HC Deb 28 February 1848 vol 96 cc1392-450

said: I rise, Sir, to move the Order of the Day for going into Committee of Ways and Means; and I think it is desirable that in doing so I should avail myself of this opportunity of stating more fully than it was practicable for my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) to do in his speech a few evenings since, the state of the finances of this country, and the course which it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to pursue. Some hon. Members have complained that they did not fully understand some portions of my noble Friend's address, having reference to the financial position of the country. Further explanation, therefore, would appear to be desirable; and as I find by a reference to the Votes that two notices have been given of Motions intended to be proposed as amendments on the question that the Speaker do leave the chair, it occurs to me that I shall best consult the convenience of the House by now making the statement which I am anxious to submit to it, instead of waiting until the debate shall have been raised on one or other of those Motions, or until the House shall have gone into Committee. The present state of the finances of the country appeared on the face of the balance-sheet which has already been laid before the public. The first portion of that document consists of a comparison between the income and the expenditure of the country, for the year to which the balance-sheet refers; but in the case of the present year it has been necessary, owing to the form of making up the accounts, to include in the expenditure side, an item of expense, which ought not fairly to be charged on the ordinary income of the year. On the one hand, we find in the balance-sheet with which we have now to deal, a statement that there is an excess of expenditure over income for the year ending the 5th of January last, of a sum of 2,956,000l.; but on the other hand it will be seen that, out of the expenditure, a sum of no less than 1,525,000l. has been incurred on account of the distress in Ireland. The House will bear in mind that it was the declared intention of the Government and of Parliament that this expenditure should be defrayed out of the loan of eight millions which was raised last year expressly for the purposes of the Irish people; and this being so, it is of course clear that the item is one which cannot be put against the ordinary income of the country. It is only fair that this sum should be deducted from what would otherwise be the difference between the income and expenditure of the year. Deduct therefore that item of 1,525,000l. for Irish purposes from the gross total of 2,956,000l., and it will be seen that the actual excess of expenditure over income is about 1,400,000l. My noble Friend at the head of the Government stated, in the course of his address a few evenings since, that the sources of income on which at this time last year we calculated that we might rely, included a sum from an extraordinary source, a payment on account of the Chinese ransom, amounting to 450,000l However, it so happened, that during the year ending the 5th of January last, no sum whatever has been received on account of the Chinese ransom. I stated on a previous evening that the sum which had entered into our calculation as a source of revenue was still in the commissariat chest. A vote, however, was agreed to a few nights since by this House, which will enable me to draw the money. The 450,000l. in part payment of the Chinese ransom, on which we had reckoned as being available for the purposes of the financial year, will be received during the present quarter, and will be carried to the account of the income of the present year. If, therefore, the ordinary income shall equal the ordinary expenditure during the present quarter, I shall be at liberty to deduct this 450,000l. from the excess of expenditure, as it appeared in the balance-sheet of January, and thus the excess of expenditure over income will be diminished at the end of the financial year to 1,000,000l. or thereabouts. And this will be consistent with the calculations already stated to the House, for it will be in the recollection of hon. Gentlemen that my noble Friend stated that the excess would be probably about 900,000l. or 1,000,000l. What the precise amount may be, is not very easy to estimate; for I am sorry to say that those symptoms of reviving trade which the House has heretofore watched with feelings of such deep interest, are not quite so rapid in their progress as many hon. Members had anticipated. The year 1847 was a year of extraordinary receipt in the first quarter; but I cannot expect that we shall be equally fortunate this year: on the contrary, our receipts, so far as we have gone, have fallen short of the receipts during the corresponding quarter of last year by about 400,000l. We anticipate some improvement in the Excise department before the 5th of April next; but still we are not sanguine in the expectation that even by this receipt the deficiency which I have stated can be considerably reduced. On the whole we calculate that the excess of expenditure over income for the year ending the 5th of April, 1848, will be somewhat under one million. And, Sir, I will not hesitate to say, that, taking into consideration the disastrous circumstances through which we have passed, and the extent of the calamity with which, during a year of unprecedented distress, it has pleased Providence to visit us, and having regard to the enormous expenditure which that calamity of necessity occasioned, I say, Sir, that hearing all these things in mind, the amount of deficiency is one at which we have no reason to wonder or to complain. Such, then, is the state of the income and expenditure, so far as I am able to estimate it, up to the close of the present financial year. I will now proceed to consider the prospects of the year extending from April next until April 1849. My noble Friend at the head of the Government stated what the total expenditure during that year would in all probability amount to. It is notorious to every one who has any acquaintance with the subject, that our expenditure is composed of various items, some of which are susceptible of reduction, whilst others are of such a character that the House can exercise little or no control over them. Prominent among the latter class of items is the interest on the public debt. The interest on the funded debt will amount during the year ending April 1849, to 27,778,000l. The interest on the unfunded debt, that is to say, on the Exchequer-bills, may be estimated as amounting in the aggregate to 752,000l. The interest on some of these securities, namely, on the Exchequer-bills due in March, I reduced from threepence to twopence halfpenny. The March bills, therefore, will only bear interest at the rate of twopence halfpenny; but the full rate of threepence will have to be paid on the bills to be exchanged in June. The whole amount of interest payable on the public debt during the next financial year may be calculated in round numbers at 28,530,000l. Enormous though this item unquestionably is, hon. Members must see that it is not susceptible of the slightest diminution. The charge on the Consolidated Fund is also fixed by Acts of Parliament, and is in great measure beyond the control of this House. It is somewhat higher this year than last; but the excess is easily accounted for by the fact, that, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1846, the expense of the Irish constabulary establishment is now permanently fixed as a charge on the Consolidated Fund, and it turns out to be more than was estimated. The total charge under the head of Consolidated Fund may be calculated at 2,750,000l.— a large item, but one which, from its very nature, is to a considerable degree beyond our control. The next source of expenditure is on account of what is called the Supply services; but a large part of this branch of the public outlay, consisting as it does of pensions and half-pay allowances to public servants, it is not in the power of the Executive Government to reduce. To the recipients of these payments, the faith of the Government, and, indeed, of the country at large, has been pledged; and I cannot see how, due regard being had, to the honour of the country, it would be possible to make any reduction in what is due to them. The expenditure under this head is calculated for the ensuing year at 3,650,000l. This amount is not susceptible of diminution except by the death of some of the parties, who, so long as they live, are entitled to the amount of both pay or pension, of which they are in the receipt. Speaking therefore in round numbers, the House will perceive that the proportion of the annual public expenditure over which it is nearly out of the question that the Government should exercise any control, amounts to no less a sum than 35,000,000l. Hon. Members are apt to talk of the enormous amount of the national expenditure; and they occasionally enforce with eloquence the wisdom and necessity of making great reductions in our outlay; but it would be well if they would bear in mind how comparatively small, after all, is the proportion of that expenditure over which it is possible for this House to exercise any control whatever. Even taking into account the increased estimates of this year, for the effective services of all descriptions whatsoever, the total amount really susceptible of reduction, so far from being some 54,000,000l. or 55,000,000l., as some hon. Members imagine, amounts to no more than 18,153,000l. It is only on an expenditure of 18,153,000l. that our greatest exertions in the way of economy can be brought to bear; and sure I am that a little reflection and a careful examination of the true merits of the case, will show that it is not possible to make out of this sum for effective services any reductions which would amount —as some hon. Members would have us believe—to some millions of money. It is true that the estimates have been very considerably increased of late years; but I must, at the same time, state, that they have been uniformly increased with the full sanction and approval of the House of Commons. I commenced my services as Secretary to the Admiralty twelve years ago; and I can conscientiously affirm that, during the four years I held that office, the duty which I was most frequently called upon to perform in this House, was to defend the Admiralty against the charges of hon. Members on all sides, who attacked them for not making larger demands on the public treasury. Indeed, I may say, that it almost invariably happens that when the House of Commons interferes to increase expenditure, its interference has reference to precisely that branch of the service—the non-effective—which is not susceptible of subsequent reduction. Government often proposes increases to the effective service of the country in the different departments. The House generally interferes to increase the non-effective service. Some hon. Member, whose generous feelings have been appealed to, solicits an increase in the half-pay, pension, or allowance of some public servant, or class of public servants, whose services he believes to be inadequately remunerated. The House assents, and it is inconsistent with honour or good faith that a reduction should be made at any subsequent period. Were it not that I am unwilling to trespass on the attention of the House, I could cite various instances where an increased expenditure was forced on the Admiralty by this House when I was connected with that department. Sometimes it was urged that the pursers and other officers should be better paid; again it was represented that the rate of wages in the dockyards ought to be raised; and so on through various branches of the naval department. The House always lent a willing ear to the representation, and frequently I could rely on very little support in resisting these demands beyond that of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. My hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty stated, that one heavy branch of expenditure — the works in the dockyards — had increased and was increasing in consequence of the change from sailing vessels to steam vessels; that in order to provide adequate means for accommodating and repairing this expensive class of vessels, it was indispensable to erect at different yards factories for the construction and repairs of steam machinery. The accounts for new works mainly for this purpose amount to no less than 621,000l. In another branch of the naval service, —the conveyance of the mails by contract —carried on mainly for the accommodation of the commercial world, the increase of expense is very great. In 1835–6 the whole payment on this head was about 11,000l., and the estimate for 1848–9 is 611,662l. Now, it is not quite fair on the part of those Gentlemen who have called for increased facilities in our intercourse with foreign ports—who tell us how important it is to have ready communication with the United States, the West Indies, the East Indies, and other parts of the world, and how much commerce is benefited by this increase of communication—it is not fair, I say, for those Gentlemen to tell us now that we are guilty of a profligate and wasteful expenditure in increasing our Naval Estimates, when so large a proportion of that increase is for this purpose. Indeed, the most economical Members of this House are ready to press upon departments increase of expenditure in various ways, forgetting that that unfortunate person the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not the means of paying for such increase without additional taxation. The hon. Member for Montrose, for example, is in favour of the Tidal Commission being paid out of the public Exchequer, and thus adding to our expenses. He is anxious, also, that the expense of lighthouses should be taken upon the general revenue, and not from a charge on passing ships. I will not give any opinion on the question whether the expenses of lighthouses, which amount to 220,000l., should or should not be paid out of the revenue. It may be right that this sum should be taken from the general revenue of the country, instead of being raised by the present mode of taxing ships or particular localities; but, surely, any hon. Gentleman who presses this upon the Government should remember that it is indispensably necessary to provide by taxation the means of payment out of the revenue. Something has been said about the Army expenditure, though this department has not been much increased; but from a paper which has been put into my hands by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War it appears that about 264,000l. per annum of additional expenditure has been entailed upon that department by improvements in regimental hospitals, the increased comfort of soldiers, the abolition of the deduction of poundage in the payment of their pensions, and other matters of that kind brought about by the recommendations of Members of this House; and I may state, as a proof that Government have not been so careless in the administration of the public money as is alleged, that, though a number of men to the extent of 32,000 are to be provided for this year more than in 1835, the improved administration is such, that if the same numerical force were to be provided for this year without any of those additions of one sort or another of the kind to which I have referred, they would be provided for at a reduced expense of 647,000l. Then, with regard to the Ordnance Department, there is also there some increase of expense; but that is mainly owing to what hon. Gentlemen must be aware is indispensably necessary; I refer to the change of armament, both in cannon and muskets. Everybody knows that the armament of ships is altered, and in recent years there has been introduced into vessels of war an improved armament:—guns of a different calibre have been introduced, and of course it is as necessary for us as for other nations to avail ourselves of the improvements of science, and arm our vessels in the most improved way. I will take another source of expenditure. Every Gentleman is aware, that for the last few years percussion muskets have been introduced, instead of the old musket with a flint lock, such as that with which most of us probably learned to shoot. That change has entailed a very considerable expense; but it was necessary to incur it, for the purpose of effectively arming our troops. Does any Gentleman recollect what took place during the Chinese war, and which was stated in this House? It appeared that two companies of soldiers belonging to a regiment, armed with the old-fashioned musket, were surrounded by a party of Chinese in the midst of a heavy rain, which prevented the muskets from going off. By great exertion they kept the Chinese force, which was ten times their number, at bay for some hours until they were relieved by a company of marines who were armed with percussion muskets; and were able at once to drive off the Chinese, because their muskets could be fired, notwithstanding the rain, when the flint muskets of the soldiers would not go off. With such a case as that before us, would it, I ask, be fair on our part to continue to arm our troops with inferior muskets? Will you, I ask, refuse to incur that expense which is necessary to send our brave and gallant men properly armed into action? I will come now to the Miscellaneous service. I have stated before that the present Government were so fully aware of the expediency of an inquiry into the increase of expense on the miscellaneous service, that no sooner had my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) taken the position which he now occupies, than he announced his intention of appointing a Committee to inquire into the expense of the miscellaneous services. Look, again, to the sources of that increased expenditure. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northamptonshire moved last year for a very useful return, stating the amount of the Miscellaneous Estimates in the year 1828, in the year 1838, and in the year 1847; the increase and decrease; and the cause and source of such increase and decrease. If hon. Gentlemen will look over that paper, they will see how large a portion of that increase is for purposes suggested or approved of by the House of Commons, and merely carried into effect by the Government in accordance with the suggestion of the House of Commons. Without going through every item very carefully, I find 140,000l. on the recommendation of a Select Committee of the House of Commons for harbours of refuge; 50,000l. for the Caledonian Canal; 172,000l. for the Poor Law Commissioners, Inspectors, Auditors of Unions, Medical Officers of Unions, Schoolmasters, &c.; 27,000l. for the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, and their establishment; 104,860l. the increased expense of printing and stationery since 1828, chiefly owing to the great increase of printing for Parliament; 120,000l. increase on the Vote for Education since 1828; 30,000l. increase for the British Museum; and a sum of 320,000l. for public prosecutions. I will not fatigue the House by further detail. In some of these cases the whole expense is totally new, and in other instances expenses have been transferred from other sources; but if hon. Gentlemen will look through these charges, even in the most cursory way, they will find that since the year 1828 there has been an increase of upwards of 1,000,000 per annum for various services of this description, either on recommendations from the House, or in conformity with the wishes of the country. There is another source of expenditure which has been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, and that is the expense incurred in the collection of the revenue. Now what is the fact? In the collection of the Excise a considerable reduction has been made by my hon. Friend and namesake, the Chairman of the Excise: improved arrangements were made by the Board, and I believe it would be difficult to collect the Excise revenue at less expense than is now incurred. With respect to the expense of collecting the Customs revenue, I shall be very glad to reduce it if I can; but the advocates for increased expense are the merchants and traders of the ports. They say they have not a sufficient number of landing waiters and other officers to discharge the number of vessels that may probably arrive at one time, and that consequently their trade will suffer. They say "we will not be content with a certain number of officers, enough for ordinary occasions, but must have a sufficient number to relieve us from the effects of delay, when an unusual number of vessels arrive at once." I was speaking to the Chairman of Customs the other day, and he told me that he addressed circulars to the collectors of the various ports in the country asking them what reduction could be effected, and they stated that certain officers might be withdrawn; but in every case the rumour of such a reduction was followed by a remonstrance from the merchants at the place, stating the inconvenience the traders would be subjected to if any reduction were made in those establishments. Thus, again, if the merchants and traders of the country are to have that accommodation which they require, surely they ought not to find fault with the expenditure necessary to suit their own convenience, and promote their accommodation. I believe that, taking it generally, the greater portion of the increase of expenditure has been made in conformity with the opinion of the great majority of the House; in most instances in accordance with the opinion of the people of the country, and at the suggestion and request of their representatives; and there has been no wish on the part of the Government unnecessarily to increase expense. As was said by an hon. Friend of mine the other day, the time must come when bills must be paid; and therefore, as was also observed by a right hon. Gentleman, it is clearly the interest of the Government, and, above all, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to keep down expenditure; for if there be any man in the country whose interest as well as whose duty it is to be more sparing than another, it must be admitted that it is the person who has to find the means of paying the debt. It would be, of course, more agreeable for me to come down here and propose a remission of taxes, than to propose increased taxation; and therefore I can assure you, Sir, that even amongst the most economical Members of the House you will not find any man more disposed than myself to aid in every endeavour to cut down all unnecessary expenditure, and save every sixpence that can be saved, merely retaining those establishments which are indispensable for the best interests of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose is, I believe, the most efficient assistant a Chancellor of the Exchequer can have; and he may depend upon the exertions of the Government to effect every reduction in their power. Indeed I believe that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn), and the right hon. Gentleman behind me (Mr. Baring), will concur with me in saying that we are, from the position we have filled, three of the most economical persons in the House, and that our earnest wish has always been to have every practical reduction carried into effect. I must, however, guard myself to this extent— though I think it right that those reductions should be made, I would press upon the House not to attempt to force reductions in a hasty and thoughtless manner. That would in the end prove very bad economy. Let reductions be made in a manner clearly conducive to the permanent interests of the country. In carrying reductions into effect, they may be made in two different ways. It is possible, no doubt, to reduce the forces of the Army and Navy; it is possible also to make reductions either in the mode of paying them, or in the expenditure connected with them. On looking to this subject, it is right to say, on the part of the Government, that when the proposition with regard to the increased expenditure for the Army and Navy was made by my noble Friend, we did not propose under the then circumstances of the country any greater force than we thought indispensably necessary. I will not allude ni any way to the events that have occurred since we proposed that amount of force. I will only say—in which I am sure nine-tenths of the House will agree with me — that it would not be expedient for us now to propose the reduction of this force. With regard to the expenditure the case is different; and if any reduction can be effected in the expenditure, we shall be most ready to effect it; but Her Majesty's Ministers must adhere to the number of forces mentioned in the estimates on the table. With regard to the Miscellaneous Estimates, I must say that I have not yet gone fully through them; and if any effectual reduction can be made in them, I shall be most happy to make it. But I should deceive the House if I said that either by the conduct of the Government, or by the investigation of the Committee any very large reduction could be made within the year. In point of fact, in many cases, an increase of expenditure would be at present incurred by the immediate reduction of the forces; for example, if we made a reduction of 5,000 men in the Navy. The only way in which we could effect our object would be by paying off that number of men; and the result would be a temporary increase in the expenditure. In like manner it would be exceedingly bad economy to stop short with any of the great works which have been undertaken. As we were told the other night, we ought to carry on the building of this House without postponement, because any delay would increase the ultimate expense. Now, if we were to stop short with the works in progress at Portsmouth or at Plymouth, the consequence would be that if left in an unfinished state those works would be injured by the weather, and an ultimate loss would be caused. On the termination of those works, of course a reduction of expenditure will take place. The proper way of reducing the expenditure is to prevent as much as possible future undertakings, and to make a gradual reduction of the present outlay as works are completed. There should be a certain time allowed for doing this; it should not he done hastily on the spur of the moment, but by degrees. We have been referred to the mode in which private individuals act when they find their expenditure exceeding their income, and I quite agree that hon. Gentlemen, when thinking of the mode of reducing public expenditure, should advert to the means generally adopted in the reduction of their expenses by private individuals. I ask, how is the reduction in private expenditure usually made? If a gentleman makes a sudden reduction of his expenses, he breaks up his establishment, shuts up his house, discharges his servants, and goes abroad. But that is not a course which the country can take. We can only act as the private gentleman does who stays at home, and determines to bring his expenses within his income. He will reduce his expenditure quietly and gradually. Now, depend upon it, there is a great similarity between public and private expenditure. Adhere, therefore, to the system of making gradual reductions, until we shall be able by degrees to bring our expenditure within our means. I am anxious to have our expenditure reduced, and, with the view of effecting that object, two Committees have been appointed—one to examine into the expenditure of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance—the other to inquire into the Miscellaneous Estimates. Now, I cannot but say that those Committees will not be able, in my opinion, to propose practically any great reduction of expenditure within the year, whatever reductions the Government may be able to make in subsequent years. The expenditure for this year includes also some past expenditure, that for the Caffre war, and the naval excess of last year. Expenses of this description have been invariably included in the budget of the subsequent year. Such was the course adopted with reference to the expense incurred by the Canadian outbreak, and the war in China; and if hon. Gentlemen look into the naval votes of former years, they will see that an excess has been invariably included in the expenditure of the ensuing year, and provided for out of the ways and means of the ensuing year. The estimated expenditure for the year will be upwards of 54,440,000l. I now come to the Income. With regard to the income of the year, my noble Friend has stated that he had taken the estimated income at 51,250,000. The estimate for the Customs is 19,750,000l.; but I admit it is very difficult, after two such years as we have had, one of extraordinary adversity, the other of extraordinary prosperity, to make an accurate estimate of this source of income; and I have taken the Customs revenue at about the same amount as in the year 1845–6. It is useless going beyond that year on account of the reductions made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in 1845. The year 1845–6 was a year of great prosperity; and the income of the ensuing year may perhaps be taken at about the same amount as that received in the year 1845–6. It must be remembered, however, that last year the effect of the adverse circumstances did not appear to tell upon the revenue until after the July quarter. Though the failure of the harvest took place in autumn, 1846, the receipts of the April and July quarters following were rather favourable. I cannot at present anticipate what may be the effect produced during this year; but I fear that the receipts during a considerable portion of the year will retain the impress of our recent misfortunes. I know some Gentlemen are sanguine enough to expect a rapid rise, and hope that the receipts will speedily run up to their former level. I cannot say that I agree in. this opinion; and I rather concur with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Robinson) as to there being no prospect of an immediate rise, though I have no fear of the ultimate result. In the Excise department, the receipts are estimated at 13,000,000l. There will be an additional receipt arising from the probable increase of the duties on malt and spirits, though under these heads it is not to be expected that the receipts will be very great in Ireland; but we have reason to expect there will be a very considerable falling-off in the brick duty, as compared to last year, of about 200,000l. It amounted last year to about 600,000l.; but it is to be recollected, that there was an extraordinary consumption on railways and in building. I also anticipate a considerable falling-off in the duty on hops. I will take half a million for the duty on stage coaches and railways, which have recently been transferred to the Excise. I take Stamps at 7,200,000l. after making a deduction for the above duties. I will take the taxes at about 4,340,000l., and the income-tax at 5,200,000l., supposing it to be renewed at the present rate. I estimate the Post Office at 900,000l., the produce of the Crown lands, I calculate, will be about 60,000l., and I put down the Miscellaneous receipts at 300,000l. The payment of the China money has ceased; the last payment has been made, and henceforward we must depend upon the ordinary revenue without looking to any resources of that kind. The whole of the income, I calculate, will amount to 51,250,000l. It has been said that I should take into account the amount of the repayment of advances to Ireland. Repayments of advances have never been considered as income; though they increase the amount of balances in the Exchequer. The amount of such repayments will not, however, be very large in any one year, for according to arrangement the sum advanced in the course of the last year is to be repaid by instalments, distributed over several years; and the possible receipts in any one year cannot amount to a very great sum. Early in the year I was pressed to say what it was the intention of the Government to do with respect to the advance of sums to undertake such works in Ireland as would afford some employment to the people. The answer I then gave was, that I did not believe any large amount of money would be required, because I believed that the receipts under the poor-law would be sufficient to sustain the people who re- quired relief. But we were prepared to readvance the amount of such repayments as might be received; and therefore I shall not retain any sum in the Exchequer for other purposes. I have now stated the expenditure for the year, and the income for the year; and the result is as was stated by my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), that assuming the renewal of the income-tax at the present rate, there would be an addition to the income required of about 3,200,000l. If the income-tax is not to be renewed, there will be a deficiency to be provided for of upwards of 8,000,000l. It became then our serious duty to consider what course we should take to provide for the deficiency. My right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth has said that, in his opinion, we should not be justified in having recourse to a loan, though we adopted that course last year, in consequence of the extraordinary expenditure occasioned by an unexampled pressure upon us; and it is now to be considered how we are to meet the present emergency.


I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a mistake. The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that in the course of this year two millions and a half, due on the original income-tax, may be received and applied.


I have compared the ordinary in-come with the ordinary expenditure of a year, one year with another; but I admit it is quite true that that sum to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred may be receivable in the next year, even if the tax be not renewed. We thought it to be our duty to look beyond the single year, and, comparing the ordinary income with the ordinary expenditure, to adopt some means of providing for the further expenditure that has become necessary. It was likewise our duty to look to the course of financial policy adopted for the last few years. We have reflected upon the course which has been adopted, and we have looked to the manner in which it was received, acquiesced in, and approved of by the House. Without going further back than the year 1842, we remember that in that year, there being a deficiency, the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposed the imposition of an income-tax, not only for the purpose partly of meeting that deficiency, but also for the purpose of reducing indirect taxation, which pressed heavily upon the necessaries of life, and the raw materials for our manufactures; thus diminish- ing the expenditure of the consumer, and giving increased employment to those engaged in manufactures. The right hon. Gentleman proposed, not a property-tax— he said a property-tax was not admissible as a substitute for indirect taxation—but he proposed an income-tax, to be paid by all classes of the community. He stated his intention to exempt from the tax all persons receiving an income under a particular amount from whatever source the income was derived, so as to make the tax press almost exclusively upon the richer classes. In the course of the years that followed 1842, the right hon. Gentleman reduced the duty on many of the main articles of consumption—on corn, butter, cheese, foreign spirits, &c. &c. We reduced ourselves the duty on sugar. The duty on wool was likewise reduced, as well as that on timber, on glass, and those on several other articles which it is needless to enumerate. In point of fact, from the year 1842 to 1847, the total amount of taxation remitted amounted to seven and a half millions, of which the country has had the benefit. We therefore thought it better to pursue the course so sanctioned by Parliament and the country. I have been reminded that, in the year 1842, I was one of the persons who opposed and pointed out the inequality of the income-tax. Sir, no doubt I did. My opinion is in no respect changed as to the inequality of the income-tax, and I only stated at that time what I am prepared to repeat now. My hon. Friend behind me assures me the tax is objectionable; and his objection goes, not to the mode in which it is imposed, but to its being imposed at all. I wish to state why it is that I now propose it. I wish to state this with a view not merely to defend myself—that may be a trifle; but I desire it for this purpose—however unworthy I may be to occupy the place which I hold, still as I have the honour of filling a highly responsible position in the Government, it is desirable that in whatever declarations I make, or whatever expectations I hold out, it should be believed that I am speaking with perfect sincerity. The best proof I can give of my sincerity is, that I act now on the same principles and on the same grounds that I laid down in the year 1842. The ground which I then stated of my opposition was, that the income-tax was too high a price to pay for the benefits which we were to receive from the change of taxation which was then proposed. But I said in 1842, in opposing the tax, that if an alteration were made in the duties on corn, on sugar, on timber, and on other great articles of consumption, I should be ready to vote for direct taxation, and even for the income-tax. Now, the duties on sugar, corn, and timber, have been so altered; the circumstances which I have said would justify the imposition of an income-tax, have occurred; and therefore, with perfect consistency with the principles which I advocated in 1842 and 1845, I now support the renewal of that tax. I have made this statement, not merely for the purpose of maintaining my own consistency, but because I have felt it to be most desirable that the views which I now entertain should be shown to be perfectly consistent with what I have always held and avowed. But I would now remind the House of what took place in 1845. At that time the right hon. Baronet proposed a renewal of the income-tax for three years, although there was a surplus of five millions. Then, therefore, the right hon. Baronet had it in his power to repeal the income-tax if he pleased; and he then stated that if he repealed it the probable deficiency would not be more than 200,000l. It was in the power of the House to have pressed for that repeal; but the right hon. Gentleman stated his opinion that it was desirable to continue the income-tax for the purpose of persisting in the same course for three years more—of repealing or reducing taxes which pressed upon articles of general consumption, or upon the raw materials of our own manufactures; and the House unanimously concurred in that opinion. There were suggestions thrown out to make it a property-tax, and to extend it to Ireland; but all these proposals were negatived by large majorities, and a very small number of Members indeed voted against its continuance for three years. Now, I would ask did any hon. Member then really and truly believe that it would last no more than the three years? I stated at that time that if the House consented to its imposition for three years, and also consented to alter the duties which it was then proposed to alter, and in the manner proposed, it would be impossible, at the end of three years, to take it off. I did so repeatedly, so much so as to call for an observation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, that I was laying the ground for a future support of the income-tax. It is therefore true that the tax was only proposed for three years: but, under the circumstances in which it was proposed, I will venture to say that no man could reasonably entertain the idea that it could be dispensed with in 1848. Well, such being the state of the case—such having been the course of financial legislation—such having been the almost unanimous acquiescence of the House in the renewal of this tax, I must say that I think it would have been an extraordinary course for us to have proposed the reversal of the financial legislation which for the last six years has been so unanimously sanctioned by the House and by the country. If we had done this, and proposed a renewal of the indirect taxes upon corn and wool, and have raised the duty on sugar and timber, it would at once have been said that we were running our heads against public opinion, and the express and repeated opinion of this House. We accordingly propose as our first measure to renew the income-tax for a limited time. Whether that time is to be five or three years is a question for the consideration of the Committee on the Bill. But, even with the renewal of the income-tax as it stands, we found there would be a considerable deficiency in the income; and the question then arose how that deficiency was to be made up? I believe I have stated before, that in our opinion the existence of that deficiency would be only for a time. It was obvious that the large payments on account of the Caffre war and the excess of naval expenditure would cease, being in fact for past expense. My hon. Friend (Mr. Ward) has stated, and I have repeated to-night, that the greater portion of the works in our dockyards will be finished in the course of the next two years; and that after that time there will be no need for any heavy expenditure on that head. The country will have the benefit of these works, while it will be unnecessary to continue the expenditure for them. I think, also, we may look, in a short time, to other items for a reduction—such, for instance, as that from the building of the Houses of Parliament. We were therefore, perfectly justified in considering the increased expenditure as merely of a temporary character. How then were we to provide for this temporary increase? It would hardly have been wise, in my opinion, to impose new taxes and to derange commerce and trade for a temporary purpose. We might have proposed a per cen- tage on existing indirect taxation; but I do not think the experiment succeeded which was made in this way before. It was, in fact, a total failure. We might have imposed it upon the assessed taxes alone; but, looking at the assessed taxes for the last four or five years, I find there has been a falling off; and we could not therefore depend upon a certain increase of revenue from imposing an additional per centage upon the assessed taxes. There remained the proposal to increase the income-tax. By so doing the increase of the revenue was certain, and it would be attended with no increased expense in collection; the whole amount of the increase would be received in the Exchequer; and, however painful it was to impose or to pay that tax, Her Majesty's Government were of opinion that the easiest and cheapest mode of providing for a temporary deficiency, the most advantageous way of adding for a time to the income of the country was by adding for a short period a further per centage on the income-tax. We had at the same time to consider many questions which have been raised on former occasions on this subject, and one of which I understand the hon. Member for Marylebone intends to raise on this occasion, namely, the extension of the tax to Ireland. I am of opinion that, if the tax is to be considered as anything more than a provision for a temporary emergency, it is one which Ireland as well as Great Britain ought to pay. It was distinctly stated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that it ought to be so extended; and Mr. O'Connell, in 1843, said that Ireland could not continue exempt from that tax if it was made permanent in England. But whether Ireland can, under ordinary circumstances, continue exempt, and whether, under the existing circumstances of that country, with its prevalent distress, that tax ought to be imposed upon it, are widely different questions; and, strongly as I have stated my opinion, that, under ordinary circumstances, Ireland ought to pay the tax as well as England, it would be, in my opinion, equally unwise and inexpedient to impose that tax upon Ireland at the present moment. If the House will refer to a paper which I believe is on the table, which states the total amount of poor's-rates lately collected in Ireland, the enormous increase of payment on that score will be seen. I admit that the poor-law in Ireland is a just measure, and that it is unreasonable to ex- pect the people of this country to bear taxation for the maintenance of the Irish people; but, at the same time, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the enormous increase of payment under that head. If at the present time we were to impose in addition an income-tax upon Ireland, I believe that we should discourage that on which the future prosperity of Ireland must depend, namely, those exertions on the part of the landlords to provide an extension of employment for the labouring classes which they are now very extensively making. In 1846, the whole amount of poor-rates collected in Ireland was 390,000l.; in 1847, it was 970,000l.; and if we refer to the last few months, we shall find that whereas in the last three months of 1846, the amount collected was 109,000l., in the corresponding period of 1847, it was 441,000l.; and since that return it appears, that whereas the amount collected in January, 1847, was 52,000l., in January, 1848, it was 190,000l. In fact, the poor-rates collected in the last four months are at the rate of nearly 2,000,000l. a year; and, looking at all the circumstances connected with that country, I do not think it would either be politic or wise to impose further taxation at the present moment. Neither do I think it would be worth while, even in a financial point of view, for although I admit the justice of the extension, still I think that those hon. Gentlemen who consider that the tax would yield a large revenue in Ireland, would be very much mistaken. I was very much astonished to find that not more than 400,000l. a year was received in Scotland. The Government has no reason to believe that the tax is not efficiently and duly collected in that country; and, reasoning from the circumstances of Ireland, I do not think that the extension of the tax to that country would be so productive as some hon. Gentlemen seem to suppose. What the Government proposed, therefore, was to re-new the income-tax for a limited time, and to increase the rate for two years, our belief being that the extraordinary expenditure which requires to be provided for will cease within that time. I was asked to say, if I would promise to take off the additional mpost at the end of the period mentioned; but I said, and I will repeat my reply, that I think it is very unwise to make any promise of this kind. No one can foresee what the state of the country may be two years hence. Nay, can any one foresee what the state of the country will be for a much shorter period? How long is it since the House heard an hon. Gentleman, who has recently arrived from France, declare that there could be no object in bringing about a social revolution in that country? The wisest and the best may be misinformed; and I believe that not only the hon. Gentleman himself, but every hon. Gentleman in the House and in the country, have felt the utmost surprise and astonishment at what has occurred in France within the last ten days. To return, how-ever, to the subject of the income-tax, I gave the House what was better than a promise. I gave it facts, and from those facts I thought might be inferred the probability that at the end of the two years the additional impost might be withdrawn. I stated that the income up to the 5th of April last exceeded the estimates of this year by nearly 700,000l. If, therefore, the income rose to the level of last year, there would be a surplus of 700,000l., even without any reduction of expenditure; and under such circumstances no man could reasonably doubt that the additional tax would not be required after the end of the second year. I cannot say that the proposal which Ministers have submitted to the House has been well received. I must admit that from all quarters of the House, and from all parts of the country, the most unequivocal demonstration has been given that the proposal is disapproved of—that the proposed increase of two per cent is disapproved of. Even those Gentlemen who on former occasions supported the tax, under the impression that it was to be instrumental in substituting to some extent direct for indirect taxation, have been among the loudest in opposing the proposition which has been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Cocker-mouth (Mr. Horsman) has given notice of a Motion to secure a more equitable imposition of the tax; and my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth has also spoken in favour of the same principle. Upon this point I beg to observe that both Mr. Pitt, who originally proposed the tax, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Peel), who reimposed it, have always advocated its enactment in its present shape; and I think that when hon. Gentlemen come to examine the case closely, they will find that even if their views were carried out, still greater inequalities would exist than those of which they complain. It certainly, I think, would be considered hard that a widow with a small annuity should have to pay a higher charge than is imposed upon a Baring or a Rothschild; yet that would be the effect if the propositions which have been made for fixing different rates on different descriptions of income were adopted. Hon. Gentlemen ought to remember that persons the most disinterested—persons capable in every way of forming an accurate judgment—persons who have taken up the subject in an impartial spirit, and perfectly without bias, have decided in favour of the present system of imposing the tax. A gentleman very competent to form an opinion, but who is no longer a Member of this House (Mr. Warburton), always advocated in this House the justice of the present system. The hon. Member for Manchester has given notice of a proposition for extending the probate and legacy duties to real property. I believe there is some injustice in the mode in which the legacy and probate duties are imposed; but there is much inequality also in the taxes which fall upon real property as well as in those which are supposed to press so heavily on personal property. If the question be gone into, many difficulties in the way of a perfect adjustment of the inequality would be found to exist; and that if much can be said in favour of the hon. Gentleman's proposition, much also can be said on the other side. The House is in the practice of passing annually an Act for the exemption of stock in trade from poor-rates; and hon. Gentlemen who own real property have a fair right to say that this gives an undue relief to persons in trade, who are legally liable to be rated. I do not mean on the present occasion to give an opinion on the one side or the other; I merely wish to show that the point at issue is not so simple or easy as some hon. Gentlemen seem to suppose; and that it is not by taking single or isolated cases, but by a full inquiry, that a just result is to be arrived at. I do not wish now to go into details. All I wish to do is, to impress upon hon. Gentlemen, that the questions which have been mooted require a more searching and careful investigation before they can be satisfactorily adjusted. Whatever the opinion may be, however, which the House or the country entertain upon the points referred to, there is a universal concurrence in disapproving of the proposed increase in the income-tax. I am still of opinion that that proposal is one which would be ultimately beneficial; but this I must say, on the part of the Government, that if there is any one subject upon which the representatives of the people have a right to determine the policy which is to be pursued, it is on the subject of taxation; and therefore, although I am sorry to abandon the increase of the tax, still I have now to intimate that the Government will not press those resolutions which imply an addition to the income-tax. I repeat, that I do so with regret, because I think that, under the present circumstances of the country, there is great safety in a full exchequer; and I am very sorry at the thought of having to fall back upon those balances which on a former occasion proved so useful as the means of affording immediate relief to Ireland: still I do not think it would be wise to attempt to force upon an unwilling House an addition to an unpopular tax. Such being the intention of the Government, I shall have to propose that the expense of the Caffre war and the excess in the Navy Estimates should be defrayed out of the balances in the Exchequer of the present year. This will reduce the amount to be charged on the income of next year by 1,345,000l., leaving, supposing the income-tax to be continued, and the existing estimates agreed to, a deficiency to be made good of from one million and a half to two millions. No doubt the balances in the Exchequer are high—much higher than they have been for any year except the last—and they will have, perhaps, to be drawn upon for the whole amount of this deficiency in the course of the ensuing year; but it is one of the advantages of maintaining high balances in ordinary times, that by this means we may be enabled to bridge over a time of temporary pressure. We must then look not to making the income of this one year equal the expenditure, but to keeping our taxation at such a point as to keep the income one year with another equal to the expenditure. I need not say that this course renders impossible any such reductions of taxation as have been asked for. I trust that, under the circumstances, the House will at least enable me to keep up an ordinary average of revenue, so that, if not in one year, at least in three or four, the revenue and the expenditure may be equalised. I, therefore, hope, that after Ministers have made the concession to the popular will which they have done, the representatives of the people will not refuse to renew the existing tax for a period of three years. That, I hope and trust, will be a sufficient time, to bring round, with such reductions as may be effected in the expenditure in future years, an equalisation between the revenue and the expenditure, although during the present year I should draw upon the Exchequer balances for the sums I have specified. I have presented matters in their worst shape; but I wish to say, that I do not mean to pledge myself to-night irrevocably to this, as the course which Ministers will ultimately pursue. I must leave it perfectly open to the Government to come down, if they shall find it necessary, and propose such an amount of taxation as will equalise the revenue with the expenditure within the year. I hope that, after the announcement which I have made, the House will agree in the propriety of Ministers reserving for consideration whether they shall make at a future time any proposal on the subject of increased taxation. I will repeat my belief that the proposal originally made was calculated to be more beneficial to the true interests of the country than the one now announced; still on the other hand, I feel how hard it is, at such a period as the present, to increase the burdens on the people which are so much complained of in the present depressed state of our trade. It will be for Ministers to consider, whether by diminished expenditure, and by increased taxation, the income and expenditure can be equalised. The emergency is to be met by one or both of these courses; but that is a matter which Ministers will reserve for future consideration and decision. At the proper time I shall propose that the resolution renewing the existing tax for three years be taken into consideration. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Order of the Day for going into a Committee of Ways and Means be now read.


The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was a mere restatement of what had previously been said by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), with the exception of the withdrawal of the additional two per cent, and limiting the duration of the tax to three years. If the right hon. Gentleman supposed that he had made a communication to the House which would in any way alter the opinion which had been formed upon the whole scheme by him and others, within the House and out of it, he would find himself very much mistaken. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the injustice and inequality of the in- come-tax; and how could he expect the House to renew an enactment confessedly unjust and unequal in its operation? The tax was originally agreed to under the assurance by its proposer that it would be temporary, and to enable him to make a financial experiment of immense importance to the best interests of the country. It was on that ground that he voted for the proposal; but he regretted now that the House did not refuse to renew the tax in 1845, when, according to the right hon. Gentleman's (Sir R. Peel's own statement, he had a surplus at his disposal equal to the amount of the tax. His opinion was, that if the House agreed to renew the tax at all, for one year even, there was little chance after the language of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, of any reduction in the expenditure being effected— of redemption of the tax when that period should have expired. His opinion in that respect was confirmed by the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) the other night with respect to the appointment of the Committees; for the noble Lord placed them on a very different footing to what he expected. The noble Lord told the House that those Committees would not have to consider the propriety or necessity of the proposed votes for the Army, Navy, or Ordnance, as the responsibility of those votes would remain with the Government; but that they would have to consider what number of men should be kept. The Committees should have no power of effecting any reduction whatever; and more especially when they were told, that it was only 18,000,000l. out of the 58,000,000l. which could be touched. What became of the 4,600,000l. which the collection of the revenue cost? Was that not to be interfered with. There were many items charged upon the Consolidated Fund that deserved consideration, and which in his opinion ought to be entirely removed. The charges upon that fund ought to undergo a full revision; and when they were told that there was to be no reduction in the number of the troops, and when the noble Lord himself admitted that whilst in 1833, 1834, and 1835, the number of men in the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, was quite sufficient, and that we had now 195,000 men, and 6,000 men coming home from India and the Cape, exclusive of 10,000 pensioners, the dockyard battalions, the coast guards, yeomanry, and police, making in all nearly 250,000 men, to talk of renewing the income-tax for three years, or even for one year, without expressing any decided determination to reduce the expenditure, was perfect folly. Did the right hon. Baronet institute any inquiry into the expenditure last year? Twice last year did he (Mr. Hume) suggest to the House the necessity of a strict inquiry into the votes before them. And now, if there was one thing more than another which he would counsel Her Majesty's Government to do, it would be to effect a reduction instanter. Allusion had been made to what had taken place elsewhere, and he thought that if the startling events which had occurred suggested one thing more than another, it was to make large reductions in our naval and military forces, to show the people of France that they had nothing to fear from England. If the Government should persevere in its original intention, and should the House sanction the proposal, it would give rise to an impression in the mind of our neighbours that our forces were kept up for the purpose of annoying and overawing them. Let the English Government show that they had confidence in the good intentions of the people of France, by making large reductions in the number of soldiers and sailors. If, on the contrary, they kept up these great establishments, they would create dissatisfaction from one end of England to the other. The petitions which had been laid on the table of the House showed the feeling which already existed; and he thought it would be bad counsel indeed on the part of the Government to persevere with their intention of increasing the war establishment after the declaration that had just been made on the part of France. If the Government wanted increased revenue, let them equalise the legacy duties, and put the commercial and agricultural interests on the same footing. Let the burdens of the State be borne fairly and equally, and let not the land be exempted from duties imposed on all other kinds of property. It was on these grounds that he did not believe the House of Commons would pass any such Bill as the right hon. Baronet suggested—even for one year. He should also remind the House, that if they allowed the Government to draw from the balance in the Exchequer for all extra expenses that they might think fit to impose—that balance, which was now eight and a half millions, would soon be reduced as low as was the case when these Gentlemen were in office before, when they found the balance in the Exchequer eight or nine millions, and left it only a million and a half. The balance in the Exchequer, instead of being reduced by 1,500,000l., ought to be, if possible, increased, in order to meet the demands that might be made upon it. To do otherwise was to commence that downward course again which had before done so much mischief, by lessening the confidence of the public in the Executive Government of the country. He could tell the right hon. Baronet that Her Majesty's present advisers would lose the confidence of the country if they continued to go on in the course they were pursuing, in maintaining an enormously increased and unnecessary expenditure. After the declaration of the right hon. Baronet, that no alteration was intended to be made in the present system, he, for one, should give a direct negative to the proposition of the Government, in order to force Her Majesty's Ministers to bring forward a plan more suited to the circumstances of the country.


wished to offer one word in reference to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. As far as his experience and knowledge went of the feelings of a very considerable constituency, he did not think that they would be inclined to receive the statement made that night with the great gratification which the House evinced on hearing it. He believed that it was not so much the additional two per cent to the income-tax that the industrial classes of this country objected to, as to the principle of the income-tax which the right hon. Baronet now brought forward. The right hon. Baronet told the House and the country that he was satisfied in his own mind, and that he was borne out in his opinion by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was almost impossible to make an equitable arrangement with regard to such a tax. He would maintain that it was the duty of the Government at least to adjust the tax in such a way as it would be found to be least unjust. It was to prevent the tax from being iniquitous, odious, and unjust that the people were anxious; and he would say that it was miserable policy on the part of any Chancellor of the Exchequer to continue that principle after the House had been entrapped by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth to lay on an income-tax for three years, under the pretext that the burden of the tax would be counterbalanced by the expense taken off in the tariff. The right hon. Baronet proposed the tax under some- what deceptive circumstances; and it now would remain for the country to decide whether they would submit to a continuance of the tax even for one year. For his part he was determined to take the same course as he had followed in 1845. The right hon. Gentleman said that in 1845 there was no opposition to the income-tax; but the ignorance of the right hon. Baronet on that subject was only equalled by that which he exhibited with regard to the Secret Committee. He had in that year the honour to move that the Bill imposing the tax be read a second time that day six months; and on that Motion he had had the pleasure of receiving considerable support from six Members of the present Government. The Under Secretary to the Colonies, Mr. Hawes, made one of his most able two-hours' speeches in favour of his (Mr. Osborne's) proposition; and he also found among its supporters the names of Mr. Charles Buller, of Viscount Ebrington, of Colonel Anson, and of the right hon. Richard Lalor Sheil, who made a most able speech, and who based his opposition to an income-tax even on the score of religion. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) was bound to have told the House that opposition was made to the imposition of the tax in 1845. He hoped that the hon. Members, who then voted against an income-tax on the ground that it was injurious to the labouring classes, as well as to those who were immediately obliged to pay it, would now join him in resisting its reimposition, even for one year. But whether they did or not, he certainly should feel it to be his duty to divide the House against it; and in doing so, he trusted to be able to show them that it was to the principle of the tax that the country objected.


hoped the right hon. Baronet opposite would not think it necessary to call upon the House for an actual statement of opinion on this occasion. The right hon. Baronet would recollect that when the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown made his statement ten days ago, the proposal of the Government was that the House and the country should have a reasonable period to consider it; and it was after the lapse of that reasonable period that they were assembled there this night. Now, the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman differed in so many important respects from the statement made by the noble Lord ten days ago, that it was as important the House should have additional time for consideration now as it was on the first occasion. He thought, considering the manner in which the public feeling had been expressed on this subject, and considering the unity of opinion that seemed to be entertained universally upon it, that it was only due to the country and to the House that sufficient time should be allowed for considering the right hon. Gentleman's statement; and he trusted therefore that the right hon. Gentleman would consider it to be no departure from his duty to allow that considerable time to elapse before calling upon the House for its opinion, which was thought to be necessary on the occasion of the first statement by the noble Lord.


, in answer to the hon. Gentleman, the force of whose appeal he fully felt, was perfectly willing to postpone the further consideration of the subject for some days. He thought that there were circumstances which quite justified the hon. Gentleman in making the appeal; but he trusted the House would agree to an early period for further considering the proposition.


rejoiced very much that the right hon. Baronet had acceded to the step suggested by his hon. Friend, and was willing to take no further discussion on the subject until Friday. There was, however, a difficulty still remaining with him, which perhaps was also shared by other hon. Members. He must confess that he did not clearly understand the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. They had before them now the budget for the year. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the sum of l,500,000l. odd was to be provided for out of the balance in the Exchequer. He understood him also to say that the vote of 1,100,000l., for the Caffre war, and the naval excess, amounting to 245,000l., was also to be taken from the balance in the Exchequer. He also understood the right hon. Baronet to say that there would be a further deficiency of somewhere about a million and a half or two millions to be provided for; and he did not understand the right hon. Baronet clearly to explain to the House whether it would be necessary or not to meet that deficiency of a million and a half or two millions from the same source, the balance in the Exchequer, or whether it was intended to provide for it by additional taxation, or whether Her Majesty's Government had any fixed intention at all on the subject. He asked these questions now, because he thought that they would be liable to the greatest possible difficulty and disadvantage in the consideration of so important a question as the renewal of the income-tax, unless they had before them the whole plan of the Government on the finances of the country, when they were called upon to give their vote.


The first question of the right hon. Gentleman refers, I think, to the 1,500,000l. expended on account of the Irish distress; and he asked if it is intended to defray that amount out of the balance in the Exchequer? If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the balance-sheet, he will see that before the striking of the balance-sheet on the 5th of January, that sum of 1,500,000l. had been provided for. The next question is, whether the 1,345,000l. due on account of the Caffre war, and the excess in the Navy Estimates, is proposed to be paid out of the existing balance in the Exchequer? That balance amounted to 8,400,000l. on the 5th of January; and supposing the income for the current quarter to equal the expenditure, there will still remain on the 5th of April—after defraying the expenses of the Caffre war, and the balance for the Navy, as we propose to do, out of this source—a balance in the Exchequer of about 7,000,000l. The last question of the right hon. Gentleman referred to the anticipated deficiency in the ordinary expenditure of the year beginning the 5th of April, 1848, and ending on the 5th of April, 1849. I stated the probable amount of that deficiency to be between 1,500,000l. and 2,000,000l. sterling; and I said that it was possible to defray that sum out of the balance in the Exchequer, and that in that case no increase of taxation would be required; and that looking to the state of distress in the country, and the possibility of drawing that sum from the balance in the Exchequer, without diminishing it to any inconvenient extent, I thought it would be a possible course to be adopted; but I stated at the same time that that was a course I should be unwilling to adopt, as I still adhere to my opinion that it is most desirable to maintain a full balance in the Exchequer. And here I may perhaps be permitted to state what the balances have been in the Exchequer, on the 5th of April, for some years back. I am as unwilling as any man to reduce unduly the balance in the Exchequer; but in order to show the House that we are not likely to do so on the present occasion, I may be permitted to read to the House what the balance has been on the 5th of April in every year since 1839; and I think the House will see that if we adopt the course of diminishing the balances in the Exchequer in order to meet the expenditure necessary to defray the ordinary revenue of the country, and these two items that have been referred to, we shall not have reduced them to such an amount as to entail any probability of injury to the country; but at the same time I do not say that it is a course which I would recommend, or which I would be anxious on follow. The balances in the Exchequer on the 5th of April for each year since 1839, were as follows:—

1839 £497,000
1840 1,000,000
1841 864,000
1842 857,000
1843 957,000
1844 2,200,000
1845 6,200,000
1846 6,500,000
1847 5,400,000
On the 5th of January last the balance was 8,400,000l.; and if the income for the quarter equal the expenditure, the balances will be, on the 5th of April next, about 7,000,000l.; so that if the whole amount of the deficiency of expenditure for the year be deducted from the balance in the Exchequer, there were still remain, on the 5th of April, 1849, a balance in the Exchequer of 5,500,000l. I, however, beg to reserve to the Government the right to come down on a subsequent occasion, and propose any other course that they may think advisable.


said, the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be a kind one, but he doubted whether it was a wise course. In his opinion, the best course for the right hon. Gentleman to have taken would have been, to ask leave to withdraw the resolutions altogether. The resolutions were founded on the noble Lord's budget. That budget was a bubble. It was burst—it was exploded—it was gone; and if there had been any substance in it, it was annihilated. What was the proposal of the noble Lord? First, the expenditure was to be maintained; secondly, there was to be an increase to it; thirdly, the income-tax was to be continued for five years; and fourthly, it was to amount to 5 per cent for two years out of the five. Now, what did they find? The right hon. Gentleman had been shuf- fling over his money-bags, and in some odd corner or other he had found sufficient means, and that he did not require any increase of taxation at all. Assuredly, under these circumstances the budget might be said to be gone. Assuredly, it was not wise to consider further the resolutions that the noble Lord had laid on the table of the House. Some years ago he thought that he had made a discovery that the Whig party was made of a material that occasionally admitted of compression. Recent events showed that his discovery was correct. The screw had been applied, and the Government yielded, as he thought wisely, to the expression of the public voice; for if they had not yielded that night, they must have done so on a future day, for the English public were never more resolved than they were now not to admit of the new impost that was now proposed. He would ask the noble Lord, therefore, to consider the circumstances of the country, to reconsider the condition of the labouring population, and of the tax-paying classes. He would ask him to go over the whole subject again and again, and see if it were not possible to discover some means of reduction of expenditure that would give the public a real and substantial relief. He doubted now whether the proposition would be well received, to continue the property and income-tax for the next three years. The proposition was originally submitted to by the House with alacrity and cheerfulness, because it was believed that by a certain amount of direct taxation the industrious classes might be relieved of a certain portion of the taxes which pressed upon the necessaries of life. But then the income-tax was thought to be only a temporary expedient; it was not supposed at the time that it would be renewed every three years, and that at the end of the second period of renewal, a proposal would be made for further continuing it for five years. The noble Lord could not be aware of the feeling of the country on this subject. He could tell him that there was a feeling of growing discontent out of doors against what the people believed to be the bad legislation of that House; and that feeling, he would add, would be increased unless the Legislature altered their practices. The right hon. Gentleman told them that night, that it was the House that encouraged increased taxation on all occasions. That taunt they had heard the other night from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiral- ty; and it was now repeated by the right hon. Gentleman, who said that the great difficulty which he had in former times was in combating the extravagances of the House. If the Government could not be sincere, it was time that the House should be sincere, and that such an amount of pressure should be given as would have the effect of materially reducing the taxation. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have discovered that some reduction could be made in the expenditure; but was it not strange that a responsible Government should devolve the duty on an irresponsible Committee of that House of discovering whether a reduction could not be made in the public departments of the country? Such a course was, he thought, a very dangerous one. The Government would choose its own Committee, and then he supposed the Committee was to gag the House. In reply to every objection raised it would be said, "Oh, this is the recommendation of your own Committee, who fully and most patiently considered every branch of the subject upstairs." He, for one, would be fettered by no such conditions; and he besought the noble Lord to withdraw his resolutions altogether, and to postpone the question to a future day, so that the Government might, on their own responsibility, reconsider the whole subject, and then come down to the House with a budget to which they could adhere. This state of financial uncertainty—a budget proposed on one night and abandoned on another—was most injurious to commerce, and created great confusion and inconvenience out of doors. Before sitting down, he should allude to the reply of the noble Lord to a most timely question by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. He could assure the noble Lord that his declaration that it was not the intention of the Government to interfere in any way with what was going on in the sister country, would be hailed with universal joy in this country. He never heard any declaration in that House which produced a stronger or more ardent feeling of gratification in his mind; and he was convinced that it would be received with universal satisfaction throughout the kingdom.


also felt delighted at the intimation given by the noble Lord; but the question remained as to the extent to which this country was involved by the treaties to which she was a party. He denied that the Committee upstairs would do no good, as the hon. Gen- tleman seemed to think; and in reference to one branch of the public service with which he was best acquainted, he thought that great savings might be effected by the union of different offices. He alluded to the military service. He could not but express his regret, on the part of the landed interest, that the Committee moved for some years ago by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward), for investigating local burdens, had been resisted by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes), and those who professed to be the friends of the agricultural classes in that House. He thought that great injury was inflicted on the farmers at the time of the Reform Bill, when an arrangement could have been effected for securing long leases. He thought the agriculturists should also be relieved from the curse of having excessive quantities of game on their lands.


said, be could not but think that the conduct of the Government would be looked on in a very different point of view by the country from what it had been regarded by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley). He was sure the country would feel extremely grateful for the decision to which the Government had come. In his opinion Her Majesty's Government had exercised a wise discretion, and that the country had a right to have its opinion considered; and he certainly thought it did not come well from hon. Members who pretended to be great advocates of public opinion, to be the first to taunt the Government for yielding to it. Perhaps his right hon. Friend would allow him to ask a question with regard to his balances. He took the question of the Navy excess. He thought it was perfectly fair that that which was not in the expenditure of this year, but was the expenditure of former years when they had large surpluses, should be paid out of the balances accruing in those years. In that very year when the Navy excess took place, we added to the balances in the Exchequer two millions and a half; and he thought it seemed to be very unreasonable, after having placed 2,500,600l.in the Exchequer, that that balance should not pay the excess which had accrued that year, and that it was hard to impose a fresh tax for the purpose in a season of national distress. He did not think that it would be infringing a principle in paying it out of the balances in the Exchequer. His impression was, that they would vote, and they were quite light in making the vote, and taking the authority from Parliament; but he believed the money was already spent; it was gone out of the balances already. So that if they found the money for the Navy excess (250,000l.) this year, the only practical effect would be to replace the amount already withdrawn from the balances. But they did not diminish their balances one farthing from what they should be at present. In reality, that vote would not diminish the balances. He apprehended also that, with regard to the Caffre war, very much the same argument applied; that all the money was spent and gone, and that they could not diminish the balances by not voting. They would be repaid when they increased the balances; but by not agreeing to the vote for the Caffre war, they could not diminish those balances. As to what had been said by hon. Members in ridiculing the appointment of a Committee as a means of bringing down the expenditure, he could not agree in any such course. The expenditure of the country had very largely increased of late years, and he did not think that any system of revenue could well go on that was continually increasing. He would impress upon his hon. Friend that it was the Government alone which could make reductions. Committees might investigate, but the Government alone were the best judges of the safety and propriety of reduction; for which reason, he would earnestly impress upon his right hon. Friend, before the termination of the Session, to see in what way the public expenditure could be reduced. Under present circumstances, he did not wish the effective establishments of the country to be reduced; but there were a great many points to which the principle of economy might be applied. There was no inclination on the part of the Government to do a thing merely for the sake of jobbing; but there were many matters in which, by means of better arrangements, great savings might be effected, and which probably the Government would be glad to make if we were well off; but in these times of difficulty it would be well that they should neither be postponed nor abandoned. The estimates of this year exceeded those of the last year, upon the whole, by one million. That amount, at least, might be saved. His right hon. Friend had stated he could not abandon the power, if he thought necessary before the end of the Session, of applying for increased taxation. It was somewhat unpopular, he knew, to make that declaration; but he assured his right hon. Friend, that if, although he had done his best to reduce the expenditure and to bring our finances into a better condition, he should find himself a million and a half behind the point necessary for the security of the financial state of the country, and he should therefore appeal for additional taxation, he (Mr. Baring), for one, would not shrink from giving him his support. He would not be a party to placing the finances in a state of deficit. With regard to the income-tax, he believed it was impossible so to tax income as to make the burden fair and equal; but that was a very different thing from an attempt to make the revenue equal to the expenditure. He was certainly an advocate for making the income-tax as fair as possible; but if it should happen that they were defeated in the attempt to make it more fair, rather than leave a deficient revenue of five millions, he should be prepared to vote for its continuance for a further time.


explained that the sums to which the right hon. Gentleman referred were not in the shape of balances. The advances for the Caffre war had been made partly by grants from the Treasury, and partly by grants from the commissariat chest, and the balance of 8,400,000l. would be diminished by that and the other items to which he had referred.


Although I am very glad Her Majesty's Ministers have withdrawn the proposal for an increase to the income-tax, still I am bound in my duty to a large constituency, with whom I have had a very active correspondence lately, to say I do not think it will be possible for the Government to maintain an income-tax of 3 per cent, or any other percentage or rate of tax upon precarious income. I believe the present proposition has rendered that utterly impossible for the future. The proposition of Her Majesty's Government has had the effect of raising this question throughout the country, and of causing it to be discussed in a way that it has never been before. It has turned the public mind essentially upon the subject of taxation, with the view of devising means of adopting a more equitable system; and I believe the agitation will end not only in an income-tax being altered in its rate of taxation, but in a complete change in our fiscal system. I hear from my hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. W. Brown), who has shown me the prospectus of it, of a new association they are forming at Liverpool for the purpose of enforcing a more equitable system of taxation; and I believe nothing would be more profitable or more legitimate than such an association with such a purpose. But, Sir, I do not see that we are fairly out of our difficulties as yet. It does not appear to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has come prepared with an alternative or a substitute for this tax. He proposes, in his difficulty, to take money from our reserved fund; and if the difficulty were merely temporary, he might do so probably without any very serious inconvenience; but I think I gathered from his statement that we are in a condition of progressive and increasing difficulty. I think he has told us, that already this quarter there is a deficiency of 400,000l., although two months of it have not passed away yet, as compared with the corresponding quarter of last year. I apprehend, then, Sir, that it is a growing deficiency with which we have to deal; and this brings me to the point upon which I have dwelt before, namely, that you will have to reduce your expenditure, by some means or other, so as to meet your income. I differ from the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, who tells us we must confine our retrenchments to the non-effective services. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us the non-effective services are only three millions and a half, while the effective services are eighteen millions and a half. If, therefore, retrenchment is confined to the non-effective services of three millions and a half, it will not be in a branch where it would be possible that a material reduction could be made. [Mr. BARING: What he had said was, that he would not be a party to reducing the efficiency of the service.] I still maintain that you must reduce your establishments. I do not confine myself to the civil establishments; and I will here allude to some remarks, which appear to me very ominous, that have fallen from several Gentlemen upon the subject of what has just happened in a neighbouring country. In replying to the noble Lord the other day, who adduced the example of Mr. Pitt when proposing the armament of 1793, as a justification for the course he was pursuing, I said— True, France passed through a social revolution in 1793; she cannot repeat that social revolution; she has no privileged classes, no Established Church; and the great masses of landed property which were then exempted from taxation are now subdivided and equitably taxed, and therefore she cannot pass through such a revolution as that. I candidly confess, when I spoke then of a social revolution, I was not prepared for the political revolution which has now happened in France, because I was not prepared for the insanity of a Ministry and the madness of a Monarch whom we had usually supposed to possess great sagacity and great prudence. There is no doubt that if France had been England, and a Minister and Monarch had first corrupted our Parliament, and then denied to Englishmen the right to assemble at a public dinner, we should have had a revolution too— and a political revolution. But, taking France as we now find it, I do not go with those hon. Gentlemen in this House who have several times stated that we must make this a ground for being cautious how we reduce our establishments, or allow the Exchequer to be impoverished. In ordinary life—for I like to bring the affairs of State down to the common-sense maxims of life, because we shall never prosper in politics until we apply those maxims to them—I see if my neighbour is quarrelling with his household, he is not in a position to come and quarrel with me. In the same way, if you were in a ship of war at sea, and you met an enemy's ship, the crew of which were in open mutiny, you would not be greatly alarmed that they would attack you. If it be the policy of the governing classes in this country to avoid collision with France, it is perfectly easy for England to avoid that collision; for I venture to say England is the last country in the world that France would think of attacking, inasmuch as we are inaccessible. But I say it with great regret, that I do believe, unless the people of this country take this question in hand, there is danger of our being involved in war with France. I believe, if it be left to the Foreign Minister, and to the clubs and coteries of London, from the spirit I have seen to-night of urging the state of France as an excuse for armaments and expense, that we shall be led step by step, first to alienation, then to dispute, and lastly to collision, and we may be involved in war, the fruits of which may be similar to that which we have deeply deplored in increased taxation. I take this opportunity of calling upon this country to beware of what is impending, if they do not take the matter into their own hands. We are not going to war with France to maintain despotic power at our own cost. If France comes to molest England, I am afraid I am not arrived at that point as to say that I am a Quaker and would not resist; but I say, unless France molests us—and I am speaking the predominant opinion of the people of this country—we will leave France alone. I shall venture to suggest to the Government that, as until Friday is not long enough to take the opinion of the country upon the question of the income-tax—and as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) has a notice of Motion with regard to the equalisation of the probate and legacy duties, and the hon. Member for Cockermouth has another, to make a distinction between variable and fixed incomes —I venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman for at least a week, to have the opinion of the country upon the proposition.


The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cardwell) asked that this debate should be adjourned, and that we should not proceed with it this evening. My right hon. Friend immediately acceded to that proposition; but I must say it would be only fair of the House to do one of two things—either to adjourn the consideration of the proposition, and not debate it, or to debate it, and allow the Government to come to some conclusion. I do not think it is quite fair to spend the whole evening in attacking the measure of the Government, and then say, "We do not mean to have it debated, but that it should be adjourned." I hope that hon. Gentlemen who oppose our proposition will agree with what I have said. I can hardly say a word more, having said what I thought was quite sufficient in the early part of the evening in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume). With regard to what has been said by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire. The hon. Gentleman, after what I declared upon the part of the Government, admiting, as he must admit, that his prophecy was not a very successful one, is yet trying to excite suspicion by inducing those in this House, and perhaps those out of doors, to think that I was not sincere in the declaration that I made, and that when I declared that we did not mean to interfere with any disposal of their own institutions which France might choose to make, I still meant that we were to be induced by some coteries and clubs to go to war with France because she adopted some particular form of government. Now I can only reiterate what I said before, that it is not the intention of the Government to interfere in any way whatever to settle the differences of France, or in the changes that France may choose to make with regard to her own government. Our only interest in that matter can be the interest of neighbours and friends. We only wish that the institutions which France may adopt may tend as much as possible to her own prosperity. I may be permitted to add, that of course I have never dreamt that England would refuse to perform any of those sacred duties of hospitality which at all times have been extended to the vanquished, whether they have held extreme monarchical or extreme liberal opinions—duties of hospitality which have made this country the asylum of the unfortunate, and the renown of which, I, for one, will never consent she should forego.


I should be the last person in this House who would wish for one moment to interfere with the rule laid down for this debate by the noble Lord, namely, that we should keep any observations that we have to make upon the measures of Government until they are fairly before the House. I think, under all the circumstances, a guerilla war, although it may give opportunities for display of the agility or courage of individuals, has, after all, but little effect upon the fortunes and fate of the campaign. Certainly upon the present occasion, when the fate of the budget, and what is much more important, of the great principles upon which the commercial and financial system of this country are the cause—and that is the real question—when they are the cause, I can conceive nothing more inconvenient than that upon an occasion like the present one, when the Government have postponed the vindication of their main measure, we should enter into any petty criticism, or that desultory attack which may be annoying and even injurious in a certain sense to Ministers for a moment, but which, after all, I feel, can bring no permanent credit to an Opposition. Therefore, Sir, it is not for that reason that I venture to rise for one moment; but at the same time it is the duty of every Gentleman who sits on this side of the House not to pass over without any observation the remarkable incidents of this evening. Sir, we live in an age of revolution. I read to-day of an eminent individual in another country who upon the same morning had contrived to give in his ad- hesion to a monarchy, to swear his allegiance to a regency, and who, it was supposed, would ultimately support a republic. Why, Sir, our neighbours bring forward this individual instance to our notice; and for their honour let it not be said that we are unmindful of the blessing and distinction of possessing a Ministry who in the same week have proposed one budget, brought forward a second, and intimated that in a very short time they will probably feel it their duty to propose a third. That is a very peculiar position, and so far as I know it is quite unprecedented. [Lord J. RUSSELL: This is a guerilla movement.] The noble Lord pays me the compliment of saying this is a guerilla movement. It is my intention—I am aware it will be under very great disadvantages, and with, probably, very slight support—to meet him in open fight. It is my opinion that when the third budget is brought forward, or when the second budget is really and gravely submitted to our consideration, it will turn out to be founded on false and fallacious principles; and if we do support it we are only supporting a system of policy that has already accomplished great evil for this country. It is seven years nearly since the new principles upon which our commerce and finance are now established were brought before our notice. Seven years is no mean period even in the history of a nation. Seven years established the great Prussian monarchy; and a Minister of seven years has recently destroyed a powerful dynasty. I say it is an apprenticeship in commercial and financial experience which a practical people, like the people of England, will not pass unregarded; and any Ministry who, from an unfortunate combination of circumstances, and not, as I believe, from their innate convictions—because we have a budget upon record at the commencement of this seven years, founded upon principles very different and much more rational—I say that if a Ministry choose to disregard the severe experience of such a practical apprenticeship, they must take the consequences— consequences which are totally independent of the vote or opinions of this House, but which will be registered in the severe experience of a suffering people. Well, Sir; here then we are. Seven years ago we met a deficit of two millions and a half; and in the seven years which have elapsed, we have raised an extraordinary revenue which has also vanished, and we still meet a de- ficit of the same amount. I do not want to enter into a discussion of the principles of the measures, because the noble Lord has deprecated discussion; and had it not been for an observation of the noble Lord over the table I should not have noticed the question, but have confined myself to the mere remarks I wished to make. One of the remarks I wished to make was this: The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer certainly took up one of the most remarkable positions I have ever observed. We have all heard of such an appearance as a parhelion or false sun. After the great luminary has vanished, the false sun appears in another quarter of the heavens, and it is doubtful for some time which is the correct depository of time and heat. So it is with the two budgets. Which is the false and which is the true sun is still doubtful. We were told—unfortunately this is a point of detail, but of some importance—in referring to the Miscellaneous Estimates, that the sum of 600,000l. which appears in the Miscellaneous Estimates, was in fact occasioned by the expense of packets for the public service. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: In the Navy Estimates.] The right hon. Gentlemen will pardon me. The right hon. Gentleman is an accomplished Minister, and he may be right; but I quite forgot that, to-night, besides giving us a second budget, he has moved the Navy Estimates a second time. There is, however, 600,000l. expended for the packet service, which is said to be expended for the Post Office. Is it not so? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: NO!] All I should like to know is this: it has been stated there has been an expenditure upon the Post Office and packet service, and we ought to have that information. I want to know what is the clear revenue of the Post Office establishment at this moment. Is it 900,000l. that Her Majesty's Government have assumed? I will, however, let that subject pass; for I have not the advantage of the documents which the right hon. Gentleman has. I have no doubt he refers to some which are upon the table; but I will ask what is the whole point upon this question in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He acknowledges that there is a great and an indefensible expenditure. He acknowledges that not only by his speeches but by his acts—because nothing can justify a Minister who brings forward his estimates, and proposes to refer them to a Committee, but a conviction that there are reductions to be made which in fact he has not felt it to be his duty in the first instance to introduce. His whole speech, however, was an accusation of the House of Commons. He was holding up the House of Commons to public odium. All that he says is—this is an expensive Government—who is responsible? Not Her Majesty's Ministers, but the House of Commons. Who is responsible for that lavish expenditure? The right hon. Gentleman has throughout his speech endeavoured to cast odium upon the House of Commons, and throw the entire responsibility upon us. I do not stop to inquire whether there has been an unjustifiable expenditure or not; but I say no Minister is justified in rising in his place and saying it is the fault of the House of Commons. Why did you propose these votes to the House of Commons if you did not think they were just votes? Either they were just or they were unjust. If they were unjust, you ought not to have proposed them: if they were just, you ought yourselves to vindicate them, and not propose that they shall be referred to Select Committees. It is your part, Mr. Speaker, to vindicate the House of Commons against the attacks of the Ministers. If any one holds up the House of Commons to odium, as in these attacks, we must fly for refuge to you to vindicate the honour and integrity of this House. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding feels that it is necessary to vindicate himself from some misrepresentation which has arisen from the speech that he made the other night, and elsewhere upon another occasion. It is a most curious circumstance that before the hon. Gentleman made those allusions to the extraordinary circumstances to which we never venture for a moment to allude, that the country, unable any longer to endure the sufferings which the present state of taxation brings with it, was about to give itself to those subjects, and we are to have a new league—that is, in short, the result of the declaration of the hon. Gentleman —that we are going into a campaign to obtain justice, by reforming our fiscal system. That, Sir, is a very alarming announcement, when we know what confederations, arranged and headed by the hon. Gentleman, have already accomplished, and that he changed the opinions of Ministers, and the votes of Parliament. It is well for us to understand what is the mischief in the shell with which we are now menaced. This is the only satisfaction, or rather the only source of consolation—that I must believe that when the people of England are appealed to again by the hon. Member for the West Riding— when they are called on to organise and agitate for a reform of their fiscal system— they will at least pause for one moment and consider what have been the effects of their previous following of the counsel and advice of the hon. Gentleman. If his reform of our fiscal system is to lead to no greater benefits to the people of England than the reform under his auspices—under his superior auspices—of the commercial system, I am in hopes that the people of England will not lend themselves to a fruitless, a barren, and an unprofitable agitation. If, remembering all the promises which were made by the hon. Gentleman and his school—(I mention him as their leader, and their working leader)— all those promises and all those prospects of fruition that were held out to them, they demean themselves at this crisis with good sense and caution, they will only justify the traditional character of the people of England in these respects of caution and good sense. They must remember at this moment, when the Minister has to come forward as the Minister has come forward to-night, to play a part so fatal, as I must believe to men of such station, great ability, and proved services, as the Gentlemen who sit upon the Treasury benches—when they are obliged to come forward and play the part that they have done to night, I say, Sir, it will be a point that must occur to the people of England, when the honour and existence of the Government at so critical a period is at stake upon the means of raising two or three miserable millions—["Oh, oh!"] —miserable millions, I say, they must remember the evidence that was given before the Import Duties Committee. Allow me to tell that Gentleman who favoured me with his derisive criticism, that they must remember the evidence given before the Imports Committee, which was the foundation of our modern legislation, which won from the most able man this country has ever produced, and from one of the most able statesmen England has yet produced, the acknowledgment from that red box that it was the basis of his legislation. Let the people of England turn to the evidence forming nearly one-third of that blue book—the evidence that consists entirely of the inspired revelations of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Macgregor) that evidence which informed the people of England that the repeal of the corn and provision laws would give them every year a far greater sum than 100 millions. Why, I reiterate, this great truth is not merely that in this rapid age you must take every opportunity of enforcing strong conviction in the public mind, but because several Gentlemen, and some of those who sit opposite, have addressed me in private, and remonstrated with me upon what they considered a monstrous exaggeration. For instance, the hon. Member for Glasgow the other night in the lobby made an appeal to me. He also considered that I had misrepresented him; and, although trusting to memory, which, though more treacherous than it was in my youth, seldom deceives me, I did give the information which was necessary to the hon. Gentleman; I told him I should give him the information in public, if in private my assurance would not satisfy him. Sir, I have proved my sincerity. I have the evidence of the Import Duties Committee under my arm, and I tell the hon. Gentleman that at page 68 he will read these words—"The people of England, by the repeal of the corn and provision laws, will gain a much greater sum— a far larger [after using the words ' much greater,' he adds 'far larger'] sum than 100,000,000l. per annum." What is the miserable deficit of two millions and a half to a nation, which, by a stroke of the pen, by a resolution of the House in Committee on Ways and Means, can gain so much? What are all the mines of Mexico and Potosi — what are all the galleons that Anson ever captured in value compared with this admirable piece of legislation which was founded by the Member for Glasgow? The hon. Member ought not again to vote for such a miserable impost as the income-tax. A man who by his counsels can enrich the treasury of the country to such an excess, ought to work out the whole deficiency. He ought to have the library to himself. It is degradation and commonplace to a man like the hon. Member to quote others along with him; and I do not quote them because they only proved that we should obtain from the repeal of the corn and provision laws one million and a half. That I do not take into consideration. I fix upon the hon. Member individually because his estimate was the highest—because it was founded upon the best evidence—because he was the favourite counsellor of the most powerful individual in the country—because a grateful country, and the capital of a great county, proved their confidence in his estimate by sending him into this House —and because, Sir, the budget of Her Majesty's Government, twice in the same week, is the real thing for which these monstrous representations which he urged are continued. I will not, Sir, stand up for a moment between you and those distinguished orators who wish to address you. All that I want is to notice a single observation of the hon. Member for the West Riding. He has to-night announced to the country he is prepared again to raise the standard of agitation. All I wish to do is to say that we shall not fall without a struggle; and we shall not be betrayed, for we shall know the enemy we have to meet, and the cause we have to encounter. The hon. Gentleman tells us he has no doubt there will be an association for fiscal reform—an association which he anticipates will achieve the same results as his confederation for commercial change. Let me tell the hon. Member for the West Riding, that it is not merely his prophecy of commercial amelioration that is now to guide the people of England, but it is also his prediction of political perfectibility. They have to test him as a judge. They have to test, not merely his opinions as to the policy which would fill the Treasury, but also as to the policy which would secure the happiness and independence of this country. The hon. Gentleman stands before us with all his talents as the supporter of a bankrupt exchequer, and as having, only within these few days, appealed to a revolutionary nation as the model of political perfection. That, Sir, is the guide of the people of England on the new movement in favour of fiscal reform. Why, Sir, the noble Lord who sits with his arms folded on the Treasury bench (Lord J. Russell)—I mention this merely in a guerilla sense—the noble Lord—who, I will do him the justice to say, especially when he does not make a set speech, makes admissions which entitle him to the respect of every Gentleman in this House—did at the commencement of this Session, in November, say, that no doubt free trade was a great exaggeration. The only good thing that free trade ever did was to place the noble Lord upon that bench; and the best return the noble Lord could make to those who voted for him was, what like a brave Gentleman he did make, to admit that free trade was a great exageration. Sir, there is no doubt that free trade is a great exaggeration. It is a great exaggeration that it brings a perpetual peace and universal philanthropy. If it were only a great exaggeration, we might laugh at it; but undoubtedly those representations enter into practical life. They change tariffs, they bankrupt merchants. They make First Lords of the Treasury preside over empty exchequers, and they make Chancellors of the Exchequer, after making one statement one night, come a few nights after and make another diametrically opposed to it, and call upon the House of Commons to sanction a course totally different and distinct. These pitiable, these humiliating circumstances require all the natural courage of the noble Lord to sustain him in his difficulties. But, Sir, throughout this evening what I most deplore is, that a Minister of the Crown should by a sort of inuendo have intimated to the House of Commons that there were external circumstances which required us to prepare ourselves for war. Sir, I can imagine nothing more indiscreet, more impolitic, and I believe nothing more unjust. I have no hesitation in saying that I deeply deplore everything that has passed in France. I think that the general course of peace and progress, whatever may have been the circumstances of domestic discontent, has been, if not broken, certainly disturbed by all that has occurred. I have no hesitation in saying that I lament that the late Ruler of France has fallen. Whatever his errors to his people may have been, he was a great prince, a great gentleman—[a laugh]—a great man. There may be those who are ready to laugh over fallen royalty. I, for one, would shrink from such a course; and least of all does it become us to do so; for whatever were his errors, to England and to Englishmen at least he always extended an appreciating sympathy; and I cannot forget that for eighteen years he did secure, he did maintain for Europe the blessings of peace. These are my individual feelings; but I hope there will be no mistake between the French people and the House of Commons upon this occasion. If there have been mistakes before, I hope there will be none now. I hope they will understand that the people of England are resolved to interfere in no degree or manner whatever with the domestic and municipal affairs of the French nation. I believe there is no statement more unjust than that so popularly and so vulgarly credited, that Mr. Pitt ever did from the first sanction any interference of that kind. Quite the reverse. So I think at this moment that if the people of France observe treaties, the nations of Europe will observe their independence. That I believe to be the general feeling throughout the country—the general and universal sentiment, represented, I am sure, by Gentlemen of all sections in this House; and, therefore, I the more deplore that any Minister of the Crown should for a moment have assumed that such a contingency as war might happen. Upon such an observation we should all arise, and at once oppose our distinct expression of opinion, that we have no right to suppose that war will ensue with France. I do not want to enter into the question of the income-tax now; a great occasion will soon arise for that; but I do say that what has occurred in France, instead of being an argument in favour of the income-tax, is an argument against it. The very fact that it is acknowledged to be a war-tax is the very reason why it should be now most delicately dealt with by the House of Commons. I have ventured, after the expressions of the hon. Member for the West Riding, to make these observations. I do not think that the remarkable and unprecedented course of Ministers in favouring us to-night with a second budget should have been allowed to pass unnoticed; and still less do I think that the declaration by a Member of the Government that a warlike contingency may arise, ought for a moment to be sanctioned by this House.


thought the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been received very ungraciously by the House; but he was confident that the country would receive it in a far different spirit. He should make no reply to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, further than to say that he must be labouring under a mistake with regard to his evidence before the Import Committee in 1840, and that there was no part of that evidence which he wished to blot out. He denied that he was in any way the counsellor of the Government or of any Cabinet Minister with regard to the new tariff. He simply worked as an humble journeyman doing his duty, as he was bound to do; and he declared unhesitatingly that the full merit of that measure was due to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. Instead of the consequence of that measure having been to diminish the revenue, he believed that, with the single exception of the article of timber, the changes in the tariff had effected every object which its most ardent admirers had anticipated from it.


felt bound to offer his acknowledgments to the Government for the change which they had announced in their financial policy. He thought it a very wholesome thing that the Government should not set itself in opposition to so strong an expression of public opinion as had been evinced upon this subject since Friday week. There was one matter, however, to which the Government had not yet attended—the Government had not announced that discriminating principle with regard to the income-tax which the country expected; but he trusted that on Friday next they would be prepared to make some such change in the principle of the tax as the country required. He believed that there was the greatest possible disposition on the part of the people of this country to submit to the system of direct taxation; but it was not enough that taxation should be direct—it must be equal and just, which had not hitherto been the case with the income-tax. The hon. Member for Bucks had amused himself and the House with a speech of some length. He said "amused," because it must be amusing to see the Member for a county of such classic fame as that which the hon. Gentleman represented, boldly and firmly reiterate sophisms with regard to taxation which any weaver in Lancashire or Yorkshire would be ashamed to utter. What was it that the hon. Gentleman now wanted? The hon. Gentleman's party might some time ago have occupied the Treasury benches if they had pleased; but though he was cheered by his Protectionist friends in his attacks upon the free-trade policy, he should like to know what would the hon. Gentleman himself have done during the last two years? Would he have suspended the corn law or not? Would he have imposed it again? Would his policy have been one of everlasting restriction, or was it to be relaxed at intervals? The noble Lord the Member for Lynn stated at the time that we had not suspended the corn laws soon enough; that he would have suspended them sooner; and he blamed the Government for not sending to foreign countries to purchase large stores of grain. Why, he could tell the hon. Gentleman that the effect of the change in the corn laws had been to admit 16,000,000 quarters of grain into the kingdom in sixteen months. Would the hon. Member have kept that amount of grain out of the country? If he had, the effect must have been most disastrous to many of his countrymen. By the change in the corn laws, however, all that grain had been imported, and the country which supplied us with the largest portion of it— the United States of America—had purchased two or three times their usual amount of our manufactures. The hon. Gentleman charged the free-trade policy with the misfortunes of the last eighteen months or two years; but neither the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth nor the Anti-Corn-Law League ever assumed to themselves to regulate the seasons. They knew that there were periods when the seasons failed, and when famine approached. Famine had arrived, and it had set the seal to everything the free-traders had said in confirmation of their policy. And that the hon. Gentleman should dare now to defend the corn law, or to attack the right hon. Baronet, was, he must declare, a monstrous piece of assurance. The hon. Gentleman seemed to insinuate that a reaction was going on in the country, and that the people were anxious to revert to their old policy. If the hon. Gentleman truly thought so, he was most miserably deceived. Why, he really did not believe that even the Buckinghamshire farmers were anxious to return to it, much less would the operatives of Yorkshire and Lancashire listen to it; and he could assure the House that if they talked of reimposing the tax upon corn, an opposition would arise of such a nature that all that had been said about the income-tax and the national defences would be perfectly insignificant compared with it. He had proposed to move that evening on going into Committee, and his Motion stood upon the Paper, that the duties now levied upon personal property under the name of probate and legacy duty should be extended to real property. It was not now, however, of course his intention to proceed with that Motion that evening. He should propose that it should be postponed until the Committee upon Ways and Means should be taken; and he hoped that before that time the Chancellor of the Exchequer would go through the question, and would be able to state to the House his opinion with regard to it. Instead of postponing the budget until Friday, he thought it would be much better to have postponed it for a month, to have gone through the whole question of taxation, and to have made an entire revision of the stamp duties and the probate and legacy duty; for he did declare that, after the repeal of the corn laws, there was not an inequality and injustice in the whole system of taxation so ingeniously cruel as existed in the stamp duties and in the descent of personal property. The people of this country paid taxes willingly; but the time was coming when the Government must abandon the unjust, unequal, and partial taxation to which for a long series of years they had been allied. Let the taxes be revised, let them be equally imposed, and there would be neither resistance nor complaints from a willing people.


would feel obliged to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester if, when he ventured to repeat the prophecies of Gentlemen opposite, he would have the goodness to repeat them correctly. He begged to remind the hon. Gentleman that the prophecies to which he alluded were to this effect, "that the first to complain of these changes would be the operatives and the manufacturers themselves." Had that prophecy been falsified? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester had stated that the Member for Buckinghamshire had made use of arguments and observations which no weaver in Lancashire or Yorkshire would assent to; but he begged to ask, whether the weavers out of work were those of whom he spoke? The hon. Gentleman taunted the agricultural interest with their prosperity; but if he looked at the opposition which Ministers were threatened without of doors, it was not quite so clear that the prosperity which was attributed to the agricultural classes could be entirely acknowledged by them. The present opposition to the Government proposition was not confined to the towns and cities, for throughout every county in the United Kingdom the same feelings prevailed, and the same language was held to the effect that they could not pay the tax. He was therefore afraid that the prophecy made by the agricultural interests that they would suffer, but not the first, would be fulfilled. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester had alluded to the anticipations of gold being taken out of the country as not realised; but he must take leave to remind him of the great distress which prevailed in consequence of a scarcity of gold in the first year of free trade. Did he not know that a day had arrived when it was doubtful whether the Bank of England could, on the morrow, meet its engagements? Did he not know of the urgent remonstrances made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to resort to those measures which, though they involved a departure from the law, were the only ones which could stay the mischief? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow had insinuated that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had quoted incorrectly the substance of his evidence before the Import Duties Committee; but he held a copy of the evidence in his hand, and it appeared that the hon. Gentleman did say that the working classes would be benefited to the extent of 100,000,000l. by the changes proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced that they were to have an income-tax for three years more; but, he added, that if it did not succeed, he reserved to himself the right of coming down and demanding fresh taxes. If he reserved to himself that right, Parliament might exercise another, and refuse to vote the estimates until they knew what the future taxes might be. It would be sheer waste of time, if, after hearing two budgets unfolded, they were to proceed to their consideration without knowing the nature of what remained behind. Believing that Parliament had a right to be made acquainted with the nature of the taxes which might be submitted to them should the income-tax not answer its object, he would, on Friday next, claim the right of asking from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what it was he meant when he said he would reserve to himself the right of coming down to the House and submitting other propositions of taxation. The noble Lord who had opened the budget claimed the credit of having opened it in a fair and frank manner. He had done so fairly and frankly, because he had stated the sources from which he expected to raise his revenue. That was certainly a fair proposal; but all the fairness vanished when they were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would reserve to himself the right of applying to Parliament for increased taxation, but the nature of which taxation he declined to unfold. Under these circumstances he hoped the Government would not shrink from stating definitely what course they might adopt with respect to future taxation.


did not know what influence had operated on the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he was happy to hear from hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side that it was public opinion. Yet, in reference to all this shifting and changing, he had only to observe, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and his Colleagues had split on their old rock, an empty exchequer. The Whigs, when they got into office with a full exchequer, indulged in such lavish expenditure that before long they were obliged to look to the country for more money. Many of the charges to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred were merely incidental and casual, and the country should know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was looking to permanent taxation for incidental expenditure. He (Mr. O'Connor) objected to this tampering with thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds, while the country was in the present depressed state. With reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Manchester, he would observe, that the whole derangement of the monetary system was attributable to the system of free trade. That hon. Member had, in the course of his argument, made use of a fallacy. He had said, that America had purchased manufactured goods from this country three times as much as formerly; but he (Mr. O'Connor) wanted to know how much less wages the working manufacturers of Yorkshire and Lancashire had received for their labour. That was the vital question. The hon. Member inquired what would have been done if free trade had not been carried? He would tell the hon. Member, that if free trade had not been passed, wheat would never have reached 80s. the quarter, for the dealers in corn, who had speculated on long bills, would then have been afraid to do so, because of the existence of the sliding-scale. He did not concur in what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth on a former occasion, to the effect that it was not the desire of any Government to augment the revenue. One fact was worth a thousand arguments, and the fact was, that Governments had never resisted propositions for that purpose, but had easily been seduced into compliance when asked to augment the revenue. Precedents had been referred to; but let them not draw precedents from the dead, or they might as well meet in a graveyard, and sit upon tombstones. These were not the authorities upon which men in the present day would consent to be governed. They lived in new times, and needed new men to govern them. Let them, then, draw their precedents, not from the old sluggish humdrum minds that were gone, but from the active spirits of the present day, that had produced the electric telegraph, the penny post, the steam-engine, the railway, and all the mechanical inventions of the age. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer beware lest he might be obliged soon to come down to the House and demand increased taxation on another account. He hoped that this country would remain at peace; and, indeed, they had the assurance of the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it was not the intention of the Government to interfere with France. Let them show foreign countries that they were serious on that point; but let them not at the same time show foreign countries that they were not in a position to go to war, in consequence of disturbing the public mind at home. With respect to the income-tax, there was a talk of extending it to Ireland; and, perhaps, when that happened, the Irish Members would have some feeling for the starving English, and vote against the income-tax altogether. He protested against the invasion of the rights of the middle class; and while he did so he equally protested against the invasion of the rights of the landed class. He was in a position which well qualified him to speak of the latter class, for within the last three years he had examined, valued, and inquired into landed estates more than any other man, and he had not heard two complaints against the landlords. So lame and impotent a statement as that made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer he had never listened to. He was sorry that more competent Gentlemen were not at the head of the monetary department of the Government, to give satisfaction to the people for the expenditure. He could assure hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches that the days of temporising were gone, for no people were so rapidly improving in political and other matters as the people of England.


rejoiced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought it wise to abandon that part of the budget which had been hastily proposed by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell). He recommended both to take care how they again put to sea without a compass to guide them, and without a crew to carry them through dangers. It had been said that on the last reimposition of the income-tax no one had opposed it. This he denied. He was glad to see that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth was not absent, for de absentibus equally as de mortuis nil nisi bonum; and he was going to say not bonum but malam of him. It had been said, he repeated, that no one had objected to the last reimposition of the income-tax. Now, litera scripta manet, and Parliamentary records might be referred to. When the income-tax was proposed in the first instance, he voted for it because he placed confidence in the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, though events had proved that, in that respect, he had relied upon a broken reed; but when it was again proposed in 1845, he voted in the minority against it. When, therefore, he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his right hon. relative say, that no person opposed the tax in 1845, he felt it necessary to correct the misrepresentation. Upon that point he might exclaim with Othello, "Speak of me as I am." He was glad to perceive that the hon. Member for Montrose was to be one of the Committee on the Estimates. The country placed confidence in the hon. Member's integrity; and there could be little doubt that if he could succeed in cutting down the salaries of Ministers and lopping off unnecessary expenses, the income of the country would prove equal to the expenditure without any additional taxation.


had never witnessed so decided a feeling in the country as that which prevailed against the proposition which the Government had that evening withdrawn. Had the Government persisted in the attempt to carry that proposition into effect they must have been driven from power, and he was by no means sure that they were safe now. The country objected to the tax altogether, because of its unequal operation and inquisitorial character. Like other Members he was perfectly astonished when he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer declare that the tax had met with no opposition in 1845. Upon that occasion the hon. Member for Middlesex moved that the Income-tax Bill should be read six months from the day on which it was then proposed to be read a second time; and he (Mr. Muntz) seconded the Motion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipated an improvement in the revenue; but he differed from the right hon. Gentleman upon that point. The experience of every day showed that we were losing our export trade. The reaction of 1845–6 rested on an unsound basis. A great portion of the trade then carried on was of a speculative character, and the transactions were not paid for; thus leading to many of the failures which occurred last year. The proceeding to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was now about to resort, of making payments out of the balances in the Exchequer, was pregnant with danger in the present circumstances of the country. By reducing the balances the Government would be unable to pay the dividends without calling upon the Bank to make advances, and by making those advances the Bank would be prevented from assisting persons engaged in trade. The country was in a position which demanded serious consideration.


entirely concurred in the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Birmingham, for he was persuaded that there was not the slightest chance of the trade of the country recovering from its present depression. It was highly probable that recent events in France would exercise an unfavourable influence on the Customs; and that, generally speaking, trade would be still further depressed. Whatever deficiency the Exchequer might exhibit, it ought to be supplied by direct taxation; and he called upon the Government not to pursue the course of bankruptcy which in 1841 brought disgrace upon the country. It was the duty of the Government to explain its views upon this point before calling for a vote of the House upon the question of the renewal of the income-tax.


said, his constituency and the country at large had a settled determination not to pay a tax so unequal and unjust as the income-tax. It was true that the concession just made would have the effect of mitigating the dislike of the people against that impost; but he was certain that it would not give satisfaction. The objection which he (Lord D. Stuart) felt to the tax did not arise from its amount so much, as from the fact that it was unequal in its operation, and inquisitorial in its nature. When the tax was first imposed, it was promised that it would only last for three years; and he trusted the non-fulfilment of that promise would serve as a caution to hon. Members not to rely hereafter on Ministerial appeals. The noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government observed that those who disliked the tax should find a substitute. He thought that that was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and not of hon. Members. It was their duty, not to find a substitute, but to object to any tax which they thought improper. They had been told that this tax was absolutely necessary; but now that they strenuously opposed it, the Government thought they could do without it, and that some substitute could be found. The same course might have been adopted had the House resisted the imposition of the income-tax altogether. He trusted the country from one end to the other would resist an impost by which the man of property paid no more than he who derived his income solely from his talents. 26,000,000l. of taxes had been taken off; and it was the duty of the Government to reduce the expenditure in proportion to that amount, or else to devise a substitute less oppressive and unjust.


observed, that the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone had said that 26,000,000l. had been reduced from the taxation of the country; and he asked whether the ingenuity of the Ministers, or those who aspired to become Ministers, might not contrive to raise a sum equivalent to the necessities of the country by means other than by this inquisitorial impost? He would ask whether there was any one Member whose constituents had been relieved by the repeal of any portion of those 26,000,000l., who would be willing to reimpose the tax on his constituents in lieu of this obnoxious income-tax? There had been, from the produce of the earth, in the shape of one class of production, an income raised, in the lifetime of many hon. Members, equal to the revenue of any State of Europe, except three. That income had been renounced. 7,000,000l. of duty on the produce of barley had been repealed since the peace. Would any country Gentleman support the proposition to reimpose any portion of that tax? The truth was, that they must either reduce their expenditure, or supply some substitute for this objectionable tax. Why, even the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln, however much he might object to the present tax, did not venture to say that he could find an adequate substitute by the revival of any of the taxes that had been repealed. [Colonal SIBTHORP: I do.] He congratulated the Chancellor of the Exchequer at having one so ready and able to supply that deficiency which the right hon. Gentleman found it so difficult to discover the means of doing. It was not for him (Sir R. Inglis) to make a tax; but he would submit to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman a plan which had been adopted in France and in Belgium, and which ought not, in his opinion, to be absolutely without its weight in the consideration of the Finance Minister of England; and that was the imposition of a stamp duty on foreign bills of exchange. Another plan to which he was desirous of calling the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the imposition of a tax upon gas. That, he apprehended, had not formed a part of the budget of the past or of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer; nor did he know that it was in the contemplation of the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the city of Lincoln. The hon. Baronet then adverted to the suggestion which he had on former occasions urged for commencing the charge of the tax at a given unit—say 50l., 100l., or 150l.—that was to say, exempting every income of that amount, and beginning to reckon upwards from it; so that a person, say, of 150l. a year should be wholly exempt from the tax, and a person having 200l. a year should be taxed only upon the extra 50l. By imposing a graduated scale on all incomes beyond that sum, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to realise a very considerable income without pressing upon persons in the situation of clerks in public offices, merchants' houses, law offices, and small annuitants, the parochial clergy, and all those who had small fixed incomes, and who had now to pay for such given sum precisely the same as if they were the Duke of Devonshire or Mr. Rothschild. He (Sir R. Inglis) would not at present say whether he would not yet, at a future period, give the House a more formal opportunity of pronouncing an opinion upon this proposition; but, at all events, he earnestly recommended that right hon. Gentleman to take it into his serious consideration.


understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, that no hon. Member on the Opposition benches had opposed this tax when it was first proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. Now he (Mr. Blackstone) begged to say that he was almost the only person on the Opposition benches who opposed the right hon. Gentleman when he originally introduced the tax; and he did so on the ground that the right hon. Gentleman was only making it an engine with a view of enabling him to repeal the corn laws. He also opposed its reimposition, on the ground that it was unjust to apply it to England and Scotland and not to Ireland.


expressed his regret at the addition made to the national debt. For the last two years the deficiency was between 6,000,000?. and 7,000,000l. 1,500,000l. was to be placed to the account of Irish distress; but, nevertheless, it was so much added to the debt. He thought that the public accounts might be more simplified than they were. It would be desirable that on a certain day in every year there should be presented to the House an abstract of the assets and liabilities of the country, so that the House might see at a glance whether the debt was increased or not. The House ought also to be informed what was the state of our finances in India.

Order of the Day for the Committee of Ways and Means read: Committee postponed till Friday.

House adjourned at Eleven o'clock.