HC Deb 24 July 1848 vol 100 cc766-73

Bill read a Third Time.

Clause for still further protecting the interests of the remainder-man, agreed to.


(on behalf of Mr. Bouverie) then proposed the following Clause:— That no assurance under this Act shall be subject to the further or additional duty (of equal amount with the duty on a lease, or bargain and sale for a year) with which conveyances by a single deed are by any Act, either expressly or by reference, made chargeable; and that, in lieu of all other stamp duty whatsoever (except the progressive duty) there shall be chargeable on all assurances under this Act on which the purchase or consideration money therein or thereupon expressed shall not amount to 2,000l., an ad valorem duty of 6s. for every 50l. of such purchase or consideration money, and the like sum for any smaller or fractional part of 50l.

Clause brought up and read a first time. On the question that it be read a second time,


said, that there might be inequalities in the pressure of the stamp duty requiring revision, and which might be made the subject of a general measure; but he must object to these exceptional cases. In almost every Bill claims of exemption of some kind or other from the stamp duties were put forward.


said, that if ever there was an exceptional case this was one. Every Member who had addressed the House on this Bill had dwelt on the great importance of encouraging the sale of estates in small portions, not only as regarded the social advantages of such a system, but the probability of finding buyers. If the Bill worked, as he believed it would, the right hon. Gentleman would gain a large addition to his stamp revenue from that very source. If the Government really wished the measure to work, it was hard to interpose an insuperable obstacle to its usefulness in the shape of a heavy tax on the sale of property in that very manner which everybody thought was the most desirable mode of sale. He must divide the House on the question.


supported the clause. Why should not the stamp duties be lowered to enable small capitalists to buy land? He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would profit by the convincing and able remarks of the right hon. Member for Ripon on the stamp duties. He did not think so highly of this Bill as some hon. Members; for he believed that while they kept in the old track of the Court of Chancery, and the Masters' Offices, and did not put the matter into the hands of a Commission, they would never have a good Bill for the sale of encumbered estates.


I certainly should be disposed to appeal to the hon. Member for Limerick not to divide the House upon this clause; but at the same time I would also appeal to the Government to take into their serious consideration the whole question of the stamp duties as affecting the transfer of landed property in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has replied to the proposition of my hon. Friend, by stating, that almost every Bill that is now introduced into this House contains a clause for exemption from the stamp duty; but I think the right hon. Gentleman has hardly given a fair representation of the clause brought forward by my hon. Friend, when he represented this as a claim for exemption. It is not a claim for exemption, but a claim that the stamp duties as regards the sale of landed property in Ireland should be so rearranged as not to affect the sale of such property in a way that would be prejudicial to the object which is intended by this Bill to be accomplished. According to my view of the object of the Bill, it does not merely contemplate the transfer of properties in bulk from a landed proprietor who is now encumbered by his own conduct, or by the conduct of his ancestors, to some one other individual, but it is intended that when such properties are to be sold, those who have the means of small investments should be enabled to invest their capital in the soil of Ireland; and it cannot be said that there are not great impediments to that object in the present scale of the stamp duties. Under the present scale, when properties are sold, the small allotments of landed property brought into the market pay—not actually a larger amount, but proportionably—a larger amount of stamp duty than largo properties. This system, I submit, cannot be defended, except as regards financial arrangements. Even on that ground I do not think it can be supported; but on that question I shall bow to the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. Certain I am of this, that on no other possible ground can such a principle be maintained in this House; and when Her Majesty's Government have undertaken this Bill for the purpose, I assume, of facilitating these small investments, and when the hon. Gentleman opposite (the Solicitor General) has bestowed so much pains (which every person in this House, I am sure, is ready to recognise) upon it, I feel confident that the hon. Gentleman will add his appeal to ours on this subject. If he does not think he can do so quite decorously while sitting on the same bench with the right hon. Gentleman, I hope at least in private we shall have his assistance in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman, and to Her Majesty's Government, that they will not rest satisfied with this Bill when it shall have passed in its present shape, but will take into consideration the revision of the stamp duties on the sale of landed property in Ireland. The object of this Bill, I repeat, ought not to be merely the transfer from the present proprietors of large properties to certain great capitalists in this country. In that case the measure would be a boon merely to the person who sold the property, thereby denuding him of those duties which largo properties entail on proprietors, but which from his unfortunate position he is unable to fulfil, for I should look upon this Bill as a great boon to the landed proprietor, considered only as an easy mode of making a transfer from one great proprietor to another; but the boon ought not to be confined to him alone; and, viewing this as a great national question, unless followed up by one or two other measures, this Bill by itself cannot be as effective as was contemplated. I hope I shall be allowed to refer to another point, with reference to which I think it will be necessary in another Session of Parliament to follow up this measure. Dismissing the question of the stamp duties with a general appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to shut the door, not against exemption, but revision, I beg to refer to another point of considerable importance. It is a point which has not been touched upon by any speaker in the various debates on this Bill, except on a late occasion, incidentally, and from a motive different from that to which I shall allude to it, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newark. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Newark appealed to the House to throw out the Bill, on the ground that there were many properties in Ireland so circumstanced, that as regards them the Bill will be found to be utterly ineffective. He alluded to those large landed properties in Ireland, whore the laud is not let from the landlord direct to the occupying tenants; but where the land, having been let on leases for a long terra of years, is then sublet to what in Ireland are called middlemen, those middlemen not only being in some instances third parties, but sometimes fourth and fifth parties, each of whom receive a kind of annuity out of the property; and the only persons standing in the relation of landlord and tenant, being the last leaseholders and the occupying tenant. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Solicitor General) will at once see that the transfer of such property under this Bill will produce none of those beneficial social and moral effects which he contemplates. It will merely facilitate the transfer of an encumbered estate from one person to another; but as regards the possibility of the Improvement of that estate, the matter will rest precisely as it does at present. For instance, a person being the original landlord of 5,000 or 6,000 acres of land, has let the land upon a fixed vent to another individual; that indivividual then lets it to another person for a rent somewhat larger than he himself pays, and that individual perhaps lets it to another, who intervenes before we come to the occupying tenant. The persons to whom it is intermediately let, can only be looked upon as so many encumbrancers upon the estate; but the original landlord—he who is the possessor of the soil so far as the law is concerned—has no more power over it than any of us, and can have no interest in improving that estate. Neither (when he is able to sell it to a great capitalist in London) will the purchaser have any inducement to improve, or any power of improvement whatever. Neither, of course, will any of those who are in- termediate landlords, or are, as I have termed them, encumbrancers on the estates; and the occupying tenant, of course, cannot do it. Under the provisions of this Bill, you will merely substitute one nominal proprietor for another nominal proprietor; and you will not obtain the object in view, which the hon. and learned Gentleman so well designated in the speech made by him on the first occasion of the subject being under discussion in this House, when he called it "a measure for the emancipation of the land of Ireland." There is another observation which I have to make as regards land in this position, namely, that independently of the stamp duty—independently of that hindrance—the effect of those intermediate landlords intervening between the original landlord and the occupying tenant, will preclude that subdivision of the property which all those who are conversant with affairs in Ireland express their opinion to be so desirable. Therefore one of the objects of the Bill, quoad those particular properties, cannot be effected. I would press this subject upon the attention of the Government. I trust they will consider, during the recess, whether it may not he a fitting subject for legislation in a future Session of Parliament. I hope, as we must all desire, that the state of affairs in Ireland will undergo a change which will enable them to divert their attention from those matters which at present altogether absorb it, to a subject which, I am sure, will be more congenial to them and every Member of this House—I mean the social regeneration of that country. I admit the difficulties of this question; but I appeal to Her Majesty's Government to entertain it. I know there will be difficulty in dealing with any of those intermediate landlords without raising a considerable ferment amongst some of the parties concerned; but after passing this Bill, I do not think there can exist any difficulty that will be insuperable in dealing with them so as practically to reserve to every one the equivalent for the fair interest in the soil he at present possesses, and at the same time to pay them off in the soil, or in money derived from the soil. I do not apprehend that the difficulty in doing that will be found to be so insuperable as at first sight it may appear. I do not wish to detain the House, or at this period of the Session to say anything that might give rise to anything like a fresh debate, and shall merely, therefore, venture to throw out those two suggestions, and to express my opinion that this Bill, which is a most valuable commencement as regards the emancipation of the land of Ireland, will not be complete. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will admit that the case of intermediate landlords is one not only worthy of, but demanding consideration. Cases of this kind are not isolated nor few, though I think the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newark has considerably exaggerated when he said about one-half of the land of Ireland was so held. However, enough of the land is held in that way to make the matter one of considerable importance. I feel it will be of great importance to the small capitalists of Ireland to consider these suggestions, and that it is most desirable to enable those who for generations have been connected with the land of Ireland (though not as proprietors), and whose only means without those two supplementary measures of investment at present are the Funds of England, or the savings banks, which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot think have been quite legitimately used as a means of investment in that country—I mean legitimate as regards the extent to which they are used to invest their money in the land of Ireland. The money which is now frequently placed in savings banks might be far better invested in the soil of Ireland; but at the same time, although I express this opinion, I would regret to see the establishment in Ireland of what have been called peasant proprietors. I deprecate, and would give encouragement to no such system; but I think it would be most desirable to enable those persons who have a certain amount of money to invest it in properties of moderate size. In no other way could they more effectively conduce to the real and efficient cultivation of the country. I appeal to my hon. Friend who proposed this clause, to leave the matter in the hands of the Government, with a view to obtain a revision of the stamp duties. To do the thing efficiently, it must be done separately; and I feel confident, even without any assurance from them, that the Government must take it up in another Session of Parliament; though for the satisfaction of my hon. Friend I should wish that some Member of the Government would give such an assurance before the Bill is passed.


believed, that unless land could be made marketable in small portions, the Bill would not answer its purpose. The question was not one simply of expense. The first thing required was employment, and employment could not be given without cultivating land which was now waste. A landvaluer had stated that if Government would lessen the expenses, and afford the necessary facilities for the cultivation of waste lands in Ireland, 1,000,000 acres might he brought into cultivation.


thought the distinction made in favour of the proprietor whose estates were encumbered by the reduction of the stamp duties, while the proprietors whose estates were not encumbered had still to pay the full amount of duty, gave a positive encouragement to encumbrances. To that principle he objected.

The House divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 114: Majority 59.

List of the AYES.
Anderson, A. Hume, J.
Anstey, T. C. Jackson, W.
Archdall, Capt. Kershaw, J.
Bateson, T. Lennard, T. B.
Bolling, W. Lushington, C.
Bourke, R. S. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Bowring, Dr. Mowatt, F.
Bright, J. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Brooke, Sir A. B. O'Brien, Sir L.
Bunbury, E. H. O'Connor, F.
Clay, J. Pechell, Capt.
Cobden, R. Perfect, R.
Courtenay, Lord Reynolds, J.
Crawford, W. S. Robartes, T. J. A.
Dawson, hon. T. S. Salwey, Col.
Drummond, H. Scully, F.
Duncan, G. Simeon, J.
Ewart, W. Spooner, R.
Fagan, W. Talbot, J. H.
Fox, R. M. Tancred, H. W.
Gore, W. O. Tennent, R. J.
Greene, J. Thompson, Col.
Gwyn, H. Thornely, T.
Hall, Sir B. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Hamilton, G. A. Villiers, hon. C.
Henry, A. Williams, J.
Hodgson, W. N. TELLERS.
Hood, Sir A. Monsell, W.
Hornby, J. Osborne, R.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Charteris, hon. F.
Arkwright, G. Christopher, R. A.
Armstrong, Sir A. Christy, S.
Armstrong, R. B. Clay, Sir W.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bellew, R. M. Cocks, T. S.
Benbow, J. Craig, W. G.
Bentinck, Lord G. Cubitt, W.
Bernal, R. Denison, J. E.
Blackall, S. W. Duncan, Visct.
Brockman, E. D. Dundas, Adm.
Brotherton, J. Dunne, F. P.
Brown, W. Ebrington, Visct.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Cardwell, E. Estcourt, J. B. B.
Carew, W. H. P. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Chaplin, W. J. Foley, J. H. H.
Forster, M. Owen, Sir J.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Palmer, R.
Freestun, Col. Palmerston, Visct.
Glyn, G. C. Parker, J.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Patten, J. W.
Grace, O. D. J. Pigott, F.
Grenfell, C. W. Pilkington, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Plowden, W. H. C.
Grey, R. W. Pusey, P.
Grogan, E. Ricardo, O.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Rice, E. R.
Hardcastle, J. A. Rich, H.
Hastie, A. Romilly, Sir J.
Hawes, B. Russell, F. C.
Hay, Lord J. Rutherfurd, A.
Hayter, W. G. Sadlier, J.
Headlam, T. E. Sandars, G.
Henley, J. W. Sandars, J.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Seymour, Lord
Hobhouse, T. B. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Smith, J. A.
Howard, H. J. K. Smith, J. B.
Jones, Capt. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
King, hon. P. J. L. Strickland, Sir G.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Thicknesse, R. A.
Langston, J. H. Towneley, J.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Townshend, Capt.
Lewis, G. C. Turner, E.
Lincoln, Earl of Vane, Lord H.
M'Gregor, J. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Mangles, R. D. Wawn, J. T.
Marshall, W. Wellesley, Lord C.
Martin, J. Willcox, B. M.
Matheson, A. Willoughby, Sir H.
Matheson, Col. Wilson, J.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Melgund, Visct. Wood, W. P.
Morpeth, Visct. Wyvill, M.
Morris, D.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. TELLERS.
Norreys, Lord Tufnell, H.
Ogle, S. C. H. Hill, Lord M.

Clause rejected.

Bill passed.