§ Original question again proposed, that towards raising the Supplies, etc., the duties on property, professions, trades, be continued, etc.
§ Mr. Roebuck
then rose and said,—I 752 will now state the reasons which have induced me to propose the addition of the words extending the Property Tax to Ireland; and in stating them I shall appeal to the principles of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) himself, and therefore shall hope to have his vote for my Motion. I shall appeal also to the landed Gentlemen in this House—the Representatives of the landed aristocracy, or, as it is called, the agricultural interest. I shall appeal to their principles and their declarations, and shall hope for their votes. I shall appeal likewise to the mercantile Gentlemen in this House,—to their principles and declarations, and shall hope for their votes; and lastly, I shall appeal to the Irish Members, excepting only those who may be considered to be the Representatives of the landed interest of Ireland;—I shall appeal to the principles and declarations of the Irish Members, and shall hope for their votes. Whatever my real anticipations may be, I ought to expect a majority on this occasion. What are the principles of the right hon. Baronet opposite? He is about, he says, to meet a deficiency: to meet that deficiency he proposes to continue the Income Tax; but he goes a step further, and says, that while he is about to meet the deficiency, he will also make alterations in the Tariff, in order to increase trade, and give energy to all the great interests of this large manufacturing community. I appeal to the principles which the right hon. Baronet has laid down. He has stated that it is his desire to relieve the springs of industry. That is, I believe, his own expression. He desires to allow them to work unfettered, by fiscal imposts, as far as is possible consistently with the exigencies of the State. To meet those exigencies the right hon. Baronet proposes to levy a tax on Property and Income, which is to apply only to Great Britain—to England, Scotland, and Wales. By some extraordinary circumstance, the right hon. Baronet is induced to make an exception as regards Ireland. The right hon. Baronet laid down a principle, which, he says, is the true one, that all ought to pay according to their means; and I, acknowledging the truth of that entirely, shall throw on the right hon. Baronet the onus of showing what it is that has led him to depart from that principle, and not apply the Property Tax to Ireland. He must show what it is that has induced him to 753 depart in this remarkable instance from the rule which has governed his conduct hitherto with respect to England, Scotland, and Wales. It is said that there is an exigency; but the exigency is common to the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and ought therefore to be met by the united means of all. That is the right hon. Baronet's first assertion. These united means, then, would include the property and income of all the united population. The right hon. Baronet, however, deserts his principle, and declaring that the exigency is common, yet proposes only to tax the property and income of the people of England, Scotland, and Wales. I ask the right hon. Baronet to go one step further, and to tax property in Ireland—the realized capital of that kingdom. I do not ask him to tax trades, professional incomes, or offices. I merely ask him to tax the realized capital of Ireland; and I say that the onus lies on the right hon. Baronet to show that the realized capital of Ireland was under circumstances so remarkable as to withdraw it from the principle established by his own declaration, viz., that the exigency of the United Kingdom demanded the means of the United Kingdom to meet it. Having thrown upon the right hon. Baronet the onus of showing in what respect the realized capital of Ireland stands on a different footing from the realized capital of the other portions of the United Kingdom, I shall now leave this part of my statement, and shall approach the next part. I ask the agricultural Representatives in this House, how they can square it with their declarations to vote against my Motion? I hear them constantly whining over their declining condition. With short and bated breath, they go to the right hon. Baronet, and, in mingled tones of hope and despair, they ask for relief at his hands; and when he asks them, "What injury have I done you?"—they say, like a puling infant who has fallen on the floor over a footstool, "You have not kissed the place that is hurt, you have not expressed commiseration." Now, I ask the agricultural Members not to whine in that manner: I will point out to them the means by which they can relieve their constituents without doing injury to a human being, and yet meet all the exigencies which have been spoken of. They complain of the distress of the agricultural interest; and the hon. Member for 754 Somersetshire described that distress in "touching" phrase, which brought out a "touching" declaration of the way in which the right hon. Baronet opposite was "touched" by the "touching" statements of the agriculturists. I hope to have the vote of the hon. Member for Somersetshire. He complains — of what? The misery of the agricultural classes; and the right hon. Baronet turns round, and says, "I acknowledge your statement to be very true; but what do you want?" "Oh," says the hon. Member, "I cannot propose the remission of the Malt Tax—I cannot propose anything, but I think you might have expressed sorrow." Sorrow! Is this the condition to which this preponderating interest have fallen? Sorrow to be expressed by the right hon. Baronet! By him who is the work of their own hands; into whose nostrils they breathed the breath of life; who was made Minister by their word; and who was put into his present office because of their expectations that he would be their humble tool. Now they find that the right hon. Baronet has an opinion and a will of his own; and now they might say, "We made you—we called you into existence; but, like the man in the fable whom the philosopher created, you are about to strangle your creator." The right hon. Baronet is another Frankenstein. Now, I appeal to these hon. Gentlemen, and I hope they will now have more courage, and act more like an independent body, as they describe themselves, and more in conformity with that preponderating influence which they assume, and which I admit them to possess, in this House,—and this House, be it remembered, governs the country,—I ask them to pluck up a little courage, and no longer to crawl on their bellies before the right hon. Baronet. If they do not exhibit a little independence, what will be said of them out of doors? It will be said that these gentlemen, "whose talk is of bullocks," have not intellect enough to govern the country—that they are obliged to get a leader, and when they have chosen him, they find that, like King Stork in the fable, he is very destructive to them. Now I am about to appeal to the courage of the agricultural party. They complain of the misery of their tenants—they do not talk of their own; but when I allude to the landed interest of Ireland, I will mention what an Irish Representative said about the advantage 755 which the Income Tax, imposed on England, Scotland, and Wales, has been to him. Whatever may be the opinions of that Irish Representative, I certainly have not found any English gentleman ready to say that he is gratified by the Income Tax—because it relieved him from the pressure of mortgages, and enabled him to borrow money at a lower rate of interest. But I am now about to appeal to the English Gentlemen. They say that they feel for their tenantry, and for the agricultural labourers, whose wages are lowered because of the diminution of means of their tenants, occasioned by this Income Tax. How, then, can you relieve the agricultural tenant? By extending the tax to the realized capital of Ireland. If the Representatives of the agricultural classes object to this proposition, how could they ever appear before their constituents and make such a declaration as this:—"It is true that a proposition was made for your relief, by taxing land in Ireland quite as fertile and valuable as any acres in Somersetshire, Sussex, or in any part of Great Britain; but I was so compelled to vote for party purposes that I could not relieve those agricultural labourers, and that agricultural tenantry, whom I have all along pretended to represent in the British House of Commons?" I should now like to know what the manufacturing interest in this House will say to my proposition. They are delighted with the scheme of the right hon. Baronet for relieving the springs of industry. Manchester is bribed; Glasgow is bribed; Newcastle is bribed; Sunderland is bribed; and yet you, the manufacturing Representatives, say, that unless your labouring population worked a very considerable number of hours a-day, you could not compete with foreign nations, you are so pressed by taxation. Very well. I admit that your statements are very "touching," as the right hon. Baronet would say; but why not aid me in lessening the impositions on English labour; for I say that the tax, extending as it does to incomes proceeding from professions, trades, and offices, diminishes the capital which might otherwise be expended in giving better wages? If you are honest, then, you will aid me in applying the Property Tax to the rich Irish landlord. I will now appeal to the Irish Members, always excepting the Irish landlords. I can well understand that 756 an Irish landlord should see a great benefit in the English Income Tax. The gallant Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly) fancied that there was some hallucination on the minds of the Members of this House when they burst into laughter at his declaration the other night. It was a laugh such as men give way to on the scaffold. Men are sometimes merry at the hour of death; and we could not help laughing at a man coming here and with a grave face telling us that he considered it a mighty benefit that the English people should pay a tax for his advantage. I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Donegal called together his creditors on the occasion—[Col. Conolly: I have none;] or, if he has none, probably some of his friends have; for the hon. Member stated that the English Income Tax was a great benefit to the Irish landlords, and that it enabled them to gel money cheaper. That means, that an Irish landlord, having mortgaged his estate, and having been in the habit of paying five per cent., might now go to his creditors and say,—"The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government has put on an Income Tax in England, Scotland, and Wales, which relieves me in such a way that I can get money for so much less, and should now have my debt lessened." That is what the gallant Member means by describing the English Income Tax as a benefit to Ireland. I am not going to appeal to that class of persons. Any appeal I could make to them would be useless. If I were a money lender, I might possibly make an appeal to them, but, not dealing in that commodity, I cannot reach their understanding. But I appeal to those who pretend to represent the Irish people. I attend carefully to what falls from the right hon. Baronet opposite. All his phrases are significant. I watch him, but not to find, as an hon. Member expressed himself the other evening, that he is a difficult bird to put salt on his tail. "Did we not agree," said the right hon. Baronet, "to put Stamp Duties on Ireland, when we put the Income Tax on England?" Now mark; I ask you to tax the land in Ireland; but the right hon. Baronet taxed that portion of the capital in Ireland which is engaged in the employment of labour in Ireland. The Stamp Duties are a tax on the transfer of all sorts of property, and a large portion of it was paid by the 757 middling and labouring population. I ask you to relieve Inland of that tax, and to place it on the land. The right hon. Member for Dungarvon advised me the other night to read, previous to bringing forward my present proposition, Burke's speech on the conciliation of America. Now, whenever an individual makes an observation, I like more to consider his meaning than his mere expressions. What then did the right hon. Gentleman mean when he reminded me of America? Revolution! and that the English Government was to be frightened into an unjust tax upon the English people, because the Irish were in a turbulent state; and that for the same reason the English Government durst not impose a just tax on Ireland. That is my interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman's observation. But I believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself could not have well considered Mr. Burke's speech, for the grand argument in it is that America was not represented in this House. Will the right hon. Gentleman say that Ireland is not represented? [Mr. Sheil: Not equally.] Not equally, says my right hon. Friend. We have given Ireland some Members. Where be they? [An hon. Member: What's the use of their coming here?] — What's the use? Why, has not my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Home) been in a minority all his life, and has he therefore done no good, I ask? What would be the use, I say, of giving Ireland more Members, when those we have given her we have not got here? They have run from their posts, which they have deserted, like a sentinel placed in a dangerous position, who could not keep up his heart to look at the difficulties of his position, but threw down his musket, turned tail, and ran away. Shame be on the coward who deserts the people of Ireland on that spot where their battle must be fought! And I honour the right hon. Gentleman who, as an Irish Representative, continues to take his seat in this House; and I honour too another hon. Gentleman, also an Irish Representative, who has been subject to base phrase for performing his duty here. Why have the Irish Members to whom I have before alluded deserted this House, and frequented the Conciliation Hall? Because, with the exception of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin—whom, of coarse, I do not include in the following observation,—because, in this House, they are 758 totally unable, by their personal insignificance, to gain attention. Now, that I take to be the rationale of the Conciliation Hall. They have left here because of the feeling which they have generated in this House; and I hope that hon. Members will not hereafter adduce the unequal representation of Ireland as a justification of unequal taxation of the people of England. Now, what I am about to propose, Sir, will not be an injustice to anybody. If it were unjust, I at once acknowledge that it ought not on any plea to be sanctioned; but I deny that the Irish Members can show me that my proposal will be unjust. If they point to the Stamp Duties, I say change them. They fall now in a large proportion on the active capital of the country. Put the impost on the landlords of Ireland. I again appeal to those who talk to me of injustice to Ireland, whether it be not that England has unduly favoured the landlords of that country. They have had the power—they have governed the country—they have had conceded to them by this House a large portion of the tithe of the country to which they had no claim. Is it, then, for the landlords of Ireland to turn round and claim exemption from taxation; to ask that they should not be taxed in the same way as the landlords of England are taxed, or as the hard-worked peasantry of England are taxed? Is the Irish landlord to have the debt he owes to the State paid by the English peasantry?By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wringFrom the hard hands of peasants their vile trashBy any indirection.I appeal, then, to that powerful interest who have great strength, though not much moral firmness—I appeal to the agricultural interest, ay, and to the manufacturing interest, who are shortsighted enough to be caught by this small bribe—I use the short phrase—and diverted from all those great principles which ought to sanction our conduct, and who are ready to sanction extra taxation of this community for the purpose of relieving the landlords of Ireland,—I appeal to them; and I repeat, that my fight is only with the untaxed landlords of Ireland. I will not apply my remarks to those who employ capital in manufactures, or trade, or to professional men, or to official persons, 759 however much might be said with regard to them; I only fight the untaxed landlord of Ireland. Now, mark, in the first place he has no assessed taxes. Hon. Gentlemen may bring their Irish horses and Irish carriages over here. They may enjoy here all the luxuries of their station. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil)—I think he will allow me to call him my right hon. Friend—he may bring over his horses and his carriages, and enjoy them free of taxation. Why should I, if I could afford to have horses and carriages, be placed in a different situation? He may bring over his three horses and not pay for one of them; but if I should require a horse to ease my infirmities, down comes the tax-gatherer and compels me to pay for them. Now, on what principle is it that Irish landlords are placed in this position? They may enjoy London life; they may occupy their lodgings here; and, when the fine weather comes, they may go to France, or to Brussels, or up the Rhine, and they pay no taxes. But I, if I leave my house, if I can providentially get abroad,—I leave it in the iron grasp of the tax-gatherer. Quarter-day comes round, and, whether I am at home or not, round comes the tax-gatherer. The Irish landlord, on the other hand, can leave his own country—can come to London, go to Paris, to Vienna, to Naples, back to Dublin, and then again to London; but no tax-gatherer follows him. How gay his condition! How happy his estate! But look to the condition of the peasantry of his country; to the vicissitudes that attend the professional life in this country; to the hard-worked days and nights of the manufacturing population, the anxieties of trade, the sleepless nights of the merchant who has his ventures on all the seas—looking at all these things, I turn round to this gay lord of many thousands, and ask how he has the face to talk to the House of Commons of the advantages of the Income tax? I hope that sometimes he may feel some motion of shame on this account, and that if he does derive advantage from the injustice, he will at least not have the face to glory in it. Sir, I will not trouble the House further, but move the addition of the words of which I have given notice.
§ Mr. Sheil
Sir, my hon. Friend—he will permit me to reciprocate the phrase of Parliamentary endearment — has often 760 expressed his solicitude for Ireland; but as the dismal agriculturists, by whom that locality is occupied in this House, which, in the vocabulary of an American review, may be designated as "the bench of repentance," have reason to offer up a prayer that "Heaven should save them from their friends," in that proverbial ejaculation Irishmen have cause to coincide. My hon. Friend is determined to give us, in the form of an Income Tax, the benefit of British institutions—a benefit analogous to that which we derive from the English Church. My hon. Friend has thought it judicious to advert to his "absent friends" in Ireland in language of exceedingly unqualified and exceedingly unprovoked condemnation. I do not agree with them in the view which they adopt, because I consider it to be wiser to attend in Parliament, and to do my utmost to obtain redress for the grievances of my country; but if my hon. Friend will reflect a little, he will see that his censure of Mr. O'Connell and his associates is most undeserved. The case they make is this—they insist, and with melancholy truth, that year after year they have endeavoured to obtain justice for their country, and that all their efforts have been vain; that the Irish Members are swamped and overwhelmed by a great and prejudiced English majority; that Ireland has not an adequate representation in this House; that while Wales sends thirty-three Members to Parliament, with a population of 700,000, the great county of Cork, with 800,000, returns only five Members; that while towns in England, with a population of 2,000 or 3,000, return two Members, there are towns in Ireland, Carrick-on-Suir and Thurles for example, with a population of 12,000 each, which do not return a single Representative; that the elective franchise of the two countries is not the same, and that Ireland has a miserable constituency, because you deny her a fair Registration Bill. This is the justification of my Irish Parliamentary friends, who conceive that a bitter Parliamentary experience affords a warrant for their recession. The hon. Member for Bath has often expressed a coincidence with the views of Irish Members in reference to the denial of justice in these important regards; and when these men remain in their own country, be surely ought not to visit them with such unmeasured reprobation. I do not coincide in the view which they 761 have adopted respecting the policy of staying away; but, while I state this, I cannot forbear from adding, that there is more than plausibility in the suggestion, that it is better to array the people of Ireland, and form them into a vast and united mass, in order by a "gentle violence," a pressure from without, the Minister may be induced to afford redress where redress is so much required, than to deliver themselves of speeches in this House which will not be followed by any practical advantage to the country. I have thought myself bound to state thus much on behalf of the men of whose love of country I have seen such proof, and I turn to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. My hon. Friend the Member for Kendal wishes the Income Tax to be perpetual; my Friend the Member for Bath wishes it to be universal. "Eternity!" cries out the one—"Infinity!" exclaims the other. The hon. Member for Bath would spread the perpetual blister over the whole imperial frame. But not the whole of the blister, because while schedule D. and all the other schedules are fastened upon England, he would put schedule A. only upon my impoverished and emaciated country. He is in this particular singularly inconsistent with himself. My hon. Friend has adverted to a recommendation I presumed to give him. I ventured, indeed, to tell him, that he might usefully avail himself of the interval which should elapse between Tuesday morning and Wednesday night, in order to peruse with attention the great speech of Edmund Burke upon the conciliation of America. I submit that in my judgment that speech might have been perused by my hon. Friend with singular benefit to himself, because there are contained in it many most salutary admonitions, given by that great and prophetic statesman with an almost unparalleled eloquence. Bright as was his imagination, and although subjects the most obscure were illuminated and became transparent in the blaze of his fancy, yet his philosophy was as profound as his power of illustration was astonishing; and his wisdom was not the less oracular for the magnificent embellishment of the temple, the gorgeousness of the shrine, from which his predictions were announced. My hon. Friend has intimated that I meant more in speaking of Edmund Burke and of America than I expressed. I was sufficiently intelligible, and do not shrink from the construction 762 which my hon. Friend has put upon the reference which he thinks it adventurous on my part to have made. But I might have referred the hon. Member for Bath to the authority of another great statesman—the distinguished advocate of Lower Canada and its Assembly in this House. Of that eminent person the hon. Member for Bath may think humbly, but everybody else must form the highest estimate of him. In the speeches of the champion of Lower Canada principles will be found, which it were well if the hon. Member for Bath were to apply practically to Ireland. He warns the Government not to lay their hands on the revenue of Lower Canada—I warn him not to attempt to extort from Ireland a revenue which she cannot afford, and which we ought not to be compelled to pay. No Minister by whom an Income Tax has ever yet been proposed ever thought it possible to extend it to Ireland. Before the Union, Mr. Pitt, although he had fatal proofs of the ignominious complaisance of the Irish Parliament, which surrendered itself at last in a moment of fatal and weak compliance, never availed himself of his influence, and of those seductive means at his disposal, to induce the Irish Parliament to impose an Income Tax upon Ireland. After the Union the Income Tax was repealed at the peace of Amiens, because it was held to be a war tax,—a tax to be reserved for danger, a tax sacred to public peril, and to which, excepting in a season of great emergency, no Minister was justified in resorting. The tax was, however, renewed when the war broke out again, and the terrific struggle with Napoleon was renewed. Yet in the midst of the fearful exigencies of England the Income Tax was not extended to Ireland. It was renewed by Mr. Fox, by Mr. Perceval, by Lord Liverpool, yet by no one of those Ministers was the Income Tax extended to Ireland; and when the right hon. Baronet became Prime Minister, and propounded his projects of fiscal innovation, he explicitly declared that this grievous impost should not be inflicted upon the sister island. I do not rely upon the fact that there is no machinery in Ireland adapted to its exaction. The imposition of an Income Tax upon Ireland would be unjust; and, what is unfortunately of still more importance in the estimate of public men, would be in the last degree impolitic and unsafe. The Income Tax in Ireland would be most inequitable. Before the 763 Union Ireland had a surplus revenue expended in Ireland, and the country flourished. You induced us to enter with you into a ruinous copartnership, of which you have had all the profits, while we have deeply participated in the loss. The impolicy of England plunged her into debt, of whose load we are compelled to bear a part; had we remained in the enjoyment of our legislative independence, of your ruinous expenditure we should not be the victims. It is most unfair that you should now call on us, after all the detriment which we have already suffered, to bear a portion of the vast cost incidental to this experiment. You drain us through the absentee system (an inevitable attendant on the Union) of millions of money, which, instead of circulating through Ireland, swell the overflowings of the deep and broad Pactolus of British opulence. You have transferred all our public establishments to this single point of imperial centralization; the revenue which Ireland yields is expended not in Ireland, but here; and of this evil I cannot present to you a more striking exemplification than in appealing to the fact that the Crown-rents and quit-rents of Ireland have been laid out on the splendours of Windsor Castle, and the embellishment of this vast metropolis. I may parenthetically suggest to the head of the Government, that in the quit-rents and Crown-rents of Ireland, he has a fund at hand with which his projects in reference to education can be readily and largely accomplished. When from Ireland you already take so much, it would be most unjust that you should endeavour to extract still more. But, if the proposition be most unjust, it is still more unwise. If Swift with Wood's halfpence was able to do so much, what would not the man of whom Swift was the precursor be able to achieve with the Income Tax? The pressure of the Income Tax would cause Catholicism, Protestantism, and Calvinism, to coalesce into one vast compact of formidable discontent. Who can doubt that the Member for Donegal, the instant the Income Tax was extended to Ireland, would burst into a Repealer, and enroll himself among the burning patriots of the Conciliation Hall? In 1782, the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland extorted the independence of the Parliament of Ireland; and there are those who not only hope, but believe, that before they die, the restoration of that Parliament 764 in its independence may be extorted from you. Have a care then how you deal rashly with Ireland. Do not, for the sake of a small accession to the revenue, do us an injustice, and a signal detriment to yourselves. There are other means of obtaining a revenue from Ireland besides an Income Tax. There is an alchymy in good government. By doing perfect justice you can largely save, and saving is equivalent to gain. Justice is a good housewife. My hon. and frugal Friend, the Member for Montrose, has often told you, that you can by adopting a sound policy in Ireland effect a great reduction, and reduce your army to a force comparatively small. He has often said, that as in Scotland 2,000 men are quite sufficient, the army in Ireland might be reduced in the same proportion. On Friday last, indeed, my hon. Friend in his enthusiasm forgot his old topics, and almost forgot himself. He said nothing of retrenchment, nothing of the economy of justice to Ireland. Although politically as vigilant in keeping watch over the public treasure, as the dragon by which the Golden Fleece was said of old to be guarded, my hon. Friend yielded to the "magic arts" and to the eloquent enchantments of the fascinating financier. But now that he is recovered from the spell, I trust that he will take the same view as I do in reference to the facility with which a large revenue could be obtained from a country whose resources, through misrule, remain undeveloped. If you will but endeavour to adapt your institutions to Ireland, instead of labouring to adapt Ireland to your institutions—in that antithesis you will find that a great deal of truth is condensed—if, I repeat, instead of adapting Ireland to your institutions, you do but try to adapt your institutions to Ireland—if, instead of inflicting a temporary tranquility, you confer a perpetual peace, you will obtain from Ireland a revenue far exceeding anything which, by the torture of this inquisitorial imposition, it would be possible for you to obtain. Peace, true peace—peace founded upon justice, and equality, and national contentment, has an enriching as well as a civilising and ameliorating attribute. Peace will pay you large import duties—peace will consume in abundance sugar, and coffee, and tea, and every article on which a charge will remain—peace will draw from the earth twice its ordinary return, and 765 while it shall give you more food, will take more of your manufactures in return—peace will enlarge and give security to that market which is already the best you possess—peace will open a wider field to your laborious industry and your commercial enterprise, and for every benefit you confer upon as, for every indulgence you shall show us, for every gift you bestow upon us, with an usury incalculably profitable, by peace you will be repaid.
Sir John Tyrrell
believed that the observations which had fallen from him the other night had in some degree led to the present discussion, and to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. No hon. Member would regret the gladiatorial exhibition of eloquence by the two hon. and learned Gentlemen on the present occasion. He had no hesitation in saying that he agreed with the views expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath; and although he (Sir J. Tyrrell) did not in his own person exhibit an instance of agricultural distress, yet it would be conceded to him that such distress did prevail; and Gentlemen would agree with him that distress was in the habit of making men acquainted with strange bedfellows. He would take the opportunity, therefore, of explaining how it happened that on this occasion he should be found associated with the hon. Member for Bath. He was aware that there were many who were ill inclined to support a Motion of that hon. Gentleman, because he Was supposed to entertain extreme opinions; but he for one, and he believed others connected with the landed interest, was ready on this occasion, in the eloquent words of the hon. Member for Bath, to pluck up courage and to vote with him. He trusted that no friends of his, in the nautical phrase, would be found "to 'bout ship," but that their names would be seen in the right place in the Division List to-morrow morning. The right hon. Member for Dungarvon had contended against the Motion, not merely on the ground of abstract justice to Ireland, but because it would be a breach of faith to adopt it; inasmuch as it was in opposition to the provisions of the Act of Union. He (Sir J. Tyrrell) took a very opposite view of the nature of that Act: he recollected, and perhaps others would not have forgotten, when the late Mr. Bankes (father of the present Member for Dorsetshire), in bringing forward the question of extending the Property and Income Tax to Ireland, required the Clerk at the Table to read the 7th Article of 766 the Act of Union, in order to show that a proposition of this kind was not in violation of it. If that Article were now read, the argument of the right hon. Member for Dungarvon would fall to the ground, and he would not have a leg to stand upon. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had over and over stated, of late years, that it would be most unjust to Ireland to impose upon her an Income Tax. Sir R. Peel cheered the expression unjust, from Mr. Sheil. So you will find it reported in the Morning Post. That expression he had very recently heard repeated, and vociferously cheered; nevertheless, it ill accorded with what had fallen from the same right hon. Baronet in 1833, when in the debate on the Budget he said,—It hardly could be contended that if a Property Tax were established, Ireland ought to be exempted from its operation; he wished to see Ireland as much favoured as possible, consistently with justice; but to impose a Property Tax on England and Scotland, and to exempt Ireland, would, in his opinion, however unpopular that opinion might be, be extremely unjust.Such was the opinion of the right hon. Baronet in 1833, and why he had since altered it he had never explained. The purpose of the hon. Member for Bath was not to touch the poor, but to deal with the rich, of Ireland, and in his speech he addressed himself to various sections of the House. He (Sir J. Tyrrell) might make a similar appeal, but not to the same sections. Among others, he might point to the occupants of the Treasury Bench, and to the expecting occupants of it, who appeared to consider the places upon it rather too much in the light of family seats. If the present Ministers abandoned those seats, they were soon filled by the same parties who not long since had been expelled from them; and there seemed generally a pretty good understanding between the Leaders on both sides. The Members of the late Government, perhaps, too, frequently supported the right hon. Baronet on the voluntary principle; while he (Sir J. Tyrrell) and his Friends too frequently supported him on the compulsory principle. In addressing the House he had this advantage, that as an agricultural Member, nothing was expected from him, so that if he happened to say anything tolerable, it was sure to pass current for its full value. Unless the country were much deluded (and he noticed it only as what 767 had been called a delicate touch), there was at this moment a negotiation pending between the noble Member for London (Lord J. Russell), and the leaders of Conciliation Hall; if he had seen that noble Member in his place, he would have ventured to ask him if the negotiation was in such a state of forwardness as to enable the noble Lord to lay the proceedings on the Table. The object, of course, was to obtain the co-operation of the noble Lord; and he believed that if time had been allowed, the walls of Parliament would already have been ringing with cries of justice to Ireland: and the beautiful and often quoted lines—Hereditary bondsmen, know ye notWho would be free himself must strike the blow?would not have been heard from the lips of one man only; but now it appeared that freedom for Ireland meant freedom from the Income Tax. The right hon. Member for Dungarvon admitted that it touched the pocket; but he utterly failed in making out any case of deserved exemption. He would be the last man to impose a tax on the lower orders of Irish; but here the aim was directed at the landlords of Ireland, and unless they came forward on the present occasion they would show little of the sympathy they boasted for the poor. If this Motion were carried, there would be little danger of any of the outbreaks that had been threatened by the right hon. Member for Dungarvon; for those who had to pay the tax were bound to keep the peace by the best possible security—their own interest. He trusted, that before the debate closed, some hon. Member would endeavour to answer the unanswerable speech of the gallant Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly), which still remained in the full plenitude of its power and eloquence. He begged pardon for detaining the House so long, but before he sat down he wished to say a word or two on a matter of business. He was clearly of opinion that in the Budget of the right hon. Baronet there were two taxes the remission of which would be of material benefit to Ireland; he alluded to the imposts upon sugar and glass; she could therefore the better bear an Income Tax, which, being derived chiefly from the land, would not fall with any severity upon the labouring classes. On the mere ground of justice he rested the imposition of a Property Tax on Ireland; but of course he only spoke for himself; and if hon. Gentlemen 768 by whom he was surrounded, held that an understanding was more binding than a written document, of course they would act upon their own judgment. The hon. Member for Bath had said, that they were crawlingly alive, but he (Sir J. Tyrrell) knew that they were feelingly alive to anything like a charge of breach of faith. He did not take the same view, perhaps, as others; and he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath.
§ Mr. W. Williams
had listened with attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon; and certainly he expected that that right hon. Gentleman would have been able to offer stronger grounds for his opposition to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, for imposing the Income Tax on landed property in Ireland. His own opinion on the question was not very strong, although he did think that a gentleman in Ireland enjoying an income of 1,000l., 10,000l., or perhaps 20,000l. a-year, ought to pay his tax in preference to a person in this country who held an office of 160l. per annum, or a tradesman who, by great industry, made a profit at the end of the year to that amount. But, whatever objection there might be to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, it would surprise him if the right hon. Gentleman or the right hon. Baronet was able to offer any just reason or objection against the proposition which he (Mr. Williams) should submit to the Committee. It was this, that all persons receiving public money in Ireland should pay, on the amount of their receipts of public money the same Income Tax which was paid by persons similarly circumstanced in Great Britain. He should like to know what argument there could be for any person holding a public office, and who was paid his salary out of taxes taken from the pockets of the people of England, not being subject to this tax in common with the people of Great Britain. In the statement he was going to make he might in some respects be incorrect, but he called upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchechequer, to set him right, if he should be so. He had looked at the Income Tax Act with great attention, and he had been at most of the public offices to ascertain the practical working of that tax; but he confessed he was not able to obtain any clear information on the subject. Now, he would 769 ask the Government to state to the Committee why the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with, he believed, a salary of something like 20,000l. a-year, and a great number of Gentlemen who were also receiving large salaries in his establishment, were not subject to this tax. Take the Chief Secretary for Ireland; he received a salary of 5,500l. a-year, and yet did not pay this tax; but compare the duties of that office with those of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, who received 5,000l. a-year. No one would contend that the duties of the former were in any degree to be compared with the latter; and yet the right hon. Baronet paid this tax, whilst the Secretary for Ireland, who received 500l. a-year more for doing, probably, only one-half or one-third of the work, was not liable to it. He should like to know why the Judges and Officers of the Courts of Justice in Ireland, who received among them 158,000l. a-year in salaries, were not liable to this tax, like clerks in public offices, or gentlemen holding similar situations in England? The Lord Chancellor of Ireland had 8,000l. a-year, and was an Englishman, but he did not pay this tax. He believed that many high and distinguished officers in Ireland were Englishmen, but because they resided in that country they were exempt from the payment of this tax. Then take the pensioners—there was a long list of them. They, also, he believed, were exempt. But what surprised him above all the rest was this, that in Ireland 1,260,000l. was paid annually for interest on the public debt, and every person who resided in Ireland, who received any part of it, was exempt from the Income Tax. Take again the debt of the Bank of Ireland. The Government had borrowed from the Bank of Ireland, in consideration of the charter to that Bank, 2,600,000l., at an interest of 3½ per cent.—that was exempt from the payment of the Income Tax; while the Bank of England, upon the same species of loan for which it only received 3 per cent., paid the tax. He should like to know upon what ground of justice that state of things could exist—that they were to exempt all those persons who were paid by taxes taken from the pockets of the people of Great Britain, for he would show, if not wholly, yet that it was pretty nearly so. How did this case as to taxation stand? From 1802 to 1841 inclusive, embracing a period of forty years, after the union of the 770 two Exchequers—during fifteen years of that period, Ireland paid 1–12th of the taxation of the United Kingdom. For twenty years she paid 1–13th, and for five years she only paid 1–14th. At the end of the financial year, January 5, 1844, the taxation paid by Ireland was 4,097,000l.; while the taxation paid by Great Britain during that time was 51,300,000l., being in the ratio of about one to thirteen. He would go as far as any hon. Member in obtaining justice for Ireland in every respect; but in regard to taxation she was in a most remarkable degree protected. He believed, moreover, that Irishmen obtained their full share of the patronage of offices and places. He was satisfied that if public officers, and these who received public money in the United Kingdom, excepting the Public Debt, were looked into strictly, it would be found that Irishmen received pretty nearly one-third of the whole amount. [_"No."] He had no doubt about it, and in point of fact he believed that no class of men were more industrious in besieging the office of the Secretary for Ireland, and that none were more successful. He would be the last man to press upon Ireland; but the statements he had made appeared so unjust towards the people of England, and so much in opposition to that equality which Ireland had always demanded from us, that unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer could satisfy him, by some reason which he could not discover, that this was justice to England, he must persevere in his Motion. Much had been said about the additional Stamp Duty in Ireland; but what did it amount to? In the year before the now tax was imposed, the Stamp Duty in Ireland had produced 447,000l.; and in the last year, 539,000l.; the augmentation was only 92,000l.; and of that trifling sum this country might well make a present to Ireland, if an Income Tax were imposed there, as he proposed, as an equivalent. As to changes in the Tariff, he regretted that the right hon. Baronet had not gone further; 642 articles out of the whole 813 only yielded 75,000l. With this small reduction from the Revenue, the whole of that number might be cleared from the Customs' Tariff. It was not easy to estimate the expense and the inconvenience of collecting such small items of duty. And there was no doubt that the number of articles in the Tariff might be reduced to fifty, without occasioning a loss to the country of more than 500,000l. The 771 cost of collecting the Income Tax, the Stamps, and the Assessed Taxes, amounted only to 430,000l., though they produced 16,850,000l., more than one-fourth of the whole income of the country; and if the whole 55,000,000l. of our taxes were collected at the same rate, the collection would only cost 1,670,000l., instead of which it cost 3,670,000l.—upwards of 2,000,000l. being thus lost to the country, Mr. Ross: Question.] He had no doubt the hon. Member was impatient to address the House; but the question he was discussing, perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not aware, was just that before the House. By a reduction of articles of Customs and Excise, he contended, a vast saving might be made in the expense of collection. He wished the right hon. Baronet to carry out the principle he had so well stated in his opening speech. Some had taken exceptions to the taxes proposed to be abolished; but he (Mr. Williams) gave the head of the Government credit for wisdom and prudence in the selection, and was moreover especially satisfied that the whole, and not merely part, of the duties had been abolished. There was one article in which he had been anxious to see a change—he alluded to tea; for while the poor man was paying a duty of not less than 250 per cent., the rich man paid a duty of no more than 70 per cent. He was sorry that he could not give Government his approbation of their proposed expenditure, which was estimated this year at 49,690,000l., exclusive of about 4,300,000l., which was intercepted, and never found its way to the Exchequer; in the whole, therefore, the expenditure this year was calculated at 54,000,000l., and fifty of those millions were derived from taxes on the people of Great Britain. There was not, in the history of mankind, an instance of such a weight of taxation being sustained by so small a population. In his celebrated pamphlet the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department had stated the taxation in 1813—one of the highest taxed years of the late war—at 81,700,000l.; but at that date paper money was depressed, he said, 36 per cent.; which reduced the taxation of that year to 52,000,000l. of our present money, so that at this moment, when we were in profound peace, the nation was contributing, in intrinsic value, a higher amount of taxes than in 1813. This state of things proved the utter recklessness 772 of Ministers on the score of expenditure, and loading the people with oppressive taxation. In 1835, the expenditure was about 5,300,000l. less than it would be in the present year; and it was to him inexplicable how so great an increase could be justly required. He would not oppose the proposed increase for the Navy, for it was the great bulwark of the country. We ought not to have less than ten sail of the line in an efficient state. But how did it happen that this year the proposed vote was 200,000l. more for the Navy than it was in 1841, when we had twenty-six ships of the line at sea? He should like to hear that explained. Again, he would take the Army. In 1829, the whole military force was 109,000 men; in 1835, it was 100,990—in both those years the present men in power prepared the estimates;—and under the Administration of Lords Grey and Melbourne, taking the average of the ten years they were in office, the number was 105,059 men. Now, what was it to be this year? The estimate was 129,480 men, 2,500 marines more, and 10,000 armed pensioners more. And what were the reasons assigned by the right hon. Baronet for this immense increase of force? He said that one regiment had been stationed in India for twenty-four years—a statement which had been very often made before. Then the right hon. Baronet stated that in 1830 we had thirty-four Colonies, and at the present time we had forty-five. He did not know where the right hon. Baronet would find them. He was quite sure he must have looked into some very small nooks and corners to find that number. But there was the same number of Colonies in 1835, requiring defence, excepting New Zealand and Hong Kong, with four or five hundred men sent to each. He could not, therefore, see that there was any reason for so great a standing army in a time of profound peace. After the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath was disposed of, he should submit a Motion to the Committee, to the effect that all persons receiving public money in Ireland should pay the same rate of Income Tax as was paid in this country, which he thought was but just to the people of Great Britain.
§ Mr. Ross
would not say anything at present upon the proposal to tax incomes in Ireland arising from official employment. At first sight it appeared reasonable enough, 773 and perhaps he might be found voting with his hon. Friend. As to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, he did not think, if he had been in the position occupied by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that he could have wound himself up to have made the proposal which he had made to-night. He thought there were grave questions of public policy which ought to weigh against the abstract justice of the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposal. Where people were living united together under the same laws, and enjoying similar privileges, he would not contest the justice of the proposition that every man should be taxed according to his means; but both the hon. and learned Member for Bath, and the hon. and learned Member for Coventry, had materially erred in reference to Irish taxation. If the hon. Gentleman had read the book upon finance written by Mr. John O'Connell, they would not have expressed themselves as they had to-night. He agreed in what had been stated by Mr. Robinson as to the taxes repealed in 1823, that they were so small as not to have been worth collecting. Let them suppose the assessed taxes to be imposed upon Ireland: the consequence would be that a great number of servants would find their way to the poor-house, and horses and carriages would be sent over for disposal in this country. Now it had been said, with reference to the Irish Stamp Duties, that they did not affect the landed interest. He was sure, however, that everybody who had anything to do with attorneys must know that such was not the case; and every man who had his property divided into small portions must have felt the burden of the tax in the stamps required for his leases. He, might, perhaps, be permitted to advert to a tax recently imposed, which had fallen with peculiar severity upon the possessors of land in Ireland—he alluded to the poor-rate. A man might be possessed, as was frequently the case, of 500 acres of land, but in consequence of the improvidence of his ancestors, he might not be in the receipt of an income greater than would have been derived from a fifth part of it; and the tax to which he referred was not upon the income of the man, but upon the whole property; he therefore paid ten per cent. upon the whole rental, whilst he only received the value of 100 acres. He thought it would be exceedingly injudicious, under any circumstances, at this period, when they had the assurance of the right hon. 774 Baronet that the Income Tax in England would not be continued for more than three, or at farthest five years, to impose it upon Ireland also. He could not help saying, that it appeared to him that the mode in which the discussion had been carried on to-night would be highly injurious. The mode in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the absentees would, he believed, exasperate the ill-feeling which prevailed to a considerable extent, and he hoped, before the debate closed, they should find a more conciliatory tone assumed, and words of more healing power used. If the measures which were now, he was happy to say, in contemplation for Ireland should be found available, and the public mind become soothed, and a better feeling towards this country existed on the other side of the channel, then, at some future day, when Ireland was relieved of present grievances, and was prosperous and happy, he might be found voting for the imposition of any tax of a permanent nature that might be sought to be imposed upon the United Kingdom.
§ Viscount Bernard
said, that representing as he did an influential and respectable constituency, he could not sit quietly by and listen to the sentiments which had been expressed, and the arguments urged, with regard to the landlords of Ireland. He felt it was his duty to vindicate them from the charges which had been brought against them; and he rose to say a few words with that object. And first, he might be permitted to allude to an assertion of the right hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil), that because many Irish Members had chosen to absent themselves, Irish interests were not fairly represented. In reply to which he could only say that he held the only seat in Munster in the hands of the Conservative party. He denied, on the part of the Irish landlords, any wish to shrink from bearing their share in the legitimate burdens of the country. If a great national scheme was to be carried out—if a measure was to be proposed, from which great and important benefits were expected—if by the continuance of the Income Tax, and the removal of a large portion of taxation, the revenue of the country could be brought to a more healthy state, he, for one, could say—and he thought he was representing the opinions of the majority of Irish landlords—that he would be willing to bear equally with his fellow-subjects all the burdens of taxation—that he would not hesitate to do so—nay, that 775 he would be ashamed to shrink from contributing his share to the national funds. But what were the facts of the case? Had not the right hon. Baronet explained that it was inexpedient, for various reasons, to place an Income Tax on Ireland; but that he had found out a tax which was fully equivalent to it in its revenue? The hon. Member for Bath proposed one of two things—either to place a tax merely upon the real property in Ireland, or to carry the whole tax in its fullest extent throughout the country. Now, if the tax were to be placed merely upon the real property, why did the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) object to the equivalent which he (Lord Bernard) believed that the Stamp Duty afforded; and which the hon. and learned Gentleman had failed to show was not an equivalent? Again, it could be effectively urged that there was no machinery in Ireland to collect it; and that the expense of forming such a machinery would swallow up a large part of the revenue to be gathered from such a source. The hon. Baronet (Sir J. Tyrrell) had proposed to collect it with the poor rates. He thought if the hon. Gentleman was a Guardian he would not suggest this. He (Lord Bernard) was happy to say that the law was now succeeding; but he would ask that hon. Member, who proposed such a course, would it be less than political madness, for the sake of a very doubtful advantage, to revive feelings in Ireland, which, he was happy to say, were certainly dying away? Would it be wise to do so, even if he were certain of greater advantages? But there was another ground upon which the tax would be inadequate and injurious. By the provisions of the Act all holders of land, of less than the yearly value of 300l., were exempt from its operation. Now, in Ireland, the great portion of landowners did not hold farms to that amount, and therefore the tax would not reach them. The large owners of land, it might be said, would thus escape, because of the small holders. But that was not the case; for where they omitted to reside upon their properties, the right hon. Baronet had turned their omission into a blessing to the country. From the very earliest times of our history attempts had been made to check absenteeism by taxation. In the time of Richard II., Edward IV., Henry VII., and again in 1735, a tax of 4s., and of 2s. in 1773, had failed to restore the proprietors to the country. But the right hon. Baronet had 776 again turned the omission of the tax into a blessing; for, by exempting Ireland from the Income Tax, he held out a strong inducement—one stronger than any absentee tax—to those whose duty it was—as it ought to be their inclination — to reside upon their estates, to return to their native land, and to alleviate the wants and distresses, and contribute to the comfort and happiness of those whom Providence had committed to their care. Supposing it pleased the House to impose this tax on Ireland, how could it produce anything? Was it not a notorious fact that a large portion of the property in Ireland was burdened with mortgages and family incumbrances? And was it not equally true, that many who received that money, resided in England, and paid the Income Tax on it? Under the circumstances, he fairly believed that the revenue thence derivable would not exceed the present amount under the Stamp Duties. If the hon. Member proposed to make the Income Tax general all over Ireland, he would only urge him to consider the present position of Ireland. He entreated the hon. Member to recall the state of that country to his mind. Above all, he begged of him to consider the recent aspect of affairs there. A terrible condition of things had just passed away. Large multitudes had assembled, and the greatest fear prevailed throughout the country in consequence; but above all, and more awful still, was the existence of those simultaneous fires all over the country, accompanied by the most terrifying silence as to their cause, but followed by the most alarming rumours and statements as to what was to follow their repetition. How favourably altered were the affairs of Ireland now! By the steady course and firmness of Her Majesty's Government peace, tranquillity, and happiness had been restored. Many who had been formerly engaged in agitation were now peaceably and profitably employing themselves in the cultivation of their lands, and attending to their private interests. Would it, he asked, be a very strong proof of political wisdom to renew afresh the fires of party discord, and to afford a probable pretext for fresh and resuscitated agitation? He had merely risen to briefly express his opinion that the present duties in Ireland were amply equivalent to the Income Tax; but he could not sit down without giving, as an Irish Member, his most cordial approbation to the financial statement of the right hon. Baronet. 777 He felt that agriculture in Ireland was dependent for its market on the manufactures of England, and that the more the prosperity of the latter country increased in that branch, the more would the condition of agricultural Ireland be improved. He was firmly convinced that the depreciation of prices, two years ago, did not arise from the supposed effect of the Tariff, nor from the alteration of the Corn Laws, which he believed had preserved, if not as high, yet a steadier price to the farmer. He rejoiced at that prosperity; but he must observe, with regard to the manufacturing interest, that though it might be difficult to legislate properly upon the statistics of labour, still that it was only reasonable to hope, that the manufacturers, when they had received such great concessions, would apply themselves to ameliorate the condition of those under their charge. As far as Ireland was concerned, there could be no greater boon given to her than the reduction of the duty upon the raw material in cotton; for was it nothing, he would ask, that the people were enabled to get comfortable clothing at a cheap rate, and to buy the necessaries of life for their families and themselves, at a price within the most moderate means? It was a great boon in another light, too; for when they considered the mighty water power of Ireland, might they not reasonably hope that all those great national advantages would be turned to account; and that, at no very distant day, their own cotton manufactures would be established on the west coast of Ireland? Might they not hope, that with her great water power, and accessible harbours, that soon, instead of sending for it to Liverpool and elsewhere, Ireland would import her cargoes of cotton direct from America? Under improved treatment, they might expect to see manufactures rising up in abundance in a country so favourable to their increase; and it was almost impossible so say what advantages might arise from an increased use of exciseable articles. In 1832, it was stated that Ireland was a better market for English manufacture than many others more sought for, and more distant. He believed that to be the case still. He believed, also, that if Ireland were fully and fairly cultivated, that she would be able to furnish sufficient food of her surplus to England, to render her independent of foreign aid. If, instead of urging such notices as those, the hon. Member and the House would assist in developing her immense resources—if they 778 would extend their capital to her manufactures, and make her harbours the receptacles of their fleets, they might depend upon it that she would amply repay them, by ministering to her increasing population, and her daily augmenting wants. Nay, more—it was his firm conviction that the day might not be far distant, when she might be able to save England from a calamity which no nation ever survived—the dependence of the supply of her daily bread upon another country — from the glory of England being humbled in the dust, a suppliant at the feet of some foreign Prince:—Supplex ad prâtoria regis,Donee Bithyno libeat vigilare tyranno.
§ Mr. Bellew
agreed in the latter sentiments to which the noble Lord had given utterance; and he was not sorry that this subject had been brought forward, because it gave an opportunity for correcting many misrepresentations in reference to it; for instance, like that of the hon. Member for Coventry, who upheld his proposition upon the ground that there were many Irish gentlemen holding public appointments and offices, which was not the case. He confessed that, on the first blush of the proposition, it seemed quite reasonable that the Income Tax should extend to all portions of the empire. But there were two questions to be considered. First, the applicability of the tax, and the fitness of it to all parts of the country. Secondly, could it be made equally applicable under all circumstances? The tax, if justifiable at all, could only be so in a country which was in a state of prosperity, being possessed of great wealth, and flourishing in regard to trade and commerce. But he had seen it stated that only about one million sterling of the Income Tax was collected from the land. That fact of itself showed the unfitness of the tax for Ireland. In England, the majority of the people were employed in trade and manufactures. The contrary was the case in Ireland, more than three to one being employed in agriculture alone, which was the great, and almost the entire, source of the wealth of Ireland. Therefore, there was a good and sound reason for not extending the tax to Ireland. The experience of Chancellors of the Exchequer from the time of Sir John Newport downward, had shewn the impracticability of applying the assessed taxes to Ireland. Mr. Poulett Thompson stated, in 1830, that a case of exemption had been fully established on behalf of Ireland, 779 In 1807, the revenue of Ireland amounted to something over 4,000,000l, Between that and the conclusion of the war, taxes were laid on which were computed at upwards of 3,000,000l.; and the result was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day stated that, notwithstanding the increased taxation, the revenue of Ireland was absolutely 500,000l. less than in 1807. Ireland, at present, required breathing time to enable it to bear this or other burdens; and every year allowed for recruiting its shattered frame, and acquiring vigour and healthy action, would leave it more able to take its full share, if it did not already sustain it, of the burdens of the country. In Great Britain, trade and manufactures must, as a matter of necessity, discharge those duties which in Ireland could, as yet, only be performed by the proprietors of the soil. The political bearings of this matter in Ireland were also not to be neglected. A large mass of the population were in a state of the utmost depression; and those millions must necessarily, by their sufferings, be rendered more sensitive even in reference to burdens which did not immediately affect them, if those burdens should be continually placed before them as an injury to their country, and as depriving them, in some degree, of the chance of employment. The right hon. Baronet had, therefore, exercised a wise discretion in not attempting, for the present at least, to press this tax upon Ireland. The empire would be no loser, inasmuch as Ireland was the best market for the English manufacturer, and one every day extending; and every thing that tended to enable the Irishman to buy more goods from the Englishman was a benefit to this ocuntry.
regretted that some of the elder county Members who had been assailed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath had not stood forward to vindicate their characters from the foul calumnies and libels that had been heaped upon them by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. (Cries of "Order" and "Chair.")
§ Mr. C. Buller
rose to order. He thought "foul calumnies" was not a phrase which ought to be used by one hon. Member towards another.
§ The Chairman (Mr. Greene)
hoped the hon. Member would see that the expression was somewhat strong, and withdraw it.
begged to apologise if he had used any expression that could be deemed improper or disrespectful to the House; but he thought the House would 780 admit that the language and expressions of the hon. Member for Bath were such as deserved, at all events, strong expressions on the part of Members who represented agricultural districts. Connected as he was with that part of the country in which the right hon. Baronet had large possessions, it ill became him to hear his independence questioned in the manner it had been; and he would take the opportunity of stating his reasons for voting against the proposition before the House. The agricultural portion of the constituency he represented were grievously depressed; in common with other agriculturists their difficulties were great. But ought the representatives of the agricultural interest in this country, which was richer than Ireland, to vote for imposing upon their poorer brethren in the sister island a burthen which they themselves were hardly able to bear? He did not think they were justified in adopting such a course; and although he regretted to find that there were some agricultural Members who would not object to impose upon their poorer neighbours such a heavy burden, he, for his part, although he believed the agriculturists of England to be in a very depressed condition, would not resort to so ungenerous a proceeding. He felt that Ireland was struggling with great peculiar difficulties, that she was suffering from a system of political agitation which had existed for many years, and in his mind these were sufficient grounds why the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government should not seek to impose upon her the burden of the Property Tax. He hoped that hon. Members would, upon reflection, agree with him, that the course proposed by the hon. Member for Bath, involved a miserable and pitiful policy, as shortsighted as it would prove oppressive. He trusted that the decision of the English county Members would show, that the imputations cast upon them and upon their conduct by the hon. Member were unfounded; and that the hon. Member, instead of proving that the agricultural Members were base, had proved simply that he was incapable of appreciating the motives that actuated them; indeed, as regarded the agricultural Members, his observations were highly characteristic, graced by much talent, but ill-conditioned and inveterate. He would that he was gifted with the eloquence of the hon. and learned Member for Dungarvon, then could he do justice to his cause. But as it was, if the hon. and learned Member 781 for Bath chose to arm himself with the Income Tax, and cross into Ireland, like the knight of La Mancha in quest of adventures, with the hon. Member for Essex at his squire, he (Mr. Newdigate) strongly suspected that he would meet with obstacles more difficult to avoid than windmills, more hard to encounter than flocks of sheep.
§ Mr. Muntz
was not at all surprised that Irish gentlemen should strongly object to having the Income Tax imposed on them; but he did not understand why there should be a difference made between that and the other parts of the country. He could not understand on what principle the people of Ireland were to have a large remission of taxation made to them, and not to give anything in return. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Bath in his present proposition, and he thought that, next to an absentee tax, the Property Tax was the best tax that could be imposed on Ireland.
§ Mr. Roebuck
would only make one observation with respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Warwickshire. He would leave it to the House and the country to judge whether the hon. Member had got the best of the argument by his loss of temper.
§ Sir H. Winston Barron
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Bath had not attempted to point out any ground for imposing this tax on the people of Ireland for the first time. In the face of that House, he would tell the hon. Member that he should have abstained from making those observations respecting certain absent Members which he had indulged in. The hon. Member had chosen to talk of the "personal insignificance" of those absent Members; it showed his gross ignorance and presumption to talk of those Gentlemen in the way he would not have dared to have done if they had been present. He repeated that the hon. Member would not have dared to have said what he did; and he (Sir Winston Barron) would leave the country to judge of a man who would not say that in the presence of those Gentlemen, which he had dared to say in their absence.
§ The Chairman
The observations of the hon. Member are unparliamentary in the imputations which he casts on another hon. Member.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
I am not aware that they are. I mean, that I think there is nothing unparliamentary in what I said.
§ The Chairman
The language is stronger, in my opinion, than ought to be 782 used. I think the hon. Member ought not to indulge in it.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
was always ready to how to the Chair. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had alluded to the taxation of Ireland, but in a manner showing the grossest ignorance of the question of which he was talking. He had spoken as if the landlords of Ireland were men who paid no part of the taxation of this country, or of the revenues of the State. Was he aware, that at the time of the Union, the English debt was 450,000,000l., and in 1817 had only increased to 734,000,000l.; while the Irish debt, which was but 28,000,000l. sterling at the Union, had been advanced in the subsequent sixteen years to 112,000,000l.? The debt of Ireland was quadrupled, while the debt of England was not doubled. And what were the taxes remitted from 1816 up to 1842? In England, in that time, no less than 45,000 000l, per annum of taxation had been remitted; in Ireland, just 2,000,000l. of annual taxation had been remitted in that time—one-twentieth of the remission England obtained. At the Union, the proportion of the taxation of Ireland was fixed at two-seventeenths of that of the Empire; and the House of Lords in Ireland protested against that ratio as unjust, because of the poverty of the country, as also did Mr. Foster, then Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. But the hon. and learned Member for Bath, who brought forward this question without knowing a single atom of the subject, was probably not aware that the Irish Exchequer had paid, not two-seventeenths, but more than one-sixth of the national taxation. The hon. and learned Member might smile, but he would ask for fair contradiction and argument, and not a laugh. Every one of these statements was taken from Returns on the Table of the House. What said the Committee of Finance in 1815—a Committee appointed by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and upon which there were only two Irish Members? After consideration of the subject for four months, they said, "Ireland has advanced in permanent taxation more rapidly than Great Britain herself, notwithstanding the immense exertions of the latter country, and including the extraordinary and war taxes." Upon this point, he had also the authority of Mr. Foster, afterwards Baron Foster, a Conservative in principle, and a man of great experience and authority in matters of finance. In the 783 House that Gentleman declared, speaking on the Consolidation of the two Exchequers, "The taxation of Ireland at the Union was 2,440,000l. only; in 1810 it had risen to 4,280,000l.; in 1816 it was 5,760,000l.; and, in fact, at this moment taxation in that country has been carried to almost its ne plus ultra." But the hon. and learned Member for Bath, with his experience of Ireland, with his acquaintance with that country, with his deep learning, and his great and transcendent knowledge of finance, tells you to lay an Income Tax upon her as a remedy for her grievances. Lord Sydenham, in the House of Commons in 1830, said that "taxation in Ireland had gone to such a pitch that the more taxes they laid on, the less income they received." That position had not been denied till the hon. and learned Member for Bath, with his learning, came down to propose the laying on an Income Tax. That was his remedy for the grievances of Ireland. Such was the ignorance of men who attempted to grapple with questions of that moment. What said Lord Fitzgerald, himself Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, and who brought about the Consolidation of the Exchequers in 1816—an Irishman of experience, high character, great information, and moderation too—a man greatly respected in that House? What had Lord Fitzgerald said on this subject? He would refer the hon. and learned Member for Bath to the report of his speech when proposing the Consolidation of the Exchequers in the year 1816, as reported in Hansard. The noble Lord is reported to have said, "I hope it will not be said that Ireland throws a great burden on England, with a view of saving herself." Mark that. "You contracted for her an expenditure which she could not meet; she has been led to hope that that expenditure would be less when united to this country than it turned out to be. She had paid more than 78,000,000l. above her share, being 45,000,000l. more than her revenue for fifteen years"—but a higher authority—the hon. and learned Member for Bath—told them to lay on the Income Tax—she was not half taxed enough; that was his panacea for the evils of Ireland! What had the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1822 stated with regard to the financial state of Ireland, in his place in Parliament? "The Union contribution of 2–17ths is now allowed on all hands to be more than she was able to bear." So much for the information—so much for the experience and for the testimony of the hon. and learned 784 Member for Bath. He thought the House would rather lean to the testimony he had quoted of various Chancellors of the Exchequer, than on the financial experience of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. At all events he was confident that the Irish Members in the House, and all English Members who had studied the question, and really understood it, would vote against the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. They had inflicted on Ireland an equivalent duty to the Income Tax, in the additional Stamp Duty. They would not have gained one shilling more by the Income Tax without the Stamp Duty. He thought if they had not laid a shilling of taxation on the country, they would have done their duty to the United Empire, because the poverty of Ireland was great and her property small, and because every inducement should be given to men of property to remain in the country. Ireland required that improvement more than any other part of the Empire. They had drawn from her her Parliament, and with that the greatest proprietors in the country, their friends, relatives and followers, who all naturally flowed to this great city as to a vortex. One of the great grievances complained of in Ireland was over taxation: they were over taxed to an enormous degree beyond their resources. He would maintain that there was not a country in Europe, with its amount of resources, that was so highly taxed as Ireland. The landed proprietors of Ireland were very large losers by the alteration in the tithes. He never got a single farthing of the tithe from his tenants; but he was now paying three-fourths of it to the clergyman where he never paid a shilling before. The tenants before paid the tithes, and in many cases the landlords got no equivalent from their tenants. They could not ask their tenants for the pittance of 10s. or 20s., but (the landlords) were called on to pay a gross sum to the clergymen. That was the boon granted to the landlords. Then there was another heavy tax imposed on them—the tax to support the poor. He was not making any complaints on the subject; he was delighted that there should be a provision for the poor. He was a warm supporter of that law; but it was a heavy tax on the landlords. In addition to these taxes, the hon. and learned Member for Bath advised the imposition of an Income Tax. It would be an impolitic and an unjust tax, in the circumstances of the country. He knew some of his friends had 785 absented themselves from Parliament on conscientious grounds. It was because they despaired of justice being done to Ireland, that they had withdrawn themselves in the hope of better times. Those men had the sympathies of the Irish people with them, and possessed their warmest confidence and affection. He (Sir H. W. Barron) would not degrade those men by comparing them with the man who called them insignificant. Might better times arise! For there was a strong growing feeling of violent dissatisfaction in Ireland at the present state of things. He implored men of all parties to lay aside ancient feuds, and to try by mutual sacrifices to meet the wants of the people. No people were governed successfully for any length of time by the sword, and Ireland was the last nation to be governed in that manner; but they could govern her by the heart easier, perhaps, than any nation was ever so governed. If the measures which had been brought forward some seven or eight years ago by the late Government had been calmly discussed, and the grants to Maynooth had been met in another strain, and not by meetings in Exeter Hall, and at Liverpool, and elsewhere, grossly calumniating the Irish people; and if the leading journals of the Conservative party had not grossly insulted the priesthood and the people of Ireland, they would have had less difficulties to contend with. They were now reaping the bitter fruit of their own sowing. All their acts could not be forgotten in a day, or a week, or a month. They might repent; but they must be placed on the stool of repentance for some time before the people of Ireland would trust in their professions. They were now making some compensation at Maynooth, and in their projected measures as to education. He thanked the Government for them; but he would have thanked them ten thousand times more if they had done it before they were driven to it by agitation.
§ Colonel Conolly
begged leave to offer a few remarks in explanation. He deplored most exceedingly the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he regretted that any remarks that he might have made should appear to countenance its introduction. He had referred to the Income Tax in England having given a boon to proprietors in his own country, in enabling them to borrow money to clear off encumbrances on their estates at 2 per cent. less than they had previously paid. But, instead of this advantage of 2 per cent. to them, the Motion of the hon. and 786 learned Gentleman went to add an imposition of at least 3 per cent. upon property in Ireland. The Motion was, therefore, he considered calculated to increase and aggravate the pecuniary difficulties of that country; and he saw with great pain that it would also tend to revive and increase the agitation which unfortunately existed there. He hailed the abatement of agitation—the introduction of capital, and the consequent stimulus to industry, as important symptoms of the advancement of the condition of Ireland; and he could not have expected that any Gentleman would have availed himself of any casual statement which might have fallen from him, as a ground for interrupting all those important advantages that he had enumerated. He could tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that if anything could embitter public feeling in Ireland—revive agitation in that country, and impede its progress towards improvement, it was—he was firmly convinced—the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said it was impossible for him, holding the situation which he had the honour to fill, to permit the subject then before the House to pass without expressing his feelings respecting it. Whatever credit he might be disposed to concede to the hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced that Motion for general talents and ability, he could not allow him much credit for tact in conciliating support, or for skill in estimating the value of financial measures. The hon. and learned Gentleman had made appeals of very different character to different portions of the House. He had appealed to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen on his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) right, on the ground that, by imposing a Property Tax on Ireland, they would be enabled to afford relief to themselves, and to those whose interests they represented in that House. That appeal had been met in a proper spirit by the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), in a spirit in which, he was sure, it would be met by the great majority of those whom it was intended to influence. He did not think it right to increase the taxation of Ireland; and, if he were right—as he trusted he would be able to show he was—in that view of the matter, then he did not believe there was one hon. Gentleman on that side of the House who would be actuated, in a case of that nature, by so low a motive as that of imposing a tax on the sister country—a tax calculated to produce 787 in that country consequences injurious to its growing prosperity, perhaps, fatal to its best interests—for the mere purpose of relieving himself from an annual payment of 7d. in the pound, or his tenants from an annual payment of 3½d. in the pound on their incomes. However the hon. and learned Gentleman might appeal to the feelings of the House on that question, he would, he was sure, on reflection, perceive that the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Warwickshire, had taken the proper and only worthy view of the question. The hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed his opinion very strongly as to the absence of many hon. Members of that House who were connected with the sister country. He would not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman through the observations he had thought fit to make; but this he would say, that much as he should, on ordinary occasions, regret that any hon. Member of that House should countenance the supposition that the British House of Commons would not be capable of attending equally to the wants of every portion of the Empire, and should in consequence think fit to absent himself from his duties in Parliament, still he felt that if ever there was an occasion on which he should be disposed to regret the absence of such Members less than another, it was on a night like that, when they were called upon to debate a question peculiarly calculated to affect the interests of that portion of the country to which those hon. Members belonged; because he was convinced the result of that debate would be such as to satisfy those hon. Gentlemen that they had misunderstood and miscalculated the feelings of England, and of the English Members in that House. He was convinced that the vote of that night would satisfy those absent Irish Members, if they were disposed to reflect at all, that it was not the presence of the Representatives of that particular portion of the United Kingdom, which made the interests of that portion be attended to; but that the assembled House of Commons was—in their absence—disposed to watch with more than usual care the interests of that part of the Empire; and to deal with that portion, the Representatives of which absented themselves, in the same spirit as with the remainder, and save it from burdens which they were themselves unwilling to bear. If the debate of that evening tended to produce that result, one advantage—and that not an inconsiderable 788 one—would be derived from the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But to come to the immediate subject of the Resolution before the House—namely, whether it were expedient that they should impose on Ireland an Income Tax leviable from real property—for that, he believed, was the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in terms, indeed, proposed something more; for he proposed to extend to Ireland, not only the tax upon real property, now payable in this country, but also to continue the increased Stamp Duties, which the House had originally imposed upon Ireland as an equivalent to the Income Tax on Great Britain. [Mr. Roebuck: I said, remit those duties.] If he had been led into a mistake, it was in consequence of the wording of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman distinctly stated, that in addition to the Property and Income Taxes, and the Stamp Duties in Ireland, it was expedient further to add the words—that the provisions of the said Act should be extended to Ireland, under the regulations mentioned in the notice. He had no wish to press upon the hon. and learned Gentleman any expression of opinion which he had not intended to offer to the House; and he begged to assure him that he alluded to the wording of the Motion merely for the purpose of justifying himself in the statement which he had been induced to make. As the hon. and learned Gentleman denied his intention of advocating the continuance of the Stamp Duty in Ireland, in addition to a Property Tax, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was of course to presume that he had no such desire. The learned Gentleman had said that they were called upon to provide for the common exigencies of the Empire, that is, for exigencies that applied equally to every part of the United Kingdom, by an equal distribution of the amount on all. Now, it seemed to him that the hon. and learned Gentleman laboured under a misapprehension on that particular point. He seemed to think that an equal provision for the common exigencies of the United Kingdom, implied not merely an equal share of the common burdens, but an application to all the parts of the Empire of the same identical taxes. That was not what he understood by the different portions of the United Kingdom bearing in common the necessary burdens of the State. In appropriating the respective shares of these burdens 789 to each, they should, on all occasions, have reference to the peculiar circumstances of the particular portion of the Empire for which they legislated. They could not form an iron rule to be applied indiscriminately to every part of the population; but they should be governed by the conditions and the peculiar circumstances of each part of the United Kingdom, These principles were extremely simple in themselves, and should be borne in mind in discussing a question like the present. When Her Majesty's Government thought it essential to impose a Property Tax for the purpose of upholding the credit of the country, and of making great changes in their commercial relations, in 1842, it became his duty to consider in what mode a Property Tax, for these two great objects, could best be imposed. In entering on that question, it Could not be supposed that he should neglect to consider the best means of drawing from Ireland her fair proportion of the additional contribution required for the common necessities of the State. He went into that inquiry, and he found that by imposing a Property Tax on that part of the United Kingdom, he might indeed subject the inhabitants to a heavy burden, which they were but ill calculated to bear; but that, looking to the result to the Exchequer—to which it was his duty more especially to refer—the amount which it would there produce would be very little. And why was this? In England they had been long accustomed to a heavy taxation, part of which was levied in the shape of direct taxation upon property. In Ireland the taxation was indirect. Throughout this country there was the machinery necessary for the collection of the land tax and of the assessed taxes, which did not exist in Ireland. The imposition of the Property Tax in England, using the existing machinery for its collection, was therefore calculated to produce the largest amount to the Exchequer, with the least possible expense of collection, the additional cost of the existing machinery being extremely small, while the produce to the Exchequer was proportionally large. Therefore, as far as that tax applied to England, it had the merit which all taxes ought to have, of producing the greatest amount to the Exchequer, with the least possible burden on the people. But if the Property Tax were to be extended to Ireland, where none of the necessary machinery existed, and where the tax could only be collected by the institution of paid officers, and of all the extensive arrangements 790 necessary for hearing appeals, and for meeting the other difficulties that would arise; the expense of the collection of this heavy burden on the people would be such as to produce but a very small return to the Exchequer. Unlike the indirect taxes that were collected in that country it would be got in at such an enormous expense in proportion to the amount, that the ultimate payment into the Exchequer would not by any means be equal to the burden imposed on the people. They had had some experience as to the collection of such taxes in Ireland already. They had had the assessed taxes in Ireland at a former period, and the result was, that it imposed a heavy burden on the people, and got nothing whatever into the Exchequer, If they had imposed a Property Tax on Ireland, having to create anew the whole of the machinery necessary for its collection, what would be the result? Why, they would have oppressed the people and got nothing for the Government. With these views and feelings he submitted to Parliament, in 1842, that as an equivalent for the Income Tax in England, the people of Ireland should be subjected to the extension to them of the Stamp Duties payable by this country, and to an additional duty on spirits. He defied any man to show—after taking the amount that these increased duties produced in Ireland, on the one hand, and on the other the amount which the Exchequer would derive from an extension of the Property Tax to that country—that the public interests sustained any ultimate loss by the decision to which the House had come on the question. The hon. and learned Gentleman had indeed proposed that that tax should be entirely confined to landed and real property in Ireland. He had told them in the course of his speech that landed property in Ireland was extremely burdened and encumbered. No doubt there was some truth in that remark; but what result was to be adduced from that double statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman? Why, that the Property Tax in Ireland would be unproductive: every gentleman who would be so burdened would be entitled to deduct from the Income Tax paid by him the amount chargeable on the interest paid for his debts. It had also been observed that these debts were generally for money advanced by people in this part of the United Kingdom, so that the hon. Gentleman would perceive that the taxable income from landed property in Ireland would be considerably diminished. 791 The hon. and learned Gentleman would also remember, that a tax on Property, which, according to his own statement, would not be a burden on the poorer classes, would necessarily be a burden on the tenantry of Ireland also, and subject them to the same pressure to which the English tenantry were subjected, and of which some Gentlemen complained. He would merely ask, was it desirable to take from the tenants of Ireland a larger proportion of their industry than they had now to pay? As a financial measure, a Property Tax in Ireland would, as he had shown, be a total failure. If, indeed, the House had adopted the proposition of the hon. Member for Kendal, and made the Income Tax a permanent source of revenue to the Empire, then, indeed, its extension to Ireland might be advisable, and it might become worth their while to consider whether they would not sacrifice the produce of the tax for a time, in order to form the establishment which would be necessary for the collection of the tax; but he would again say, that the formation of such an establishment for the collection of such a tax for a limited period, would only impose a grievous burden on the people, without producing a beneficial result to the Exchequer. There were other motives also, not of a financial, but of a political and local nature to which he might refer, as rendering it inexpedient and unadvisable to impose such a tax at the present moment on Ireland; but with these he considered it unnecessary to trouble the House. They had heard it observed that evening by an hon. Member that the absence of this burden on the Irish proprietor while residing at home, was greatly instrumental in procuring for the Irish people the residence among them of many of the gentry who otherwise would continue to be absentees. His noble Friend, the Member for Bandon, had referred to this subject, and had dwelt on the advantages which, were derived by the country from having the resident gentry among them, attending to the better cultivation of the soil, and improving the condition of their tenantry. He believed the wish to be so employed, operating with the desire to be exempt from a Property Tax, had not been without its effect in securing the residence in Ireland of gentlemen having property in that country. The hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams) had complained of public officers in Ireland not being subject to the Income Tax. If the hon. Gentleman intended to support the 792 Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, he would find himself mistaken if he thought that he at the same time advanced his own proposition, since the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman expressly excluded that very class from the provision of his Motion. He would therefore advise the hon. Gentleman to take counsel of him, and to record his vote against the present Amendment. But the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Williams) said, "Why not make the incomes of these officers subject to the Income Tax? They are paid out of the Revenue of Great Britain, and they should not, therefore, be exempt." But why did the hon. Gentleman assume that they were so paid? Ireland contributed her share to the burdens of the State, and she paid the officers who performed the public duties within her limits; and therefore if any one class in Ireland was exempted, he could not understand on what principle any other class should be subjected to the tax. He did not think that the present was a fitting occasion to follow the hon. Member for Coventry through the various disquisitions into which he entered. At the discussion of the various estimates which were to be submitted to Parliament, they would have, at no distant period, an opportunity of considering those estimates in detail. He could tell the hon. Gentleman, if he wished to renew the discussion on that subject, that they had been all prepared, with every regard to economy, and with a due consideration for the permanent interests of the country. It was enough, on the present occasion, for him to confine himself to the subject immediately before the House. He had given a decided opinion that they could not impose on Ireland a Property Tax without making it burdensome to the inhabitants of that country, without conferring on the Exchequer any equivalent. Hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House in the course of that evening had alluded to various other circumstances of a political nature, which rendered the imposition of that tax at the present moment in Ireland unadvisable. He would not enter into these matters. He had endeavoured to establish the fact that as a tax it would be unproductive to the Revenue, and having done so, he considered it unnecessary to enter into other branches of the question. He had endeavoured to avoid any observations that could irritate the feelings of individuals in that country; such observations would be foreign to his own feelings, and he believed would be injurious 793 to the general interest of the United Kingdom. He trusted that the hon. and learned Gentleman would study the same feelings, and would be induced to withdraw a proposition which might so easily and effectively be misrepresented for evil purposes. If the hon. Gentleman did not, he trusted the House would, in the absence of so large a portion of the Irish Members, prove to the people of Ireland that Englishmen did not desire to impose burdens upon them; but that their best interests would always be watched over and fought for by the Representatives of this country, as strenuously as by their own Members.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it appeared to him that many representations had been made by hon. Members, of the bearing of his hon. and learned Friend's proposition, upon wholly erroneous views of the real state of the case, and of what the House was now called on to do. He should have been as anxious as any one to press upon the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) the necessity of making some alterations in the Income Tax; but as the right hon. Gentleman stated it was only to be a temporary tax, he should not have wished to see it altered as regarded Ireland, in ordinary circumstances. But what was the fact? The whole objection made to the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend, was made under the idea that this was a new tax upon Ireland. He denied the allegation, and he hoped to be able to explain why he did so. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated to the House, most clearly, that he wanted no new tax to carry on the service of the country; he stated that the Revenue was 51,000,000l. (speaking in round numbers), and the Expenditure only 49,500,000l., and that therefore there would be a surplus of 1,500,000l. As regarded this tax, therefore, they did not want it. But, said the right hon. Baronet, "I am about to change your taxation; I think your taxation has been, hitherto, imposed on individuals and on articles on whom it ought to press no longer." No doubt all experienced men must confirm that statement; all the papers relating to the subject of finance, now on the Table of the House, confirmed it. Then the right hon. Baronet went on to say, "I tell you that you are crippling your commerce by this means; therefore, I will do that which shall relieve individuals and the country for the future, as well as render an Income Tax unnecessary for the future; and I am perfectly satisfied the experiment will succeed; but I will not impose the 794 Income Tax on Ireland; I mean to take four millions from the taxes which it is not right should remain any longer. The whole scope of my taxation is to relieve the middle and lower classes." That was the right hon. Baronet's principle, and that principle he approved. But then the right hon. Baronet said, "I require an equal amount of revenue to that which I take off." Therefore, the imposition of an Income Tax, under these circumstances, was no new taxation of the people; because the people paid the amount of it already on the articles from which the right hon. Baronet meant to remove all taxation. For instance, Ireland as well as England paid the auction duty on sales of property. The right hon. Baronet thought that tax, from the evasions which were practised under it, had not the character of a proper tax—it was expensive and unproductive. He therefore determined to relieve the country from it. That was a boon of 300,000l. a year to all who had property to sell. Again, all the community consumed sugar. The right hon. Baronet proposed to make it 1½d. or 2d. a pound cheaper; by that change, therefore, the population of Ireland would get cheaper sugar; and an Income Tax to the same amount as the reduction in the duty on sugar, would not be a new taxation of that country. The right hon. Baronet went a step further. He took glass. The duty on that article interfered with the manufacture, and was an oppressive duty in Ireland as well as in England. Whether whiskey was drunk out of glasses in Ireland or not, he did not know; but they would get their glass so much the cheaper. Thus again an Income Tax producing the amount thus taken off would not be a fresh impost on that country; and so, on the whole, according to the right hon. Baronet, the country being about to gain as much by the reduction as the Income Tax would amount to, the imposition of it would not be said to be an imposition of a fresh burden on that country. What then was the outcry against the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition about? The Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed also to suppose that this would be imposing a new tax upon Ireland; the fact was it would not impose one farthing of taxation upon Ireland; they would only be changing the mode of taxation, and shifting it to the shoulders of those who could afford to pay it. Why, then, this outcry against the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman? It appeared to him that the exception 795 of Ireland from the tax was an exception which ought not to be continued. It was said that the population of Ireland would not benefit by the imposition of this tax; but the fact was, that the lower classes there would benefit ten times more than the higher would lose by it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the duty on stamps in Ireland raised as much revenue as would have been derived from that country by the imposition of the Income Tax. Now, he had asked the other day for Returns, showing the whole amounts received from the Stamp Duties there since they had been imposed. The result was, that while England paid 5,000,000l. to the Income Tax, Ireland, as an equivalent for her Income Tax, paid 92,000l. last year in Stamp Duties, and would this year pay 129,000l. Ireland, participating in all the reductions of indirect taxation, ought clearly, injustice, to share the burden of the Income Tax. He had for a long time past attempted to prove to the House that the taxation borne by the middle and lower classes had, for the last six years, been about 74 per cent, of the whole taxation of the country; while the great bulk of the property of the kingdom was not saddled with more than 26 per cent. He had again and again endeavoured to convince the House that, unless they removed taxation from those who were unable to bear it, and imposed it upon those who were equal to the burden, the great bulk of the population must remain in a distressed and miserable condition. Those who had the management of public affairs suffered little from taxation, and they had, therefore, felt little sympathy for the mass of the community, by whom the burden was principally borne. He called upon Ireland, in order to assist the right hon. Baronet opposite in carrying out the schemes he had propounded, to contribute her quota to the necessities of the State. Since he had possessed a seat in that House, so important a measure as that recently proposed by the right hon. Baronet had not been submitted to their consideration, or one which had such a tendency to benefit the great mass of the people of this country. Its effect would be to afford employment to labour, to open a thousand avenues for the use of capital, and to extend the commerce of the country. But he did think that Ireland ought to bear a fair share of the taxation by which these changes were to be effected, although some hon. Members who represented Irish constituencies strongly objected to such an 796 arrangement. He was not surprised at that; but he must remind those hon. Gentlemen that the hon. Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly) had been the means of bringing forward the question. He would fearlessly assert that no Member of that House could be more anxious than he was for the prosperity of Ireland, and that no man had been more ready to propose or support any measure tending to the welfare of that country. But he must remind hon. Gentlemen who represented Irish constituencies, and especially the hon. Baronet the Member for Waterford (Sir H. W. Barron), that if, as Irishmen, they claimed—as he hoped they did—equal rights with Englishmen and Scotchmen, they must be prepared to bear an equal share of taxation. He was not disposed to enter into the question whether or not Ireland had benefited by the Union; but he might remind the House, that when Mr. O'Connell, some time since, brought forward the question of Repeal, Lord Monteagle, then Secretary to the Treasury, referred to tables showing the gradual increase which had taken place in every branch of industry in Ireland since the enactment of the Union. An hon. Member had complained that while, when the Union took place, the taxes in Ireland amounted only to 2,000,000l., they had since risen to 5,000,000l. Good God! that hon. Gentleman was complaining of the benefits which had resulted from the Union; for that increase of taxation was consequent on the improving prosperity of the country. It had been said that, if this tax were extended to Ireland, it would excite incendiarism, outrage, and rebellion. If this were true, that House could never attempt to apply to Ireland any legislative measures which were not in accordance with the wishes of the Irish people. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that, because the Government, in former days, experienced difficulty in collecting the assessed taxes, the collection of a Property Tax would be attended with similar inconvenience. He was sorry to hear such a statement from the right hon. Gentleman, for it had a tendency to promote the views of those who endeavoured to excite alarm on this subject. He would ask them to give fair and equal rights to Ireland, to remove the dissatisfaction which now existed in that country, and then to call upon Ireland to pay its just and full proportion not of one tax, but of every tax. There were not many farmers in Ireland whose incomes amounted to 300l. a-year; and if, therefore? this tax were applied to Ireland, it 797 would fall principally upon the landed proprietor. He considered, also, it was only just that persons holding official situations in that country, and deriving large sums from the revenue, should be liable to a tax of this description. On these grounds, then, he gave his support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bath.
§ Sir R. Peel
Really the hon. Member for Montrose, with an unusual degree of candour, has put himself entirely out of court. I will prove to him that it is impossible for him to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath. I don't mean to say it is actually impossible for him to support that Motion, because I believe he will support it; but I mean to say that it is impossible for him, consistently with his established character for equity and good sense to give the vote he says he is prepared to record. The hon. Member for Montrose says it was his intention to leave my proposition untouched; and that he thinks, if an hon. Gentleman on this side of the House had not made a very indiscreet speech, this question never would have been agitated, and that he would have voted for the continuance of this tax, as applied to England and Scotland, without objecting to the omission of Ireland. What! is the hon. Member prepared to extend this tax to Ireland contrary to his own previous judgment, merely because an agricultural Member on this side of the House made an indiscreet speech. Is that a proper course to be pursued by an hon. Gentleman who, for the last forty years, has, with great advantage to the country I admit, and with great disinterestedness, applied himself to the consideration of financial matters? I admire the hon. Member for his seal and his industry displayed through so long a period; and, differing as I do from him on political questions, I do say that he has rendered great services to the country. I am a political opponent of that hon. Gentleman, who never gave me a vote in his life; but I am now anticipating the judgment which will be pronounced by a grateful posterity when I say that, actuated by high, pure, patriotic, disinterested motives, he has been the means of reducing the burdens on the country. But the hon. Member who, for the last forty years, has devoted his attention to questions of finance, admits that if he had not been provoked, by a foolish speech, as the hon. Member styled it, it would not have occurred to him to support the application of the tax to Ireland. Now, is that a principle 798 for a great senator to act upon? I must confess I heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly) with some dismay; I foresaw that it would furnish our opponents with some strong and specious argument in favour of the proposition now before the House; but, surely, Sir, never was so great a panegyric pronounced upon an individual speech as the admission that these observations have induced the hon. Member opposite to depart from the course of policy which he had previously marked out for himself. I foresaw with horror the effect of allegations respecting the interest of money, and the monopoly of the Irish landlords. But that a man of the hon. Member's gravity—a man of his great ability—and, above all, a man of his deep devotion to finance—should come to such a conclusion, in consequence of a single speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal, is, I confess, most astonishing. [Mr. Hume: No, no.] I cannot let the hon. Member off. I must hold him to the point. I have known high compliments paid to public men in the House; but I must say that the argument and conclusion of the hon. Member for Montrose goes beyond them all. Sir, it is the highest compliment ever paid to any public man to suppose, as the hon. Member for Montrose does, that the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Donegal is to alter the views of the Government in regard to this question. Sir, I think it is quite impossible for the House of Commons to assent to the argument and the conclusion of the hon. Member for Montrose. Let us forget the speech of the hon. Member, and the provocation to it, and let us act as we intended to act before either was uttered. I quite agree with those hon. Gentlemen that, on the first view of the case, justice would appear to require that the Income Tax should be extended to Ireland. Nay, more, I am prepared to admit that, if the Property Tax were to be made a permanent tax, it should injustice be applied to that country. But that Ireland has been exempt from it now is not an accident. It was the subject of the gravest consideration when that tax was first proposed, and it has been again the subject of consideration on the present occasion when we seek to continue it. In 1842, we assumed that the Income and Property Tax would continue for three years; and we calculated accordingly the expense of levying that tax on a country circumstanced as was 799 Ireland, in comparison with the probable income to be derived from it. This done, we came to the clear conclusion that an equivalent should be taken; and we resolved that an increased stamp duty and an additional spirit duty—[An hon. Member: The additional spirit duty has been repealed.] I am aware of it; but I refer not to the present time, but to the period when the Income Tax was first proposed in 1842. We came to the conclusion, I say, that these duties would be more productive to the Revenue of the country than the imposition of a Property and Income Tax in Ireland. After the most mature consideration of the subject, we came to the conclusion that, as there were no local Commissioners in Ireland as in this country, and as the difficulties of collecting the tax would be, therefore, very great, although justice required that Ireland should not be exempted from any general tax in the permanent scheme of taxation, that the ends of justice in this instance would be effectually answered, and that it would, moreover, be better for this country if we took an equivalent from it, rather than proceed to the imposition of a new tax—a tax which neither Pitt, nor Fox, nor Lord Sidmouth, nor Lord Grenville, nor any other Minister, attempted to impose, because of the great local difficulties that existed. We adopted the same course, and not from any desire to favour Ireland at the expense of Great Britain, but because of the great local difficulties in the way of collecting such a tax in that country. It is now proposed again to continue the Income Tax for a limited period, in order to effect a commutation of taxation bearing upon the manufactures of the United Kingdom. It is impossible to disregard the peculiar situation of different parts of the United Kingdom; and though I firmly believe the commerce of Ireland will be as much benefited as the commerce of England by the remission of the duty upon cotton and glass; though I rejoice in the advantages which will, I believe, result to the lower and more laborious classes from such remission, yet, when I look at the immediate effect that will arise from the imposition of the Income and Property Tax, and the abolition of other taxes bearing upon the industry of the country, I must say, I find, from the peculiar circumstances of Great Britain as compared to Ireland, the advantage of that course will not be chiefly for Ireland, but for this part of the United Kingdom. Now, let us see what will be 800 the direct effect of the removal of those taxes the remission of which we propose, not with regard to the consumers, but to those concerned in manufactures in Great Britain and Ireland respectively. The amount of duty upon cotton may not afford a fair criterion, for the cotton used in Ireland is chiefly imported into Liverpool. You levy, from a duty upon raw cotton, a sum of about 700,000l. in the United Kingdom. What amount does Ireland pay upon the same amount? The duty paid on account of cotton imported into Ireland is 114l. As I said before, however, this article does not afford a fair criterion, because the greater part of the cotton used in Ireland is imported into Liverpool: but I wish to see, and I shall rejoice to see the time when Ireland will not be dependent upon Liverpool: when Cork, and Waterford will be the depôts for such imports. But let us look to the Excise Duties. Take the auction duty. The amount of auction duty paid in Great Britain is 270,000l.; in Ireland 11,700l. Then take the duty on glass. Great Britain pays 574,000l.; Ireland 5,747l. Now, do not these facts exhibit a material difference between the present position of Great Britain and Ireland, with respect to Excise Duties — at least to those manufactures, the materials of which are about to be exempted from duty? I wish I could convince the people of Ireland of the feeling which animates the Government with regard to their interests. I am convinced there is but one feeling in this House (calumniated as it is and has been in Ireland, denounced as consisting of persons desirous only to promote British interests) with regard to Ireland. I believe I express the feeling of this House when I say that it would afford us the highest pleasure and satisfaction if we saw the cotton manufacture and the glass manufacture extensively established and prospering in Ireland; if we saw, not merely a great body of consumers benefited by the remission of duties proposed by Government, but the Irish manufacturers entering into honest and successful competition with the manufacturers of this country. The noble Lord (Lord Bernard) has, in a brief speech, but one abounding with powerful and conclusive arguments, stated that in his own county in Ireland, many men who formerly devoted their energies to agitation, are now applying their time, their exertions, and their capital, to the establishment of railways, the improvement of agriculture, 801 —indeed, to everything that constitutes the foundation of a nation's prosperity. I should rejoice if an additional stimulus were given to these new exertions by the establishment of the glass and cotton manufactures in Ireland, thus affording occupation to many thousands who are at present unable to obtain more than imperfect employment. When I look, then, at the different amounts paid by the two countries as glass and auction duties, I am led to the conclusion that from the remission of taxes upon important manufactures, Great Britain will derive by far the greater advantage. The proposition that England and Ireland should be subjected in all respects to equal taxation appears a plausible one; but that is not the question which you are now called upon to determine. What you are called upon now to decide is this:—whether Great Britain, being subject to the payment of a tax upon income derived from land, on income derived from office, on profits of trade, and on income obtained from all occupations to which salary is attached—you will determine that in Ireland, land, and land alone, shall be liable to this tax; whether you will exempt the manufacturer who carries on his trade in Ireland, from the operation of that tax, and restrict it solely to land? Now, the House must remember that, under existing circumstances, if an Irish landed proprietor be resident in England, he is liable to the Income Tax; and the tax, therefore, operates upon him as a powerful incentive—one more powerful, I fear, in some cases, than the obligations of duty—to reside in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman proposes that land, and land only, shall be subject to the impost. If he had said, as another hon. Gentleman, (Mr. W. Williams) did, "offices;" I think there is something plausible in that proposal; but I don't mean to adopt it. The hon. Gentleman says, "There are certain public servants with large salaries, let us tax them." There really is something extremely captivating in that to those who share in the hon. Member's prejudices against public servants. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath does not propose that offices shall be taxed; so that the Lord Lieutenant would be exempt, whilst land alone is to bear the burden. I can't see the equality or the justice of the principle of the hon. Member for Bath. I am, therefore, on the whole, strongly in favour of the original proposition that, after mature consideration, I did, on the part of the Government, 802 propose to the House. I willingly admit that on the first view of the case, justice would suggest the policy of applying this tax to Ireland—I admit that; but I must also say that subsequent consideration has confirmed our original views, and that to them we must adhere. The hon. Member for Essex (Sir J. Tyrell) said that I cheered the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Dungarvon, when he said, that to place the tax on Ireland would be "unjust." I did nothing of the sort. I can't say now that abstractedly speaking it would be unjust. What I cheered was that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he said that it would be "impolitic." In that sentiment I do entirely concur—for I cannot disregard the natural, moral, and political consequences in estimating the value of a tax of this sort. You may quote your passages from former speeches of mine where I said I thought justice would require that this tax should be applied to Ireland. I admit it; but when I look at the present state of that country—when I consider the transition that it is undergoing—when I see the brighter prospects that begin to dawn upon her—how men have been diverted from political agitation to exercise their faculties in more useful employments—when I behold men of different creeds leagued together in one common bond of mutual advantage, applying themselves to the improvement and prosperity of their native land—when I perceive the great and happy change that has been effected in public feeling in Ireland, I look forward with sanguine hopes to the brightest prospects for the future. If you ask me whether the 200,000l. which might be derived to the Revenue from the imposition of an Income Tax on Ireland be not a sufficient compensation for the I risk and the evil it would inflict on that I country, I say at once, no. I say at once, taking a large and comprehensive view of the state and condition of Ireland, and the I Irish people, I advise you strenuously to relinquish such a small advantage. And I call upon you, moreover, to convince Ireland, predominant as you are, as the Representatives of the United Kingdom, that you are disposed on all occasions—this as well as the rest—to take a liberal and indulgent view of her interests, by showing that, while you consent to the imposition of a heavy tax upon yourselves for a further space of three years, you resolve not to apply the same tax to Ireland. Take 803 that course; relinquish your own peculiar advantages, and my belief is that you will be amply compensated by the feeling of reciprocal good-will that you will engender from the people whose wants and necessities, whose inferior condition with respect to wealth you have shown yourselves disposed to view with kindness and consideration.
§ Mr. Sergeant Murphy
did not rise to address the House, because he in the least anticipated that the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bath would be acceded to. If his mere object in attending the debate were the delight to be derived from the exhibition of eloquence—from listening to the caustic satire of the hon. Member for Bath, or the luminous epigrammatic force of his right hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvon, he might have been amply gratified. There was one speech, however, which possessed a higher excellence than either, and that was the speech of the hon. Representative of the agriculturists of Essex (Sir J. Tyrell.) While he admired the incongruous combination that had been entered into between the hon. Member for Bath and the hon. Baronet, he must be allowed to award the palm of excellence to the speech of the latter hon. Member (Sir J. Tyrell.) To that hon. Gentleman he would apply the remarks that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government applied to the hon. Mover of the Address to Her Majesty at the commencement of this Session. The right hon. Baronet then said,—My hon. Friend who has spoken to-night I trust will remember what he has accomplished; and when he has met with the general approbation of all parties, he must not forget that he has acquired responsibility by his success. He has a long and I trust an honourable career before him. He has proved this day that he has the ability of distinguishing himself in the public service; and, unless he avails himself of those opportunities of exertion and distinction which he can command, he will greatly disappoint the hopes formed respecting him by the evidence he has given of great ability, great moderation, great judgment, and great discretion.How he envied the agreeable occupation of his hon. and learned Friend, combining the double function of Pan and Mercury—and driving before him to the new lobby so thriving a flock,—gregem viridi compellere hibisco.Still he could not on the present occasion, 804 feel that the Member for Bath was a fitting type of the old quotation,Who drives fat cattle should himself be fat!The hon. Member for Essex had instanced his present position as one akin to that which, like misery, made one acquainted with strange bed-fellows. He wondered if the hon. Member for Essex looked upon the hon. Member for Bath as one of the "lively crawlers" to whom he had made such significant allusion. Whatever was the result of all that had been said, he must be allowed to characterise the present as an extraordinary juxtaposition. At the same time, he would exclaim with Caractacus to Claudius, "Why do you with so heavy a tail here envy us with our small tail at home?" He had frequently seen his hon. and learned Friend standing, like a hand grenade, in the middle of the floor of that House, no one knowing where he would explode, or where he would scatter his fire; but he had not thought that so small a comet could attach to himself so heavy a tail. As, however, his hon. and learned Friend had taken such a tail, he wished him joy of the acquisition. There was another speech to which he must refer, that of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, the raciness or the spirit of which he did not know which most to admire. Admirably had the right hon. Baronet dealt with the heavy wit of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, who had been caught by the expression of the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly), He was happy to believe that one source of the gallant Officer's income was derived from the fisheries. He was sure that his hon. Friend never had so large a spent salmon on his hooks before. These odd associations really made the discussion pre-eminently ludicrous. For a moment, however, to be more serious. His hon. and learned Friend did not seem to be aware that a deep sensitiveness of feeling marked the Irish character; and he must say that the terms of deep opprobium, and almost of withering contempt, in which he had spoken of the absence of certain hon. Friends of his from that House were wholly undeserved and unjust. Mr. S. O'Brien had gained for himself the highest respect and esteem from every one, and he had made a speech in that House which had entitled him to be ranked amongst the highest in the class of argumentative debaters. He (Mr. Sergeant Murphy) was extremely sorry, therefore, 805 that his hon. and learned Friend had allowed himself to speak of that hon. Gentleman as he had done, and he was equally sorry that he had made this Motion at all. He was sorry, because he doubted not that the hon. and learned Gentleman's observations would be re-echoed from Ireland, not as an arrow coming from the shafts of Orangemen—not as an arrow from the shafts of a consistent bitter enemy of freedom; but as one shot by a Gentleman, the whole of whose career might be said in some degree to resemble their own—from a Gentleman who was endowed with great talent, of high honour, and of great distinction, who had thrown himself into the breach in England, and had shown himself as a man ready to fight the good fight of popular measures. The absentees from that House might be mistaken, but his hon. and learned Friend should have been the last to blame them; and when he was so caustic on the Member for Dungarvon's recommendation that he should read Burke's speech on conciliation with America, he might have been reminded by the name of that country how close was its neighbourhood to Canada. He was sorry that the remarks had come from the source whence they had; and he believed that his hon. and learned Friend would be glad of an opportunity to admit that he had employed unguarded expressions. With regard the Motion immediately before the House, the arguments pro and con had been so completely sifted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that it was unnecessary for him to say one word; neither was it a question for consideration, for the House would be almost unanimous in its decision. But there was one point to which be wished to refer. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, "Put a tax on real property in Ireland;" but where would he find it? Where was there an estate in Ireland that was free from mortgages? Then what was the panacea for all the ills of Ireland? Gentlemen on both sides of the House said, "Be peaceable, and see what will follow—you are in a wretchedly poor and impoverished condition; be peaceable, and, as you have no money of your own, capital will then flow in from England, and your condition will be improved." Yet those who counselled them to be peaceable on this ground, joined with the hon. and learned Member for Bath, and endeavoured to add to their distresses by the imposition 806 of an obnoxious tax, which they were unable to pay. He would ask his hon. Friend if it were politic so to act when Ireland was in its present state—— per ignesSuppositos cineri doloso?In conclusion, as he had before said, he had reason not to discuss the measure, because it was not a measure for argument, but he did enter his protest against the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend on the ground of its great impolicy.
§ Colonel Rawdon
must oppose the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend; and he did so because he believed that if acceded to, it would materially interfere with, and render problematical, the good Government of the country. The people of Ireland were ready fairly to contribute their portion to meet the exigencies of the country; but in matters of this kind prudential motives of policy should not be lost sight of, and he certainly was of opinion that the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend was characterised in an eminent degree by the absence of any prudential motive. It must be clear to every one, that the hon. and learned Member for Bath was envious because Ireland did not pay every tax that he paid himself. He was of opinion also that that hon. and learned Gentleman had chosen a singular time for wishing to impose this tax upon Ireland. He appeared to have chosen the first moment of prosperity that had dawned upon that country for some time; and he feared that the hon. and learned Member had formed his view of Irish prosperity in great part upon the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly). But his hon. and gallant Friend was, as the House knew, of a rather sanguine temperament—somewhat inclined to view things a little couleur de rose. There were, he believed, measures in progress that might, ere long, add much to the improved condition of Ireland; but still he was aware that at this time many persons in the middle ranks of life, and almost all the small traders, found their local burdens extremely oppressive; and he (Colonel Rawdon) was convinced, if the Income Tax were imposed upon them, that it would be the cause of very great distress. He must say he had seen Irish country gentlemen superintending the improvement of their estates, and watching with paternal care the comfort of their tenantry; and he did not think this was a safe moment to malign them. As a matter of history he 807 might be allowed to state, that to the country gentlemen and landed interest of England in the House of Commons, had been principally ascribed the policy pursued towards America in the last century. Some of the country gentlemen of England were now about to vote with the hon. and learned Member for Bath. In 1764 they supposed that by imposing a tax upon America, their own burdens would be lightened; but what was the consequence? Why, that in 1765 the papers contained these words: "Matters of importance have lately occurred in America." The fact was, America had resisted. The interest of money rose, the funds fell, and the value of real property declined. This was the work of the country gentlemen; and when they saw that something had gone wrong, they were obliged to retrace their steps. It would be unworthy to talk of fear, but prudential motives should prevail; and it was not an unbecoming course for him, as a Member of that House, to pursue, to point to the history of America. The mooting of this question in the House of Commons, he feared, would cause considerable mischief. He deplored it, for he believed that the success of the Motion would render the government of Ireland very difficult. The House might hasten the day of separation between the two countries if this Measure were passed; but if it would be able to adjourn that day for ever, it must be by doing justice.
§ Mr. Curteis
was opposed to all Property and Income Tax, and he could not, therefore, vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. He thought that a Property and Income Tax was so great an evil that they ought to be ashamed of themselves if, for any pecuniary consideration, they imposed it upon Ireland. The agricultural interest of England was deeply interested in this question, and he thought the representatives of the landed interest in that House had not done all that they might do in opposing this tax. He was altogether opposed to it, and he thought that if the representatives of the agricultural interest in that House were not shackled with party ties, they would take his view of the case. He did not mean to say that the tax was not a burden upon a variety of interests in this country, but he believed it pressed with greater weight upon the landed interest. These were the sentiments of a large proportion of the landed interest of the country, and he thought it would be a great boon to 808 them to have the tax remitted; but he did not think that he had the support of a sufficiently large section to expect that he could effectually oppose it. He should be sorry to give hon. Members the trouble of dividing on the question of the Income Tax; but he did not think he should be doing his duty if he did not take an opportunity of recording his vote, in common with the few who might support him, in his opposition to this odious tax, which was particularly obnoxious in a time of peace, and when the necessities of the country did not render it necessary. It was a satisfaction to him that, if he should not meet the support of the bench beneath him, he had at least the speeches of several of those hon. Members in his favour to a great extent; and he hoped that there was a large number of independent Members in the House who felt themselves unconnected with any party whatever, who would agree with him in thinking that a Property Tax was a measure which at least ought to be abated, and who would support him when they came to vote on his Motion with respect to the main proposition. He would appeal to the independent Irish Members to give him their support when he should oppose this tax, as he was now opposed to the imposition of such an odious taxation upon them. He would again express his regret at giving hon. Members the trouble of dividing on the main proposition. He was unwilling to intrude himself frequently upon the House, but he felt it his duty to his constituents to divide the House upon the question of the imposition of the Property and Income Tax.
§ Mr. Blackstone
felt considerable difficulty in giving his vote on this question. On the one hand, if he were to vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, he believed it would be a just vote, but tantamount to an expression of his opinion that the Property Tax should be a permanent tax upon the country; and, on the other hand, he should consider himself as giving an unjust vote if it were to fix a tax upon England, Scotland, and Wales, without including Ireland. His hon. Friend the Member for the Northern Division of Essex had read a quotation from a speech of the right hon. Baronet when he was leader of the Opposition in 1833, clearly expressing his opinion against a Property Tax. He was at that time a humble supporter of the right hon. Baronet, but he had not yet seen reason 809 to change his opinion. He frankly confessed that he saw no indications whatever on the part of the Ministers of the Crown, who proposed the continuance of the Income and Property Tax for three years longer, for assuming that at the end of that time there would be a final termination of it; and under these circumstances he should certainly feel it his bounden duty to vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, unless he received an assurance on the part of the Government that the tax was really imposed only for three years. He could not disguise from himself the fact, that this was a tax which, as far as the Government were concerned, was found to be a progressively improving tax; year after year it would increase in proportion as the wealth of the country increased; and this circumstance would be a sufficient reason, when the three years were expired, for the Government to say, "We will not repeal this tax, because it is a very improving tax." It should not be disguised from hon. Members, that the time for which the duration of the tax was proposed was at a period after the dissolution of the present Parliament and the election of another; and he should have approved of it better if it were proposed from year to year. But, after all, there was one tax which he should be extremely glad to see either repealed or modified. He meant the Malt Tax. On this subject it was constantly asked, "How can you spare so large a portion of the revenue of the country?" His hon. Friend (Sir J. Tyrell) had alluded to the speech of the right hon. Baronet when he was leader of the Opposition, and Lord Althorp was the leader of that House; and he (Mr. Blackstone) again alluded to the subject, because the right hon. Baronet had at that period thrown out an indication that it was impossible to apply an Income Tax to England and Scotland without including Ireland. He said,—Now, my prophecy is, that you will make that tax necessary; to that you must come at last, if you will repeal the Malt tax. And I congratulate you, gentlemen, of the landed interest, on finding yourselves relieved from the pressure of the Malt Tax, and falling on a good comfortable Property Tax.But as the right hon. Gentleman had only looked for support against a repeal of the Malt Tax, he then turned round and said,—The hon. and learned Member for Ireland 810 —I mean for Dublin—in reference to the imposition of a Property Tax, said on a former occasion, that if it was to be laid on, it ought to affect all His Majesty's subjects equally, and certainly this was no more than justice. I beg, then, the Representatives of Ireland to consider what will be their situation if they vote for the repeal of the duty on malt. It would be infinitely worse even than that of the occupiers of clay soils in England. Ireland pays at present but 240,000l. out of the 4,800,000l. which the Malt Tax produces, and it would be a great hardship to Ireland to have a Property Tax imposed upon her as a countervailing substitute for her moderate proportion of the Malt Tax. They may depend upon it, however, that a Property Tax is inevitable if the Malt Tax is repealed; and the attempt, I will not say to levy that tax, if imposed—for I must presume the people of Ireland would obey the laws—but to impose the tax in this House, would be a fruitless undertaking.Now, we had seen the Property Tax imposed upon this country, and he begged the right hon. Gentleman to fulfil his prophetic inspirations, and put it upon Ireland likewise, as composing an equal proportion of Her Majesty's subjects.
§ Mr. Wallace
said, that having been a Commissioner under the old tax, he had witnessed such scenes of hardship and degradation, that nothing which he could then foresee could have induced him to give his support to a renewal of the cause of such occurrences, thinking, as he then did, that it was impossible to separate the Property and the Income Tax. But in that he now found himself mistaken, for our system of taxation was now so much improved that the distinction was easily observed. He considered a Property Tax a just and right one, but he objected to an Income Tax. With all his objections, however, he voted for the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, because he considered the application of his scheme of taxation wise and prudent. He also told the House freely and frankly that he should vote against the proposition of the hon. Member for Bath, in order that the growing prosperity of Ireland might be encouraged and promoted to the utmost.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
should feel it his duty to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath; and he had no hesitation in coming to this conclusion, as the right hon. Baronet would not distinctly and unequivocally affirm that in three years the tax should cease. Why were they to make an exception in favour of Ireland? No man felt more sensibly than he did for Ireland; 811 he had served in that country, and he admired it; but the right hon. Baronet certainly was not following the course most likely to promote the public good by omitting it. These were his sentiments.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said: Sir, whatever may be the result of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck), he certainly will have the satisfaction of having performed this evening an almost unexampled feat, for he has obtained the support of persons who undoubtedly on most subjects are as widely apart as it is possible to be. He will go to the division supported by the hon. Member for Birmingham; by the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln; by the hon. Member for Essex; and by one or two others almost equally opposed to each other. Sir, I am not sorry, however, that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made the Motion we are now discussing, because I think that the result will show to the people of Ireland that the Members of this House most justly give a considerate attention to the affairs of that portion of the United Kingdom. I am not sorry, Sir, that the hon. and learned Gentleman has brought forward this Motion; but if he will allow me to say so, I do regret much of the speech by which he introduced it. I think there were portions of that speech having reference to Ireland and to Irish Members of this House, in which the hon. and learned Gentleman expressed himself in language of which he will not, I think, after full and mature consideration, be disposed to approve; for I am sure if any other hon. Member had used that language, he would have been the first to express disapprobation of it. Sir, I am not one of those who lay much stress on the argument that we ought not to impose this tax on Ireland on account of the political agitation which exists in that country. I think the mere fact of the existence of political agitation—if that agitation was not founded on real and practical grievances—no good reason why the tax should not be applied to Ireland, if it was in other respects just and expedient that the tax should be extended to that country. But I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the Irish people generally are, and have been long, labouring under heavy grievances. And therefore I think, not because agitation exists, but because there is just ground of complaint, that the House ought not to accede to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member, and inflict this tax upon Ireland. But, 812 Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman is not consistent in arguing the grounds on which his Motion has been proposed; because, I contend, that we ought to lay equal taxes on Ireland as in England, as was well pointed out by the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government. The hon. and learned Member proposes to apply only one portion of this tax to Ireland—therefore, instead of producing equality, he would only increase the inequality of which he complains. If the tax is to exclude Ireland, there is no reason why it should not be imposed in the same manner as in this country. If there be grounds for extending the tax to Ireland, extend it in the same way in which it is laid upon the people of England. But, Sir, I think it would be extremely impolitic and unwise to extend it to Ireland. And, in the first place, I am convinced that it would not, if imposed, produce the revenue which the supporters of the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition may be led to expect. It ought to be remembered that the absentee proprietors pay the tax already. One of the grievances under which Ireland labours is the want of capital for local improvement. But by laying a tax on resident proprietors, you diminish the capital for the employment of labour and the improvement of the land. We have been arguing for years that one great benefit that would result from removing the discontents of Ireland would be, that capital would flow into that country, and thus would its interests and prosperity be greatly promoted. But the imposition of this tax would have the effect of diminishing the small share of capital already existing in Ireland, instead of increasing it. Ireland, from a variety of circumstances, is undoubtedly a much poorer country than England. You may no doubt increase the Revenue by imposing this tax on Ireland; but in my opinion it would be extremely disadvantageous and impolitic to impose it. If you will give to Ireland as much relief from taxes as possible—if you follow out the principle of exonerating her from many taxes which now press and formerly pressed on this country—if you will do what you can to call forth the resources of that country, and to pour a larger share of capital into it, you will do that which is best calculated to promote her prosperity. But, taking the matter in the narrowest and most selfish view—to make Ireland most conducive to the general prosperity of the Empire, I am persuaded the best plan you 813 could adopt would be, not to apply to it this Income and Property Tax, which you are now going to continue in this country. Ireland, I am happy to say, is now beginning to take a start—English capital is beginning to flow into the country—railways are now beginning to be constructed—other improvements are being effected—and I trust that many of those now present will, in the course of a few years, see Ireland occupy a different position from that which she has hitherto occupied as a portion of this great Empire, and that she will contribute to the country that share of capital which her resources and the energies of her population will enable her to supply. If the landed gentry of England, and the people of England, wish to look forward to any great relief from the burdens which now press upon them, I feel satisfied that that relief may be found in the increased prosperity of Ireland.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
wished to say a very few words before he voted on this question. He must say that he found considerable difficulty and some pain in deciding on the vote he thought it necessary to give on this question; for he stood there as one of the representatives of England, and at the same time he was personally interested in the subject of the vote about to be come to. He wished to give relief to the working classes of the Empire; and he believed that was the reel question they had to consider before they made up their minds as to how they should vote on the question before the House. He had voted with the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government for a continuance of the Property and Income Tax in England, and his object in so voting was that the working classes might obtain relief by the remission of taxation proposed by the right hon. Baronet. Well, then, as one of the representatives of England, he could not bring himself to say that the landed property of Ireland should be exempt from this tax. He felt that the country had derived much benefit from the measures of the right hon. Baronet; and he was of opinion that if the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath were carried, much good would thereby accrue to the small holders and the labouring classes of Ireland. Though he knew there were many reasons why Ireland aright claim exemption from increasing taxation, when he was called on to give his vote, he must say that he could not bring himself to feel that the landed property of 814 Ireland should be exempt from a portion of this tax. He stood there anxious to do his duty, and he was placed in such a position that it could not be said personal interest had influenced his decision. Though there were many reasons why Ireland might claim exemption from further taxation, he felt himself compelled to vote for the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath.
§ Mr. Darby
said he would state the grounds on which he would give his vote in distinct opposition to the hon. Member for Bath. That hon. Member seemed little to understand the matter. His motion was inconsistent with his speech. Whatever might be his own views as to the continuance of the Property Tax in this country, it certainly would not at this moment, in his opinion, be paying a due regard to good policy, or to the interests of all classes, to lay that tax upon Ireland. At the present moment to extend that tax to Ireland would be highly impolitic.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said that if he rightly understood the temper and feeling of the House of Commons, they were to give a man on all occasions fair play. He was then claiming the opportunity of making a reply, which he would not ask, if he did not stand in a peculiar position. That position was, that though many felt with him, very few had spoken with him. He had been, with a slight exception, attacked, he might say, by almost every speaker who had spoken on the question, and by some not altogether in terms that might have been expected on that occasion. Before he sat down, he hoped he should have the opportunity of repaying his friends with interest. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had said that a great change in his opinion had taken place. The right hon. Baronet had commenced official life, he might say, as Secretary for Ireland, and had lived uninterruptedly in office to 1829; and the right hon. Baronet, with all the means of information which he possessed, had then held the same opinion as he himself had that evening expressed. Having left the soft cushion of office, the right hon. Baronet had passed for a time into the cold and dreary region of opposition. After the right hon. Baronet had, with great care and astonishing tact, again collected a great party together, what was his first expression of opinion in this very case? The opinion of the right hon. Baronet in 1833 was the same as he had that evening expressed. In 1835 the right hon. Baronet 815 returned to office. He was then called upon to express his opinion on this subject, and again expressed the opinion which he (Mr. Roebuck) had that evening expressed. If, then, it were true, as a description of his Motion, that it was of an exceedingly unstatesmanlike character, that it was an imprudent and impolitic Motion—he was using phrases which had been used by hon. Members—he would like to know what they were to consider of the right hon. Baronet's opinion in 1835. Would any man now turn round to the right hon. Baronet, and say that his opinion was an impolitic opinion, and one unfit to be broached? The right hon. Baronet was an authority in 1835, and he could quote him on his side. He would therefore say that the charge of impolicy and want of care in making this Motion, came with little grace from the right hon. Gentleman. Some hon. Members—the Member for Warwickshire, for instance and the Member for Waterford—had chosen to speak of him and of his Motion in a somewhat contemptuous manner. The hon. Member for Warwickshire had used phrases expressing great personal insignificance. He had been described as a very insignificant reasoner—as if all that he had advanced were worth nothing.
§ Mr. Newdegate
rose to explain. He had not used any terms expressive of an opinion that the reasoning of the hon. and learned Member for Bath was insignificant. The opinion which he had expressed, and to which he still adhered, was, that his Motion was mischievous.
§ Mr. Roebuck
The hon. Gentleman had a perfect right to entertain such an impression of his Motion, and for so doing he (Mr. Roebuck) confessed he had no right to quarrel with him. The hon. Member for Waterford—and his expression was one which he had certainly expected would have been earlier stopped by the Chairman—had made use of an observation at which he had been tempted to laugh, however unparliamentary that might have been. That hon. Gentleman had said, that what he (Mr. Roebuck) had said, in reference to certain absent parties, he would not have dared to say had they been present. The hon. Gentleman was from Ireland, and let the House just mark the way in which he made his observations. He said, that if the Members complained of had been present, he (Mr. Roebuck) would not have dared to complain of their absence.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
rose to explain. He had made no such observation with regard 816 to the absence of Members of that House, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had so adroitly stated. It was not to that his observation referred. The hon. and learned Gentleman had put an expression into his mouth merely to create a laugh. What he did say was, that the hon. and learned Gentleman should not use the words "personal insignificance" as applied to absent Gentlemen. He had said such words, for he had put them down at the time they were used. He had spoken of the "personal insignificance" of these Gentlemen, and that they could be well spared from their places in that House. What he had said was, that the hon. and learned Gentleman would not have dared to have used such words had these Members been present.
§ Mr. Roebuck
From his experience in the cross-examination of witnesses he had learnt that when a witness was in a certain state of mind, it was always the best course to let him tell his own story. The hon. Member had just told his. What he had complained of, was not the peculiar phraseology used; he was merely quoting one word which he thought might be considered objectionable. That which he was about to complain of was the use of the word "dare." Now, what did he not dare to do? Dared he not say that these Gentlemen had deserted their post. Like sentinels placed on duty, when danger came, they had thrown down their muskets and run away. Dared he not say that? Dared he not say that in many cases mortified vanity had led to that desertion? That such was the case was his deliberate opinion, and he repeated it. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork had made an appeal to his (Mr. Roebuck's) kind feelings, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon had also remarked on the peculiarity and strength of the phraseology which he had used. Of whom, he would ask, was he speaking, when he used such phraseology? Of persons careful of their own phraseology towards Gentlemen of that House? He saw the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury in his seat, and also an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bellew) sitting on one of the back benches, who figured in that day's report of proceedings of the very head of the party of Seceders. The phraseology employed, according to the report of these proceedings, was such as not to conciliate care on his part as to the words he chould use in respect to those Gentlemen. The most dishonourable motives were by those 817 Gentlemen imputed to others; the most vulgar expressions were used by them, and every mountebank art resorted to—for he could tell the House there were great as well as little mountebanks—every mountebank art was resorted to, for the purpose of casting odium and reproach on every Member of that House who had in any way expressed, even though in the most guarded phraseology, anything like blame of these hon. Gentlemen. The appeal made to him by the hon. and learned Member for Cork, and what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon, called on him to make this answer. He would not have deigned to reply to the hon. Member for Waterford. To the other hon. Gentleman he would say, that he had a right strongly to express his opinion of those persons; and if their own phrases were properly considered, he might have employed much stronger language in marking his opinion of their behaviour both before and after their desertion of their posts. As to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, he was sure that he (the right hon. Baronet) would be obliged to him. He had shown him that he was all potent. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, should be grateful to him. The right hon. Gentleman should be satisfied with himself, and with him (Mr. Roebuck) likewise. He did not desire to impute to hon. Gentlemen any improper motives. He was only barely using an argument—which he had a right to use—on a topic like that then before the House. The agricultural Members were now to vote—though with strong reluctance—with the right hon. Baronet. They had complained of agricultural distress, and now that he proposed a measure which would partially relieve them, by extending the burden of the Property Tax to Ireland, they were still determined to vote with the right hon. Gentleman in opposition to his (Mr. Roebuck's) proposition. This showed the power of the right hon. Baronet over those Gentlemen, and for that the right hon. Baronet should be grateful to him. It was to be hoped, however, that they would hear no more of agricultural Members complaining of agricultural distress, and asking the right hon. Gentleman—and bowing at his feet while they asked—it to relieve them. We were coming to the end of some things, though not of all things, but he hoped we were approaching the term of such complaints. Those Gentlemen would now learn 818 thoroughly to appreciate their chances of redress. The right hon. Gentleman said that the exemption of Ireland from the operation of the tax was unjust, or that at first sight it appeared to be unjust; but he said to impose it upon Ireland would be impolitic. Why was it impolitic? The right hon. Baronet gave a description of the present state of Ireland, and warned him that the tendency of his proposition was to stop the flow of capital into that country. But he did not show how the proposition made by him was to interfere with the flow of capital into Ireland. He did not propose to touch English capital, or to prevent it from flowing into Ireland. What he proposed to the House of Commons, and what had strongly impressed itself on the mind of the hon. Member for Rochdale, was this alternative, that they must either tax the rich men of Ireland, or still continue more heavily to tax the hardworking people of England. That was his proposition. And how was it met? By telling them that capital was flowing into Ireland, and that there would be mischief in his proposition. That did not show that the taxing of the great landlords of Ireland would stop a single pound of capital from flowing into that country. And that was the only argument used. They had been told very significantly, both by the hon. Member for Armagh and the hon. Member for Dungarvon, that if they imposed this tax upon Ireland, they might expect a revolution as the result. There was no mincing the question. What was to bring about a revolution? Were they going to to do mischief to the people of Ireland? Did he propose that they should do injustice to the people of Ireland? They were not going to touch the people—the working classes—the middle classes of that country. What he asked of them was, that they should touch the landlords of Ireland; and they were told by hon. Gentlemen that if they did so, there would be a revolution. The Protestant population of Ireland embraced those who held at least nine-tenths of the land in Ireland. It was those whom he wished to see taxed, as they were taxed in England; and then the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Armagh and Dungarvon told them that if they did tax the Irish landlord, the Irish peasant would rise in rebellion. Did they believe that? Could the country believe it? He did not believe that with all the arts which might be employed, and had been employed, to raise and incite the people of 819 that country, this would lead to one single particle of mischief or agitation in that country, by taxing the landlords of Ireland. The hon. Member for Montrose clearly stated that the remission of the duties proposed to be remitted, such as the duties on cotton and on glass, extended to Ireland. The Irish people would also have the benefit of the reduction in the Sugar Duties; but then came the right hon. Gentleman, and, guarding himself to a certain degree, read a certain set of figures, showing the amount of taxes paid by Ireland on raw materials. Now, the right hon. Gentleman knew as well as he did, that there were no manufactures in Ireland. But, as the right hon. Gentleman must know that all the goods on which the duties were proposed to be remitted, when they came into the possession of the consumer, would be at a lower price than before, how could he draw any inference at all by reading a set of figures as to the taxes paid by that country on raw materials? That had nothing to do with the matter. They had a large population who would derive benefit from the proposed relaxation. He asked them still further to benefit that population, and they turned round upon him, and almost every hon. Member from Ireland who had spoken being himself interested in land, had come forward and told them that if they taxed the landlords of that country they would have a revolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put forward an argument about the stamp duties levied in Ireland. Why, the right hon. Gentleman might remit them. If his proposition were rejected, the House ought to bear in mind that this tax would be as bad as possible; but if they adopted it as a substantive proposition, such amendments as they approved of could be introduced. Let his proposition, however, be rejected, and then the tax would be as bad as it possibly could be. Then this odious, this fatal tax, as it had been called by an Irish Member, would fall upon the hard-working people of England solely, and that, too, for the benefit of the Irish landlords. He only hoped that this country would not be imposed upon—that they would believe that all that he proposed was this, that he wished that the Revenue should receive the contributions of the rich—that those contributions should come in aid of the great body of his fellow-countrymen who lived by their labour. When he was asked, was he a friend to 820 Ireland? he said, in answer to that question, and he said it to hon. Gentlemen on that as well as the other side of the House, that he had never voted for a Coercion Bill—that he had never voted for a continuance of the Irish Church—that he had endeavoured to relieve the Irish people from what he believed to be injustice; but then he would not on that account do the people of England the gross injustice of allowing to escape from this tax those who ought to pay the tax, and who, if they were generous, ought to solicit to be taxed. [A laugh.] He understood that laugh; but he said that the landlords of Ireland ought to think of that which was for the interest of Great Britain and Ireland. If they did think of it, then he said let them fairly contribute their fair and honest share to the burdens of the State. They ought (he said) to be included amongst those who paid the Property Tax. It was that from which they now shrunk, and in doing so did not act consistently with that natural generosity which belonged to the Irish people.
§ Viscount Castlereagh
said he did not often intrude on the attention of the House; but in the present case he thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been too much carried away by his eloquence, and by those strong feelings which naturally, and perhaps unconsciously, bore him too far. He thought the hon. and learned Member was evidently not acquainted with the real state of the case, he having attacked the landlords of Ireland for not paying their proportion to the Income Tax, a tax which was laid on the people of England. The hon. and learned Gentleman charged the Irish landlords, who were receiving large rents from Ireland, with not paying their share of the public burdens: but he hoped to be enabled to say that which would satisfy the House and the hon. Member, that the landlords of Ireland did pay their contributions to the Property Tax. He assured the House that the Irish landlords paid their little contingency to the Income Tax. There might be some landlords who spent their incomes abroad and elsewhere in order to escape the Income Tax; but then there were others who had property both in Ireland and England who gave their quota to the Income Tax, and who felt that Ireland was benefited by their contributions to this tax. He would tell the hon. Gentleman that he contributed 80l. yearly to the Income Tax, although he did not receive a shilling from landed property 821 in England, and he never expected to have a shilling. Therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman was perfectly wrong. It was not for him or for the hon. Member for Bath to introduce measures for Ireland—it was for Her Majesty's Government. If landed proprietors did their duty in their several stations, and if they were supported by Government, there would be no complaints about the Income Tax in Ireland, or any other thing. The landlords of Ireland were ever ready, anxious, and willing to contribute to the burdens of the State equally with the landlords of England.
§ The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed by Mr. Roebuck be added: Ayes 33; Noes 275:—Majority 242.
|List of the AYES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Hastie, A.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Hollond, R.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Hume, J.|
|Buller, C.||Lawson, A.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Christie, W. D.||Morris, D.|
|Colborne, hn. W. N. R.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Craig, W. G.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Sibthorp, C.|
|Currie, R.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Dick, Q.||Strutt, E.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Duncan, G.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Gill, T.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Granger, T. C.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Benbow, J.|
|Alexander, N.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Alford, Visct.||Beresford, Major|
|Allix, J. P.||Bernal, R.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Antrobus, E.||Blake, M. J.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Blakemore, R.|
|Arkwright, G.||Blandford, Marq. of|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Blewitt, R. J.|
|Bodkin, W. H.|
|Ashley, Lord||Boldero, H. G.|
|Astell, W.||Borthwick, P.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Botfield, B.|
|Baird, W.||Bowles, Adm.|
|Baldwin, B.||Boyd, J.|
|Barclay, D.||Broadley, H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Brotherton, J.|
|Bornsby, J.||Browne, hon. W.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Brownrigg, J. S.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Bateson, T.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Beckett, W.||Bruges, W. H. L.|
|Buckley, E.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Bunbury, T.||Gladstone, Capt.|
|Busfeild, W.||Godson, R.|
|Butler, hon. Col.||Gordon, hon. Capt.|
|Butler, P. S.||Gore, M.|
|Cardwell, E.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Carew, hon. R. S.||Goring, C.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Cavendish, hn. C. C.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Greenall, P.|
|Childers, J. W.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Grogan, E.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Hale, R. B.|
|Cochrane, A.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Collett, W. R.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Collett, J.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Colquhoun, J. C.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Compton, H. C.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Conolly, Col.||Hawes, B.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Henley, J. W.|
|Cripps, W.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Darby, G.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Hope, G. W.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Horsman, E.|
|Denison, E. B.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Hutt, W.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||James, W.|
|Douro, Marq. of||James, Sir W. C.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Duke, Sir J.||Jervis, J.|
|Duncannon, Visct.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Duncombe, T.||Johnstone, H.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Jones, Capt.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Kemble, H.|
|East, J. B.||Lambton, H.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Layard, Capt.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lefroy, A.|
|Entwisle, W.||Legh, G. C.|
|Escott, B.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Evans, W.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Ewart, W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Farnham, E. B.||Lockhart, W.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Lowther, Sir J. H.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Forbes, W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Forster, M.||Maclean, D.|
|Fox, S. L.||Macnamara, Major|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||McNeill, D.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|March, Earl of||Sanderson, R.|
|Martin, J.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Martin, T. B.||Shaw, rt. hn. F.|
|Masterman, J.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Smith, A.|
|Mildmay, H. S. J.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Somerton, Visct.|
|Mordaunt, Sir J.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Morgan, O.||Somes, J.|
|Morison, Gen.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Spooner, R.|
|Murphy, F. S.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Murray, A.||Stewart, J.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Stuart, H.|
|Newport, Visct.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Newry, Visct.||Taylor, E.|
|Nicholl, right hon. J.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Northland, Visct.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Thornely, T.|
|Packe, C. W.||Thornhill, G.|
|Paget, Col.||Tollemache, J.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Towneley, J.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Patten, J. W.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Trotter, J.|
|Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Peel, J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Philips, M.||Wakley, T.|
|Pigot, Sir R.||Wall, C. B.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Wallace, R.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Ward, H. G.|
|Polhill, F.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Williams, W.|
|Powell, Col.||Wood, C.|
|Praed, W. T.||Wood, Col.|
|Pringle, A.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Protheroe, E.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Rice, E. R.||Wyse, T.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Ross, D. R.|
|Rushbrooke, Col.||Baring, H.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Young, J.|
§ The Committee then divided on the Original Question:—Ayes 228; Noes 30:—Majority 198.
|List of the NOES.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Evans, W.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Granger, T. C.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Hastie, A.|
|Buller, C.||Hawes, B.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Hollond, R.|
|Christie, W. D.||Horsman, E.|
|Colborne, hn. W. N. R.||Martin, J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Morris, D.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Duncombe, T.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Russell, Lord E.||Wyse, T.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Wakley, T.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Wawn, J. T.||Pechell, Capt.|
§ The House resumed. Committee to sit again.