HC Deb 22 February 1847 vol 90 cc316-83

said: Although I have little doubt that the important subject on which I am about to address this Committee will in- sure me its attention, I, nevertheless, hope that I shall not appeal in vain for the indulgence of hon. Members during the statement which I am about to make; for, though I am unwilling to shrink from the performance of a duty which a person holding the situation I have the honour to fill is bound to discharge, I feel that I am not very able to make the necessary effort. I hope, also, that the same circumstance to which I have alluded, will plead my excuse for making my statement as short as is consistent with making my meaning clear, and for confining my observations as nearly as I can to what is absolutely necessary to place before the Committee the financial state and financial prospects of the country. I may further venture to claim the indulgence of the Committee upon this ground, that it is many years since a Chancellor of the Exchequer had to make so heavy a demand on the Treasury, as it is my fortune to have to make to-night; and I hope many years will pass away before a similar calamity may entail the necessity of making a like financial effort. The Committee must be aware, that the calamity to which I allude, is one which no prudence, either on the part of the Government or the Legislature, could possibly have averted. It has pleased Providence to afflict not only this country, but the greater part of the rest of Europe, with scarcity and dearth, which have pressed with peculiar severity on that part of the United Kingdom which, from its poverty, is least able to bear it. Thousands of suffering and famishing people, chiefly in Ireland, claim from us sympathy and assistance, which I am confident will not be withheld from them. If I were only to refer to the past and the present state of the finances of the country, I should certainly say, that there never was a time when the finances of the country were so well able to bear the demands which are now about to be made upon them. Members have had in their hands for some time the balance-sheet up to the 5th of January, from which it appears that at that time there was a balance in the Treasury of upwards of 9,000,000l.; and for the first time, I believe I may say, in the memory of any person conversant with financial matters, it has been unnecessary to have recourse to deficiency bills; and the quarterly balance in the Exchequer has been sufficient to defray the payment of the dividends. If we refer to the great items of revenue, we shall find that their produce exceeds the most sanguine calculations of my right hon. predecessor in office, when he made his financial statement last year. If we refer to the Customs, we find the produce of every article, for nine months, from April to December—with the exception of those articles on which duties were reduced—considerably higher than in the corresponding nine months of the preceding year. If, again, we look to the Excise revenue, we find that last year every material article of duty, with the exception of soap (caused, I believe, by accidental circumstances which occurred at the commencement of the year), has increased—ay, even including that item with respect to which the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln has so frequently expressed his apprehension—I mean the posthorse duty. If we look even further, and take the produce of duties to the latest moment to which the accounts have been made up, namely, Saturday the 13th of February, I find that there is an increase in the ordinary revenue, as compared with the corresponding period of the preceding year, of nearly half a million. I must say, then, that we have great reason to be thankful that the demands which, owing to the exigencies of the country, press upon the Exchequer, come at a time when, at any rate, we are not unprepared to meet them. At the same time, I am conscious that I should only be holding out delusive hopes if I were to say that we are entitled to expect a continuance of the present financial prosperity. I think there are circumstances which must be obvious to the most common observer, and which indicate that we may anticipate the recurrence of one of those periods at which the onward progress of the country may experience a check. It is notorious, that in commercial as well as political affairs, the progress of a country is seldom uninterrupted by periods of occasional pause. Such was the case after 1825; such, again, was the case after 1836; and, after the unexampled prosperity of the last one or two years, I am afraid circumstances may arise to retard the progress of commercial and financial prosperity. I do not anticipate anything like the revulsions which have taken place on former occasions—there is no symptom of that; and I should be sorry to say anything calculated to excite alarm. I confidently trust that the experience derived from former years has not been lost upon the great body of our merchants and traders; and I hear from all quarters that the trade and commerce of the country never stood on a sounder footing, free from that speculative character which has characterized former years. I am inclined to attribute much of this to the excellent Bill for regulating the currency of the country, which the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) introduced and passed into a law. I believe that, but for that Bill last year, when the world was not in quite so sober a mood, and as free from speculation as it is now, we should have witnessed great distress. I believe, also, that many persons who were most adverse to the Bill at the time it passed, have, from witnessing its operation last year, become converts to the opinion favourable to its wisdom. I am of opinion that not only the provisions of that Bill, but also the sound principles respecting the currency which were enunciated during the discussions upon the measure, have induced persons to pursue a more wise and prudent course than upon former occasions. The result is, that there has been less of the wild spirit of speculation apparent, than is connected with the history of some former years. People have invested their money in works at home, instead of Mississippi stock or Pennsylvanian bonds. Capital has been applied principally to the construction of great lines of communication throughout the country, affording employment to large bodies of the people, and benefiting the Exchequer to a considerable extent. I am confident, therefore, that no such unfortunate results will ensue as have occurred upon former occasions; but, nevertheless, we should be regardless of all experience, were we not to anticipate that the present high price of food, the consequence of scarcity, will produce its accustomed effect in diminishing the comforts of the people, by abridging their power of purchasing articles of necessity. The high price of food presses, I am sorry to say, upon the means of existence of many, but it must tell upon the comforts of nearly all classes of society. I am speaking now of this country, without the slightest reference to the condition of Ireland. Looking to the high price of provisions, it is impossible to believe, that after providing themselves with articles of necessity, people can have so much to expend upon those articles which contribute to the customs and excise duties. I was indeed surprised, on looking at the customs and excise duties, to see the enormous amount paid by articles of consumption. I find that the total produce of the customs and excise duties for last year, ending on the 5th of January, was 34,557,000l. Of this gross sum, articles of food contributed 5,530,000l.; liquids, such as wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and beer, 21,787,000l.; tobacco, 4,336,000l.; making the total amount of revenue produced by the duties on articles of subsistence, solid and liquid, including tobacco, 31,653,000l., out of 34,557,0000l. It has happened, unfortunately, that cotemporaneously with a high price of food, there has also existed a high price of one of the staple articles of manufacture—cotton, which has to a considerable extent caused diminished employment in the manufacturing districts. I hold in my hand a comparative statement of the working of the mills in the borough of Manchester on the 9th of January and the 3rd of February of the present year. It is as follows:—

Jan. 9. Feb. 3.
Mills stopped 10 13
Mills working short time 52 58
Mills working full time 113 104
Total 175 175
Jan. 9. Feb. 3.
Number of hands fully employed 28,845 22,945
Number of hands working short time 11,851 13,806
Number of hands stopped and out of work 1,691 2,638
Total 39,387 39,389
It must be apparent at once, that the state of things which the paper I have read indicates, must seriously affect the power of consumption in the manufacturing districts. Nor is it this country alone which is afflicted with a scarcity of food. In France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Poland, a similar scarcity has been felt, and there has been a considerable demand for bullion, for the purpose of paying for the very extensive importation of grain. The natural consequence has been, a pressure on the money market, and a rise in the value of money. The difficulty of obtaining money, necessarily operates to a certain extent in limiting the operations of commercial enterprise. It is, however, very satisfactory to find, that, notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances to which I have adverted, the amount of bullion in the coffers of the Bank of England at present is only 1,177,000l. less than it was at this time last year. On the 14th of February, 1846, the amount of bullion in the Bank coffers was 13,476,000l., and on the 13th of February, 1847, it was 12,299,000l. I am almost surprised at the small amount of bullion sent out of the country; and the circumstance is satisfactory, inasmuch as it proves that the enormous importation of corn and other food, which has been going on for some time past, has contributed to the prosperity of manufactures, by creating a great demand for manufactured goods, which have been sent to America and elsewhere in payment for grain. I am happy to find that by the most recent accounts, there is not the same demand for gold that has heretofore prevailed. It likewise affords me much gratification to be able to state that the great banking establishment of France is better able to meet the demands upon it than it was some time ago. I say that it gives me pleasure to state that, because it is impossible for any misfortune to attend the currency and commercial interests of France, which would not tell and react upon us. I think I have now stated enough to show that there are circumstances connected with the present condition of the country which call for the exercise of caution; and I should be aiding a delusion, if I were to express an opinion that the present prosperity can continue without a check. For the reasons which I have given, I feel confident that no serious misfortune will occur; I think it my duty to say enough to prevent those unreasoning expectations of uninterrupted prosperity, which some Gentlemen are too prone to entertain. I will now turn to the more immediate subject of this evening, the financial statement which it is my duty to make. The right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in office made his financial statement on the 9th of May last year. He stated that he anticipated a surplus from the ordinary revenue of 76,000l., and from extraordinary sources, namely, money from China, of 700,000l., making a total of 776,000l. By subsequent legislation, foreign sugar was made admissible into this country; and in nine months, from April to December, the duty paid on the foreign sugar imported amounted to 304,000l. That, of course, is an item which the right hon. Gentleman could not calculate upon when he made his financial statement; but, adding the sum derived from the sugar duties to that which the right hon. Gentleman anticipated, it would give a surplus of only about a million of money. If, however, hon. Gentlemen will refer to the balance-sheet of the 5th of January, they will find that the produce of the revenue far exceeds this calculation, for the surplus amounts to 2,846,000l. The progress of the revenue since the 5th of January has exceeded again, beyond all expectation, the produce of the corresponding quarter; and I think the probability is, that I should be fully justified in stating, that when the period comes to which the calculations of the right hon. Gentleman referred, his calculation will be still more exceeded, and that the surplus on the 5th of April will be even still more considerable than that which I have stated as the surplus on the 5th of January. I have, however, based the calculation which I am about to state, on the produce of the revenue up to the 5th of January last; and, proceeding upon that basis, I shall state to the House what I calculate to be the probable income of the year from the 5th of April next, to the 5th of April, 1848. It will be observed that the produce of the customs duties, up to the 5th of January last, was 20,568,900l. Of that, a considerable amount was the produce of corn, no less than 793,000l. In consequence of a suspension of the duty upon corn for the first six months of the next financial year, it will be obvious to everybody that from that source we can expect no income for those six months. What the harvest may be, and whether it may be possible or expedient that the duty upon corn should be levied for the remaining part of next year, it is impossible now for any man to state; but, supposing the whole duty were to be given up, I do not think I should be warranted in making a deduction from the amount of the last year's customs duties to the extent of the corn duty received in that year, because, from every account which I have received of the probable importation of sugar, I have reason to believe that a very material increase of revenue will be derived from that source in the course of the ensuing year. But, more than that—there are three items, and only three, upon which the customs duties fell off in the course of the last nine months—articles upon which the duties were reduced, but the import of which has considerably increased; they are butter, cheese, and silk manufactures. I find that in the nine months from April to December, the butter imported in 1845 was 201,000 cwt.; in 1846 it was 217,000 cwt. Of cheese, the quantity imported was, in 1845, 202,000 cwt.; in 1846, 265,000 cwt. Of silk manufactures, 218,000 lb. in 1845; 297,000 lb. in 1846. Here again is an instance in which a reduction of duty tends to promote an increased consumption of the article, affording a prospect that, before long, the amount of duty received, may by an increased importation be equal to the duty originally obtained. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, and after communicating with the Board of Customs, I believe I shall be entitled to assume that the probable income from the customs duties in the next year will not be less than 20,000,000l. I hope that, if trade goes on well, the income from this source may be higher; but I believe I am fairly justified in assuming it at 20,000,000l. I have already said, that tip to the present time, since the beginning of the quarter, both the customs duties and the excise have increased; the increase of the customs duties in these six weeks having been no less than 245,000l. I now come to the Excise. The produce of the excise, up to the 5th of January, was 13,988,000l. Nothing can be so remarkable as the extraordinary increase of the excise duties for the last year—I mean the excise duties generally—upon articles of consumption, particularly malt and hops. I do not know that we can expect these to continue; but nevertheless in many respects the excise duty is far more certain than the customs. In many articles the charge is made, and is known, before the money is actually received; and therefore we can ascertain with certainty what the amount will be. Here, then, after communicating with my Friend the chairman of the Board of Excise, I think we may fairly reckon upon an income of 13,700,000l. in the ensuing year. The increase upon the excise since the beginning of the quarter has been no less than 106,700l.; and it is not a little remarkable that, even in Ireland, the excise duties have increased, and not to an inconsiderable amount, in the course of the last year. Next, the stamp duties produced, in the year ending the 5th January, 7,505,000l.; I will assume them at the same sum. The taxes, land and assessed, produced 4,272,000l.; I know no reason why they should not produce the same next year—or, say, 4,270,000l. The property tax produced 5,395,000l. There was some small account of extraordinary payments, and therefore, although the property tax too since the 5th of January has increased by 169,000l. above the corresponding period of last year, I will assume the property tax at 5,300,000l. only. For the Post Office, I will take the same amount as last year, 845,000l.; 850,00l. I believe was what the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn) calculated. The Crown lands I will take also at the same sum, 120,000l. The miscellaneous items of revenue produced, up to the 5th of January last, 427,000l.; the calculation of the right hon. Gentleman was 300,000l.; but subseqently to that calculation there was paid in a considerable amount from the surplus fees of this House, which will, in all probability, not be so large in the course of the present year; I believe, however, I may calculate upon about 30,000l. from that source, and, therefore, I take the miscellaneous sources of income at 330,000l. This, therefore, will make the ordinary revenue for the financial year 1847–48 52,065,000l. as follows:—
Customs £20,000,000
Excise 13,700,000
Stamps 7,500,000
Taxes (Land and Assessed) 4,270,000
Property-tax 5,300,000
Post-office 845,000
Crown Lands 120,000
Miscellaneous 330,000
Total ordinary income £52,065,000
I now come to the Expenditure. The interest of the debt, funded and unfunded, will be 28,045,000l. The estimate of the charges upon the Consolidated Fund, omitting any charge on account of Irish distress, is 2,522,420l.; to which must be added that charge which was announced by the right hon. Gentleman last year, of 175,000l. for the Irish constabulary, hitherto defrayed by the Irish counties; and these two items will make, in round numbers, 2,700,000l. The amount for the national debt and Consolidated Fund charges, therefore, will be 30,745,000l. The estimates for the various services, except the Miscellaneous, are all upon the Table of the House; and, therefore, I need only state them very shortly to the House. The Army Vote will be 6,275,074l.; I take the militia at the same amount as before, 155,000l., but there is an increase in the commissariat, which amounts to 410,000l.; making the whole Army Vote, therefore, stating it in one sum, 6,840,074l. There would have been a decrease of 33,000l. upon the War Office Vote, but for a deferred estimate for certain services for one quarter of the year. The Navy Vote, for the present year, will be 7,561,876l.; being an increase of 77,000l. The estimates for the last two years have been below the expenditure which has been incurred. I shall have, Sir, by and by, to ask a vote to cover an excess of expenditure in the year ending April last; and I am afraid the arrangements which were made early in the year are such that there probably may be an excess in the expenditure of the present year; a considerable portion, therefore, of the increase which I have stated, is only to bring up the estimate to the expenditure. We have also increased the number of the marines by the amount of 1,500 men. My hon. Friend who will have to move the Navy estimates, will state this further in detail upon that occasion; but I thought it desirable to make this short statement of the sums. The Ordnance Vote will be 2,679,127l.; this is an increase above the vote of last year, but of that increase 77,299l. are due to a deferred quarter of the year's vote for certain services, which, by an arrangement explained to the House last year, was resorted to for the purpose of bringing the Ordnance estimates as well as the Army estimates into proper order: the remainder of the increase is partly owing to an increase of the artillery, amounting to 1,200 men, and partly to the necessity—in consequence of the change in the modes of warfare accomplishing by the introduction of steam power—of putting many of our great ports into a state of better defence. The sum of the miscellaneous votes is 3,750,000l. I have left out of the miscellaneous votes of this year, any sum for the relief of the Irish distress; and, therefore, in stating the comparison with the miscellaneous estimates of last year, I am bound also to omit a sum of 132,000l. included in the right hon. Gentleman's estimates. Comparing, therefore, the miscellaneous estimates of last year with those of this year, there is an increase of about 397,000l.; but 171,000l. of that is owing to the expenditure for certain purposes connected with the poor law, and with the prosecution and maintenance of prisoners, which had to be taken for only half of the last financial year, while, of course, I am obliged to provide for the whole year; and of the remaining increase, a considerable portion is due to the necessity of providing for the maintenance of convicts at home, instead of sending them to the colonies; and a considerable portion also to the increased printing and stationery which this and the other House of Parliament require; and some also to an unexpected increase in the expenses of the Houses of Parliament, and to other sources, which perhaps I had better defer stating till those estimates are on the Table. The whole amount to be voted in estimates is 20,831,077l.; making the whole ordinary Expenditure 51,576,077l.
National Debt £28,045,000
Consolidated Fund Charges 2,700,000
Army 6,840,074
Navy 7,561,876
Ordnance 2,679,127
Miscellaneous 3,750,000
Total ordinary Expenditure £51,576,077
Now, in the statement which I have made to the House, I have purposely omitted all sums required for the relief of distress in Ireland, whether by grant or loan, or in whatever shape that expense is to be incurred, with the exception, of course, of the payment of the ordinary establishment of the Board of Works, and the payment of such officers as would otherwise be employed in Ireland, although at the present time they may be employed in the aid or relief of the distress. And now it becomes my duty to state what I think the demand upon the Exchequer will be for the relief of that distress; and I must beg the Committee to observe, that what is material to the present purpose is not what may be the ultimate charge to the country, but what the sum is, which must be, in the course of the present Session issued from the Exchequer; because the system which was commenced about this time last year, and has continued since is this—that all the money required for this public relief of distress is, in the first instance, advanced by the Treasury; whatever burden may ultimately be thrown upon the land of Ireland, or upon the property of Ireland, in respect of this expenditure, hitherto they have paid nothing. They have paid, no doubt, the poor rate, which I find in 1846 amounted to about 390,000l. They have paid of course their subscriptions to the relief committees and the relief fund, and I believe a large body of the Irish landlords have employed to a very great extent the poor and destitute persons in their neighbourhood; but I am confining myself now to the relief works, and that mode of administering relief which has hitherto been adopted in Ireland; and as to that, whatever the repayment may be, and whenever the repayment may be, the whole sum is at present advanced from this country, or rather from the public treasury; and that system, I believe, must be continued for the present season. It is not easy to state very nicely what the amount of expenditure may be, for it depends upon a number of facts over which we have no control, and which we cannot very accurately foresee. It is easy enough to state what the expense in various ways has been up to the present time. I stated a night or two ago, in answer to my noble Friend opposite (Lord G. Bentinck), that the expenditure on works in Ireland in the four weeks of November was 308,000l.; in the five weeks in December, up to January 2, 742,000l.; in the four weeks of January, 776,000l.; and up to the present time the number of persons relieved in this manner has been increasing with frightful rapidity. At the end of September, the number of persons employed was 30,135; at the end of October, 150,259; at the end of November, 285,817; at the end of December, 440,687; at the end of January, 571,000. The expense of the permanent staff of the Board of Works, for the month of January, was 20,500l. The commissariat officers are partly withdrawn from other employments, and partly additional persons employed under Sir R. Smith; the expense of their pay for a year is 27,500l. We have expended up to this time, in the purchase of grain, 295,000l.; but the major part of this, nearly the whole in fact, will be repaid to the Government when the sales take place from our depôts to the relief committees. The issues to Ireland from the Exchequer, under what is called the Labour-rate Act, up to the 20th of February, were 2,400,000l.; and on the 13th of February, nearly 2,000,000l. of that sum had been issued to the Board of Works by the Paymaster of Civil Services in Ireland. I do not think I am safe in saying that the expenditure per month will fall very far below 1,000,000l. It has amounted in the month of January to about 800,000l., not including all the expenses which are incurred. I have no doubt it will vary materially between this and next harvest; the pressure upon us will of course, to a certain extent, be taken off during the employment which seed-time affords, and, on the other hand, the summer months are notoriously those in which destitution prevails to the greatest extent in Ireland. The number of persons who were employed on the public works in June, July, and August last, exceeded those who were employed in the earlier part of the year. It is in reference to these three months that the statement of my hon Friend was made, when he said that upwards of 2,000,000 of the Irish people were habitually in a state of utter destitution for about three months of the year. Again, I expect we shall effect a saving, and not an inconsiderable one, by the different mode of administering relief which we propose. I believe that the administration of relief by soup-kitchens and relief committees will be considerably cheaper than through the exclusive medium of the Board of Works. This is so far satisfactory; but, looking to the appalling destitution which prevails throughout the country, and bearing in mind how complete is the failure of any domestic sources for supply of food, it must be evident that it is at least quite possible that the numbers applying for relief may very considerably increase. This contingency is of essential importance to bear in view. It is to be hoped that it will not arise; but it would be well to be in a position to meet it in the event of its arising. No doubt a considerable number of persons will be taken off from the relief works by the employment which will be afforded under the Bill to assist landlords to carry out improvements upon their estates. I believe that that Bill will work well in Ireland, and, from all the accounts I receive, I am induced to be sanguine in my expectation of its effects. But here, again, advances are to be made by the Government; and though the operations under this Bill may tend to lessen the pressure on the relief works, yet they will not in the first instance diminish the sums to be advanced by the Exchequer. Even with the most sanguine expectation as to the produce of the next harvest, and the effect that may be produced in the way of finding employment for the people, yet it is impossible to suppose that all exertions on the part of the public would cease at once at the harvest time. It is quite clear that not only advances for the improvement of estates, but for carrying on works, will be continued for some short period at least, under the most favourable supposition, even after the period of harvest, and time will be required to wind up and bring to a close the gigantic operations which are now carried on. Taking, therefore, a reasonable estimate of the probable demands on the public Treasury for this purpose, I cannot certainly estimate them at less than 8,000,000l. I have already stated that, up to the present time, the sum of 2,000,000l. has been advanced; and I therefore estimate that the total sum required to be expended or advanced, granted or lent, for the relief of distress in Ireland, will not be less than 10,000,000l., for a period of about a year, namely, from August last till about the conclusion of the next harvest. I think that under these circumstances the Committee will not be surprised that the Government resisted the demand of the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck) for 16,000,000l. additional; and I do not believe that even if that sum had been advanced, it would have been possible to save a single sixpence of the 10,000,000l. obliged to be expended by the Government. I was not able to take part in the decision of the House on that question; but I must say that I was gratified at learning the majority by which this House came to so wise and prudent a resolution as that which it adopted. The announcement which I have next to make is one which must be obvious to every Member of the Committee, namely, that I must go into the money market and borrow. It must be evident that no amount of taxation, not the income tax, doubled or trebled, nor the reimposition of all the taxes which have been taken off, could, within the required time, provide the necessary money. It is matter not of choice, but of necessity, that I must go into the market and borrow. Of course, the first question that presents itself is whether I shall borrow the whole 8,000,000l., or endeavour to go on by borrowing only a part. If I adopt the latter course, I must considerably reduce the balances in the Exchequer; from which source up to the present time the advances have been made. For many reasons this is a course which I am exceedingly unwilling to take. I think that any person, when he looks to the state of what is called the money market of this country—when he finds that the exchanges have been adverse, though I am happy to say that they are less so now than they were, but still are only just on the turn—when he recollects the necessity which the Bank of England has felt itself under of raising the interest of money, he will come to the conclusion that, under these circumstances, it would be exceedingly injudicious in me to put any further pressure on the Bank of England or the money market, particularly as, under the operation of the Bill of last Session, by which the House pledged itself to make advances to England, Scotland, and Ireland for draining and improving; advances—sums to no inconsiderable extent—have been applied for; and of course the balances in the Exchequer are the source from which they are to be made. But there is still a further and a more pressing reason for avoiding this course, and one which I do not see how it can possibly be got over; and this consists in the uncertainty which hangs over us as to what the produce of the next harvest may be. No man can tell how the next harvest may turn out, and no man can estimate too highly the importance of a good harvest. Hitherto, in respect to the imports from other countries, we have been living mainly on the surplus of the harvest of 1845; and to some extent also on the produce of the harvest of 1846. In the course of the last year there have been entered for home consumption of grain and flour of all kinds not less than 5,318,000 quarters. I take the grain and the meal reduced to equivalent quantities. It is notorious that we have the hope of a considerable import of Indian corn, the produce of the harvest of 1846; and I am confident we shall have an abundant importation from America in the early part of summer; but by the next harvest time the produce of preceding harvests will be to a great extent exhausted. It may please God to grant a good harvest throughout the world in the present year; but, unless that merciful dispensation should be vouchsafed, it is impossible to calculate what the consequences may be. In the present uncertainty, therefore, on this subject, it would be most unwise in me not to keep in reserve the means of meeting such evils as we have hitherto been enabled to meet, owing to the large balances in the Exchequer, which furnished us during the last autumn with the power of meeting the calamity. Under these circumstances, I should never forgive myself if I left the Exchequer without the requisite resources, partly to be secured by the loan which I propose to make, and partly by the balances. I propose, therefore, to leave to the Exchequer the means of meeting any extraordinary demand that may arise, at least until the Parliament can be called together. Every one will hope that such a necessity may not arise; but in the uncertainty in which we are placed, it would be unwise to leave ourselves without resources. Consequently, I believe that the wiser and more prudent course is at once to borrow the whole of the required money. In doing so, I shall not make a permanent addition to the public debt to the whole amount of the money borrowed, because a considerable proportion of it is ultimately to be repaid by the Irish proprietors. With respect to the expenditure on the public works, one-half is charged on the property of Ireland, repayable in ten years; and these payments, as they come in, will of course extinguish an equal portion of debt; and the remainder being half the whole amount, or 4,000,000l. or 5,000,000l., is, after all, not so large a sum, considering the object for which it will have been advanced, viz., the relief of our suffering fellow-subjects. The next question is, whether the borrowing of so large a sum of money ought to be accompanied with increased taxation, not only for the purpose of paying the interest, but also to discharge the new portion of debt in the course of no distant period. I confess that I was exceedingly unwilling, even to such an extent, as 4,000,000l. or 5,000,000l. to increase the amount of the public debt, without making an immediate provision for its extinction before long; but many reasons induced me to pause before I determined on adopting such a course. In the first place, I think, for various reasons, that the present year is a most unfortunate time in which to attempt any alteration in the taxation of the country, for every one knows that such a proceeding is calculated to produce for a time a stagnation of trade. Moreover, no inconsiderable weight is to be attached to the consideration I have already mentioned—viz., in respect to the uncertainty as to the amount I might have ultimately to provide for; because if, as I hope, the harvest turns out fruitful, there will be, from one source or another, employment and the means of existence provided for the suffering people of Ireland, to a greater extent than unfortunately is the case at present. On the other hand, if the produce of the harvest should be small, if there should be no crop of potatoes, and prices should remain high, then it might be necessary for the country again to come forward to assist the starving population, and it might be necessary to make a further demand on the public resources. The state of things, whatever it may be, will be known before Parliament meets again; and I therefore think it better to postpone dealing with a question of this kind until we have had an opportunity of seeing the result. In addition to these reasons, in the course of the next Session it will inevitably be necessary to deal with the question of the income tax. If taxation were increased in the present year, that tax at any rate is one of the sources to which any one would naturally look; and therefore it would be exceedingly unwise, by dealing with the matter at all this year, to prejudice the course which Parliament—a new Parliament perhaps—may think it expedient to take on this question. For all these reasons, I have thought that, on the whole, it will be the more wise and prudent course not to attempt to increase taxation in the present year; but, leaving the whole question open for the next year, to provide, in this year, for the interest of the loan which I intend to raise, out of the ordinary revenue of the country. I stated the ordinary revenue of the country for 1847–48 at 52,065,000l., and the ordinary expenditure at 51,576,000l., leaving a surplus of 489,000l. Now, assuming that I borrow 8,000,000l., what will the annual interest amount to? Of course it will be obvious to every one, that at 3 per cent it would be 240,000l.; at 3½ per cent, 280,000l. and at 4 per cent, 320,000l. I entertain no doubt of being able to borrow the required sum at or under 3½ per cent, and the interest will, therefore, on that supposition, amount to 280,000l. But I am afraid that this will not be the only new demand made on us for interest; for there is another description of debt with respect to which, after the best inquiry I can make, I am compelled to say that I feel myself under the necessity of raising the interest — I mean Exchequer-bills. It is notorious that many causes have depreciated the value of that description of security in the market. If the rate of interest on money has been raised—and I do not think it improbable that it may be further raised in the course of the spring—I do not regard it as right, though unwilling to waste unnecessarily a single sixpence in the payment of interest, that Government securities, such as I am now adverting to, should be left so far below all those other securities with which they have to come into competition in the money market. Under these circumstances, I have, though unwillingly, determined on raising the interest on Exchequer-bills. The interest on them is now 1½d. a day. An experiment was once tried to raise the interest by one farthing a day; but that so completely failed, that it is not worth while to renew it. I therefore propose to raise the interest on Exchequer-bills by one halfpenny a day; or, in other words, to make the interest, which is now 1½d. a day, 2d. a day. The annual increased cost of this transaction will be 142,000l.; and this sum, added to 280,000l., being the interest on the loan which I propose to raise, will make a sum of 422,000l., which I shall have to pay in the year. This will, of course, raise the total ordinary expenditure of the country for 1847–48 to 51,998,000l.; which, being deducted from 52,065,000l., already stated to be the probable ordinary revenue of the country for 1847–48, will leave a surplus of 67,000l. But there is in the present year, as there has been in former years, an extraordinary source of income from the balance of the China money yet unpaid. From that source, I shall as a matter of certainty, not of calculation, receive in the course of the year 450,000l. Against this extraordinary receipt, I must set an extraordinary source of expenditure, which does not properly belong to the present financial year, amounting to 185,000l.; which it is necessary to vote for the purpose of covering the excess of naval expenditure in the financial year ending on the 5th of April, 1846. Therefore, adding the extraordinary receipt to the ordinary income of the country, and the extraordinary expenditure to the ordinary expenditure, the totals will be as follow: Total income, 52,515,000l.; expenditure, 52,183,000l.; leaving a surplus of 332,000l. Of this expenditure, however, I think it right to state, that over about 815,000l. we have had no control. This sum arises out of deferred votes or charges, of one kind or other, which, as has been formerly stated to the House, it is necessary to provide for in this year. There is a charge of 175,000l. upon the Consolidated Fund, and other charges which I referred to at the close of the last Session, amounting altogether to 698,000l. It is necessary to provide about 2,000l. for the Perth prison; and these sums with that of 185,000l. for the excess of last year's expenditure, make altogether a sum of 815,000l. I am perfectly aware that this cannot be to the Committee a very satisfactory statement of revenue and expenditure; and it would be exceedingly wrong to suffer the income and expenditure long to remain in the same relative state. I have told the House why I think it unadvisable, in the present Session, for Parliament to make any permanent provision on this subject, partly from the uncertainty of the amount for which we may have to provide, and partly from the necessity of dealing next year with one large source of income, I mean the income tax. The prosperity, agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing, of this country, has of late been so steadily advancing, that it is indeed possible that the present taxation may, in the next and subsequent years, provide the income required for the public service; but if this should not be the case, then I say most distinctly that the country must be prepared, next year, for an increase of its burdens. We could not think of allowing such a state of income compared with expenditure as now exists, to be permanent in this country, or to continue for more than a year, and that only under extraordinary circumstances; and if the necessity should arise when next year comes, I shall not shrink from the duty of proposing to the House those measures which I may think most expedient for bringing the revenue of the country into more proper proportion to its expenditure than it now holds. I think, from the statement I have made, it must be evident to every Member of the Committee, that I cannot spare any revenue this year; and that statement must be an answer to hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House, who have on various occasions pressed me to reduce the duty on tea, tobacco, paper, copper, or any articles which produce a considerable amount of duty. It is impossible this year to spare anything from the revenue, which could affect any material article of import; and on the subject, therefore, of the duty on these various articles, I think it better to say nothing which might excite either hopes or fears for a future year. I may also take this opportunity of answering a question put to me early in the Session, as to whether it was my intention to propose an annual duty in lieu of the sugar duties. I do not think so much importance need be attached to this question as was formerly the case; because there are now two votes which must be submitted to this House in the course of the Session — one of which I am about to propose to-night—without which it is impossible the ordinary expenditure can be defrayed. But hon. Gentlemen will remember that we have now a duty which must be renewed next year—the income tax; we have, therefore, for this year, the full advantage of an annual duty; and it is not my intention, in the present Session, to propose to substitute any annual duty in lieu of the sugar duties. Before I sit down, I am anxious to say that, apart from the calamity which we must all deplore, no one can regret more sincerely than I do the interruption of that course of financial and commercial policy which has, for a considerable time, been pursued by successive Administrations, and which, during the last four years, has been carried out with greater vigour. It is true that I opposed the imposition of the income tax, in order to provide for a deficiency of 2,500,000l. But the character of that measure was changed when it was made the means of enabling the House to adopt those beneficial changes in our commercial system which have been carried by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I do not mean to say that I approve, or that I did approve, of all the details of the measures introduced by the right hon. Gentleman; but no person could more fully concur than I did in the general scope and policy of those measures, the object of which was to free trade from all unnecessary restrictions, to foster the industry of our people, and to provide most material additions to their comforts. Just before I came into this House, a paper was put into my hands, which, I am sure, it will be most satisfactory to this Committee to hear read, and which I hope may tend to dispel a portion of that gloom which my statement may perhaps have cast over the minds of some hon. Gentlemen. The statement relates to the quantities of a certain number of articles which were entered for consumption during the last four years. I have taken those articles which enter most largely into the consumption of the great body of the community; and I think the Committee cannot but conclude, from the statement I am about to read, that the comfort and happiness of the people generally must have been materially promoted by the measures to which I before referred. I will first mention the article of coffee, of which it appears there were entered for home consumption in the year 1843, 30,031,422 lb.; in 1844, 31,391,297 lb.; in 1845, 34,318,095 lb.; and in 1846, 36,781,391 lbs. The next article is butter. The quantity entered in 1843 was 148,295 cwt.; in 1844, 180,965 cwt.; in 1845, 240,118 cwt.; and in 1846, 255,130 cwt. I next come to cheese. Of that article, in 1843, there were entered for home consumption 166,563 cwt.; in 1844, 212,206 cwt.; in 1845, 258,246 cwt.; and in 1846, 327,490 cwt. I may observe that I have not yet heard of any complaints from the Cheshire farmers on this subject. I find that the quantity of currants entered in 1843 was 254,727 cwt.; in 1844, 285,116 cwt.; in 1845, 309,799 cwt.; and in 1846, 359,315 cwt. The quantity of sugar entered in 1843 was 4,037,921 cwt.; in 1844, 4,139,983 cwt.; in 1845, 4180,606 cwt.; and in 1846, 5,231,848 cwt. Now, upon all the articles I have mentioned, the duty has been reduced; and I have reserved till the last the great article of tea, for the reduction of the duty upon which so much interest has been evinced. It is, however, only fair to state, that, though the duty upon tea has not been diminished from various circumstances, well known to the commercial world, the price of tea has been considerably reduced. There were entered for home consumption in 1843, 40,304,407 lb. of tea; in 1844, 41,369,351 lb.; in 1845, 44,183,135 lb.; and in 1846, 46,728,208 lb. All these articles are largely consumed by the great body of the people; and it must certainly be satisfactory to the Committee and to the country, to find to what an enormous extent the consumption of such articles has increased. This consumption could not be confined to the higher and more wealthy classes; but it is perfectly evident from its extent that it has been spread over the great body of the people. Having always supported the course of policy to which I have alluded, it affords me great gratification to read to the Committee a statement which must be most satisfactory to them, and to no one more so than to the right hon. Baronet opposite, who has taken so active a part in removing commercial restrictions. I am perfectly convinced that this policy is the only course which will tend to advance the prosperity of the country, and to promote the comfort and well-being of the great body of the people; and with their prosperity I am firmly convinced that the well-being and comfort of all classes is inseparably connected. I have now concluded the statement which it was my duty to make to the House. I hope I have rendered it clear and intelligible. If I have not done so, I must request that any hon. Gentleman who wishes to put any questions to me will be good enough to propose them at once, as I am afraid I shall not be able to remain in the House long. The vote I am now about to move has, in point of fact, nothing to do with the statement I have just made. It is a mere vote, of course. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving that a sum of 8,000,000l. be granted out of the Consolidated Fund towards the supply for Her Majesty.


said, that he wished to make a few observations on the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It appeared to him that the mind of any one who would consider the details of that statement, would necessarily be filled with melancholy forebodings. For his part, he feared that after that expenditure of 10,000,000l., we should find ourselves in a worse position than that in which we had been placed before. He was sorry to perceive that Her Majesty's Government were taking no steps to improve permanently the condition of the people of Ireland. In his opinion they ought above all things to adopt some means of removing the existing impediments to the transfer of property from unimproving to improving hands, for that was a measure which every one acquainted with the state of Ireland looked upon as most desirable, and as likely to produce the most beneficial effects. He was not prepared, whenever the right hon. Gentleman should think fit, to vote any more of those ten millions for Ireland, until they had some security that those measures which were remedial, and would mitigate, if not remove, the evil complained of, would pass. Did the right hon. Gentleman believe it to be possible that they could go on advancing ten millions to Ireland alone, while the poor in England and in Scotland were, though not to the same extent perhaps, yet still to a great extent—in want? The advantages arising from the liberal commercial policy of a former Government, had been adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman; but yet the right hon. Gentleman did not say one word about his being prepared to carry out further reforms that would further increase the commerce of the country. The House would recollect how often they had been told that the reduction of the duty on foreign sugar would have an injurious effect; but the information which the right hon. Gentleman had now given to the House, afforded undoubted proof that all those who had those fears were in error, and those who were in favour of the reduction were right. He, therefore, asked the right hon. Gentleman and Her Majesty's Ministers, why they should now stand still, and allow the present restrictions to remain? They should remove from the Statute-book all remaining restrictions, and allow the commerce of the country to rise by the elasticity thus created. It would not decrease, but would add to the means and facilities by which they must be prepared to meet this immense demand upon them. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the duty upon tea, tobacco, copper, and other articles. Now, it was a question how far the reduction of the duty on tea would cause a loss. He had no hesitation in saying that the loss would be trifling, compared with the advantages derived from continuing their exports to China. It was not the loss of the duty on tea they were to consider, but they were to recollect that out of 600 millions of yards of common calico that were sent from this country, 180 millions went to China alone. By reducing the duty on tea, they would increase the quantity of goods exported; they would also increase the revenue, and find greater employment to those who manufactured those articles. It appeared to him that the Government were taking a one-sided and limited view of the subject, instead of embracing those broad principles which were stated by the right hon. Gentleman before he sat down to have been attended with such admirable results. With respect to copper ore, on which there was a duty of 40,000l. or 50,000l., it was a question whether they did not lose three times the amount of that paltry sum by the imposition of that duty. They lost the markets of the whole world, and persons abstained from coming to them to give them the means of smelting that ore. That was not carrying out those great and liberal principles of policy to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. There were 150 or 200 articles which ought in the same manner to be swept out of the Tariff, and full scope should be given to commerce, which had been proved by the measures of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) to be so beneficial. He must on those grounds express his deep regret to see the whole of their policy limited to Ireland. The Government should take the expenditure on Ireland as an extraordinary charge. Let them take the surplus of the ordinary revenue, and let it be applied to bear any risk in connexion with the changes that take place, and let the extraordinary expenditure for Ireland be met by extraordinary means. Great as the resources of the country were, it should be remembered that Parliament was now about giving a degree of protection to persons employed in factories which would cramp the exertions in those factories, and thus put an end to labour by means which appeared to him to be perfectly insane. In the few months that had passed, there had been a decrease of men on full, and an increase of men on half, time. There was the large decrease in two months of from 1,000 to 2,500 absolutely idle; and what would support them? Would their voting the public money away, or refusing to carry out those commercial reforms that had proved so beneficial, tend to remedy the evil? No, they could not for a moment believe it; and the true wisdom would be to carry out those measures, and to meet an extraordinary emergency by an extraordinary effort. The surplus of last year, he believed, was estimated at 776,000l.; but here was 2,800,000l. surplus of the ordinary revenue by the increase of their commerce; and did not that afford a strong proof of the advantages derived from removing the shackles on trade, and call on them also to remove the remaining shackles? There was another most melancholy circumstance, and it was this: at the time when those extraordinary expenses were increasing, every one of their estimates was increased. In the present state of things, they ought to see whether those estimates could not have been brought within a more limited compass. It had been said that Ireland should be exempted from taxes. Now, he felt very strongly that the income tax should be extended to that country, as well as all other taxes paid in England, and not paid there. Let Ireland have fair play. It could not be said that Ireland had fair play, if there was not equality of taxation, as well as equality of privileges. Let the same laws be extended to both countries. He regretted that no attempt had been made to equalise the burdens of the two countries. If, as had been observed by the right hon. Baronet, there should be a recurrence of the calamity in Ireland, could the people of this country be again called upon to make such a sacrifice, considering the distressed state in which they were? Until he heard from Her Majesty's Government some assurance to the contrary, he should not be satisfied that there would not be a repetition of a similar proposition to the present. He thought that such a proposition was not only unjust to the people of this country, but also to the people of Ireland. He could not but express his regret at the course taken by the Government; and he was sure that they would hear loud complaints of their proceedings from all parts of the country. He was satisfied that nothing could be of greater importance than a strict revision of the finances of the country, and that some general principles should be laid down as to their future proceedings, and not adopt, hastily, injudicious measures like the present. They should take such steps as would revive the commerce of the country. The country would not be pleased to find the income tax raised to 10 per cent; but the right hon. Gentleman would be obliged to do so if the present state of things went on. He therefore urged the noble Lord at the head of the Government to adopt a better mode of meeting the evil, instead of resorting to such a proposition as the present.


considered the statement of the right hon. Gentleman to have been the most unsatisfactory that any Chancellor of the Exchequer had had to make since the end of the last war. Within the last few years, there had been a large addition to every part of the public expenditure. There had been a large increase in the charge for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, as well as in all the public departments, including the collection of the revenue. There ought to be some provision made for the repayment of this money within a few years; and if there was a proper management of the public finances, this would be the case. The public expenditure of 1832 was 5,800,000l. less than it was in the present year. In 1833, the first year of the Reform Parliament, the expenditure was 7,428,000 less than in the present year. In 1835, when the estimates were prepared by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, during the short period that he was in office, and which were afterwards adopted by the Whig Government, the expenditure was 7,773,000l. less than at present. He conceived that the House had a claim on Her Majesty's Ministers to show why the public expenditure was so much greater now than in previous years. In 1830, when the Duke of Wellington was Minister, the charge for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, was three millions less than in the present year. In the same year, the amount of the salaries paid to the public officers was 1,800,000l. less than at pre- sent. He would take another remarkable period, namely, 1840, when this country was engaged in the war with China, and also in a dispute with France, and when it was deemed proper to keep up a large fleet in the Mediterranean, and when the whole of the charge of the rebellion in Canada had not been paid, the expenditure for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance was 4,093,000l. less than that now proposed for the same services. The right hon. Gentleman had given no satisfactory explanation why there had been such a large increase under these heads. As for the loan, he agreed with the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, that there should not be any increase in the national debt in time of peace. When there was formerly a deficiency in the revenue, as compared with the expenditure, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, then at the head of the Government, came down to that House and proposed the imposition of that obnoxious tax the income tax, and he had acted wisely in doing so, instead of going on year after year, adding to the debt. Between the years 1834 and 1841, not less than 42,500,000l. had been added to the debt, and it was now proposed to add eight millions more to it. If they had not been enabled to make reductions in the interest of the debt, they would now be paying a million more a year for that purpose than they did in 1817. He objected also to the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to proceed. The right hon. Gentleman should begin by borrowing 100l. in money, for 100l. in stock, as he might then hereafter be enabled to deal with the interest on it. The right hon. Gentleman by borrowing in the mode which he proposed, would add 8,800,000l. to the debt. In the 42,000,000l. which was added to the debt between 1834 and 1841, with the exception of the West Indian loan, which was raised nearly at par, there had been a less of not less than 3,200,000l., in consequence of the mode of borrowing adopted. When they had a surplus, the Commissioners went into the market to buy stock, and it had often happened that they had paid double the price for stock that it had originally been borrowed at. When the country was in such a state of distress as it was at present, and, above all, when there was such an awful state of things prevailing in Ireland, and the west of Scotland, the Government were called upon, by every sense of duty, to make every practicable reduction in the public expenditure. This year exhibited the greatest expenditure since the peace, and this without any alleged case. Was there danger of war? If so, let the fact be declared to the House, who would know how to provide for the emergency. Appearances, however, warranted the opposite conclusion; and although slight causes of irritation might have arisen, there had not been a time since the peace when the people of France were more disposed towards peaceful relations with this country than now. The truth was, that France was deeply sensible that on the continued existence of peace with England, depended the maintenance of liberty throughout the world. He was truly astonished that the aristocrary should not have viewed with apprehension this great increase of the public debt. When future generations should look into the mode in which the debt had been contracted, they would, no doubt, admire the generosity of England in coming forward to relieve the distresses of Ireland, when they saw 8,000,000l. raised for this purpose by imposts on the industry of her own people, and reflected that out of the 42,000,000l. to which he had already alluded, 1,800,000l. was added to the debt for the purpose of paying the arrears of Irish tithes. Who could say when this debt would be paid? and when the day of reckoning should come, of what avail would be titles and estates? He, therefore, warned the aristocrary to beware how they drew on posterity. He also thought that the unlimited issue of Exchequer-bills should be no longer permitted, but that the issue should take place under the sanction of Parliament.


begged to make a few observations, not intending long to occupy the time of the House; but he could not allow the opportunity to pass without recording his protest against the proposition of, and the plan at present contemplated by, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And before proceeding further, he should at once say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not have been more complete, could not have been more frank than he had been; and no statement could have been more freely or more clearly made than his. He felt, in common with the House, most deeply for the painful circumstances under which the right hon. Gentleman had made that statement; and he regretted to perceive that the right hon. Gentleman had been obliged to leave the House immediately after the right hon. Gentleman had concluded. He was not going to offer any comments in a spirit of hostility to the Government, or to any portion of the right hon. Gentleman's statement; but he thought it necessary in the highest degree to consider the bearing of that subject, which was so ominous and portentous as regarded the future, and to state at once his objections to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. First and foremost, he would say, and he said it in a spirit of perfect frankness and fairness, that there was a certain degree of suspicion cast over his mind in consequence of the altered course of proceeding by the Government in the present case. The Government had already passed a Bill which created a machinery giving them full power over all moneys voted, or to be thereafter voted, by Parliament for Ireland. That Bill had passed the House of Commons, and he believed it had also passed the other House of Parliament. In addition, that House had also passed a Bill, improperly called an Indemnity Bill, but which was in reality a Bill to make valid every presentment made in Ireland. Its provisions extended over all Ireland, or, with the exception of a small portion. When all that had been done, the Chancellor of the Exchequer came down to the House, and told them he was about to ask of them to make a loan of 10,000,000l. [An Hon. MEMBER: Eight millions.] Well, the right hon. Gentleman was asking for a present loan of 8,000,000l., which would in reality be found to add 10,000,000l. to the national debt. He deeply regretted the absence of the right hon. Gentleman; but in his absence he would ask the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) what was the intention of the Government with regard to a certain class of taxation for Ireland? The noble Lord had put off that Bill, which was in reality the most important one before the House, for a fortnight, with the remarkable statement—and he wondered at the sanguine temperament of the noble Lord which bore him up so buoyantly on every occasion—that "he hoped and believed he would receive no opposition on the principle of that Bill." Now, the principle of the Bill was, that the property of Ireland should be taxed for the support of the poor of Ireland; and he rather suspected that the statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite was correct, namely, that seventy of the largest landed proprietors in Ireland had signed a state- ment, which was in fact, a protest against that Bill of the noble Lord. And he held, besides, in his hand a memorial from a deputation of Roman Catholic clergymen from a district in Ireland, disavowing those who called themselves "the Irish party." The object of those Gentlemen who took to themselves the title of "the Irish party," was to represent themselves to the House as the representatives of the feelings and sentiments of the Irish people. He would not use any harsh terms, although the word "mendacity" had been before that time used to characterize statements made in that House. Those Gentlemen (the Irish party) had banded themselves together to oppose the proposition of the noble Lord with regard to Ireland; and that it was which cast a shade of suspicion over the transaction—not over the conduct of the noble Lord, but over that of those parties, both in that House and out of it, who offered no opposition or objection to the passing of measures for getting money from England for Ireland; but who were at the bottom of a powerful opposition to the establishment of an effectual poor law for Ireland. But he hoped that the Gentlemen of England would join him to oppose the giving of eight millions of money, until they should have first insured the passing of the Irish poor law. The Chancellor of the Exchequer (he was sorry to be obliged to speak of him in his absence) had exceeded the ordinary duty of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. His rule was, "sufficient for the year is the evil thereof." He glided over the difficulty. No Chancellor of the Exchequer could have carried through the proposal made that evening, if he did that which he was bound to do, namely, make the taxes of the year meet the expenditure of the year. Why, he would ask the noble Lord, should not taxation have been made upon the whole property of Ireland? Why, he wanted to know, were Irish gentlemen allowed to come to England, bringing with them what number of horses and carriages, and what servants, they pleased, or could afford? Why were they allowed to go to what expenditure they pleased, and yet remain exempted from those taxes which all Englishmen, even down to poor artisans, were obliged to pay? Where was the justice of such a state of things? and why should those gentlemen be thus exempted, whilst his poor countrymen were suffering in misery? Another question, too, he had to ask. Why was it that he him- self, labouring as he was here in England, in common with all his professional brethren, howsoever hard he might labour, was obliged, whatever might be the income which by his labour he might earn, to pay out of it a portion for his income tax, from which those Irish gentlemen were exempted? Why, he wanted to know, did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer come down to the House, and, having stated the difficulties with which he had to contend, say that there was a part which he could meet with justice to all parties, by a taxation which no Irish gentleman could refuse to submit to, and no English gentleman could offer the slightest objection to—that he was about to propose a property tax and an income tax for Ireland? Now, he was not going to propose at once an income tax for Ireland, but with the sanction of the House he would bring the question forward at a suitable time; and however painful it might be to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet the representatives of Ireland after having imposed an income tax upon that country, he trusted he would not meet the right hon. Gentleman's opposition, and he hoped that the English Members would recollect that they had constituencies to meet, when he should propose that vote to the House. He should propose the simple and honest plan of making property, whether in England or in Ireland, subject to the same burdens, and of making every man, whether he were an Irishman or an Englishman, contribute alike to the imperial necessities. Since the question of Irish distress had come before the House from the commencement of these debates, they had been constantly told that the calamity was an imperial one, and that it should be treated as an imperial calamity, which had fallen upon one portion of the empire; that Ireland, being an integral portion of the empire, had a right to be relieved from the imperial resources. Granted that it was so. Then the relief must be collected from the resources of the empire, and it must be collected from Irish as well as from English resources. But it had been said, and said too with a degree of exultation, "Lay an income tax on Ireland if you like, but it will never be paid." He was prepared to reply—The landed property of Ireland was rated at, in round numbers, 13,500,000l. per annum. Why not take that sum as the basis for an income tax? There was the annual territorial value of Ireland, and they could set upon it, at all events, a property tax to that extent. It could not be said that they would not pay it. He knew that Irish gentlemen had told them that the poor rates were generally perfectly well paid in Ireland; but if the property tax were not paid, he should say at once, "Seize the land, and sell it." No one need tell him that it would not sell. They all knew that land in Ireland sold better than it did in England; that it sold not only more freely, but fetched more years' purchase; and that being the case, who should tell him that he could not levy from the Irish proprietary that property tax which in justice was due? It appeared to him that they were not going to get out of their difficulties at the present time, and there was one matter to which he wished particularly to direct the attention of the noble Lord. The Government had calculated that 600,000 persons were daily maintained by the public purse. Now the great difficulty would be the disbanding of that great multitude. The Government had drawn them from their legitimate source of employment, the soil, and the great difficulty would be to induce them to return to it. If they would impose the taxes he suggested upon the owners of Irish property, they would give those proprietors a direct interest in employing the population upon the land. To lower the poor rate they would be obliged to make all their land remunerative, and thus a large body of persons would be enlisted with the Government in endeavouring to get back the labourers to the land. He knew that the Government had a most difficult problem to solve; the most difficult that any body of men ever had presented to them. He did not blame them for the condition in which they were placed, although in many instances they had not acted with that foresight or that caution which he could have wished for. He admitted that the loss of the potato crop had produced extraordinary distress; but they should not therefore infer that they had to provide for eight millions. [A Noble LORD: Sixteen millions.] The noble Lord was from Ireland. But he was speaking of people, not pounds sterling. And they had not sixteen millions, nor eight millions to feed. The whole Irish population was not starving. Did they not know that from Ireland 6,000,000l. worth of food had been during the past year imported into England, and that the worth of that food had been returned, and was now there? They had not, therefore, eight millions of people to feed, although they had a very large number. But they had a difficulty to contend with, for which history offered no parallel. They had not only a people for a large portion of whom the food had failed; but they had a people, the large proportion of whom were accustomed to the lowest description of food, and they had not merely to supply them, but to supply them with a higher description, and one more difficult to be obtained. That was their difficulty. History afforded them many instances of difficulties in the loss of food of large masses of population. Every one acquainted with the history of their East Indian possessions, must be aware of similar difficulties arising there. The East India Company, of whom he would speak with high approbation, as a Government which had great power, and at least good intentions; which had great intelligence; and which had, moreover, that which no Government in Ireland had—a docile population—had found that whenever an attempt had been made by the Government to interfere with the difficulties of great masses of the community, every interference had only tended to increase the mischief, and cause ten thousand times more harm. So home had that come to the East India Company, that they had formed the wise resolution not to interfere with those difficulties to which the people were unhappily subject. They had done away with the obstructions to the obtaining of food by the population, but they had done nothing towards directly enabling them to obtain it. Similar consequences had followed, he contended, in Ireland. He held in his hand a statement made by the Roman Catholic clergymen of Mallow and Fermoy, from which, with the leave of the Committee, he would read a few lines. It stated, that the distress of the people, not of that county only, but of the towns and suburbs, was very great, which in their case he asserted could not be attributed to the loss of the potato crop, or as resulting from the same causes which had led to the distress of the agricultural population; for these persons had no gardens, no potato crops, and the Committee was at length obliged to acknowledge the astounding fact, that a corresponding degree of distress existed every year throughout the country. If a similar inquiry had been instituted last year, or should be instituted next, they would find the same accounts returned of a vast portion of the population subsisting upon one meal or half a meal a day. It was, in fact, the ordinary condition of the Irish people; and what was the moral he would draw from the statement he was making? He was not making it to cast any imputation upon any class of gentlemen, and therefore he hoped he would not be met by that angry vituperation with which he was generally assailed. He observed an hon. Gentleman opposite smiling. The hon. Gentleman might smile; but he did not consider it a subject for smiling or laughter. They were dealing with the resources of a great people, for, he hoped, great purposes. And what, then, was the moral he would draw? It was, that Englishmen being suddenly called upon to inspect the condition of the Irish people, unaccustomed as they were to see such a state of things, drew a comparison at once between it and the condition of the English people. The Government came at once to the conclusion that the position was an unexampled and unheard-of one, and they rushed forward to relieve the distress, and they had thereby added to it. They had dried up the resources of private charity in that country, and they had stopped the flow of capital in its proper channels. They had drawn off the people from the cultivation of the land, and had exacerbated all the bitter feelings that existed. They should recollect that they had in Ireland a people not accustomed to habits of forethought, but willing to trust for help to anybody rather than to themselves or their own exertions. And they had now the whole population of that country thrown upon the Government in consequence of their good intentions. They had thrown those people together. They congregated in various places 600,000 of them; so that, as they had been informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they had three millions of people depending upon them, and requiring an expenditure of about 1,000,000l. a month, which would be required until the month of August next, because, as they were told, they had more distress in summer than in winter. But how were they to form the estimate that the outlay was to be until August? There was no potato crop now. Between the end of the hay harvest and the corn harvest, there would be no potatoes; and even if they were to be now planted, they would not be ripe in August. But as aid to the people they were promised seed, for the purchase of which 50,000l. had been voted. Why, if, instead of 50,000l. they had voted 1,000,000l. it would not have answered the purpose. To use a newfangled phrase, they had demoralized the Irish people. They had constituted themselves corn chandlers, and taught the people to look to them for support. They had done for the people just what the farmer would do on his farm; and they fancied that they could govern a kingdom in this manner. Again and again he would beg of the noble Lord to be convinced, that he did not attribute to the noble Lord and his Colleagues the whole of this mischief. He did not forget what had been done by the right hon. Baronet opposite, with the same benevolent feelings—feelings for which he gave the right hon. Gentleman praise at the time, and for which he was still willing to give him praises. In consequence of the failure of the potato crop last year, there had been a rush of misery upon them. The whole Irish people seemed convinced with the notion, that they had but to say that they were starving, in order to get relief from England; and the consequence was, that the entire burden of their support had been thrown upon the Government. He would appeal to hon. Gentlemen who had made themselves acquainted with the subject, whether it was not the fact, that the people would not subscribe in Ireland to relieve the distress, as they expected that Government would do all? He had letters to that effect sent to him from every part of Ireland; and he would appeal to the experience of hon. Gentlemen, whether the conclusion come to was, that Government ought not to have depended partly on private charity, but ought to have done everything themselves? He considered that, instead of Government having done too little, it was a proof they had interfered far too much. He begged to thank the Committee for the attention with which they had listened to him. He warned the Government before it was too late—before the whole of the mischief was done—to beware how they proceeded. They should recollect, if Ireland was to be sown with any portion of the Lenten crop, the dreadful evil which must attend weakening the people, and drawing them from the cultivation of the soil. He considered that there never were a people more sure of disappointment, than the Government in their loan of eight millions. They were certain, before the end of the year, of finding their Exchequer empty; Parliament not sitting; themselves without the possibility of assisting the people; and yet surrounded by the same cry of "give," which they were now met with. They would find the people still worse than at present; and that all their benevolence would have ended in making the large mass of existing misery still worse than before. Therefore, he would say to them, "Beware in time; stay your step while you are able, and be just to the people of England, by imposing upon those in Ireland who are able to pay their quota of the expense necessary to meet the evil; and thus guard against dragging the English people hereafter down to that miserable condition in which we now see our Irish fellow-subjects."


I rise to address the Committee, Sir, not for the purpose of adding anything further to my right hon. Friend's statement with respect to the financial estimates of the year, in which, as has been admitted, he stated the views of the Government so clearly to the Committee, that I do not think any further explanation of them necessary; but because I wish to enter at once into discussion with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. For, admitting, as he did admit to the Government, that he is conscientiously persuaded that his views are for the benefit of the country, I think he completely deceived himself; and that he would, if listened to by the House, so completely deceive Parliament, that I believe there would be the greatest danger if the Parliament consulted him on the matter. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, in the first place, with regard to taxation, that it is a question on which he wishes to introduce, on some future day, a Motion to the effect that the income tax ought immediately to be extended to Ireland. But the hon. Gentleman admits that this is an imperial calamity, to be met by imperial means; for as Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, the evil ought not to fall upon that country alone. But though it is an imperial calamity, we must recollect that it has pressed most severely upon Ireland; and that those proprietors who have taken care of their neighbours, and of the destitute poor belonging to their own estates, have of course been obliged to make very considerable sacrifices—that they have received, perhaps, only a small portion of their rents—and that they have expended fully as much as the whole of their usual income. I should say, therefore, that while such is the condition of Ireland, even admitting, which I am most ready to do, that while it was wise in the right hon. Gentleman, in the first instance, not to have imposed an income tax on Ireland, yet if we were to look to that income tax continuing for many years, it should be justly extended to Ireland. Making that admission, I do say, that I cannot think it would be wise, or just, or considerate, to impose that tax upon Ireland at the present moment. I cannot, therefore, agree in the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But he then went on with an argument to show, in the first place, that this was, after all, nothing but the ordinary state of Ireland. Why, Sir, he had a paper which he read in support of this part of his case; and which paper I read when it was brought to me somewhere about the month of October last. It proceeded from a committee formed in Mallow. They stated that they were astonished to find, and I was also astonished when they told me, that artisans, and labourers, and small shopkeepers in that town lived on a miserable pittance of food in ordinary times; and for the greater part of the year subsisted on one meal a day. That state of distress which they thought extreme, was the usual state of the town; but, Sir, though such may be the condition of Mallow in ordinary years, it would, I think, be very rash to say that the present state of Ireland, is at all similar to the ordinary condition of the country generally. Why, let us suppose, and I do not think it will give us any unfair notion of the calamity, that three-fourths of the wheat crop was lost in the country, and that there was also a great insufficiency of oats, would that, I ask, be not an extraordinary state for this country to be in? Last year there was, in point of quantity, an abundant supply of potatoes. This year they failed within three months after the gathering, and this produced a most extraordinary calamity in Ireland; for the very reason that so large a portion of the people are always almost on the borders of famine in ordinary years. It is that state of the people in ordinary times that has made the calamity so great. But it is no reason for saying that this is nothing more than an ordinary calamity. It is, on the contrary, the cause of its having become a most extraordinary calamity which has fallen upon the people of Ireland. Let us look to the condition of the people of this country when any want of employment, or the dearness of provisions, or other cause, produces great distress. At ordinary times the poorer classes in England are able to purchase a little tea and sugar, and such articles; they are able to provide themselves with some little luxuries, and to send their children to school—they are able, out of their small incomes, to provide for these expenses. Then, when a year of calamity comes, they take their children from school; they reduce the quality of their food to whatever is absolutely necessary for their subsistence, cutting off every other source of expenditure. When all this fails, they come to the parochial board; they are obliged to go before the board of guardians to state the distress of their families. The man goes on the roads breaking stones as a test of his destitution, and he there receives a certain allowance from the board for his subsistence, and that of his family. Now, although that is a very melancholy state of things, and one which we call a state of great distress in this country, yet it is a state of distress which can be borne, and which is borne; and it is a remarkable circumstance that in Mr. Thornton's work on over-population, one of the maxims which he lays down is, that in a year of very great scarcity he was, after all, unable to hear of one person who had been starved to death in this country. Why, Sir, is not that a very different state from Ireland? Must we not admit that a most extraordinary calamity has fallen upon Ireland, when we hear of the dreadful numbers who unfortunately die every day from absolute starvation? Is it not clear that unless there were some means adopted to preserve those persons, that the deaths, instead of stopping at the great numbers in which they now occur, would be multiplied ten or a hundred times? Well, what have we done to meet this evil? We have taken something like the analogy to be drawn from the case of England under the circumstances, and finding that the immediate resources of Ireland were not able to meet the exigency of a single year, we looked to the mode in which destitution was relieved in England. We gave the people money for the purchase of food; but we required some labour in return, as a test to show that they were destitute, and that they were in need of relief. That is the course pursued in England where relief is required, and it is the course under which millions of money have been expended ever since the poor law was enacted in this country. But in Ireland, seeing that there did not exist a poor law to the same extent as here, and that there were not resources in that country to enable them at once to meet the extent of the calamity, we advanced large sums of money from the Imperial Exchequer to enable the people of Ireland, in some degree, to ward off the famine that was impending over them. There may be different ways of relieving that distress, or the ways which we have taken may not have been the wisest. Even the Bill which is now going through the other House of Parliament may doubtless have its defects, and he inadequate to meet the calamity; but I could not reconcile it with the duties of the Government for us to lie down in quiet, and that no effort at all should be made. I could not think it would be wise to abandon the people of that country altogether, and to leave them to rest on the ordinary operations of trade, in the hope that they would find assistance from those ordinary resources. I believe that, had we adopted such a course, the feelings and the opinion of this House would really have been against us; and that the economy—the unwise economy, as I believe it would be—would not be supported by the approbation of the Parliament of this country. While I say this, I give the hon. and learned Gentleman full credit for believing that the course which he recommends is that which, in his opinion, ought to be pursued, and which he thinks would lead to the best ends. Now, with regard to the state of the people of Ireland, there is no doubt but that a very formidable transition is to be passed through. There is, no doubt, some truth in the representation of the hon. and learned Gentleman, of the danger attendant on employing the people on public works, and withdrawing them from field labour; but I think the evil thus caused has been very much exaggerated, because I have taken great pains to get information on this matter. Persons have been sent through the country to make inquiries; and they state that though so many people have been employed on the public works, there were numbers besides who were asking to be so employed, without success, and who could get no employment from the farmers, or no employment on their own holdings, and who loudly complained that they were not employed on the public works. It is clear, therefore, that there was sufficient surplus labour in the country that might be employed in agriculture when necessary. I do not think, therefore, that the statement of the evil caused in this way, is true to the extent alleged. I do not think it is true, either, that the people have been demoralised by these public works. I find that although the work done has been very deficient in some instances, yet, in many others, the task work has been duly performed—that the men engaged upon it have performed their labour properly—and that the work has been efficiently completed by them according to the payment which they received. Now, this may be a foolish way for Parliament to lay out the money, but it does not follow that the people are in consequence to be demoralised. A gentleman may choose to lay out a great deal of money in forming an ornamental piece of water in his park, or in effecting alterations in his pleasure grounds; that may be a very foolish expenditure on his part, but the men employed on that labour are not demoralised. They perform the work as well as they would any other labour on which they might be employed; and in the same way those employed on the public works executed in Ireland may have performed the work as well as they would if Parliament had engaged them to deepen the most useful harbour, or to construct any other most useful work. The great question for us to consider, will be, whether we can carry safely through that change in Irish society which must be come to—whether those persons who are now mere cottier tenants can be turned into labourers—and whether the landlords can, together, employ so much capital on the land as will make the work of these labourers useful and necessary, and thereby raise a sufficient quantity of food from the soil to provide for the sustenance of the people in future years. I believe, myself, that if there were sufficient time to do it, the change might be safely accomplished. When the lamentable failure of the potato crop was first ascertained, everybody cried out that potato culture was an injurious culture for Ireland, and that feeling once generally come to, an alteration might in seven or eight years be carried out with advantage to the country. That such a change may be still carried out, I do hope; but at the same time I feel it cannot now be effected without very great distress being produced, both in this country and in Ireland. It is a matter, I feel, which requires very great consideration and great caution. In the meantime it will be necessary to carry through this House and the other House of Parliament, a more extended poor law for Ireland. And on this subject I maintain still what I said the other night, that I do not think on the principle of that poor law there will be any objection raised on the part of Irish Members, or on the part of Irish proprietors in general. With regard to the details—to the mode of rating, to the extent of the districts to which the rating is to be applied, and such points—there may, no doubt, be much difference of opinion; but on the principle of the extension of the poor law in Ireland, I believe no difference will be found to exist. Sir, with regard to the immediate finances of this question, I wish only to address a few words, in reply to the hon. Member for Coventry, who complained in his speech of the very great increase of expense which we propose. Now, I will not say anything with regard to the miscellaneous estimates. They have not been yet produced; and it is impossible, therefore, to enter now into them. But with regard to the great increase which is proposed in the army, the navy, and the ordnance estimates, I must say that, however much I may agree with the hon. Member for Coventry on the necessity of economy, I do not believe we are at all exceeding that which is necessary for the defence of this country. I believe, on the contrary, that if our means were more extensive, it would be wiser for this country to give a larger expenditure for some of those branches of military and naval defences that cannot be made perfect in a few months, but that, on the contrary, require years to bring them to that state of efficiency in which the military and naval powers of the country should be found in case of any danger of war hereafter arising. But so far as compared with the estimates which the House sanctioned last year, there is no very great excess now proposed. The Committee will recollect that for the sake of producing a greater uniformity in the accounts, the estates under these heads were taken last year for only three-quarters of a year. Now, last year, the army estimates amounted to 6,635,000l. This year, the army estimates are 6,840,000l. But, then, the supplemental vote last year was 192,173l., leaving the real increase not more than 12,827l. Again, with regard to the ordnance estimates, the amount last year was 2,543,000l., and this year 2,679,000l., being an increase of 135,000l. odd; but, then, from this sum is to be deducted the amount of the deferred vote last year, 67,299l., leaving the real increase only 68,259l. That increase has been thought necessary, for the purpose of increasing the number of men in that impor tant branch of the service. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that it requires some time to make men efficient in that particular branch; and it is for this reason that we have proposed to increase the number at present. With regard to the navy, the increase is 77,428l. for which sum we propose to make an increase in the service of 1,500 men. Therefore, though the increase is undoubtedly very large since the years to which the hon. Gentleman alluded—1834 and 1835—I do not think it at all too much for the defence of a great empire such as this at present is. I believe that, with the increase of our commerce, it is necessary to have a large and considerable increase in our army and navy; and I believe that the security which is felt in our trade and commerce, derived from a knowledge that the military and naval branches are sufficient for their protection on all occasions, is one reason why our commerce flourishes as it now does.


Sir, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose departure I deplore on account of its cause, whilst I greatly admire that high spirit and bravery which have induced him, in the midst of great suffering, to leave a sick bed to perform his public duties here, was, I think, not wanting in his usual discretion in forbearing to hint at the taxes which may next year have to be raised to supply the deficiency in the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend says, that this is a year in which it is not at all advisable, for many reasons, to enter much into the money question, or to discuss the expediency of raising a greater fund by means of increased taxation. And my right hon. Friend said, that a stagnation in the trade of the country was likely to be the consequence of any proposal for increasing the income tax. But I am, Sir, inclined to think that there is another cause why this is not thought a year in which it would be advisable to put forward the question of renewing the income tax; and that is the circumstance of its being usually supposed that Parliament is in the last year of its existence. It was no doubt thought most inconvenient and unadvisable for the Government to go to an election with the préstige that they had just renewed the income tax, which a few years ago they had so loudly condemned.

I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Coventry has expressed great disappointment at the increase in the naval and military services of the country. I am sure that all those who recollect the high-flown promises in which my noble Friend the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Lord Morpeth) indulged upon a late occasion, when he issued forth from his "natural Woods and Forests," for the purpose of addressing the electors of Sheffield, and assured his auditors there, that the first result of free trade in corn would be, that their representative, Mr. Ward, the Secretary of the Admiralty, would be able to maintain the Navy of England without applying to his Friend, Mr. Parker, for increased taxes; that the first necessary consequence of free trade in corn would be—"that the musket would drop from the hand of the soldier, and the red artillery would cease its murderous flashes"—must be greatly surprised to find the practical result of free trade in corn to be an immediate increase of the military, naval, and ordnance establishments. The hon. Member for Coventry has, I think, great reason to feel disappointed at finding that free trade in corn has led to an increase of 1,200 men for the Artillery, and 1,500 for the Navy.

I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer through his last statement in respect to the finances of the country; but when he says that his noble Friend the Member for Lynn will not be surprised that he should not have consented to raise 4,000,000l. sterling for the purpose of affording employment for the people of Ireland in profitable reproductive works connected with railway enterprise, I must confess I am more than ever surprised by the statement of the Minister this evening, by which it appears he prefers to spend 10,000,000l. sterling, of which 5,000,000l. is to come out of the English purse, in the employment of labour that can yield no return, to its profitable employment in the construction of Irish railways. And I was still more surprised when I heard my right hon. Friend say, that the great prosperity in the revenue of the country arose in a great degree from the circumstance of the vast extent of speculation which for the last few years had taken place in the country, and the turn it had taken in the investment by people of "their money in works at home, instead of Mississippi stock or Pennsylvanian bonds." Now I think that that is the very worst argument Government could urge why they should not be disposed to advance money for railway enterprise in Ireland.

My right hon. Friend congratulated himself greatly at the increase in the revenue derivable from various articles of consumption, all of which he ascribed to the effects of free trade and the reduction of duties. True it is that in many of those articles he quoted, there have been reductions made in the duty. There have been such in the articles of coffee and butter; but he forgot to observe when he told the Committee that the consumption of butter had increased between the years 1843 and 1845 from 148,000 cwt. to 240,000 cwt., that there was no reduction of duty effected in the mean time. It is true there has been an increase again in 1846 to 250,000 cwt., but the gradual increase in this article arose out of the improved circumstances of the country. Cheese, too, the right hon. Gentleman said, had increased between 1845 and 1846 from 258,000l. to 357,000l.; but this article had also increased from 1843 to 1845 from 166,000l. to 258,000l., when again there had been no reduction of duty. I do not, therefore, see any great grounds for his congratulations for this increase as the results of free trade. He has been kind enough to tell you that there has been an equal increase in the article of tea, the duty upon which is 250l. per cent; and he said that the number of pounds consumed in 1841 was 41,000,000 lb., which had increased in 1846 to 46,000,000 lb. On tea, there has been no reduction of duty. But if my right hon. Friend had not thought it discreet to forbear quoting much further upon the increase of consumption in these articles, he might have gone on to hops, malt, British spirits, &c. He will find that there is the same increase in these articles as in the others upon which the duties have been reduced. The increased consumption in hops, between 1843 and 1845, has been from 27,000,000 lb. to 32,000,000 lb. Malt has increased from 1843 to 1846, from 35,000,000 of bushels to 41,000,000 of bushels. Now, I ask what has free trade to do with this increase? Sir, I think that the 13,000,000l. or 15,000,000l. that has been spent yearly upon railway enterprise in this country, has been the means of affording to all those engaged in their construction, and depending upon their labour for the means of living, the benefits of this immensely increased consumption. There is one increase which my right hon. Friend has spoken of, upon which I can hardly congratulate the House and the country. He has told us that there is 304,000l. increase to the revenue, arising chiefly out of the consumption of slave-grown sugar. Entertaining the opinions which I do on this subject, I feel that I cannot congratulate the country upon this increase upon an article produced by the encouragement of the slave trade. There was another point which my right hon. Friend congratulated himself upon in respect to an increase of revenue arising from the silk manufacture. He told you that the revenue on silk has been increased from 218,000l. to 297,000l. When I know what the present condition of the silk weavers is—when I know that the effect of the importation of this article has been to reduce the wages of the Spitalfields weavers, at a time, too, when the price of corn and bread was rising, I cannot rejoice in the increase of revenue obtained by this means. It is but three days ago that I received a letter from the unfortunate Spitalfields weavers, an extract of which I will read, and when the House hears it, I think you will not very much rejoice over an increased revenue derived from this source. They say— With feelings of considerable diffidence, yet with a desire to benefit the people of the United Kingdom, we take the liberty of informing your Lordship that we follow the silk trade of Spitalfields, and have attended in deputations on your Lordship, and we thank you sincerely for the vigorous efforts your Lordship has made on behalf of the silk trade of England; but we are sorry to inform you that the predietion respecting the new system has been painfully realised; nearly one half the silk trade of Spitalfields has been thrown out of employment. Hundreds have gone to the workhouse, great numbers have died, and are dying from want. Some of the best workmen of Spitalfields are now working at the pump in Bethnal Green workhouse. Wages have been greatly reduced, from 10 to 30 per cent—(one master has taken 1s. out of 3s. from the wages of the operatives)—making a difference of about 5s. a week reduction; also one of the large masters of Spitalfields, employing about 500 hands, is now retiring from business, although a free trader. These, then, are the results of free trade. That was the consequence of the increase of revenue from 1845 to 1846, which we have obtained by reducing the protective duties on silk manufactures. But it is much to the credit of these poor silk weavers, that in all their distress they do not grudge their assistance towards the relief of their poor Irish brethren. Whatever may be the feelings of some Members in this House, or the other, I do believe that the working classes of this country sympathize with the working classes of Ireland; and it is on that subject that the silk weavers have written to me, for that which I have read to the House is only the postscript of their letter. To the great honour of these poor people, they have written to me to express their sympathies with their fellow-sufferers in Ireland-They said— My Lord—With feelings of considerable diffidence, yet with a desire to benefit the people of the United Kingdom, we take the liberty of addressing a few lines to your Lordship respecting the state and condition of Ireland, with the means of remedying that fallen country. We, as working men, deeply sympathize with Ireland, and we rejoice to find that measures are being adopted for the benefit of that unhappy country. We feel great pleasure from the fact that your Lordship has manifested deep sympathy for the Irish, with a determination that something shall be done for the benefit of the people. We have read the speeches of your Lordship in reference to the question, and rejoice at the spirit which pervades them; and we entertain the idea, that had your Lordship possessed the reins of Government, the people of that country would not have perished to the extent they have, because we conceive that your Lordship would have regarded not the fashionable principles of political economy, whereby the people might have been saved. There was the honest expression of the feeling of the poor classes of Spitalfields, and he agreed with them. He had heard from his right hon. Friend the statement that in all this large expenditure, 295,000l. alone had been expended by the Government to feed the starving people of Ireland. He, for one, felt deep regret at the smallness of the sum which Her Majesty's Ministers, acting upon the unfortunate principles of political economy, had laid out in feeding the people. He thought it would be a scandal in the face of Europe that 25,000 Christian people had perished from starvation in Ireland; whilst in the neighbouring country, under the more paternal Government of the King of the French, whose Government had purchased near 2,000,000 quarters of corn to feed his people, in the words of Mr. Burke, in 1795, already quoted by his hon. Friend opposite, "as far as he knew, not a man, woman, or child, had died of starvation." And was it possible that the Irish people, who had perished by thousands, could abstain from comparing their condition and their treatment with the treatment which the Government of France had shown to all their people? It was not his intention to trouble the House at any greater length on this occasion; but he must say that it struck him as somewhat surprising that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should come down to the House and state, before the loan was contracted for, that it was his intention or expectation to pay 3½ per cent interest for it. That was not the interest apportioned to the price at which the funds now stood; and he could not help supposing that when those who had their money to lend, saw that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was prepared to pay 3½ per cent upon his loan, 3½ per cent they would be determined to have, whatever lower interest they might otherwise have been prepared to take.


said, that he so much concurred in what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell), that he had but a few words to say in answer to some of the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck). First, he (Mr. Shaw) would declare that, as an Irishman, if the income tax was made a permanent impost, he would not claim exemption from it. At the time it was imposed, there was no machinery by which it could have been collected in Ireland, and certainly that period of extraordinary pressure would be an ill-chosen occasion to extend it to Ireland, and the hon. and learned Gentleman's own argument failed him in that respect; for the hon. and learned Gentleman said, if it is a national calamity, let Ireland be taxed for it as such, forgetting that Ireland was first subject to the repayment of the whole, and still would be for the half of the sum advanced from the Imperial Treasury to meet the present emergency. Then, as to the 600,000 men who were employed on the public works, he agreed in many of the objections made to the Labour-rate Act, and to the injurious consequences of drawing off the labour of the country to unproductive works; still it must be recollected that was passed to provide for an unparalleled exigency; and that the first object was to prevent the people from starving; the second, if possible, to make the work in some degree remunerative: and the fact was, that from the entire failure of the potato crop, the poor cottier tenants could not till their own lands, without the means of support their stock of potatoes used to afford them; nor could the small farmer, who had usually paid his labourers in potatoes, give them money wages; and, therefore, they were necessitated to look for labour and wages elsewhere. He would take that occasion to warn the noble Lord and the Government against too rapidly stopping that employment, for he could speak from practical experience of the working of relief committees, and say, that there would be very great difficulty in the transition; and the immense number then employed on the public works could not, in the present dearth of provisions, easily pass to their ordinary occupations. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the calamity under which the people were then suffering, was caused by the interference of Government; and that last year the failure of the potato crop was exaggerated, and the people represented as in great destitution, in order to extort money from England. He would remind the hon. Gentleman and the House, that last year, he, and other Irish Members, had denied the extent of the potato failure, although they admitted that it was lamentably true that a large portion of the population habitually lived on the verge of destitution; but then, on that account, the entire loss of their food this year fell more heavily upon them. It was, beyond all doubt, an awful visitation from Providence; and he believed the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) was the only person in that House, or the country, who would maintain the monstrous proposition, that the Government, or that House, should have left Ireland to cure itself. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) complained, that an Irish party had banded themselves together to resist the introduction of good laws into Ireland, and especially a poor law. That he denied. It was true, that at that crisis of Irish affairs, Irishmen had laid aside their political differences, and cordially conferred together on questions affecting the interests of their country; but they were the interests of the poor, as well as those of property, which, after all, were really identical. They did object to general out-door relief as a system, in a country circumstanced in respect to property as Ireland was; and believed that it would be ruinous to the country, and, above all, destructive to the character and habits of the labouring class. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would not be disappointed in the expectation he had expressed, that the representatives of Irish property in both Houses of Parliament would meet the Bill introduced by the Government in a fair and humane spirit; but he could not help observing, that he thought the present an unfavourable opportunity for the calm and dispassionate consideration of a permanent poor law for Ireland. That could hardly be expected, during the cry of starvation, and in the excited feeling of that House respecting Ireland, while he would cheerfully consent to any temporary measure adapted to the existing emergency. There was only one other point in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman to which he would refer; and he would do that, to protest against the assertion, that the resident proprietors of Ireland had, as a body, been backward in subscribing to the funds for the relief of the poor. The contrary was the fact. They had subscribed to the utmost of, and many beyond, their ability; and he was persuaded that they would be found ready to share every reasonable burden on their property, and, at all times, willing to co-operate with the Government in every measure of relief they might devise for the suffering people of that country.


, in explanation, said, his argument was, that the evils had been greatly increased by the mode adopted for relief. He also contended, that gentlemen in London knew as much of the real state of Ireland as those who had only come from Dublin, though they might have arrived by the last steamer from that city. He received letters and newspapers every day, and he could prove from that information that the large body of resident proprietors had not contributed according to their means. It was not against the shopkeepers or the poorer farmers that complaints were made, but against the gentlemen. It was true he had expressed a suspicion that the poor law would not pass without opposition from the Irish Members themselves; and the observations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) himself had greatly enhanced that suspicion. He did not say that the landed Gentlemen had banded themselves for the purpose of opposing that Bill; but being already banded on other purposes, they had taken advantage of their association to agree to a paper which the right hon. Gentleman had signed—a paper which had excited the alarm of many of Ireland's lay well-wishers, and also of a large body of Roman Catholic clergy. The right hon. and learned Recorder was in the habit of carefully weighing his words, and he had used the phrase, "As far as their estates were able to bear." He would rather some other person than the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends should be the judge of "how far their estates were able to bear." He would have every far- thing swallowed up before they came to the English. The English land was mortgaged for the support of the poor of England, and the land of Ireland ought to be bound in like manner to support the poor of Ireland. If the improvidence or mismanagement of the Irish gentry rendered them incapable of maintaining their own poor, they were unworthy of the trust; and as the English soil was mortgaged for the maintenance of the English poor, he trusted "the good feeling of the people of England" would take care that the Irish soil was fully mortgaged for the relief of the poor of Ireland.


said: I do not rise for the purpose of entering into a discussion on the Irish Poor Law, or into the duty of the resident proprietors of that country, or into the question whether they have adequately discharged their duty; but I rise for the purpose of addressing myself to the question more immediately before the House; to the statements which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman; and to the mode in which he seeks to provide for an admitted and enormous deficiency. I do not know, Sir, a situation more painful or more difficult than that which has fallen to the lot of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and I am bound in justice to him to bear my tribute of praise, in accordance with every hon. Gentleman who has spoken this evening, to the mode in which he has discharged the duty imposed on him. It would be impossible for any one to meet the difficulty more fairly; to lay more clearly before the House the case for which we have to provide; or to state more distinctly the immediate measures to be adopted for relief, or the burdens which, if there be a continuance of the present calamity, we must ultimately bear. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman began his speech by reviewing the expectations which I held out at this period last year of the state of the revenue for the year now elapsing. He has said very truly, that I stated at this period last year that the surplus of income over expenditure might not exceed 776,000l.; but, Sir, the House will recollect that I expressly added, that my sanguine expectations were of a surplus exceeding that amount; but, considering the great reductions of taxation which the Government had made, it was impossible to state accurately how much increased consumption would compensate for the repeal of duties: undoubtedly, my expectations were sanguine. But I felt that expectations of the success of financial measures ought to be most cautiously acted upon. It now appears that the surplus, instead of being 776,000l., is very near 3,000,000l.; and whatever blame may attach to my miscalculation, I am quite ready to bear. The right hon. Gentleman has said that I could not have calculated upon an increase in the sugar duties, which is, in a great degree, to be attributed to the introduction of slave-grown sugar; but I beg to state that, as upon a former occasion, when the duty on British sugars was diminished, and the duty on free-labour sugar was reduced, there was a considerable increase in the duty paid upon the sugar consumed in this country, so I was of opinion that as the stimulus to the consumption of free-labour sugar was given by a lower rate of duties, the produce of the sugar duties would still be progressive. It appears that the increase in the consumption of sugar in the year 1845, as compared with that of the year 1846, was in favour of the former year. In the first year, the increased consumption was 700,000 cwt.; and in the latter, notwithstanding the Bill for introducing slave-labour sugar, the increase did not exceed 400,000 cwt. I therefore did anticipate an increase in the sugar duties, even if the slave-labour sugars had not been introduced. The right hon. Gentleman has access to official information, and I think he will find that the quantity of slave-labour sugar hitherto introduced into this country, is comparatively so small that it does not enter into the calculation of increase. This increased prosperity in the revenue, is certainly beyond what I anticipated. That it is the result, in a great degree, of the measures which Parliament has of late years sanctioned for the more free importation of the raw articles of manufacture, and for cheapening the articles which form the chief subsistence of the people, no one will, I think, now deny. The noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) indeed urges, that, although there has been an increased consumption of butter and cheese in 1846 as compared with the antecedent year, we have no right to argue that the advantage to the revenue, and the increased consumption, arose from a reduction of the duties, since there has been an equal increase on other articles on which no reduction of duty took place. Now, I will admit to the noble Lord, that in the midst of the general prosperity of the country, whether there be a reduction of duty or not, there will be an increase in the quantities consumed of all articles of general consumption; but I defy any one to look at the list of articles on which there has been a reduction, and to deny that, in consequence of the reduction in the duties, the quantity consumed has been considerably increased, or that the benefit to the consumer has not been proportionably large. The noble Lord has adverted again to what was a favourite topic with him in the discussions of last year; and he has told us that when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we were to congratulate ourselves on the increase in the duties on silk imported, we ought to reflect that we have inflicted a great injury on the silk manufacturers of this country, by the freer importation of manufactured silk. But the noble Lord will give me leave to say, that if we have more freely admitted the manufactured silk from foreign countries, the returns show that we have not diminished but increased our own exports of silk manufacture. It appears from the returns laid upon the Table of the House, that there was of raw silk imported in 1844, 3,600,000 lb.; in 1845, 3,700,000lb.; and in 1846, 3,900,000 lb.; showing a large increase in each of those particular years over the preceding in the introduction of the raw material. But let us see the effect on exports. In 1844, the declared value of silk manufactures exported was 692,000l.; in 1845, it was 700,000l.; and in 1846, it was 768,000l.; being an increase of 68,000l. in value above the silk manufactures exported in the antecedent year, thus showing that while a larger quantity of foreign silk has paid duty on import, the export to foreign countries of our own silk manufacture has materially increased. That the silk manufacturers should have suffered in common with other classes, in consequence of the high price of provisions, is what I deeply regret; no one will deny the amount of their suffering, or the calamity; for, whatever amelioration of commercial or financial system, it may be in the power of Parliament to effect, no one will be prepared to contest the truth that great evils must result from a deficient harvest, and from a consequent deficiency in the necessaries of life. But the noble Lord went on to instance a number of articles on which the duty was not diminished, and on which nevertheless, the consumption has increased. He particularly specified malt, hops, and some other articles. I admit freely this increase, and I point it out as an advantage of the very system which, when I was on the other side of the House, I recommended for adoption: for, if greater scope be given to the industry of the people by the removal of restrictions, and a reduction be effected in the price of articles of primary necessity, their power of purchasing all taxed articles is greatly extended. The noble Lord indeed tells us, that it is owing to the construction of railways that we find this increased consumption, and that it has been mainly occasioned by the large undertakings carried on under the direction of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hudson); but the noble Lord ought to recollect, that our experience of the effect of constructing railroads is not confined to the last year. The system had gone on for many years antecedently; and in years too in which there has been a great deficiency in the revenue, those great undertakings of railways have been in progress. I have here an account taken from the Committee on Railways, which shows that in the years in which the revenue had been deficient, there had been a considerable amount expended in railways. The following are the sums raised by railways in progress or completion previous to 1841:—

London and Birmingham 8,250,000
Grand Junction 4,638,000
Great Western 8,282,000
Brighton 2,867,000
South-Western 2,600,000
South-Eastern 3,857,000
Midland 7,235,000
and seven others, the capital of which was 10,000,000l. If the investment of large capitals in these works throughout the country had been sufficient to insure the comfort of the people, and an increased consumption of taxed articles, there would in those years have been an increased amount of public revenue. Therefore, without disparaging in any manner the benefits to be derived by the country from railroads and from other public improvements, I say that it is not just to ascribe to them alone the great augmentation of the public revenue: that augmentation has arisen from gradually and constantly, yet cautiously, reducing the duties on the prime necessaries of life, and on the raw materials used in our manufactures. Now, the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) says that considering the advantage which has already resulted from reductions in the duties on articles of consumption, we ought at once to go farther in the reduction of taxation; and, in the face of the necessity which is admitted on all sides to exist of a large loan to meet an extraordinary emergency, there ought to be an immediate reduction of taxation, which would ultimately raise the revenue. Sir, I have often thought that when the hon. Member has contended for principles which I believe to be right, he has taken exaggerated views of those principles, and has pressed them beyond what they will fairly warrant; and what has fallen from him to-night only confirms that opinion. In former years when we reduced the amount of taxation, there was a surplus revenue, so that we could afford to reduce it, in the expectation that after a certain period the revenue would come round, from the more general consumption of taxed articles. But the system of borrowing money, in order to reduce taxation, is a measure of a very different character, and would not only involve this country in a deficiency, but would be totally irreconcileable with prudence; and when the hon. Gentleman appeals to my practice in this respect, I must say he will find by experience that my course has not been conformable to his views. In the year 1842 there was a reduction made, but it was cotemporaneous with the imposition of a very productive tax, which gave the means of reducing with little risk the duties on many articles; but in the next two years, when the revenue had not recovered from the previous reduction of taxation, nothing of importance was done, although there was the same evidence of success, and the same inducement to persevere, as the hon. Member now points to. It was not till the revenue was again buoyant, that taxes could be taken off, and we then again resorted to the process of a further reduction. I admit that at the present moment we derive great advantage from these reductions; but if we go on reducing taxes, without a due consideration of the situation of the country at the time, we shall be doing great mischief. A review of the success which has attended the system of finance sanctioned by this House for some years, is undoubtedly most satisfactory; and at the present moment I cannot help picturing to myself what the result would have been if Parliament had taken a different course, or had adopted the system which the hon. Member for Montrose recommends, of bor- rowing money to meet the necessary demands on the income of the country: at this moment, when a sudden storm has come upon us, instead of being comparatively easy, we should have been in difficulties, from which no ability, however great, and no exertions of Parliament, however well directed, would have been sufficient to extricate us. Now, under a different system, we have already provided out of the surplus revenue of former years 2,000,000l.; and instead of having the whole amount required by Ireland to raise by loan, we have only to provide 8,000,000l.—an amount large and pressing at any time on the finances of the country; but in the present state of those finances we are able to meet the ordinary charges, and may still, after freeing the springs of industry, meet with confidence the difficulties with which we are surrounded. I come now to consider the mode in which those difficulties are to be met. Some few hon. Members have objected to the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposes to meet them; and suggested that, instead of meeting them by a loan, they should be met by taxes specifically applicable to Ireland; and hon. Gentlemen have to a certain degree argued that an extraordinary evil is only to be met by an extraordinary remedy. True it is that an evil which is the result of human misconduct and human error may be met by means of human provision; but when there is a great and overwhelming calamity, arising not from human agency, but from the dispensation of a far higher Power—when the crops are blighted and the means of subsistence destroyed—it is not for human agency, however exalted, to palliate such an evil. You must submit to the infliction; and that infliction will be conducive to the moral improvement of the people according as you meet the calamity by measures that will do justice to the people you govern, and will show that your Government is at least that of a Christian community. I cannot, therefore, for one, enter into the argument that it is not our duty to render assistance to the people of Ireland in the calamity under which they labour. I think our first duty is to take every care in our power that the poor and starving people, reduced to that situation by the hand of Providence, should be relieved by us, in the mode pointed out for the exercise of our charity, to an extent commensurate with the occasion. How then is the evil to be met? By loans or by taxation? I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that under all the circumstances—difficult as it may be and objectionable as it may be to raise loans in a time of peace—that in the existing circumstances of the country, a loan is the best mode by which the difficulty may be met. If I were to express any regret upon the subject, it would be that the right hon. Gentleman has, previously to entering into any contracts for this loan, brought it under the consideration of the House, as the announcement may possibly injure his chances in the market, and raise against himself a prejudice disadvantageous to his ultimate proceedings; but that is apart from the proposition how the difficulty is to be met. If the difficulty were one which could certainly be calculated on as recurring every year for some time to come, then I should say the period had arrived at which we should manfully provide for that burden by an annual charge. But, whatever may be our anticipations for the future, no one can undertake to say but that the bounty of Providence, commensurate with the affliction we at present labour under, may do much in the next harvest to restore our prosperity; and though I may not be sanguine on that particular point, and may think at that period that it may still be necessary to make further provision for a very considerable extent of suffering, yet, whilst the contingency is pending, whilst there is a prospect that a large taxation upon the country may not be required, I think it is prudent to provide in the interim by a loan for the present emergency; but at the same time, it should be distinctly understood, that whatever is now advanced as a loan must be repaid by that people for whose benefit that advance is made. I heard with deep regret the observation of the hon. Member for Coventry, in which he spoke of the repayment of the loan, and still more regretted that it was received with a laugh; for I, for one, must say, that if it be the duty of this country to come to the aid of the Irish people by raising a loan for the maintenance of that people in the time of difficulty, it is a solemn duty imposed upon Ireland to provide her share of the burden to which the country is subjected, and not to leave the whole of that charge resting on the people of Great Britain. Anxious and willing as they are to give assistance, they ought not, in fairness to themselves, to bear the whole charge. The case, there- fore, of a repayment being to be made, is an additional reason why, in the present circumstances, I consider a loan the most advisable course of raising money. As to the taxation of Ireland, especially at the present moment, I need scarcely add anything to what fell from the noble Lord opposite. It may be perfectly right hereafter to impose upon Ireland all the taxes to which Great Britain is subject; it may be desirable to impose upon Ireland a special tax for the repayment of her share of this burden, if by other means that repayment may not be effected; but to take the present moment, when the whole country is in a state of difficulty, when the gentry of that country have reduced their incomes to the lowest point, in the discharge of the duty they owe to the State and to their dependents, for imposing a new burden which cannot fall upon the millions there, or, if it did, it must be utterly unproductive, but must be thrown upon those who are in better circumstances in the country, and upon whom there is already the greatest possible demand, such a tax now imposed would have the effect either of ruining those who are trying to discharge their duty, or of creating in them a firm determination to abandon their duty, and to leave the country. That I believe would be the effect, if, in addition to the present heavy burdens imposed upon them, they were subjected to any additional taxation. I therefore should protest as strongly as the noble Lord against any taxation upon the Irish people at the present moment, reserving, however, to myself the fullest right hereafter of considering how far the burden upon that part of the United Kingdom is commensurate to its power of payment, and reserving to myself the right of enforcing the power, if Ireland has the power, of repaying her share of the burden now imposed upon the country. I cannot conclude without adding that nothing could be more satisfactory than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, as showing the success of the measures that were adopted in antecedent years, and that to those measures we are indebted in a great degree for the means we possess of meeting our present difficulties; but, above all, it is satisfactory to me as pledging the right hon. Gentleman to a wise and sound system of finance, as pledging him not to make a demand on our expenditure for temporary relief, and not to throw himself again on the Bank of England at a period when assistance might be obtained with difficulty, and might have a tendency to derange the whole monetary system of the country. Confident am I that, acting upon that principle, he does the best to secure the permanent interests of the country. Above all, I heard with satisfaction that part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, able and clear as it was in every part, in which he maintained the principle of upholding a balance in the Exchequer, and of maintaining an income that should be equal to the expenditure of the country.


suggested that the loan should have been rather made in terminable annuities than in 3 per cent or 3½ per cent stock, especially as it was for temporary relief. It that way it would have been a medium between a loan and taxation. But he wished to awaken the people of England to a sense of what they were about to do, although he had no wish to lessen their generosity. He thought that Irish property should be made responsible, ultimately, for Irish poverty; and he did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, that that was not an occasion for discussing a poor law for Ireland; he thought it was a proper, and indeed the only, occasion they could get for that purpose; and he was certain that if they did not take that opportunity, they would, for the next four or five years, hear nothing more of a poor law for Ireland. There was only one other question he wished to put to the noble Lord. The noble Lord had last Session said something about referring the miscellaneous estimates to a Select Committee, and he wished to ask whether the noble Lord intended so to refer them in the present Session.


had heard with great satisfaction the high eulogium the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed upon the principle of having a surplus of revenue over expenditure. Generally they had had an excess of expenditure over income, and it was that state of things that rendered necessary the income tax. He was afraid, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would not long have the advantage of a large balance in the Exchequer, because, if he correctly followed the right hon. Gentleman in his figures, he would have only a surplus of 332,000l. out of an expenditure of 52,000,000l. If a balance in the Exchequer had been found so beneficial to the country, he thought it would have been a wiser and more prudent course if the right hon. Gentleman had proposed to replace part of that 3,000,000l. which he had taken out of the Exchequer to meet the exigencies of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had read a long list of mills and factories that were in action, as well as of those that were not at work; but such statements proved very little—they did not show anything to disprove that which he would assert to be a fact, namely, that there had, for the last three or four months, been extreme stagnation in the export trade. There was another fact equally important and equally well authenticated, namely, that the Bank of England had been obliged to part with a great deal of bullion. Between February, 1846, and February, 1847, the quantity of bullion in the hands of the Bank of England had been greatly diminished—they had been obliged to part with a very large amount of bullion to pay for corn since November last. As to the foreign exchanges, there was no opinion which could be given on that subject that was worth one farthing—those exchanges would necessarily be regulated by the quantity of corn required for consumption in this country. Then there would be an additional sum of paying the interest on Exchequer-bills, in which a large amount of railway capital had been invested. With respect to the statements which the House had that evening heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he must say that he had nothing to complain of. The Government were quite right in not imposing any additional tax; but he was not so sanguine as to expect that the revenue of the ensuing year would equal the income that the country had received during the last twelve months.


regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not extended his statement so far as to inform the House as to the view which the Government took of the Annual Duties Bill. It could not be forgotten that when the right hon. Member for Portsmouth was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Government had given a distinct pledge that, early in the ensuing Session of Parliament, they should be prepared to name some other duties which might be annually levied. The sum levied under the Annual Duties Bill was 10,000l. a year. The alteration with respect to it was agreed to, under protest, by the immediate predecessor of the Gentleman who then held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the apology made upon that occasion, it was admitted that the constitutional right of annual taxation was vested in the House of Commons; now he wished hon. Members to say whether or not they were willing to give up that privilege of making an annual tax?


trusted that after the words which the hon. Member had put into his mouth, the House would give him permission to address them for a few minutes. He protested against its being said that he held now, or ever had held, any such doctrines as those imputed to him by the hon. Gentleman. He was not aware that there ever had been entered any such constitutional protest about the 10,000l. a year annual duties. He was not Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time to which the hon. Member referred; but in or out of office he had always held opinions the contrary of those which had been imputed to him. In his opinion, there was no use whatever in exposing a particular trade year after year to the necessity of an annual taxation. There was no necessity for exposing one trade above and beyond all others to annual uncertainty and annual botheration—he hoped the House would indulge him with the use of that word, for it was the only term which precisely expressed his meaning. It appeared to him that, in a constitutional point of view, such a check was wholly unnecessary; besides, it would be unfair to impose an annual tax upon one trade because it had been thought right to relieve another from the inconvenience of that imposition. As he was upon his legs, he hoped the House would give him leave to make one or two remarks upon the statement that they had just heard from his right hon. Friend. He should not make the excuse of saying that he was not prepared to address them, because, having had some practical experience of the matter, he certainly had taken notes during the progress of his right hon. Friend's statement. He confessed that he could not adopt the same prosperous view of our financial condition that had been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for, even supposing no Irish difficulties whatever existed, matters were by no means in a comfortable condition, because, throwing aside the temporary revenue of the China money, and also putting aside the increased interest on Exchequer-bills, 400,000l. was a trifling surplus. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exche- quer had stated fairly enough the expenditure of the country, though there might be good grounds for apprehending that the estimate of the income ought to be taken, subject to some exceptions. After all, the real position of the country was not comfortable. It was said they had a surplus of 400,000l.; yet, looking at all the circumstances of the country, that was hardly sufficient to leave them perfectly at ease. Frequent reference had been made to himself as Chancellor of the Exchequer; and everything that his right hon. Friends who held that office had ever said or done, was applied to him. If they would only give him all the credit that had been justly acquired by Lord Althorp and others, he should be willing to bear all the blame that they had ever incurred. Let them not censure him for the errors of those eminent persons, till they gave him leave to appropriate their merits. It was not a little unfair to put him upon the defence of all their official lives, without permitting him to enjoy any one of the advantages which they possessed. The hon. Alderman opposite said that they ought to meet their expenses by their revenue. That language had always been held by himself, and he always had made efforts to accomplish that object; but he begged of hon. Members to recollect the circumstances of the case. He should not go so far back as the year 1841, but he should take the liberty of saying that, if he possessed as large a majority in that House as certain Chancellors of the Exchequer had been able to command—if he, likewise, had as many good harvests as had fallen to the lot of others, he might possibly have presented to the House as favourable a view of our finances as any one of the noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who filled the office that he once had the honour to hold. He quite agreed with those who thought that inasmuch as it was now most difficult to bring the income and the expenditure of the country into perfect equilibrium, it was better to overcome that embarrassing state of affairs by a loan, than by the imposition of a fresh tax; and he thought further, that, looking at the whole position of the country, his right hon. Friend had acted not unwisely by declining to disturb the financial condition of the country, and preferring to raise a loan. His right hon. Friend could not take what was called a comprehensive view of the financial state of the country, for this among many other reasons, that it was impossible to say what might be the charge for Ireland. As to the income tax, that was a matter decided: from the outset he said that that never would be taken off, and circumstances had not yet proved that he was mistaken; moreover, he did not think he ought to conceal from them the conviction which pressed upon his mind, that in the course of the next year they must look very carefully into the state of the public finances. He did not hope that the income of the country was susceptible of much increase, or that the public expenses were capable of much diminution. He had not availed himself of any portion of the plans of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, though the late Government had availed themselves of his principles, and carried them out; but, however that might be, he believed the right hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree with him when he said, that they must not calculate upon continued increase of income, neither ought they to calculate too confidently upon the effects of free trade; they ought, on the contrary, to be prepared for the alterations which must inevitably occur: the right principle would be, to keep a sufficient surplus to meet those alterations. From 1834 to 1842, the whole amount by which the capital debt of the country was increased was less by 1,000,000l. than we had paid in one sum for slave compensation to the West Indies. And he must say that the efforts that had been made to reduce the expenditure of the country, had been made rather by the Government, than against it. There was one little word, once very popular, which had been too seldom pronounced of late—the word "economy." Expense had been pressed upon Ministers, who had rather acted the part, if any, of protectors of the public purse. Time was when those who sought popularity had for their watchword reduction of the public expenditure; but now Governments were obliged to make that their care, while those who pressed Parliament to apply to the public purse, gained the more in public estimation. He did think, however, that the rapid increase of the public expenditure was well worthy of consideration. [Mr. HUME: Hear.] He was glad to hear that cheer from the hon. Member for Montrose. He wished his efforts had been more effective in that House. But he had long been silent; except, indeed, an annual formal protest; he seemed rather to be resting on his laurels than to be exerting himself for the future. [Mr. HUME: It is perfectly hopeless.] He found that from the year 1835 to the year 1846 the increase of the expenditure had been about seven millions. No doubt 1835 was a year of very low estimates—too low, perhaps, to afford a fair criterion. But, take the period from the year 1830 (before the Whigs came in and cut down the expenditure) to 1846, and the increase would be found to be 5,000,000l. From 1836 to 1847 (this was the period from which the right hon. Gentleman's own data were taken), the increase in the naval, military, and ordinance estimates, had been 5,000l. Now he was not inclined to cut down the rewards of public servants; and when it was necessary for the safety and honour of the State that our establishments should be kept up at this rate, he, for one, would not oppose increased taxation, however unpopular such a measure might be. But where there was no concealing the prospect of increasing burdens to the country, as was now the case, he did think it behoved the House to change its conduct a little, and to assist the Government to cut down the expenditure as far as possible, rather than to urge it to bleed at every pore, as was now the case.


must say, he thought it would have better become them to look their difficulties in the face, and at once to have proposed an increased taxation, instead of putting off the evil day. He thought it would be more to our credit to raise the money now, than to have to do it at some future time, when, perhaps, it would not be so easy. In public as in private life, there was no more dangerous practice than not to meet pecuniary difficulties. Admitting, however, for the sake of argument, that a loan was the right mode of meeting the case, then he contended that it was equally necessary to have now taxes to meet the interest. But as it was, no means of payment whatever were pointed out. If, every time we got into difficulties, we resorted to the medium of a loan to extricate ourselves, we should soon add 100,000,000l. to the national debt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, he would not repeal the copper duty, which now produced 40,000l. Probably next year it would not yield 20,000l.; and in the mean time our manufacturers suffered. Quantities were exported from South America to the various ports of Europe, without any advantage to our miners, but to the great injury of our manufactures. He repeated, that he thought immediate taxation would have been much better than this loan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.


did not quite agree with the hon. Member, that immediate taxation was preferable, because he looked on the present Parliament as being, for such purposes, effete. Those who expected any great benefit to the financial position of the country from this Parliament, deceived themselves. The sooner the present House returned to their constituents, and a new one was returned to take the finances of the country into consideration, the better. That was a great question which must sooner or later be taken up. He had two objections to the present measure: first, he regretted that when such large sums were necessary, in order to meet the dreadful emergency that had arisen in Ireland, an opportunity had not been taken of raising the money by such additional taxation as would at the same time have relieved the industrious classes from many of their burdens. He thought it would have been very easy for the three Chancellors of the Exchequer who had spoken to have devised a scheme by which all this money might have been raised, and, at the same time, industry relieved. At the same time, he thought a very fair reason had been alleged, in the fact that this was the last year of the present Parliament. Another objection he had was, that he could not understand how the Ministers could come down to Parliament and ask for so large a loan on account of Irish distress, while, at the same time, they kept up the taxation on some of the chief articles of consumption. Last August he had put this case to the noble Lord, and had intimated his fear that, while these taxes were being retained, many persons would in the meantime die of starvation. He was then told, that in any part of Great Britain or Ireland, scarcity could have no such effect. Yet now it appeared that thousands had been dying of starvation, and they were asked for a loan of 8,000,000l. to supply the necessities of a great portion of the people of Ireland. He confessed, however, he could not conceive how Ministers could come down to Parliament with such a request, when, at the same time, they kept up high duties on the most necessary articles of consumption. He thought that for such a scheme of taxation to have been kept up so long in time of peace, did cast a serious reflection on successive Governments of this country. Cheese and butter were articles that had been especially mentioned as articles that had been unfairly taxed. Did any man suppose, that, had the price of those articles been lower from the duty being low, they would not have been more largely consumed? Had the right hon. Gentleman proposed the immediate repeal of such duties as these, he was sure he would not have met with more than two or three Members of that House to dissent from that proposition. He felt sure the noble Lord the Member for Lynn would not have dissented. The noble Lord implied by his gesture that he would. At all events, if he did so, he would find a much smaller minority voting with him than he had on his Irish railway scheme. And really he would not be surprised that the noble Lord should now recur with some triumph to that scheme; for where the Government were now calling for a loan of such magnitude, he did not wonder that the noble Lord should prefer a loan which, if so much larger, might, at least by possibility, be employed beneficially for the people. At all events, he did hope that the subject of the total and immediate repeal of all the duties on provisions, would soon occupy the attention of the Government and of Parliament.


, although anxious not to offer an unfriendly criticism on the measures proposed to-night, while generally friendly to the Government, must nevertheless express his opinion that they had on this occasion thought too much of the present, and too little of the future. And, on the other hand, he must admit that the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, in his perhaps too magnificent plan, had more regarded the future. He agreed with the hon. Member for Winchester, that they ought to look to emancipating articles of food from taxation, and also to freeing trade, as far as possible, from fetters, for the future prosperity of the revenue and happiness of the people. At the same time, he did not see how they were to do this, unless, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth advised, they were to take a comprehensive view of our whole existing system of taxation. The time was at hand when they must take a courageous view of this subject, when they would see the necessity of a more extensive application of the principle of direct as opposed to indirect taxation. That great question was on the distant horizon; but it was destined to rise upon the attention of the country. The present budget might satisfy our consciences for the moment; it was one of those soporifics which lulled the symptoms of the patient for the existing time: but those who would attend to the permanent interest of the country, must look to the future, and must take a comprehensive and total review of our present mode of taxation, and introduce, not a sudden, dangerous, or theoretic, but a wise, moderate, and sober change of a system which was at variance both with the principles of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, and with the lasting interests of the country.


was not surprised to find that the time had already come, when the proposition of his noble Friend the Member for Lynn was beginning to be received with a greater degree of favour than when it was last under discussion; but it was certainly gratifying to find one Member after another expressing an opinion that, comparing the scheme of the noble Lord, with the one which had that night been submitted to the House, there was at least this merit in it—that it proposed some return for the outlay of the money; whereas there was none proposed for the eight millions which were now claimed by Her Majesty's Ministers. The hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. B. Escott) had said, that he did not at the time, when the noble Lord's scheme was propounded, think so favourably of it as now. He did not wonder that the hon. Member had not taken so favourable a view of it, for he had not taken the pains to understand it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had called for a sum of eight millions, without the slightest prospect of a return—["No!"]—well, without a reasonable hope of a return of a single shilling of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth had asked the other night, what was the credit of the country; and had afterwards answered the question himself—for there was no man more capable of doing so; but he might be allowed to say, that there was an answer given a great many years ago, by an eminent predecessor of that right hon. Gentleman, who, when asked what was the credit of the country, replied, that the credit of the country was not the sun, but the sunshine; it gave life and spirit to every thing around it, without injury to the source from which it emanated. He thought that this was the nature of the proposition of his noble Friend; he wanted to extend this sunshine of the sun of England over the plains of Ireland; and he did not envy the feelings of the man who would interpose his shadow to prevent it. He felt that the people of Ireland had a large claim upon this country for the fulfilment of the promises which Mr. Pitt had held out to them at the time of the Union. Mr. Pitt said— If it be true, that this measure has an inevitable tendency to admit the introduction of that British capital which is most likely to give life to all the operations of commerce, and to all the improvements of agriculture; if it be that which, above all other considerations, is most likely to give security, quiet, and internal repose to Ireland; if it is likely to remove the chief bar to the internal advancement of wealth and of civilization by a more intimate intercourse with England; if it is more likely to communicate from hence those habits which distinguish this country, and which, by a continued gradation, unite the highest and the lowest orders of the community without a chasm in any part of the system; if it is not only likely to invite (as I have already said) English capital to set commerce in motion, but to offer it the use of new markets to open fresh sources of wealth and industry, can wealth, can industry, can civilization increase among the whole bulk of the people, without much more than counterbalancing the partial effect of the removal of the few individuals, who, for a small part of the year would follow the seat of legislation? The time was now come for the fulfilment of that promise, and to give, if not the wealth, at least the credit of England to help to fertilize the plains of Ireland. Under these circumstances, he was happy to find so soon, after the rejection of his noble Friend's proposition, that its merits were, in the face of Ministers, acknowledged; and that it was admitted, that if we were to have so large a drain as was now proposed, the plan of the noble Lord would distribute it more equally, and over a larger space of time, while it would also give some hope at least, if not the certainty which the noble Lord entertained, that there would be some return for the capital which we were to lend. He could not, therefore, but congratulate his noble Friend, that, notwithstanding the defeat which he had sustained by numbers, which he had no reason to expect when he made the proposition, the merits of his scheme were thus early beginning to be better appreciated; and he believed, that before the end of the Session, a considerable portion of it would be adopted.


said, that with reference to his vote on the noble Lord's Railway Bill, he had explained the grounds of it in a letter to his constituents, which he thought a better plan than making a speech upon it now in that House; but he begged to remind the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, that the noble Lord's proposition could not have been adopted as a substitute for the 8,000,000l. now proposed—it would only have been an addition to it. Then, again, when the hon. Member said, that he did not believe that any portion of the money would be paid, he felt it to be his duty to say that that portion of it which was advanced as a loan, would, he hoped—unless the calamity were to return in a far greater degree than it had yet done—be paid, and punctually paid. It might be that in some districts of the country there would be a difficulty in raising rates; but when allusions were made to particular districts, as being in this position, it was too commonly supposed by the House, and the public, that they applied to the whole of Ireland; but he for one, would say, that if the poor rates and the county rates were not repaid, and if direct taxation were to be resorted to, in consequence, unpopular as it might be, he would be ashamed of himself if he did not give his voice and vote in favour of it. With reference to the measure of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, he begged to say that, while he thought it was not judicious liberality to the railway proprietors of Ireland, he hoped the principle on which it was founded, would be attended to by the Government. He thought the noble Lord deserved thanks for having brought the matter under the consideration of the House; and he trusted that it was one of the measures to which the Government would sooner or later direct their attention, so as to carry out the principle and give judicious aid upon sufficient and carefully secured terms to railway enterprise in Ireland. It was gratifying to observe the feeling which prevailed in that House towards Ireland; and a few exceptions did not take away from what he might call its moral universality throughout the country. The proper course for those who agreed with the hon. Member for Bath, would have been to resist the first proposition made by the Government to give any aid to Ireland; but their opposition would have been scouted on all sides, and the reception of their proposal to withhold assistance, would have shown the people of Ireland what were the real feelings of the people of England.


thought, in considering the sources of difficulty to the country, the system of currency could not be overlooked. If there had been a properly restricted paper currency, the interest of money would not now have been above 3 per cent. What difficulty would there have been in raising a loan of 4,000,000l. for railways, if the interest of money had not been raised to 4 per cent by the Bank of England in consequence of the efflux of bullion, with a prospect that, before six weeks elapsed, it would be raised to 5 per cent? He blamed the vicious system of the currency, which threw the country every five or six years into a gold fever, and so involved their manufacturing and commercial interests in disorder. The reduction of the naval and military establishments had been suggested; but in the present temper of France, it was necessary to maintain them on their present footing; and, though great results had been promised from free trade, none had been realized in so far as regarded their relations with Austria, Prussia, and Russia. The question of an increase or decrease on those establishments, depended on considerations connected with foreign countries, rather than on any of an internal character. A social revolution was said to be taking place in Ireland; and if a loan of eight, or sixteen, or fifty millions, could be of real service in improving the state of that country, the money would be well bestowed. An extension of direct taxation had been advocated by an hon. Gentleman who had lately addressed the House; but it seemed to be overlooked that there were other means of raising the revenue which was wanted. The tax upon cotton had gone into the pockets of the growers of cotton, and the price was now higher than ever. So it was with the tax upon wool. And he had no hesitation in saying, that increasing the customs duties, would by a great many be preferred to increasing the income tax. In conclusion, he had only to express his belief, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made the best financial statement which it was in his power to make.

Resolution agreed to. House resumed.