerable evil if it were made permanent. He agreed with the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and other Gentlemen opposite as to the odiousness of the tax; and he remembered when a Nobleman, not now in the House, brought forward in the House of Commons a proposition for the repeal of the Malt Tax, and it was suggested that a Property Tax should be laid on instead, the right hon. Baronet made use of very nearly the same expressions with respect to the Income Tax which were now used at the other side of the House, In 1842, when the question was under discussion, he expressed his opinion that the mode proposed of levying the tax was unequal and unjust—namely, that those persons whose incomes arose from permanent property, or who had property in the funds, which they could leave to whom they pleased, and who, consequently, had a greater stake in the country, should be placed under the same circumstances with respect to the tax as those whose income was of a fluctuating character. He at that time expressed his opinion that those whose incomes arose from permanent property ought to pay a larger per centage than those whose income arose from trades or professions, and whose income was consequently 606 of a fluctuating character. He stated that three years ago, and he was still of the same opinion; and he should vote with the hon. and learned Member for Bath, if it were not that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member would, if carried, have the effect of leaving out altogether from the operation of the tax all trades, professions, or offices. He was of opinion that those who came under that denomination should not be taxed in the same proportion as those whose incomes were of a more permanent description; but then the hon. and learned Member for Bath would see that the Amendment, unless he was mistaken, proposed to omit them altogether. His opinion as to the inequality of the mode of imposing the tax was unchanged; and if the hon. and learned Member for Bath proposed a Motion which would have the effect of making it more equal in its operation, he (Mr. Palmer) should willingly vote with him; but he could not support a proposition which, if he were not mistaken, would omit the incomes arising from professions, employments, or offices, from the Schedule.
§ Mr. T. M. Gibson
said, that to the complaints of the hon. Member who had last addressed the House, and the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, of the neglect of the agricultural interest, the most appropriate answer which could be given was that which had been given on a former occasion by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with respect to Ireland, namely, that concession had been carried to its farthest limits. It would be highly satisfactory to the House if the hon. Member (Mr. Palmer) and his Friends could point out the particular grievances of which they complained, and explain how they affected them. He had, on the contrary, heard it stated, that the agricultural interest had been favoured with great exemptions in the distribution of the national burdens, and that care had been taken to throw the largest amount of those burdens on the manufacturing and commercial community, and that in the imposition of many important items of taxation the agriculturists were left out. The immediate question before the House now, however, was the Income Tax, and to that he should apply himself; and though he felt a little difficulty with respect to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, yet he could not go altogether with the hon. Member for Kendal, although he agreed with him that, when a man gets rid of his 607 income, he also gets rid of his Income Tax. It was quite true that, at the end of all time, if a man could be supposed to be immortal, and to have enjoyed his income during all time, he would have paid his tax constantly, if it were permanent; whilst the more fortunate individual, who lost his income after the lapse of three or four years, would have escaped the tax, by the loss of his income, and could not make a similar complaint. It appeared to him that a different measure of proportions ought to be applied to the income arising from professional and commercial exertion, from that which arose from permanent property; but he was not disposed to leave out altogether the incomes arising from professional and commercial exertion. He was not one of those who thought that offices, and professions, and trades, ought not to pay some Income Tax; and the most reasonable plan appeared to him to be, as had been proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, to capitalise property for that purpose. In the Income Tax of 1692 he found, on reading over the statements referred to by the hon. Member for Montrose, that in manufactures and trade the value of the capital employed was taken. Then the Income Tax was calculated upon the interest which was computed to be received. If a manufacturer's mill and machinery were worth, say 100l., and the profits of his business were expected to realise 5 per cent., then such a person had to pay a tax of 5l.. In 1692, the amount was 4s. in the pound. That was a time when the country was much in want of money; and, therefore, the Government was unwilling to remit any tax. There was a war with France, and taxation was carried to that extent that there were taxes upon births, upon marriages and burials, upon widowers and bachelors; but even then, it was not thought right to put the same tax upon trades and professions as upon real property. If this had been done before, why might it not be done now? and it appeared to him that the most reasonable proposition would be to appoint a Select Committee to inquire whether or not the same amount should be imposed upon trades and professions as upon real property, and if not, what amount should be levied upon the former, and also whether a less inquisitorial mode could not be devised of assessing the tax upon trades and professions. Considering it to be unjust to impose the same duty upon trades and professions as upon real property, he 608 should give his vote in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath; but he should have preferred it if that hon. and learned Gentleman had allowed the present proposition to pass, and taken an opportunity in Committee to propose Amendments to effect the object which he now had in view.
candidly confessed that seeing the situation of the country, knowing that to establish credit on the firmest basis was the surest sign of prosperity in a country, and feeling that no reduction of taxation upon land could be obtained without an Income Tax carried on for three or four years longer, he felt that to give activity to commerce and manufactures, and in some degree to alleviate the indirect taxation upon agriculture, the Income Tax would be on the whole beneficial to the country. He did not mean if rendered permanent; he meant that it should be continued only for a short time. If he were asked whether we should endeavour to relieve industry by rendering it permanent, he should say not. Still he thought the right hon. Baronet had introduced the measure with the best intentions; but that he had not considered all the interests that were concerned. He found that commerce and manufactures were in a flourishing condition if compared with the state they had been in two or three years ago; but he found agriculture depressed, and yet no attempt was made indirectly to relieve agriculture; by direct means he believed it to be impossible. He was not one who would stand up in that House and ask the right hon. Baronet to take off the Malt Tax, because, in the first place he knew the surplus would not allow it, and in the next place the agriculturists, if they made such a demand, would be looked upon as endeavouring to monopolize everything that could be remitted in the way of taxation; but when there was a surplus of three millions and upwards, he thought agriculture should have been taken into consideration concurrently with commerce and manufactures, and considering the party which supported the right hon. Baronet, the small remission of indirect taxation which had taken place, and the great power that now presented itself by the reduction of the county rates of materially relieving agriculture while there would be also a great tendency thereby to benefit the nation generally, by placing those rates under better guidance and a more regular management, 609 and thus relieving agriculture from a great pressure which existed upon it, he thought that the right hon. Baronet ought not to have neglected such an opportunity. But at the same time he must say he gave the right hon. Baronet credit for the remission of the taxes upon raw material, upon cotton, and upon glass; and after he had said that, he must add that he thought the right hon. Baronet, in remitting other large items of taxation, ought to have turned an ear to the remonstrances of those who had addressed him—he hoped and trusted in a proper form and a proper spirit—thoroughly setting forth their case, not in the words of noble Lords or hon. Members of that House, but in the words of farmers practically acquainted with agriculture, and knowing its condition and its wants. He must say that he, as an attentive observer of all that had passed at the deputation to which he alluded, thought the right hon. Baronet was touched by the representations which were made to him. As the farmers had no Board of Trade, they had nothing for their protection but the voices of their Representatives in that House. He was sorry to find that their hopes had been dashed from them. The amount of 2,465,000l. Income Tax was contributed by the real property in England and Wales out of the total of 4,090,000l.; and yet, although real property contributed to this extent, there was not a single tax touched by which the landed interest would be benefited, while a great remission of taxation was granted to manufactures and commerce. He had always defended protection to agriculture, on the ground that what was a benefit to one class must benefit the other; and now he felt that the lower classes must be greatly benefited by the reduction of the duty on cotton, the duty on sugar, and in a certain degree by the reduction of the duty on glass. The only time that he had heard right hon. Baronet mention agriculture in his speech of the other evening was in making reference to the auction duty. The landed interest were not asking for any reduction as landlords, and he believed that as regarded the auction duty the landlord would be the only party benefited, because, if a sale of agricultural produce took place at a farm no auction duty was charged. It was for the tenantry that he spoke. He could assure the right hon. Baronet, from the letters he had received, and from the general gloom which pervaded those counties in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, 610 where people had had the benefit of reading the right hon. Baronet's speech, the greatest despair was felt throughout the country. The farmers had hitherto looked to the right hon. Baronet as the defender of their rights; but they now saw that he totally passed over them in their distress, and would not give them any relief, after imposing upon landlords and tenants, and real property of the country, a burden to the amount of upwards of 2,400,000l., to which they were to submit for three years. All he could say was, that agreeing as he did in much that had been said on both sides of the House, but certainly not in that kind of spirit which would tamely submit to everything which a Minister might dictate—if he stood alone he would at a future period give an opportunity to the House, and to those county Members who were returned on the faith of maintaining certain principles, which he hoped and trusted they would carry out—an opportunity of stating whether, in the great remission of taxation which was to take place, the agricultural interest ought or ought not to be benefited. He would offer one suggestion relative to the Property Tax—if it was to be imposed, let it be both a Property and an Income Tax; and he only wished that in the case of the tenant, the right hon. Baronet would give an appeal. At present there was none. The tenant was taxed one half of his rent, whether he derived a profit or not, and he had no appeal. He therefore suggested this one point for consideration, which would in no way alter the principle of the Bill. He trusted that the measure would be a great benefit to the country, but he could not help regretting that the agricultural interest had been wholly overlooked.
Mr. Vernon Smith
rose principally for the purpose of asking a question of the right hon. Baronet. Before, however, he did so, he wished to observe that in the course of the various schemes or chances of prosperity which were held out, and the speculations indulged in by the right hon. Baronet, two positive results only were shown to arise—the first that the agricultural interest had nothing to hope for in the way of relief from the right hon. Baronet, or from any other minister. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire professed that he entertained no hope, and in this sentiment he was followed by other Members connected with the agricultural interest. Although having nothing like the interest 611 which those hon. Gentlemen had in agriculture, yet having some small stake in that interest, he trusted they would permit him to ask of them not to follow at the heels of any Minister, but apply themselves to show to the country what the real condition of agriculture was—he believed it to be one of distress—and if they did labour under such burdens as were often complained of on their part, to show them to the public. His belief was, that although the landed interest were not subject to burdens of general taxation from which other classes were free, yet that they had local taxes to which others were not subject. But on that topic they were silent. Except in the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, not a word had been said respecting it; and a Report, containing as much valuable information as in any document ever presented to that House, had been suffered to lie on the Table for two years without any notice whatever being taken of it, although it was therein stated that without even any alteration of local taxation, but simply by a better arrangement of it, great economy and saving might be effected for the country. To these topics the agricultural classes ought to apply themselves, seeing that they had no hope from the Minister. These subjects were worthy of their energies, and would place them before that public in a better position than any in which they had ever stood before. He did not trouble them with such advice as their enemies and some of their Friends did—to apply to the cultivation of their lands. Whenever they complained of distress they were asked, "Why do you not cultivate your lands better?" and their answer was, "Because we have not capital to cultivate them with;" and a very good answer it was; but he thought it would be desirable for both landlords and tenants to exhibit themselves in such a position before the country as would show the reality of their distress. The only other positive result was, as had been said by his Friends at that side of the House, that they were about to saddle the country with a permanent Income Tax. The hon. Member for Bath might fairly ask him why, if he thought it was intended to be permanent, he did not vote with him as he had done on the Motion which he had made in 1842, for a more moderate assessment of professions and trades? He would tell the hon. and learned Gentleman why. Although he believed the tax would be permanent as a tax, he believed that at the expiration 612 of a limited time the House would be in a position to consider its details, and he thought that at the end of the proposed interval they might have such a surplus as would enable them to entertain some such proposition as that of the hon. Member for Bath; and seeing that the First Lord of the Treasury was about to undertake a great measure, he preferred endeavouring to bring up the Revenue by means of the Income Tax, according to his proposition, rather than risk its diminution, according to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bath, because in three years' time he should have an opportunity of taking his stand against anything that was oppressive in that tax. It would be idle of him to rail against a tax which he was prepared to support by his vote, further than to say that the tax was an objectionable and impolitic one. He had heard no one speak in favour of it, except the hon. Member for Kendal, for reasons which were unintelligible to him, and the hon. Member for Donegal, for reasons which were perfectly intelligible to him, because that hon. Gentleman did not pay a farthing of the tax. But he would tell the hon. Mem-for Donegal, that in three years hence, if he should be a Member of that House, and if such a proposition were made, he should be prepared to vote for an extension of the tax to the country to which that hon. Gentleman belonged. He thought it most intolerable that, in its present state of prosperity, Ireland should be relieved from this tax—when restored from a state of agitation to a degree of tranquillity which had never before existed. If that country was prosperous, let it pay. The test of prosperity was payment. If she was in a state of tranquillity, let her contribute to the Income Tax. He assured the hon. Member that that would greatly tend to support public credit, for which he professed such fondness, and might even raise the price of the funds, which the hon. Member now generously said was his only object in the exemption of himself. He should not detain the House at that hour, except to bring under consideration one matter which had not been commented upon, and which he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not dealt fairly by. If Members were to support the Income Tax, they ought to know for what they were to support it. There was a portion of taxation which he proposed to take off, but upon which with his usual adroitness he had said nothing more 613 than a few words. There were, it seemed, 430 articles upon which the duty was to be struck off, and by which about 370,000l. was to be lost to the Revenue; but there was a little suspicion about this. Let the right hon. Baronet recollect how much discussion there had been on this subject, before, and how many interests were affected by these small articles. Hurried as the House had been, considering the magnitude of the proposition, and the effect of his Resolution, the right hon. Baronet ought to have laid on the Table, as he had promised to do, the names of the articles the duties upon which he proposed to take off, because although the articles individually might appear small, yet they might affect the interests of particular constituencies, and hon. Members ought to know whether, by having the effect of introducing a larger consumption of foreign articles, this proposition might not add to, instead of relieving the distress of their constituencies. For these reasons, the right hon. Gentleman ought to have stated what the 430 articles were.
§ Sir R. Peel
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House will have for his inspection either to-morrow or next day, a paper which will contain a list of the whole of the articles now included in the Tariff, and from which it is now proposed by the Government to remove the duty. When I introduced the financial measure of the Government, I stated generally that certain remissions of duty would take place—I mentioned some of the raw materials from which it is proposed the duty should be removed, especially those connected with manufactures. But if the hon. Member meant that I should have gone through the whole of the 430 articles from which it is proposed to remove the duty in the statement I made on Friday night, I must say that I feel I should ere I had enumerated fifty of the articles have completely exhausted the patience of the House. I think, therefore, that I adopted the best plan in the course I pursued. The hon. Gentleman will, however, find a complete list of the articles he refers to in the paper which will be ready to-morrow or next day. Now, Sir, I was sorry to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire that I have been insensible to the distress which in some parts of the country prevails among the agriculturists. My hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire stated that I had received the statements of the tenant-farmers, and that I had listened to 614 them with very great attention. And he stated what was perfectly true, that I was "touched" by the statements they made. [A Laugh.] I cannot see any cause for merriment in my admission. I certainly did lament the local distress which I was informed existed in some parts of the country. My hon. Friend seems to think that I have not expressed any sympathy for the suffering existing in the agricultural districts. But I did express sympathy for local agricultural distress; that sympathy I again express, for I believe that there exists in some parts of the country distress amongst agriculturists, that distress being attributable, in my opinion, to natural causes—to the season. The long-continued drought, the failure of the hay harvest in some parts of the country, and the failure of the turnip crop in other parts, have been injurious to the farmer, and the consequence is, that there exists local agricultural distress. I admit the existence of local distress, and sincerely regret it. But I cannot see that the distress among agriculturists is universal. I believe that though in England local agricultural distress exists, in Scotland and Ireland distress is by no means prevalent, and that the produce of wheat and some other articles has in many cases been abundant. As to the adoption of measures for relieving local distress, I must say that it is difficult to devise them, caused as that is by the seasons and the failure of the crops. Now, if my hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire will call to mind what passed at the meeting to which he has referred, he will remember that no suggestion was offered with respect to the remission of any particular tax. I think that there are taxes which do bear heavily on the agricultural labourers—I certainly think that the Malt Tax is one of these. I think that the Malt Duty does press on the agricultural labourers. But at the same time it will be remembered that I did most strenuously resist the repeal of that tax in the year 1835, and I think that the agriculturists feel that the repeal of the Malt Tax would not give a general and universal relief. In some places a feeling exists in favour of a repeal of this tax; but there are many parts of this country which do not consider that a repeal of the Malt Tax would confer a very great general advantage. I paid great attention to the statements and representations which were made to me at the meeting the hon. Member alluded to: but no suggestion whatever was made as to any 615 particular tax being remitted; and I must say that it would not be easy to find a tax peculiar to the agricultural interest. The tenant-farmer, it should be remembered, paying under 300l. a-year for rent, does not pay the Income Tax. I feel that local taxation does press heavily on the landed interest, as compared with the other portions of the community; but it would be exceedingly difficult for one dealing with this question of the Income Tax to give any relief by means of interfering with local taxation. I think the Government did right in paying a portion of the expenses of criminal prosecutions from the Consolidated Fund; but I should object to taking any portion of the expenses incurred by the maintenance of roads and bridges out of that fund. I think the payment by Government of any portion of the expenses of maintaining roads and bridges would be highly objectionable, and that that species of local expenditure should be superintended by the agriculturists themselves, and altogether apart from the interference of any Government officer. I have now, I do assure my hon. Friend, the Member for Somersetshire, the firmest conviction that if they will take advantage of the measures which will follow the continuance of the Income Tax, their interests will be more promoted than if I were to deal with local taxation, and charge the Consolidated Fund with part of the expenses now payable by the agricultural body. If that be the case, and that it be inexpedient to deal with the Malt Tax, and that there be no other tax pressing upon agriculture, my hon. Friend must feel that I am not in a position to suggest the remission of that tax, which falls peculiarly upon agriculture. The repeal altogether of the glass duty, the repeal of the duty upon raw cotton, will, in my opinion, benefit the agricultural interest. Indeed, I cannot conceive a class that will derive greater benefit from the repeal of taxes of that nature than the agricultural class. Take the agricultural labourer. We have all the utmost desire to better his condition. Is it right, then, I ask, to continue a tax which falls with peculiar severity upon the articles of clothing worn by the agricultural labourer? Take the muslin of the rich. There is no portion of the tax of three-eighths of a penny per lb. upon cotton levied upon that article, while the dress worn by the agricultural labourer does pay a considerable portion of that tax. I say, then, remit that tax, and you clearly give to the agricultural 616 labourer the means of purchasing a necessary article of clothing at a lower rate. Again, with respect to glass. If you reduce the price of the square foot of glass from 1s. to 3d. or 4d., it is clear that both the landlord and occupying tenant will derive great benefit from it; and if you increase the demand for labour,—if you remove the pressure from the springs of industry,—and not only introduce prosperity into the manufacturing districts, but afford a guarantee for its continuance,—I must again repeat, that I believe the interval will be but short before the agricultural interest will find itself partaking in that prosperity. Therefore do I think that the course I propose to pursue would have a direct tendency to ameliorate the condition of that interest in the country, the distress of which I deeply lament. With respect to the auction duty, I hope the House will not come to a hasty judgment upon the policy of removing it. The noble Lord taunted me for proposing to repeal a duty against which no one has raised any objection. Let me hope that the noble Lord will read the opinions of those who were appointed by himself to inquire into the operation of the Excise Duties. Let me hope that before the noble Lord ridicules the repeal of this duty, he will read the opinions of Sir Henry Parnell and of Mr. Wickham, the present Chairman of the Board of Stamps and Taxes, and see what they say in reference to it. I moved to-night for an account of the exemptions from that duty which have taken place from time to time; and also of the property which was subject to account under the direction of the Board of Excise, and of the amount of property under which the duty was actually levied; and I think the return will prove to the House, from the nature of the establishment necessary to be upheld for levying it, from the numerous attempts at fraud which it gives rise to, and from the consumption of time occupied in seeing whether the right of exemption from the auction duty do or do not exist, that it is extremely advisable to repeal that duty. Indeed, from the cases of exemption alone, the House will be able to judge whether it will not be for the benefit of all classes to permit them to dispose of their property in whatever manner they may think most conducive to their interests, without being subject to this duty. The noble Lord censured me for entering into a discussion about the Army Estimates, and for attempting to show 617 that there is sufficient reason for maintaining the present amount of force. I know that the statement I made was made in substance on a former occasion: but I also know that if I had not referred to the expenditure of the country, if I took for granted that the estimates were right, and neglected to state the reasons which induced Her Majesty's Government to think it would not be prudent to reduce the army, or declined to suggest any reason for the increase in the Ordnance and Navy Estimates—I knew perfectly well that if I did that, if I proposed to maintain the Income Tax, and yet omitted altogether the consideration of expenditure, I should have been met by declarations that there ought to be a reduction of the Estimates, and that our present amount of surplus precluded the necessity of continuing the Income Tax. I did endeavour therefore to show the House that the army could not be reduced, and I did advance sufficient grounds, I hope, for showing that the Navy and Ordnance Estimates ought to be increased, and I did so before I directed myself to the question of the Income Tax, because I felt that a justification of the proposed expenditure ought to precede the application for the continuance of that tax. It may appear very ungrateful to quarrel with one's supporters, and, as the noble Lord and his Friends intend to support me, I am unwilling to say a word that may tend to prevent them from acting upon that intention. But the noble Lord having begun by stating that of all taxes imposed upon the country the Income Tax was the most vexatious, the most oppressive, and the most unjust, I can only say that I was most agreeably disappointed when I found that he intended to give it that sort of support which is decidedly the most useful, the most cordial, and the best—the support of his vote on a division; and, considering that the noble Lord does believe that this tax is, of all others, the most oppressive, inquisitorial, and vexatious, I feel still more sensitively on that account the compliment and value of his support. Having the opinions of the noble Lord and his friends in favour of the tax, and their ready consent to vote for its continuance, I do hope I have not said anything to shake their determination. The noble Lord did not, certainly, refer to this circumstance,—that, supposing his present position happened to be changed, and that he found himself on these benches, he would feel this surplus 618 of 5,200,000l., however derived, to be a most comfortable addition to the ordinary and permanent Revenue of the country. And I am perfectly certain that the expectation of such a contingent advantage in the event of his succeeding me did not at all enter into his mind; but that upon the whole he does think with me, that it is for the public interest that this tax, objectionable as it is, should nevertheless be continued for the further period of three years. I quite agree with the noble Lord also that we ought to continue it simply as it stands at present, and without attempting any modification of it. After the opinions we have heard expressed to-night upon the subject of a modification, and considering the sort of discussions we should have in Committee upon the several proposals to be brought forward by the hon. Members for Kendal, for Bath, and for Somersetshire—looking at the specimen already afforded us in this preliminary discussion, I think the House can scarcely refuse to come to the conclusion that it is better to vote for the continuance of the tax for three years longer in its present form, than encounter the tedious and unnecessary discussions which those proposals would inevitably lead to. With respect to funded property, every Loan Bill has contained an engagement to the public creditor that persons possessing funded property should not be subjected to any tax that did not equally apply to all. Mr. Pitt declared it to be a violation of public faith to act in opposition to that engagement, and whether the interest be permanent or temporary you will find it necessary to respect that engagement. Indeed, my opinion is, that any attempt to convert annuities into capital would prove wholly futile, and that even if it were not, the scrutiny which you would oblige persons to undergo in consequence of the attempt would be most objectionable. Besides, it is in the nature of all taxes to press unequally. The surgeon or the artist will have to bear the burden of a tax levied on glass and cotton, but may escape that on wine by not consuming it; but the man with a temporary interest in his property is under the same obligation to pay as much as the man with a permanent interest. I much doubt, however, whether in case of such taxes as the tax upon glass and cotton, the sum I shall remit for three years to a man with no permanent interest in his income, will not amount very nearly to the sum he will have to pay on account of the Income Tax, 619 What I propose is this:—I ask a man with an income of 5,000l. a-year to contribute for three years about 140l. a-year, not merely for the purpose of having an increased expenditure on account of the Navy, but for the purpose of promoting an experiment, from the result of which, if successful, as I think it will be, he will not only derive immediate benefit, but conduce by this temporary sacrifice of 2l. 18s. per cent. to the future prosperity of the country. He will purchase glass, and all those articles on the raw material of which the duty is to be reduced at a lower rate; while his servants and labourers will be enabled to purchase the necessary articles of wearing apparel cheaper than before. This will afford to him some immediate compensation for the payment of the Income Tax. That tax, I must observe, will also afford a guarantee for the continuance of our present prospects, and at the same time diminish the chance of vicissitudes. I have been asked by the hon. Member for Devonport what assurance I could give that this tax should expire at the end of three years. I said I should have felt with greater confidence that the taxes remitted would recover themselves, or rather that there would be an increase in the consumption of other articles on account of the remission of these taxes, if the Income Tax were continued for five instead of three years. I feel bound to say that for so extensive an experiment three years is rather a short period. I said so the other night. If I could have been perfectly sure of success I would have proposed it for five years; at the same time I do think there are good grounds for hoping that at the end of three years we may be at liberty to discontinue it. I see the population of the country increasing, the capital of the country rapidly accumulating, and I think if we facilitate the application of that capital to new branches of industry and manufactures, that the effect will be greatly to increase the demand for labour; and with the demand for labour to increase the consumption of articles subject to taxation. If I look to the declared nature of exports in 1844, and compare it with that of 1843, what do I find? That in 1843 the declared value of exports from this country was 44,812,000l.; and that in 1844 it amounted to 50,515,000l., showing an increase of more than 5,000,000l. in the course of that short space of time. I see many causes combining to increase the prosperity of the country. The 620 establishment of railways, rendering travelling more easy and traffic less expensive; a surplus capital, instead of seeking for investments on foreign security; and an increasing population,—are circumstances calculated, I think, to justify the hope that at the end of no very remote period there will be an increase in the consumption of articles subject to duty, and with it an increase of production. We shall have in the year 1849 a proportion of this Income Tax; supposing the Income Tax should not increase during the three years, we shall have a sum of 5,200,000l. a year to deal with. On the 5th of April, 1848, the Income Tax will expire; but in the year following we shall be allowed to take credit for the sum of 2,600,000l., being half a year then uncollected, as we should be entitled in the course of this year, if the House shall not consent to a renewal. Therefore, I may say that the Income Tax will last, subject to a reduction of one-half in the fourth year, to the extent of four years from this time, only that it will yield but 2,600,000l. in the fourth year. I cannot so far foresee events and occurrences as to be able to guarantee that this tax may not be necessary at the end of that period. Nay, at the expiration of the present time the House may be of opinion, although no Government may ask them for renewal, that there ought to be a continuance of the tax. If that should be the opinion of the House I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not hold me to an engagement made now, that the tax should then necessarily cease: but I have every reason to think that there will be a fair opportunity for the House to consider, at the end of that period, whether this tax ought to cease. I make, however, a great experiment now, with this full confidence—that whatever may happen, the House is determined to maintain unimpaired the public credit. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Halifax, has stated that possibly the Sugar Duties may not answer the expectations I have formed, and has hinted that they may not recover quite so rapidly as I expect. The House, however, will remember that for the next two years we shall have an additional revenue of 600,000l., for which I have not taken credit. Suppose there should be some falling off in the estimate I have formed of the produce from the Sugar Duties, we shall still be in the receipt of the 600,000l.; and if the falling off be only temporary, of course we shall have an available set-off in 621 this sum for any diminution of the Sugar Duties. Upon those grounds we recommend the adoption of this tax—they are grounds, however, which it is impossible to reduce to any accurate calculation. We are about to take off the duty upon many raw materials which enter largely into manufactures. I admit with the noble Lord that these reductions may be attended with the loss of revenue; but that peculiar political economy which would prevent a reduction of the Tariff, because there would be a loss to the Revenue, is most extraordinary, especially as falling from the noble Lord, who has the credit of being so great a financier. There is no doubt if the noble Lord takes this book, showing the effect of the late alterations in the Tariff, he will find that the reduction of duties on raw materials has led to a loss in the Revenue. Of course the reduction of duty may have this effect; but if we find, concurrently with this reduction of duty, a greater increase in the manufactures of this country if we find increased exports, and if we recollect that there cannot be these increased exports without an increase of labour, surely we must not complain very much at the loss of revenue. So it is with respect to the wool duties: no doubt I may be taunted with the loss of 100,000l. to the public Revenue; but if by the reduction we have stimulated the manufactures; if there has consequently been great activity in the woollen manufactures, and in the numbers employed; will not the noble Lord find in that increased demand for industry, in that progress of the manufactures, and in that increase of exports, ample satisfaction for the loss of the 100,000l.? I am prepared to tell the noble Lord by the reduction of the 600,000l. for the cotton duties we may expose the Revenue to a loss; and the only way in which we can recommend the reduction is, that by reducing the duty we shall enable our manufacturers to enter into competition with formidable rivals, and that the advantage which will be gained will be more than a fair and complete compensation for any such loss. The noble Lord's argument, indeed, would be an argument against any reduction of duties on raw materials, if he should only say, "See what a number of taxes you have reduced, and there has been no increase in your revenue." On Friday night I told the House it might have been possible for us to have avoided the necessity of renewing the Property Tax. I do not wish to say one word in favour of a continuance of the tax beyond 622 the three years; I do not think that the House will agree that the Income and Property Tax as now imposed ought to be permanent; I do think, however, they will deem a present renewal proper, for the purpose of enabling us to make a great experiment with regard to very onerous taxation, although they may not deem the tax such as ought to be permanent in the time of peace: but I hope that in so continuing it they will not impair its efficiency during war, by now making too many exemptions, or admitting too many claims to relief. At the same time, I must say, that I believe the tax to be less onerous now than it was in the years 1842 and 1843; there have been less complaints made in the course of the last year at the Stamp Office, than in the first two years; and for the next three years, I do not expect any great complaints by the payers of this tax, or any very urgent demands for its immediate repeal, and for the restoration of the other duties we now take off. We are deeply convinced, seeing the nature of the duties we are about to remove, seeing that the repeal of the duty on glass will operate in largely increasing the manufacture, and seeing the increased means of competition that will be ensured to our manufacturers by the repeal of the duties upon cotton—we are decidedly of opinion, as regards the glass duty and the cotton duty, that the repeal of both is of the most urgent necessity. It is from that conviction—believing that all classes of the community will benefit largely by the remission of taxes which interfere with our manufacturing prosperity, the removal of which is of the utmost importance—that we have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to propose the renewal of the Income and Property Tax for a further period of three years, and I hope that in this proposal we shall be supported by the almost unanimous opinion of this House.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that he did not mean to address more than a few observations to the House. He could not, however, after the speech made by the right hon. Baronet, avoid expressing his great disappointment that no attempt had been made by him to reply to the statement of his hon. Friend, as to the general financial condition of the country, and which was a comment on that delivered by the right hon. Gentleman. To the exposition of the unsatisfactory statement of the right hon. Baronet, no attempt at a reply had been made. His hon. Friend (Mr. C. Wood) had demonstrated how unsatisfactory was 623 that statement, and yet to that the right hon. Baronet had not answered a single word. Let him remind this House and the right hon. Baronet, that even upon that right hon. Baronet's own figures, how incorrect his statement was proved to be. His hon. Friend had shown from those figures how different must be the result from that on which the light hon. Baronet relied, and this too, though he possessed the renewal of the Income Tax for three years. Now, however, they heard that it was to be continued probably for a much longer period. The nearer they got, the more distant this desirable object seemed to be—it was like the horizon, the farther they advanced, the more it seemed to recede from them; for now they were told it was more likely to be five than three years. Upon the statement of the right hon. Baronet, it was shown that the whole of his surplus was 90,000l.; that he had stated his surplus to be 3,400,000l.; and out of that surplus, according to his own calculation, he disposed of a sum of 3,310,000l.; thus leaving a balance, on that showing, of only 90,000l. as the sole surplus that they could calculate upon. Was that, he asked, a sum sufficient as a surplus or margin of revenue for our vast expenditure? Let it be recollected by the House that they had had a good harvest last year, and an unusual degree of prosperity. Was it then proper—was it expedient to run so fine, to run so very great a risk of a positive deficiency with no greater sum than that which the right hon. Baronet, under the most favourable circumstances, and on his own figures, showed to be but a surplus of 90,000l.? And how did the right hon. Baronet arrive at that balance, small as it was? It was entirely problematical. It depended upon the advantages to be derived from an increased consumption of sugar, a result which no one Gentleman connected with the sugar trade, whether on his side of the House, or on the other, would venture to say would be realised. The right hon. Gentleman calculated on not less than one million from that source, which was entirely problematical. He had calculated on an increase of one-fifth on the whole consumption of sugar—he reckoned on the consumption of sugar of a superior quality and in a considerable quantity—and if in any one of these respects he should be disappointed, there would not be a surplus, but a deficiency. He asked if any one ought to be required to submit to the Income Tax with this unsatisfactory state of things before him? 624 Ought they to remit so much taxation when there was not a surplus, but the probability of a deficiency at the conclusion of the financial year? He, for one, thought that the statement was most unsatisfactory. He agreed with his noble Friend near him in having the strongest objection to the Income Tax. He did not see, however, for the moment, how they were to dispense with it. He was prepared to vote for it, as a temporary measure; but, in voting for it, he said that the House and the country had a right to expect that the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward measures of such a nature that the House and the country could entertain the well-founded hope that at the expiration of the three years they might get rid of the Income Tax. He thought that it ought to be in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to give them that hope; and that the description of taxes which a Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to remove, should be of that nature that they were calculated to give relief to the people. Amongst such taxes, the first that should be looked to were the protecting duties. What was a protecting duty? It was a duty by which there was levied a great deal of money from the people, which never went into the Treasury. For instance, there were the duties on sugar. They might obtain sugar from Brazil at 12s. or 14s. the cwt. cheaper than Colonial sugar; but by compelling the people to consume Colonial sugar, they levied upon every pound of sugar that was eaten by the people, a tax that pressed sorely on them; and this they did keeping them from the use of the clayed sugar, and not benefiting the Treasury. Whenever they remitted a duty of that kind the revenue did not suffer, whilst they gave relief to the consumer. There was another class of duties that ought to be dealt with. These were duties that were too high, which checked consumption, and were in favour of the smuggler. A remission of such duties destroyed the smuggler, whilst the revenue itself increased. Now, the right hon. Gentleman might have dealt with the duties on sugar upon fair and intelligible principles; he might have got rid of the distinction between free and Colonial sugars, and his measure, even in a financial view, would have answered. He would go further, and say that if he made a reduction of the duties on sugars, he ought to equalise those duties, and if he had done so the revenue would have gained, and the relief given to 625 the people would have been infinitely larger, instead of there being a loss of 1,300,000l. There were, too, other articles with which he might have dealt, particularly the duties on cheese, butter, and other articles of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman might have dealt with them to very great advantage; and he might also have looked to those articles on which duties were levied to an extravagant amount, and therefore served as an encouragement to smuggling. Many duties of that description, he repeated, might well, and with great advantage, have been reduced. He might have dealt, for instance, with the duty on foreign spirits; and on all those articles on which there were protecting duties, and extravagantly high. He might, too, have dealt with the duties on tea. On all these the right hon. Gentleman might have tried an experiment for the relief of the people. If the article of sugar had been fairly dealt with on the principle of common sense—that was of free trade—but dealing, as they had done, not with one of the protecting duties, he asked how could any man believe that the revenue would spring up to the amount that had been proposed? He did not then mean to enter into the question further, because he did not object to the Vote which the Chairman held in his hand. He did, at the same time, most strongly protest against the measure—the renewal of the Income Tax, so accompanied as it had been. He did not like the people of the country to endure the burden of a most oppressive tax, when they had a right to expect that at the time it was imposed it would be accompanied by measures by which a fair and reasonable hope could be entertained that, at the period fixed for its discontinuance, they could be relieved from the burden.
§ Sir J. Tyrell
said, if the House would bear him with a short time, as the debate was drawing to a close, he would endeavour to explain his views to them as far as the agricultural interests were concerned. He must say, notwithstanding the able speech of the right hon. Baronet on that evening, and his three hours' speech of Friday last, that he participated in the opinions of those who considered the agricultural interests hardly dealt by. It was ominous that the 14th of February, St. Valentine's Day he might observe, was an unfortunate day for the agricultural interest. For when, in 1834, the right hon. Baronet was paying his addresses to the agricultural interests, his language was of a very 626 different nature to that which he at present held. He did not wish to be tedious to the House, but he desired to make it intelligible to the country, what the expectations held out by the present Ministry to the country then were. He wanted to know why the agriculturists had entertained hopes which had been entirely blasted by the financial statements of the Government. He was aware that the right hon. Baronet was a very difficult bird to put salt upon his tail. He was sure many abortive trials had been made to salt his tail. He knew how dangerous it was to quote Hansard; but however obtuse agricultural gentlemen might be supposed to be—however wedded to the plough — however accustomed to talk of oxen—still he thought that the language of the right hon. Gentleman to the agricultural interest, and that likewise, of the noble Lord who had since then been translated to the House of Lords, for no other services than those which he had rendered to agriculture, he meant Lord Ashburton, were such as to justify hopes which the result had far from realised. The particular speech to which he alluded was one made by the right hon. Baronet on the occasion of Lord Althorp's Budget of 1834; and if the House would bear with him whilst he read some extracts from it, he thought they would agree with him that the agriculturists had been hardly dealt by. The noble Lord, the Member for Northampton, on the occasion referred to did give cause for expectation that means would be devised for the relief of the agriculturists. He would not say that the noble Lord held out any hopes, but he certainly did point at that course; neither would he (Sir J. Tyrell) say that the remission of any direct tax pressing on agriculture was promised; but he alluded to the circumstance in order to show that such a course was then in contemplation, at all events, by one party in that House. It was, indeed, more in accordance with the contents of a volume which he held in his hand, from which he begged permission to read an extract from the debate of the 14th of February, 1834, on the Budget of Lord Althorp. The right hon. Baronet then read—The noble Lord said, he could not afford more than the 1,200,000l.; and, admitting that the noble Lord had only that sum to concede in the reduction of taxes, he thought that consistently with keeping faith towards the national creditor, the noble Lord was 627 perfectly right not to make any greater reduction. He would not offer any opinion as to the tax proposed to be reduced, but he must express his regret that some reduction had not been made which would give relief to the agricultural classes. He would admit that those classes would derive some benefit from any improvement in the circumstances of the other classes with which they were so intimately connected; but when he recollected the distress which, in the Committee of last year on agriculture, was proved to exist in the agricultural class—when he considered the great patience with which that distress was borne—and when he found in His Majesty's Speech allusions to excitement, and disobedience, and resistance to the law, which prevailed in some places, he could not but lament that the relief was given to the disobedient, and those who resisted the law, whilst the patient and submissive agriculturists got nothing. He would admit that, as there was only the sum of 1,200,000l. to be applied to the reduction of taxation, it would be difficult to show how it could be employed so as to give relief to the agriculturists; but he was bound to say, that if it could be shown that relief could be given out of the 1,200,000l. it ought undoubtedly to be given. He would not say, that relief should be given at the expense of public credit; but if it could be given without injuring public credit, the agriculturists had a strong claim to it. At present, however, all that was done was—that the towns got 1,200,000l., while the agriculturists got only a civil paragraph in the King's Speech.Now, he (Sir J. Tyrell) did say, after language of that description, the agriculturists, though they might not have a right to expect that the right hon. Baronet would be prepared to give them any positive boon, still they did rely upon his ingenuity in their behalf, and they certainly had a fair claim to some expression of commiseration from him. They had at least a right to look for so much, the more so as the right hon. Baronet's Tariff had tended to depreciate the value of their produce. He also said this with reference to Lord Ashburton's declarations, when an alteration took place in the law as to the Channel Islands and to Canada. Lord Ashburton had been selected, he should observe, to negociate a most difficult affair, that of the Boundary Question—a mission which had redounded so much to that noble Lord's honour. The noble Lord was giving his opinion as to the effect likely to arise from corn being imported from Canada; he said that with regard to Canada a similar cause of complaint existed. In the year 1828, Canada did not send more than 4,000 or 628 5,000 quarters into Great Britain, whereas at present 100,000 quarters were imported from Canada. This increase, the noble Lord contended, could only be accounted for from what appeared to his mind to be the fact—namely, that the United States supplied the greatest part of it; but that he maintained was not the object of the Corn Laws, and that the agriculturists had a right to look with jealousy on these proceedings, more especially as it was only a bonding system in Canada, and where there was a boundary line of 1,200 miles, which added to the difficulty. Now he would not say that that opinion was conclusive on the subject; but if the agricultural interest were under the impression that they were suffering from those causes to which he had referred, surely it could not be surprising that great anger should be expressed, and a great grievance be felt by the agricultural interest, in consequence of the measures of the right hon. Baronet. He had no hesitation in saying that he thought the agricultural interest was extremely hardly dealt with by the noble Lord opposite, the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), and he had often had a bone to pick with the noble Lord on this subject. Those by whom the noble Lord was supported were in the habit of saying that the agricultural was the predominant interest, and they had been accused that night of having a great influence with Her Majesty's Government—why he did not know. But the noble Lord the Member for London a few years ago had the power of framing the different portions of parties in which the interests of the House were comprised. He had heard the noble Lord distinctly recommend to them that the agricultural interest should be the predominant interest. [Lord J. Russell: "No."] The noble Lord shook his head. The noble Lord certainly did make the declaration to which he had alluded. The noble Lord had made so many declarations on the subject, not altogether in conformity with each other, that it was not at all surprising if his memory failed him on the present occasion. When the noble Lord brought up the Report of the Address, in the year 1837, he said,—Sir, at the time the Reform Bill passed, I stated my belief that it must necessarily give a preponderence to the landed interest; and although it may be deemed that such preponderance has been somewhat unduly given, I still think that a preponderance in favour of 629 that interest tends to the stability of the general institutions of the country.He begged pardon of the House for being so tedious at that late hour, but he thought a case was made out against the noble Lord that he had nevertheless proposed measures that had occasioned great dismay to the agricultural interest. Upon those measures he had appealed to the country, and twice the country had decided in an unmistakeable way upon the question, whether or not protection should be maintained. And now, in the present Session, the noble Lord had thrown out no intimation that the agricultural interest might expect anything at his hand if he were again in power. He well remembered that the right hon. Baronet, when he was bidding for power, indulged in language which induced in the landed interest a belief that if they supported him, and brought him in, the Conservatives would bring forward measures for their benefit, and that they might expect such a change for the better that capital would be employed extensively in agricultural purposes; but if he attended to the statements of the deputation that waited upon him the other day on the subject of agricultural distress, he must be pretty well convinced that the hopes so held out had not been realised. The right hon. Baronet admitted that he was much touched by the statements of the deputation; but he (Sir John Tyrrell) believed that that Was the only effect they had produced on the right hon. Gentleman's mind, and that even the touch was a very light one indeed. But though the agriculturists were thought so little of now, he knew very well, that in a few months' time, or it might, perhaps, be a year or two, when a dissolution should again take place, the agricultural interests would reappear, and would be again heard of in the shape of advertisements and addresses to the various constituencies. The hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) had announced that ere long he would submit a Motion that would test the sincerity of the Government on behalf of the agricultural interest, and they would then see whether the expectations and hopes held out by various successive Governments were to be realised or not. Then the sincerity of the noble Lord, when he talked of the necessity of giving the landed interest a preponderance, and the declarations of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), made over and over-again in that House and on the hustings, would be tested; and it would 630 be seen whether, entertaining the views they did, that great interest was to be trifled with, and be deprived of all share in the taxation of the country. There was one subject upon which, if no other hon. Gentleman gave notice of a Motion, he would take an early opportunity of doing, viz., the propriety of extending the Income Tax and the Property Tax to Ireland; and he could show clearly that he had a right to look for the support of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer to that Motion. For though he gave much credit to the right hon. Baronet for the manner in which he had submitted his financial projects to the House, he could not but remember that it used to be an almost annual Motion of the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Robinson) that a Property Tax should be substituted for those taxes which pressed upon industry, and it was in consequence of the opposition of the Liberals that the proposition was not adopted. He would read another extract—and he thought the House would agree with him that his extracts were the most amusing portions of his speech—to show what was the opinion of the now Chancellor of the Excequer. The right hon. Gentleman, when speaking of the question of a continuance of a Property Tax, in lieu of the taxes that pressed upon industry said,—The agitation of this question did not originate with those who are termed the rich Aristocracy of the country, but with an individual who avowed himself, and was acknowledged, as the advocate of popular rights.And again,—It was altogether an error to suppose that the Repeal of the Income Tax was the act of the Aristocracy. The hon. Member (Mr. Young) had not heard, as he had, year after year, month after month, and week after week, speeches from the other side against the Income Tax, the arguments used against it being that it threw impediments in the way of trade and commerce, and interfered unfairly with the labouring classes of the community. If the tax was so advantageous, as compared with other taxes, how came it to pass that it was selected as the best tax to be removed? And if the tax should be re-imposed, it should apply to all parts of the United Kingdom, Ireland as well as England.He gave the right hon. Gentleman full credit for the ingenuity with which he now suggested an Income Tax for a Property Tax. But if it were for anything more than a temporary purpose, it was 631 only proper to see whether it should not extend to Ireland. No Irish Member could say that any more equitable absentee tax could be devised than a Tax on Property and Income, though he knew what would be the answer which the right hon. and learned Member for Dungarvon would knock him down with. That answer would be, "There is no machinery in Ireland to collect such a tax." But although that might have been a good argument in 1816, it was not so now, when they had the whole machinery for levying rates under a Poor Law in that country, the effectiveness of which they had heard described in that House night after night. That difficulty, therefore, might easily be got over. He thought if the Property and Income Tax were to be paid by the agricultural interest—notwithstanding their depressed state—it might be worthy the consideration of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), and of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), whether there might not be a more equal distribution of the burden, and whether such men as Lord Hertford and others should be allowed to spend 20,000l. or 30,000l. a-year in Paris, extracted from Ireland. It might be worth consideration whether that would not be a reasonable proposition to submit to the House.
The Marquess of Granby
said, that he thought the right hon. Baronet had misunderstood the feelings of the agriculturists, and that their complaint was, not only that no direct relief had been offered to them, but that the right hon. Baronet had not traced the effects his measures would have upon the agricultural interest in the same manner as he had traced their effects upon the manufacturing and commercial classes. The agricultural distress was admitted on all hands; but he asked, what would the manufacturers have said, if, three years ago, when the manufacturing districts were in great distress, the Government had said to them,—"It is perfectly true that you are in distress, but that distress is not owing to our legislative measures—it arises from the disturbance of affairs in America, and therefore we cannot relieve you by legislation; but we propose to take the duty off malt, and though that remission of taxation will be no direct benefit to you, yet you will be benefited indirectly by such a course." The manufacturers would have had a right to complain of such usage. That was now the position of the agriculturists. He certainly 632 did hope, that if the present agricultural distress was proved to be owing, not to temporary causes—not to defective hay or other crops,—but that if it continued, and was thus shown to proceed from deeper and more serious causes, the right hon. Baronet then, being convinced that it proceeded from legislative measures, would by legislative measures endeavour to relieve the distress.
could not support the Amendment. The Property Tax was to be regarded only as a part of the system now proposed, of which a great financial improvement was held out as the result. No doubt, abstractedly, the Property Tax was a war tax, and could not be justified in time of peace, except by unusual circumstances. He considered those circumstances at present to exist, and thought this made out by the statement of the right hon. Baronet opposite. The general tendency of the existing legislative system had long been to make the poor man poorer, and the rich man richer; but the measure now proposed by the right hon. Baronet had the opposite tendency of increasing the comforts of the poor man, placing the burden of taxation on those who were in comparatively easy circumstances. The scheme would, he believed, tend to the benefit of the manufacturing interest, and the general comfort of the poor of the country.
§ Mr. Roebuck
only wanted to say a word. Every person who had spoken on that side of the House condemned the Property Tax or Income Tax, with the exception of the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Warburton), who, he thought, had condemned the proposal to continue it for only three years. Almost every person, except the hon. Member for Kendal, had discountenanced the notion that it should be permanent; and, at the same time, every person had declared an expectation that it would be permanent. Therefore every one had declared their condemnation of the Income Tax, and then they had come to the conclusion that they ought to vote for it.
§ Mr. C. Buller
had been quite aware, before the hon. Member for Bath got up, of the extraordinary predicament in which Members on that side had placed themselves, by the tone of the language they had held on the subject of this tax. It seemed to him that the universal opinion on that side of the House, with the one singular exception of the hon. Member for Kendal, who thought they would get rid 633 of every injustice by rendering it perpetual—with that singular exception, the universal opinion of everybody on that side was that the Income Tax would be unbearable, if regarded as a permanent tax. Nothing on earth would induce him, if a division were taken on the subject, to give his vote for a continuance of the tax. He granted that it might be a tax to be submitted to on temporary emergencies—the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, had fully spoken his sentiments on that subject. But after the debate of that night, it would be an insult to the understanding of everybody out of the House, for anybody in the House to go and tell them that this tax was to be regarded as anything but a permanent tax. They were not to be misled by the fine words and fair sounding assurances of the right hon. Gentlemen who filled the offices of First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer; it was not a matter on which their assurances were to be taken or would go for much. For himself, he thought it only justice to say that he doubted if he had ever heard the temporary nature of the tax more clearly explained than he had heard it from them, though every time the right hon. Baronet spoke he seemed to prolong the time—three years, four years, five years, and then as long as the House would permit. He asked the House not to attend to those assurances, but to the one simple fact that the Budget of the right hon. Baronet was such that at the end of three or of five years, it would be absurd to calculate on the removal of the Income Tax. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the speech he addressed to the House that night, taking an extravagant flight of openness, had renounced all his old favourite doctrines on taxation; for until very lately he had never heard any body scout the idea of taking off taxes in order to increase taxes, so much as the right hon. Gentleman had been in the habit of doing. But to-night the right hon. Gentleman had plunged headforemost into the other view, and dwelt upon the consideration that we should have a most glorious revenue, if there were no taxes remaining at all. But the House was not to be thus misled. With regard to the increase of the Revenue, for which the right hon. Gentleman had taken as much credit at if it had been owing to any measure of his own, everybody else was aware of the real source of the improvement. 634 Two good harvests, accompanied with an increase of trade, had led to prosperity. Nobody could doubt that that was the true cause. He asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get up in his place, and assure them of two good harvests for the next two years, with an increase of trade, and permanence of prosperity. When the right hon. Gentleman had done that, he should say that he had made out a case for taking off the tax at the end of three years. He called on the House and the country not to submit to any such delusion, above all to any such insulting and palpable delusion as to vote the tax with the idea of getting rid of it at the end of three years. They were now asked to grant a permanent Income Tax; let them vote against it; or if they would not vote against it absolutely, let them vote for any modification of it that would make it just and bearable, and then they would have the consolation of knowing that they had discharged their duty to their country, by endeavouring to remove its most oppressive and iniquitous features. He thought they should not be called upon to-night to express an opinion upon the policy of the Income Tax. However that might be, he begged it to be distinctly understood, that he should not consider himself precluded on any future occasion from opposing a tax he now saw would be permanent. With respect to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, it had its defects; but as it was a nearer approach to justice than the Resolution of the right hon. Baronet, he (Mr. C. Buller) would vote for it.
§ The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 263; Noes 55: Majority 208.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Baring, T.|
|Acland, T. D.||Barneby, J.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Barrington, Visct.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Baskerville, T. B. M.|
|Aldam, W.||Bateson, T.|
|Alexander, N.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Alford, Visct.||Beresford, Major|
|Allix, J. P.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Antrobus, E.||Blake, M. J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Blandford, Marq. of|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Bodkin, W. H.|
|Boldero, H. G.|
|Ashley, Lord||Borthwick, P.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Bowles, Adm.|
|Baillie, Col.||Boyd, J.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Broadley, H.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Gordon, hon. Capt.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Gore, M.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Goring, Charles|
|Buckley, E.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Bunbury, T.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Busfeild, W.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Campbell, J. H.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Cardwell, E.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Carew, hon. R. S.||Grogan, E.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Hale, R. B.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Cavendish, hn. G. H.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Childers, J. W.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Henley, J. W.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Colborne, hon. W. N.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Collett, W. R.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Collett, J.||Hindley, C.|
|Colquhoun, J. C.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Compton, H. C.||Hodgson, F.|
|Connolly, Col.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Holmes, hon. W. A'C.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hope, G. W.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Howick, Visct.|
|Cripps, W.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Hume, J.|
|Darby, G.||Hussey, T.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Denison, J. E.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Denison, E. B.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Johnstone, H.|
|Douro, Marq. of||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Jones, Capt.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Kemble, H.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lambton, H.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lawson, A.|
|East, J. B.||Layard, Capt.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Lefroy, A.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Legh, G. C.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Entwisle, W.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Escott, B.||Leveson, Lord|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Evans, W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Farnham, E. B.||Lockhart, W.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lowther, Sir J. H.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Lowther, hon. Col,|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Lyall, G,|
|Flower, Sir J.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Forster, M.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Fox, S. L.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Maclean, D.|
|Fuller, A. E.||McNeill, D.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Godson, R.||Manners, Lord J.|
|March, Earl of||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Marshall, W.||Sanderson, R.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Martin, C. W.||Shaw, rt. hn. F.|
|Marton, G.||Sheppard, T.|
|Masterman, J.||Smith, A.|
|Maunsell, T. P.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Smythe, Sir H.|
|Miles, W.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Somerton, Visct.|
|Morgan, O.||Somes, J.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Stanley, E.|
|Neeld, J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Stewart, J.|
|Nicholl, right, hon. J.||Stuart, H.|
|Norreys, Lord||Strutt, E.|
|Northland, Visct.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|O'Brien, A. S.||Taylor, E.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Tennent, J. E.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Packe, C. W.||Thornhill, G.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Tollemache, J.|
|Palmer, R.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Parker, J.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Patten, J. W.||Trotter, J.|
|Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Peel, J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Philips, G. R.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Philips, M.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Wallace, R.|
|Polhill, F.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Warburton, H.|
|Ponsonby, hn. C. F.||Ward, H. G.|
|Praed, W. T.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Pringle, A.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Pulsford, R.||Wood, C.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Richards, R.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Round, J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Rous, hon. Capt.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Russell, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Russell, C.||Baring, H.|
|Russell, J. D. W.||Young, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Barnard, G.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Duncan, G.|
|Bright, J.||Duncombe, T.|
|Brotherton, J.||Dundas, F.|
|Buller, C.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Ewart, W.|
|Christie, W. D.||Granger, T. C.|
|Cobden, R.||Hastie, A.|
|Collins, W.||Hawes, B.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Hollond, R.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Martin, J.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Morris, D.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Morison, Gen.||Thornely, T.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Towneley, J.|
|Murphy, F. S.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Wakley, T.|
|Pattison, J.||Walker, R.|
|Plumridge, Capt,||Wawn, J. T.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Williams, W.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||TELLERS.|
|Rice, E. R.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Ross, D. R.||Milner Gibson, T.|
§ Main Question again put,
§ Mr. Roebuck
said: I mean to propose an Amendment, to extend this tax to Ireland. I am anxious to allow time to discuss that proposal, but if the Resolution is passed, I must divide now.
§ Sir R. Peel
If the hon. and learned Gentleman persevere, I must give way; but I wish to remind him that the same Resolution which imposes the Income Tax here imposes an additional Stamp Duty on Ireland. I shall, therefore, give the prosal of the hon. and learned Gentleman my most decided opposition.
§ Lord J. Russell
I quite agree with the proposal for adjourning this discussion to Wednesday. I wish, however, to ask the right hon. Baronet when the Resolution as to the Sugar Duties will be brought forward. No doubt the Government is anxious to press it; but a few days should, I think, be allowed for the consideration of the proposal of Government.
§ Amendment put, that the provision of the said Act as far as regards the tax on Property, be extended to Ireland.
§ The House resumed. Committee to sit again.
§ The House adjourned at half-past one.