HC Deb 16 April 1850 vol 110 cc361-420

said, before entering upon the subject of the particular Motion he was about to submit, he thought it would be right to make a few preliminary observations, in order to explain to the House why he had thought it necessary, entertaining the views he did of the whole subject, to submit that Motion in its present form of separate resolutions; to explain also, clearly, the way in which he wished the Motion to be put and to be understood by hon. Members; and likewise to explain how he could reconcile it to his sense of public duty to move for what some might consider rather a large reduction of taxation, after the reductions which had been already made for the year. With respect to the last of those points, and in reference to the difficulty which hon. Gentlemen who entertained any project for reducing taxation naturally felt in putting it forward after the financial arrangements of the year had been completed, he wished to say that if Members of Parliament were to wait, previously to asking the House to express an opinion on the quality of any particular tax until there was a clear surplus, and no way pointed out to which the surplus was to be applied, he should much doubt whether any opportunity would occur at all of submitting a policy of reduction to the House. At all times Governments wanted as much as they could get. There was no moment at which the expenditure of the country would not be found equal to its revenue; and if another state of things was to be waited for, the opportunity would scarcely ever arise when an independent Member of Parliament would find a fitting opportunity to discharge his duty by raising the question of reducing any part of the taxation. In 1842 the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, whom he saw opposite, entered power with a large deficiency in the Exchequer, and the expenditure of the country exceeding the income. But that did not deter the right hon. Gentleman from treating taxation as a matter of policy, and so making his financial arrangements that without the least impairing the public revenue, he was able to repeal many taxes which pressed upon industry, and upon trade and manufactures. Therefore, as a matter of principle, and without reference to the fact whether or not in arithmetical figures surplus money was idle in the Bank of England, he was entitled to raise this question of taxation as a broad matter of policy, with a view to ask the opinion of the House whether any particular tax was to be contemplated as a permanent part of the taxation of the nation. This was the spirit in which he wished to submit his Motion to the House. He asked no Gentleman to do anything rash, neither did he himself desire to do anything rash with the public finances. It had been said, indeed, that a new school of repudiation was arising among them. If that were so, he was not a member of that school. He only desired that they should examine the incidence of taxation, and the consequences of the particular modes in which the revenue was raised, with the view to ascertain if a financial arrangement could not be made of such a character as would enable the public revenue to be kept up without preventing the diffusion of knowledge, or pressing unduly upon any trade or manufacture of the country. That was all he asked. He did not ask hon. Gentlemen to declare by a vote that the paper duty was from that moment to cease. He only asked them to declare that such financial arrangements should be made as would enable Parliament to repeal the excise duty upon paper. He asked them merely to state whether they thought that such a tax should remain a permanent source of the public revenue? He was not departing from the legitimate functions of a Member of Parliament in asking this. Those resolutions, although they were headed by a preamble, would be put to the House separately, and he did not presume to ask any hon. Member to vote for all those resolutions as one Motion of his own. All he did by submitting the Motion in its present form of distinct resolutions, was to declare his own opinion that each and all of the taxes therein mentioned ought to be repealed; but while that was his own opinion, he only asked each hon. Gentleman to vote for each resolution as it stood. He did not wish hon. Members to adopt all the resolutions, if they could not do so consistently with their own opinions. For example, if any hon. Member had scruples against a repeal of the stamp duty on newspapers, he might vote against the resolution proposing that repeal, but he would not thereby be precluded from voting for a repeal of the duty on paper if he deemed that repeal expedient. So, on the other hand, any hon. Gentleman who was against the repeal of the paper duty might be disposed, and would not be precluded from voting, if he thought proper, for a repeal of the duty on advertisements. He wished to explain this position clearly to the House before making the Motion, in order that every Member might know to what extent exactly he would stand committed by the vote he might give. Any hon. Member might vote for all four of the resolutions, or for only one of them, and against the other three. He only asked that an opinion should be expressed on each separate conclusion. The resolution which stood first on the Motion was, "That such financial arrangements ought to be made as will enable Parliament to repeal the excise duty on paper." That duty yielded a revenue of something like 800,000l; but if the amount supposed to be paid by the State itself in duty upon the paper consumed in all the public departments, and of which there was no return, but which might be about 20,000l. or 30,000l., were deducted from the gross sum, the balance remaining as the amount of paper duty might be estimated at 750,000l If the duty on paper were considered simply in reference to its effects upon an important manufacture, he thought that would be found to be a convincing cause for taking the repeal of the duty into earnest consideration. Without reference to the more immediate object of his Motion as regarded the effect of these duties in impeding the diffusion of knowledge, he would call the attention of the House to the effects of the duty upon the paper manufacture itself, as a branch of manufactures, and upon the employment of labour; and also to some considerations of a commercial character, not perhaps immediately connected with the diffusion of knowledge. He held it to be fatal to any tax if it could not protect the honest trader from the fraudulent trader. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any experienced Member on the other side of the House, whether he would undertake to say that it was in the power of the Government, by any device they could adopt, to protect the honest manufacturer of paper, and give him a chance in competition with the contraband dealer in the market? Why, then, what a monstrous thing it was, if the Excise failed to protect the honest dealer from those who evaded the duty, that a tax should be continued, the operation of which caused so flagrant an injustice. That position alone was sufficient for a repeal. In the articles of wines and spirits, the competition of the honest dealers in the trade against the smugglers, was as nothing compared with the competition between the regular and the irregular dealers in the paper trade. A list was published last year of the names of a number of men of large capital who had been fined, some, he believed, imprisoned, upon proceedings against them by the Board of Excise, for carrying on a systematic violation of Excise law. But in order to protect the honest from the fraudulent manufacturer, what was done? Recourse was had to a system of vexatious interruption with all the affairs of a manufacturer of paper. The State was obliged to have recourse to this inquisitorial interference, to an extent probably unparalleled in Algiers, in order to protect, in some small degree, the honest manufacturer from the unfair competition in the market of the fraudulent. He would quote evidence to show the way in which it was necessary to interfere with the manufacture of paper. Mr. Baldwin, a manufacturer near Birmingham, said— It costs me in labour alone to help to charge myself with the duty on paper, about 100l. a year, I make about twelve tons per week; and in consequence of these excise laws have to weigh every ream four times over, besides taking the number of every ream, and writing the weight on each. There are seven or eight pasteboard-makers in Birmingham, all of whom, I believe, do not pay 50l. a year duty, while the time occupied by the exciseman and supervisor in charging them with this amount, costs the country five times that amount. It was alleged that this was not interfering with the processes of the manufacture, but it did so interfere, because regulations in respect of the materials of the fabric, as to whether they were to be used in a wet or dry state, had been laid down, and practically unfair competition had arisen from that source; for a certain manufacturer had invented a method of using the materials in a dry state, by a process which, if it did not produce the best paper, produced something which did not come under the Act of Parliament or the Excise regulations. A compromise was entered into with this man; but he found out some other expedient, and, under the name of felt, produced an article from other materials, and in other ways which did not fall within the laws relating to paper, and yet answered every purpose of paper. It might be argued that these facts applied, and had been applied, to other manufactures besides paper. That might be so; but he was not on that account to be deterred from mentioning these points, as reasons for the House taking into consideration the effect of the excise duty on paper upon the manufacture of the article, and upon the employment of labour. He would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, interested as they were in the employment of rural labour, to consider how materially the prosperity of the paper manufacture was connected with the full employment of labour in many agricultural districts. The manufacture of paper was, perhaps, the only rural manufacture that we had. Paper mills were spread over the rural districts in many counties of the united kingdom, and employed a large amount of labour; and if it were the tendency of the excise duty to limit the number of those mills, to limit the production of labour, and to limit the export trade in paper, and if in producing those results it lessened the employment of labour in the rural districts, causing an increase of poor-rates, surely it became a legitimate question for Members of that House, who turned their attention particularly to agricultural prosperity, to consider whether it was not possible so to regulate the finances as to get rid of this paper duty, which operated so prejudicially to their interests. Looking to the number of uses to which paper was applied, direct and subsidiary, he supposed that there was no article, for its amount and value, which employed more manual labour of men, women, and children in all parts of the united kingdom. Mr. Crompton, a large paper manufacturer, and a gentleman of great experience, had made calculations upon the point, and he said that the repeal of the paper duty would employ 40,000 persons, men, women, and children, in London alone. Then came, as regarded the employment of labour, the consideration of all the collateral matters with which the paper manufacture was more or less connected, as, for example, the printing and publishing trades. Upon this subject, also, Mr. Crompton was well informed, and he stated that a single newspaper consuming as much as 3,000l. value in paper in a year, employed labour to the amount of 15,000l. a year. What considerations could be more important than these, when we had arrived at a state of society in which we were exporting our female population because women could not find the means of earning their daily bread? It was in this very manufacture of paper that females were employed. And when we did this—when we exported our female labour—if we were right in doing so at all—should it at least be done before some effort had been made to remove those obstacles to the employment of female labour which were mainly instrumental in bringing about the very evils we deplored? Upon those grounds alone—the interference of the Excise with the employment of labour, and with the success of manufactures—he appealed to the House whether a primâ facie case did not exist against the continuance of this tax. There was no reason why we should not manufacture paper for any country in the world; but at this time our own colonies, Canada and others, took their supplies of paper from France, from the United States, from Germany, rather than from the manufacturers of this country, who could not produce an article for a different market from their own by reason of the vexatious interference and regulations by which they were embarrassed. True, it might be said that they got a drawback, but that drawback was by no means adequate to the expenses and difficulties imposed upon them by the excise regulations. No increase was seen in the exports; and if he might judge from the amount of the drawbacks, which was pretty much the same as it had been many years ago, our export in paper seemed to be stationary. It was obvious, that if there were not something sapping the root of our paper manufacture, great as our facilities were for its production, we should see in that commodity an increase of export corresponding with that which had appeared in the other branches of our manufactures. But the particular view he took of the operation of the paper duty was the effect of it in preventing the diffusion of knowledge among the great body of the people. He hoped he should not be told by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, if he should condescend to give his opinion, that, if he took a novel at a guinea and a half, or a work like M'Culloch's Commercial Dictionary, at 50s., upon which the duty paid would amount only to sixpence, that such a small matter was not worth consideration. But if that argument were used, it would not in any way touch the case he was presenting to the House, as regarded the effect of the duty in preventing the spread of cheap instruction through the great mass of the people, and in thwarting the great educational efforts that were being made at the present time, both by Parliament and by private individuals. It was not a question of a high or a low duty upon a particular work or book, but how far the amount of this duty prevented men of capital from undertaking the prosecution of a work, the success of which depended upon a large circulation, leaving but a small profit upon the sale of any particular copy. That was the description of literature on which the interest of the question rested, for that was the only kind of literature which reached the people. It was that extensive circulation which caused a large quantity of paper to be consumed, and it was upon that particular class of works that the pressure of the duty operated with the greatest severity. He could not, however, set forth this branch of the question better than by quoting the words of Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh, who had forcibly described the manner in which this duty retarded and injured the diffusion of knowledge among the masses of the population, in a petition which they presented to the House during the last Session. It was signed by W. Chambers and R. Chambers, and bore date June 9,1849. [The right hon. Member here read a long extract from the petition, in which it was stated that they, as publishers, had abandoned a work which had reached a sale of 80,000 copies, which, if there had been no paper duty in existence, would have remunerated them highly by a continuation.] This petition he characterised as a very important statement. Some hon. Gentlemen, had doubtless, seen also a very able work by Mr. Charles Knight, called The Struggles of a Book against Excessive Taxation, in which he gave a history of the Penny Cyclopœdia, in illustration of these struggles. Now this penny publication—this little work—was intended for the instruction of the poorer classes; and how much hard cash did the House suppose Mr. Knight said he had paid upon it in duty to the revenue? No less than 16,000l. And how much had the cost of the paper been enhanced to Mr. Knight by the effect generally of the tax? He said in his pamphlet that it was no less than 30,000l. or 32,000l. Thirty thousand pounds! Why, what an enormous sum was this to be exacted as a fine from a man before he could be at liberty to spread through the community that inestimable blessing of knowledge, which, according to Sir Henry Parnell, formed "the raw material of social improvement among the great masses of the working people of this country." Talk about the efforts of the Church and of the Dissenters in the cause of education—talk of the small modicum of help which was doled out to different schools when a fiscal exaction of this kind was maintained, which did incomparably more harm to the cause of education than the utmost efforts for its promotion had effected of good. But he would quote from Mr. Knight's pamphlet this broad fact, that during the last twenty years he had spent 80,000l. in copyright and literary labour, and in the same space of time the sum of 50,000l. in paper duty, in order to enable him to give to the world the benefit of that editorial and literary labour. Here, then, was a tax upon capital and a pressure upon the industry of talented men, that was not to be equalled in any part of the tariff, whether of Customs or Excise, and involving in it a fine of something like 50,000l. to the Government for paper duty. It placed the question in a striking point of view when the small items were thus collected in one great aggregate sum; thus showing its influence in preventing the spread of knowledge. It was of no use to talk about the small amount of the duties on expensive works. The only way to look at the question was the way in which the duty operated in impeding the progress of knowledge among the poorest classes, who could give no more than a very small sum for the knowledge they wished to obtain. Then there was the case of the Working Man's Friend, a publication, the proprietor of which had told him that before he paid wages for labour he must pay 1,000l. a year for paper duty, for the paper he required for the work. What was this but an enormous fine? It was no answer to say, that though these were large amounts for the manufacturer to pay, he got them back from the consumer. He denied that to be the fact; for the manufacturer knew that, unless the work sold to a certain extent, it would not pay him, and, knowing that, he was often debarred from the hazard of the undertaking, and the community were thus deprived of the work which would otherwise have been issued. But even in the more expensive class of works the duty increased the expense of publication; for how did a bookseller know how the work would sell? Say he calculated on a sale of 1,000 copies. He paid duty upon every volume, upon every copy sold or unsold, and if he only sold 100 or 200 copies, he had to suffer the loss of duty upon those copies which had been consigned to the trunkmaker or the cheesemonger. This argument had been quoted before, and by every one who had written upon the subject. The Commissioners who had inquired into the question of Excise, had stated that it was a great injustice to make a publisher pay duty to a large amount on books which he had not sold. The dealers in gin, brandy, and tobacco were not so treated. They were allowed to bond their goods, and to delay payment of duty until they sold them. But when the publishers of books were dealt with, it seemed to be the rule to press upon them with a reckless spirit of injustice. Why? Was it because they were a class which could not produce an effect in that House through the medium of elections? Was it because the paper manufacturers were scattered over the country, a small, and, perhaps, not very powerful class, politically speaking, that the obvious and plain principles of ordinary justice were neglected and superseded in their case, which were so carefully remembered in the case of that important and powerful interest in the towns—the dealers in gin, and brandy, and tobacco. But, even if the tax were retained, it ought to be imposed with some shadow of common fairness. The duty ought, at least, not to be imposed upon the whole impression of a work which had not been sold, and the incidence of the taxation should not be such as to discourage literary undertakings. He had now stated the grounds upon which he thought this duty on paper highly prejudicial to the progress of knowledge among the great masses of the people; and he had stated, also, the grounds upon which, as a trade question, it was a tax against which the strongest objections could be urged, and upon both those grounds he called upon the House deliberately to consider whether that duty should continue to be a permanent part of the taxation of this country. The Committees which had inquired into the subject had, without exception, recommended the repeal of this duty; the Committee of which Sir Henry Parnell was chairman, had recommended it. The Committee of the hon. Member for Dumfries, also; and the Commission for inquiring into the Excise duties—one and all of these had contemplated or recommended the abolition of this tax upon paper. It ought then to have followed from this fact—and he could not help thinking that it would have followed, had the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth been in office—that, in common with the duties upon leather and other articles, the duty upon paper should have been repealed. He feared he was wearying the House, for this was a question not so interesting or exciting as party politics; but with reference to his first resolution, he appealed to the Government to find some other tax as a substitute, so as to permit this repeal. He should not presume to suggest any substitute, and for this simple reason—that he should not thereby impeach the fertility of the resources which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer must possess. He would rather leave it to the Government, feeling assured, if the House of Commons should declare that a duty of this kind was so detrimental to trade and to labour—so injurious to the moral and intellectual welfare of the people that it ought to be repealed, that then the Government would at no distant period come forward with some financial arrangement—some budget—which should include the repeal of the paper duty.

He now came to the Stamp Duties upon Newspapers; and he intended to propose that the House should resolve it was expedient to abolish the stamp duties upon newspapers. He might be permitted, he believed, not to consider this as entirely a question of revenue. Some years ago a noble Lord, then at the head of the Government—he meant the late Lord Melbourne—expressed a hope that there was no man who could think him capable for a moment of putting this question upon so mean and narrow a foundation as that of revenue. The noble Lord said— I view the stamp upon newspapers simply in reference to its effects upon the habits and feelings of the people; and it is in that spirit I should deal with it, and not in the spirit of revenue. But what was the amount of revenue given by the stamp tax upon newspapers? About 350,000l. or 360,000l. per annum, and no more. Hon. Gentlemen had said that newspapers had some privilege in recompense for the stamp, as they were carried by the post for nothing; and that in return for this postal privilege they Blight fairly be expected to pay a sum of 350,000l. or 360,000l. a year in stamps. Well, he did not propose to alter in the slightest degree the postal part of the question; he left this part of the matter precisely as it stood, if the House were satisfied; the ground and arrangement of it being, that when a paper went by post it should pay stamp duty, as it did now; but when it did not go by post there should not be a compulsory stamp imposed upon it. Let those who used the postal service pay for it; but do not tax those for it who did not use the service of the post. This principle had indeed been adopted by the Government themselves. Some time ago he moved for a return, which was now before the House, in reference to this subject, from which it appeared that there were no less than fifty-three registered newspapers who were permitted—he would not say permitted—but who actually at this moment published a portion of their impressions unstamped. When these newspapers were wanted to go through the post, then they stamped them; but when they were not wanted to go through the post, then they were not stamped; and you might go to any of the offices of these so-called registered newspapers (for they were all registered at the Stamp Office), and there purchase either the stamped or the unstamped edition, according as you wanted to send it away by post or not. Now the privilege which had been granted to these fifty-three registered papers, published at this moment in London, he called upon the House in justice to extend to all other newspapers. Take the ease of Punch, or the Athenœum, or the Builder, or a number of other papers as examples: was there any good reason, in allowing Punch, for instance, to be unstamped when it did not go through the post, and stamped when it did, why you should not allow the same privilege to the Daily News, or the other morning papers? Perhaps it might be said that the class of publications to which he referred were not newspapers. Then, he wanted to know what right you had to let them go through the Post Office as if they were newspapers? It was because they presented themselves at the Post Office in the character of, and as newspapers, that they were allowed to go through it; they went free in virtue of the newspaper stamp. Then, he contended, there was an infringement of the law in this respect; because you had no right to carry all these fifty-three publications, only charging them the ordinary penny postage, unless they were bonâ fide newspapers; for it was to newspapers only the law granted the exception, and that upon the ground that all their impression was stamped. But he must say the system was so anomalous in reference to the postage part of it that he did not think it could be maintained. It must break down. To such an extent had the anomalies of it been carried, that if he went to the Stamp Office with a pair of boots, he believed he could have them stamped, and that they would go through the Post Office as a newspaper. It might not perhaps be the case that a pair of boots, would be so stamped as to pass free the Post Office; but he held in his hand Savory's book of patterns and prices, in which he gave the world advertisements of his candlesticks, candelabra, and plated articles. It was a thick, large book. Now, Mr. Savory went to the Stamp Office, and said he was going to write a newspaper; then they stamped the book, and it was called Savory's Newspaper; and here the country was taxed to carry Savory's circulars through the Post Office by virtue of the stamp, and yet the House was told it was necessary, in order that newspapers should go free! The system was utterly anomalous and absurd; and he contended that the Government ought to do by all newspapers as they did by the fifty-three registered newspapers, and by Savory's circular. The system ought to be made general. Either let all be stamped at all times, and then all might go through the Post Office, or let all be unstamped who did not use the Post Office. Justice would then be done towards all parties; and he called upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to act upon it, unless he wished the system, as it now stood, to break down entirely, for it must come to that ultimately. It was the study of a life to understand the many ins and outs of the arrangements in reference to stamps, as to what was a newspaper, as to what was news, and as to what you might say, and what you might not say. On the ground, therefore, of simplicity alone, inasmuch as all the most learned men who had hitherto tried had totally failed in defining what was meant by news, the tax ought to be abolished, because by maintaining it great injustice was inevitably done, for numbers of papers which published news were untaxed, whilst others which also published news were taxed. The stamp could not be a fair or a just tax, because he defied all the ingenuity of the Excise to lay down what was the description of news or sentiment that might be untaxed, and what description should be taxed. He had never hitherto heard an explanation of it, and all the explanations hitherto attempted had only left the matter more confused than it was before. He knew it might be argued that the existence of a stamp upon newspapers was a political question, and that it was necessary to maintain it in order to keep up the respectability of the papers; but he would relate a circumstance to show the House what sort of protection the stamp was as a test of respectability. A paper was published some time ago called Sam Sly. This paper lived by libelling individuals; mentioning their names, places of residence, and every circumstance, to enable parties to identify them, at the same time publishing of them most shameful libels. Among others, this paper libelled a clergyman at Barking, by stating that he had been guilty of some improper communication with one of his female servants. The solicitor to the Board of Stamps was written to upon the subject, and here was Mr. Keogh's reply:—"The paper called Sam Sly is not liable to the newspaper stamp duty." So then it appeared you were at liberty to circulate of individuals statements affecting their private character, no doubt news of a particular description, but you were not liable to the newspaper stamp duty. Now he could not understand what was news, if such allegations were not news, though of the worst description; but according to the Solicitor of Stamps they might be circulated without liability to the duty. Then what security for respectability was the stamp? The publisher of this paper gave no security for his respectability like the publishers of ordinary newspapers, and the party libelled was obliged to deal with him by a prosecution for libel, so that in point of fact the securities of the stamp and the Stamp Office were of no avail whatever. Mr. Keogh went on in his letter to say—"Paul pry and the Town are not liable to the newspaper stamp." No doubt Mr. Keogh was quite correct here; but it was surely anomalous that such papers should be allowed to circulate news of a particular description without being liable to the stamp duty, when the Stamp Office was extremely rigorous towards other papers if they published the smallest fact that was of use or interest to the community without the stamp. It was contended, in the next place, that the stamp upon newspapers prevented political theories of a dangerous character being circulated among the working classes. But did it? He wished he had brought down to the House a large bundle of unstamped papers in his possession; but he believed it was irregular to produce newspapers in the House, otherwise he could have shown the sort of stuff circulating among the great mass of the community, and the sort of political theories which some gentlemen fancied they were keeping altogether in the hands of "respectable" people. No doubt many of these unstamped publications were of a highly respectable class, and were doing a great amount of good; many were extremely well written, showing that large sums of money must have been expended in literary labour, and that great pains were taken to support sound and proper views in relation to public policy. But unfortunately they were all at liberty to spread their political theories. The Newspaper Stamp Act said, that any man who published any public intelligence, news, or facts, or occurrences, or any remarks or observations thereon, should be liable to the stamp duty. Perhaps the House would fancy that the latter words, "remarks or observations thereon," applied to all the political observers who were giving their views in the penny publications he had mentioned; but the law had no such effect. Those publications gave their "remarks and observations," and their political theories, without let or hindrance; the Stamp Office did not interfere with any man's promulgating any speculative opinion whatever, provided he did not give the facts necessary to test the accuracy of the theories, or which were necessary to guide the people who read the theories in forming a just opinion upon them. You might give an opinion upon public policy, you might speculate upon religious matters or upon political questions to any extent you pleased, without the interference of a stamp, but you must not give facts. You might tell as many falsehoods as you chose, but state no facts; so that there was really no tax upon lies, whilst there was upon truth. If a man were to publish the most objectionable insinuations against the most exalted public characters in the country, or against the Sovereign upon the throne, or against the Ministers, advisers of the Sovereign, if he even imputed to them acts of the greatest unworthiness, nothing could be done with him, as regarded the stamp, for he could publish whatever he pleased for a penny without it. The only thing for which he could be punished, would be for telling the working classes in his penny publication of the events of the day, of the debates in that House, of the proceedings in the courts of justice, of what the Judges said upon the bench—of those matters which it was useful and necessary they should know. Tell them any of the facts which would guide their opinion, and prevent dangerous errors, and immediately the solicitor to the Board of Stamps came down upon them with a letter, "you have been inserting in your paper matters which bring you within the Newspaper Stamp Act." Was this fitting or right, if we really wished that sound views upon public policy should prevail, and that the truth should be made known among the great body of the people? Clearly not. But to give some little idea of the sort and extent of the latitude of observation which the Newspaper Stamp Act allowed in unstamped publications, he would produce two or three quotations, which would show how far a man might go in his observations or remarks upon public intelligence, though he might not mention facts. At the same time, he must say it required a monstrous deal of ingenuity to distinguish between telling a fact and making an observation upon it; and that, as it seemed to him, the Act was leniently administered. There was a paper called the Lamp, a religious penny publication, which offered remarks and observations upon public intelligence; and it made the following remarks and observations upon the public intelligence of the case "Gorham v, the Bishop of Exeter":— Sir John—That was a hard case—a singular case—an important case. Jester—Nay, your honour; it was simply a ludicrous case. He says— For months past, as all the world knows, the minds of the English public have been kept in a state of feverish excitement by theological squabbles of the two Anglican worthies whose names head this paper. The good men and true of the Establishment became regularly pitted against each other. Dividing themselves into two parties, they prepared for a smashing encounter. The one stoutly maintaining, in the person of their right reverend leader, the old and orthodox dogma of spiritual regeneration by infant baptism; the other as boldly maintaining the opposite view, and cheering their chosen champion to the skies. What a scene to laugh at for those who had neither spiritual nor temporal interest at stake! How the Dissenters might chuckle and sneer, and turn up their nose in disgust, while witnessing these solemn tomfooleries. How they might scourge these grave puerilities which their own code of belief boldly repudiates, and which, to do them justice, they could neither sanction nor understand. But in what light did Catholics view this clerical set-to? Why, to them there was nothing strange to be seen; it was merely a repetition of some of the antics and vagaries of the mutinous crew of a leaky, shattered old barque, whose cable they wickedly cut some 300 years ago, and set her adrift without compass or rudder, and have kept her ever since beating about through rocks and shoals upon the stormy sea of uncertainty and error. This was an instance of the anomaly he had spoken of. Although the Newspaper Stamp Act would not allow the facts in "Gorham v. the Bishop of Exeter" to be published without a stamp, it allowed these comments in an unstamped publication. Now, he said, if you allow unstamped publications to say these things, and to comment in this spirit, let them be allowed to give the world the actual trial and the evidence produced thereat. Let them, at least, be enabled to give the whole case. Do not limit them as to the facts. He would give another example from a publication called Reynolds 'Political Instructor. This political instructor descanted upon the Government in very strong language, whilst it was not allowed to give facts, and here was its opinion:— Lord Palmerston flared and blustered in the House about the independence of Hungary; but not one bullet or one musket found its way from the Government stores to assist that noble people in their glorious struggle for freedom. In foreign lands our policy is stigmatised as perfidious; we are disliked and mistrusted. Never, perhaps, were the following lines of Lord Byron, when alluding to the position of England, more appropriate than at the present time:— 'Alas! did she but really, truly know How her great name is now throughout abhorr'd, How all the world is eager for the blow Which shall lay bare her bosom to the sword.' The condition of our colonies, under the flagrant misrule of Earl Grey, is deplorable in the extreme. Notwithstanding the floggings and shootings of those aspiring Haynaus in the Ionian Isles and Ceylon—Ward and Lord Torrington—the people of these possessions are determined, sooner or later, to throw off the merciless yoke of England. One by one our colonies, following the example of America, will free themselves from the chains of aristocratic domination. All this could be said within the stamp; and here was a political theory:— A paper upon the necessity for an entirely new organisation of society, based upon principles not opposed to but in accordance with nature. The number of these publications was legion; but he would produce one more. It was Cooper's Journal, or Unfettered Thinker, and Plain Speaker, for Truth, Freedom, and Progress. This publication was unstamped; and though it did not profess to descant upon public intelligence, the following passage looked a good deal like it:— The concluding paragraphs of the Queen's Speech merely confirm the report that it would allude to the ministerial purpose of altering the law relative to the franchise. It leaves us entirely in the dark as to what kind of alteration is intended, and how far it will be an extension. The Delphic oracle was never more enigmatical. 'The favour of Divine Providence has hitherto preserved this kingdom from the wars and convulsions which during the last two years have shaken so many of the States of the Continent of Europe. It is Her Majesty's hope and belief that by combining liberty with order, by preserving what is valuable, and amending what is defective, you will sustain the fabric of our institutions, as the abode and the shelter of a free and happy people.' If the Weekly Chronicle, professing to have official sources of information, had not told us that 'an extension of the franchise' would be unfolded in the Royal Speech, as a ministeral intention—if Admiral Dundas, a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, had not assured his constituents at Greenwich that the Government he served would most positively introduce a measure for the extension of the franchise this Session—if expectation and belief had not thus been created—who could have ventured to interpret the peroration of the Queen's Speech as having any such substantial meaning? Lord John, during the recess, has evidently been studying Herodotus—perhaps in Mr. Bohn's newly translated edition, for one cannot give him credit for much Greek scholarship—and has noted the slippery skill with which the priestess was wont to give her replies from the tripod. 'Combining liberty with order,' and 'preserving what is valuable, and amending what is defective,' may mean not attempting the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or any other curtailment of English liberty, temporary or permanent—that is to say, doing nothing relative to the franchise; or it may be explained, in the course of the Session, to mean the abolition of the ratepaying clauses in the Reform Bill of 1832, or almost any other peddling 'improvement.' In short, the last sentence of the Queen's Speech is a very pretty stroke of whiggery, and may be made to moan anything that ministers may be compelled to propose, in order to keep their seats; or, if the protection threat should turn out bluster, and the financial reformers prove as 'decorous' as in the last Session, it can be shown to mean the 'preservation of our venerable constitution,' by letting it alone. Such, then, were the sort of comments upon public affairs by these unstamped publications; and they were left in the exclusive possession of the field. They were made the only parties who had access to the mind of the working classes, for you would not let the cheap newspaper go into the field and compete with them. They had, in fact, the exclusive monopoly of leading the minds of the great body of the working people of this country; yet you would not, in justice, give others the opportunity of supplying the antidote to the poison. It was, therefore, most important to give to men of capital and respectability the power of gaining access by newspapers, by faithful records of facts, to the minds of the great body of the working classes. But there was another description of papers circulating extensively among the labouring population, solely because they were not allowed to have cheap newspapers. They were of a stimulating class. The people, if they could not have useful information and valuable records of facts, must have something to stimulate and excite the imagination and the passions—to rouse their nervous system. He could mention the titles of two or three publications of this class. One was called The Terrific Record. This he supposed was for nervous people. Then there was a paper, of which he forgot the name, which gave accounts of horrible murders, and so on; and another, called The Life of a Countess, or the History of Lola Montes. All this class of publications found a vast sale, because there was an appetite for them which must be supplied; but the sale of them very mainly arose from the fact that newspapers were not allowed to go into the field and compete with them on the same terms. He had been told that an eminent bookseller in Manchester sold between 80,000 and 90,000 a week of these penny publications among the working classes. Upon a Saturday the working man went into the shop for his penny paper, and took it among his family. Sometimes it was one of the horrible sort he had just referred to—sometimes of a religious character—and sometimes of the kind containing the political comments he had described. All went among the poor man's family. "But," said his (Mr. Gibson's) informant— If there were also upon the counter, by the side of these penny publications, a penny newspaper, which gave a true account of the leading events of the day, there is not one in fifty of the customers who would not prefer it. The poor could not buy newspapers at their present price. On this subject he would take the liberty of quoting some most important evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons, by Lord Brougham, who at that time held the office of Lord Chancellor, and who gave his evidence with all the responsibility attaching to the holder of the Great Seal. Lord Brougham said— The people wish to read the news, in which they take an interest, and in which it is fit they should take an interest. In public affairs they are nearly concerned, and it is both their right and their duty to attend much to public affairs. I am of opinion that a sound system of government requires the people to read and inform themselves upon political subjects, else they are the prey of every quack, every impostor, and every agitator who may practise his trade in the country. If they do not read, if they do not learn, if they do not digest by discussion and reflection, what they have read and learnt, if they do not thus qualify themselves to form opinions for themselves, other men will form opinions for them, not according to truth and to the interests of the people, but according to their own individual and selfish interests, which may, and most probably will be, contrary to those of the people at large. The best security for a Government like this, for the Legislature, for the Crown, and, generally, for the public peace and public morals, is that the whole community should be well informed upon its political as well as its other interests, and it can be well informed only by having access to wholesome, sound, and impartial publications. Therefore they will and ought to read the news of the day, political discussions, political events, the debates by their representatives in Parliament, and of this other House of Parliament, and on not one of these heads can any paper be published, daily or weekly, without coming under the stamp law; consequently, the people at largo are excluded, by the dear form in which alone the respectable publishers can afford it while they pay the duty. They can only have it in a cheap form by purchasing of publishers of another description, who break the revenue law by paying for no stamps, and also break all other laws by the matter they publish. If, instead of newspapers being sold for sixpence or a shilling, they could be sold for a penny, I have no manner of doubt there would immediately follow the greatest possible improvement in the tone and temper of the political information of the people; and, therefore, of the political character and conduct of the people. I hold it to be as clear a proposition as any in finance, that if you abolish the stamp on newspapers, instead of increasing the facility to set up libellous publications, you greatly lessen it by increasing the number of good publications, and by destroying the monopoly in the hands of reckless men, who neither mind the old law of the land, nor a breach of the stamp laws. The present Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, then Mr. John Campbell, went even further than Lord Brougham, for he said he wished to see newspapers published at a halfpenny, whilst Lord Brougham wished to see them at a penny. See, then, what the stamp amounted to. In the case of a penny paper, it was a tax of 100 per cent; and upon a halfpenny paper it was 200 per cent. Was this, then, a tax the House of Commons was prepared to retain, with the view, not of gaining a revenue, but simply of preventing the circulation of knowledge among the working people? Was it right that Parliament should labour under this illusion when they saw the way in which the question was argued and the subject dealt with? It had been avowed in that House, and not withdrawn, that the object of the penny stamp was to prevent cheap newspapers circulating among the great body of the people—to keep newspapers in the hands of capitalists and within a limited sphere; but he should be glad to hear any one now put the stamp upon a mere revenue foundation. It would be better to do so, in order that no one might say, in these days, we ought to make it a matter of public policy to prevent by fiscal regulations faithful records of facts reaching our fellow-countrymen. With regard to the dearer description of newspapers, such as the Times and others, the effect of this great taxation was to limit their circulation materially. There were many who said they had no interest in maintaining the stamp, but who were not favourable to its removal; but without entering into the question, he was sure the House would not for a moment entertain the idea of a monopoly. It was a monopoly—the monopoly of giving opinion to the public, of circulating intelligence supported by fiscal regulations. Such an idea must be scouted by every man in these times; but he did not believe that the dearer description of papers had a monopoly. All the papers of established reputation would maintain their position, even if the stamp were repealed, and share in the advantages that would be derived by the whole newspaper press from such a policy. Their relative position would not be altered; therefore he could not understand that there was any good reason for a fear that the removal of the stamp duty would materially injure those papers which now circulate among the wealthier classes. He admitted it might make some difference ill having to write for, perhaps, a different class of readers; but the tendency of the change would be to increase their circulation. But it was not to this class of newspapers that his Motion was particularly addressed—it was rather to that which reached the great masses of the people, which were now debarred from giving the facts and knowledge they ought to give. It sometimes happened that the Stamp Office did come down upon un-stamped publications for irregularities; and a communication was made to him yesterday from a paper called the Norwich Reformer, the writer of which said he had had a letter from the solicitor for having given an article called "The Records of Progress." The party replied to the solicitor for the Stamp Office, asking for a little information upon this most anomalous law; and he would read the latest interpretation put upon it at head quarters. Inland Revenue, Somerset House, 7th March, 1850. Gentlemen-The attention of this Board having been directed to some articles of public news contained in Nos. I. and II. of your publication, the Reformer, under the head of the 'Record of Progress' of a character that cannot lawfully be published in any but a stamped newspaper, I have been desired to acquaint you with the circumstance, and to caution you against any future insertion of like matter.—I am, Gentlemen, your obedient servant, J. TIMM, Solicitor of Inland Revenue. To which the Editor returned the following reply:— Norwich, March 12. Sir—I have received your intimation that the intelligence given in the Reformer, under the heading 'Record of Progress,' cannot be lawfully inserted in any but a stamped newspaper. I should be greatly obliged if you could inform me on what grounds the Gentleman's Magazine, United Service Megazine, Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, Christian Observer, People's Journal, with others that might be mentioned (including unstamped copies of the Freeholder, Athenœum, &c.), are permitted to furnish similar information. Also, why the organs of societies of a literary, philanthropic, and scientific character are allowed to contain details of their respective operations, whilst that privilege is denied to the journal of a political association? Thanking you for your caution, and soliciting information upon these points, I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, THE EDITOR OF THE REFORMER. The Solicitor wrote again as follows:— Inland Revenue, Somerset House, March 13. Gentlemen—I am this morning in receipt of a letter without signature, but purporting to come from the Editor of the Reformer, and as it is written in reference to mine of the 7th inst., addressed to you, I reply to it as proceeding from you. The publications to which allusion is made are not before me, either officially or otherwise; I know, therefore, nothing of their contents; but assuming them to be unstamped papers, and to contain matter which they ought not to publish, it is not for me to offer any explanation upon the subject, nor can the circumstances justify irregularities in others. I may, however, remark, as I am aware that the subject has been under notice, in reference more particularly to learned societies, that articles, although relating to the transactions of such societies, and therefore savouring of public news and intelligence, yet as partaking of the character of a review, are not looked upon as matters to be objected to in unstamped publications; so, also, with regard to dramatic performances and such like.—I am, Gentlemen, your obedient servant, .J, TIMM, Solicitor of Inland Revenue. He submitted with all respect, considering how enormous were the penalties that might be levied under the Stamp Act, that there should be some more explicit statement of its enactments than that a man might write something that savoured of news or intelligence, but must not give the news or intelligence itself. He hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or somebody else, would tell them what was meant, because this was a penal statute, and penal statutes ought to be clear and explicit. To leave the subject in its present state was to place a man in a position, with respect to penal statutes, in which no British subject ought to be placed. There was another man prosecuted at Greenock, who bad found a very ingenious way of evading the claims of the Stamp Office. This person had written a letter to him, dated the 13th of March, 1850:— Greenock, Wednesday, March 13, 1850. Sir—I sent you per post yesterday one each, periodicals on paper and cloth. The former was abandoned in consequence of an Exchequer process; the latter is still continued, and No. 27 will appear to-night. The prosecution was for breach of the last Act, restraining liberty of the press. In it every paper is held to be a newspaper which contains 'news, events, intelligence, or occurrences, or any remarks or observations thereon, or upon any matter in Church or State.' On the proposal of this measure Mr. Wakley sounded a proper alarm to no purpose, as the public were ignorant and lukewarm, and 'the best possible public instructors,' the stamped press, from interested motives favourable to the destructive Bill. Chambers' Journal, Hogg's Instructions in Truth, every publication less in size than 2½ sheets demy, or sold for less in size than 6d., is illegal. The law is rarely enforced, yet, because some articles in mine gave offence to a 'little brief authority' here, I was served with a 'Victoria greeting,' &c., and fined for five numbers 20l. each. In January, 1849, a second attempt was made to put my brochure down; but having studied this oppressive Act, I observed that as cloth was not proscribed, I might adopt it instead of paper, save the penny stamp, and escape the bonds, &c., to which newspapers are liable. I, therefore, in conformity with law, use an inferior and more expensive medium for the diffusion of knowledge; but I hope you will see the utility of exposing the anomaly, that while others all over the kingdom, or queendom, safely despise or set at naught the law, I am compelled to respect it in an absurdity.—I am, Sir, your obedient servant, JOHN LENNOX, printer, news-agent, &c. In another letter, which he (Mr. Gibson) had only received by that day's post, the writer mentioned, what it was quite right should be known, that after an appeal to the Treasury the fine had been remitted; but he was still in the position of not being permitted to publish on paper without a stamp certain general observations on public events apart from any systematic record of facts. He is not even granted that permission to "savour" with intelligence which is graciously conceded to the Norwich Reformer. He should mention, that in harmony with his altered material, he had altered the name of his journal, and now called it the Greenock News Clout. He contended that if they were to have this law at all, and to say that no man should observe on public facts and occurrences, without paying the stamp duty, then they ought to enforce it equally. But it was fatal to your law to single out particular cases, because this involved a new censorship; it made the Commissioners of Somerset House the judges of what the public should read or not read. Were they prepared to advocate on principle a censorship conducted by the Commissioners of Somerset House? If they were not, let them do one of two things; either repeal the tax on newspapers altogether, or enforce it indiscriminately on all. Let us have no evasions and anomalies; let us have no unfair competition between the taxpaying and non-paying newspapers; let all men share the burden equally, or relieve others from it. These were the grounds on which he called on them to agree to the second resolution for the repeal of the stamp duty on newspapers. And let it be observed, as regarded the transmission of newspapers through the Post Office, and the revenue derived from this source, every man would then be, with respect to postal privileges, precisely in the position in which he now was. There were 86,000,000 of stamps, and he had heard a calculation made, he believed, by Mr. Rowland Hill, that 66,000,000, of these passed through the post, he would say 70,000,000. He did not say they would all continue to pass through the post if the compulsory stamping were removed; but he did say, it was fair to presume that a considerable proportion of these 70,000,000 would pass through the post, and avail themselves of the advantages of being conveyed by the post for a penny, as they did now; because the fifty-three registered newspapers, which only stamped themselves for post, afforded a clear proof of it, stamping themselves for the post alone, in order to have the benefit of being transmitted at the public charge. Therefore, it was clear that he was not asking the House to sacrifice the whole of this 350,000l.; all he asked was to risk the sacrifice of a portion of it, and in doing so, to confer on the public that great and inestimable boon, the advantage of cheap newspapers circulating through the great body of the people. There was no reason why newspapers should not be as cheap in England as in any other country; and he was convinced that if the tax were removed, they might look forward to seeing daily and weekly newspapers at a penny. No doubt, if we had papers of superior excellence on which the highest class of literary talent was employed, a higher price must be paid for them; but for the small price he had named, the working man would be able to get a sufficient record of the facts of the day, suitable to himself, calculated to give him instruction, as well as information as to the best mode of getting employment in his particular occupation; and, in fact, preventing, by the circulation of facts, that unfortunate congestion of labour frequently perceived in certain districts, as in the case of the hand-loom weavers, and other trades which might be mentioned. He believed it was for want of the circulation of sound facts and intelligence that working people lingered on in the hopes of the return of an employment, in fact, cut off for ever, and were thus prevented from improving their social condition. He might instance the factory labour question; he believed that cheap newspapers in the factory districts would be of infinite advantage in discussing all this class of questions, and enabling working men to form a just opinion of their interests. They would not allow any man to plead that he was ignorant of the laws of the land; then why did they take steps to prevent the circulation throughout the country of the accounts of proceedings in courts of justice, the only way in which working men could get a knowledge of those laws? It was not likely that working men would read Blackstone, Coke, or any learned law works; but the proceedings in police courts and courts of justice would give them instruction in that which we were bound to instruct them in, or at any rate not to prevent them from knowing, the law of the land. Would they, therefore, refuse to risk the paltry 140,000l. or 150,000l. of revenue which might be lost or endangered by the repeal of the duty on newspapers?

The subject of the next resolution (for the removal of the Advertisement Duty) was in the hands of the hon. Member for Dumfries, who had paid great attention to it; but he (Mr. Gibson) had embodied it in his Motion, because it came under the general designation of taxes on knowledge, and, therefore, he felt it might be said he had made an incompetent Motion if he omitted it. It was a tax full of injustice, pressing most unfairly on the poor, making them, as had been often said, pay as largely on the insertion of au advertisement from a person in want of a place, as on an advertisement for the sale of an estate by a rich man. He remembered that Mr. James Mill, in a very able article he wrote on this subject, put the question of the advertisement duty very forcibly, saying that the fashion used to be to advertise through the public crier; and if an exciseman had ventured to interrupt this functionary when about to announce to the world the sale of a bankrupt's stock, the loss of a child, or some equally important event, and told him that he must not venture to say a word until he had paid one shilling and sixpence into the Queen's Exchequer, he would have been scouted with universal execrations, and perhaps the people in the street might have used physical force to get rid of him. An advertisement, in fact, was a monstrous tax on misfortune; you could not advertise a subscription for a ragged school, or a proposal to raise money for some victim of calamity, without paying a proportion of the amount to the revenue of the State. People did not know, when they gave their money to the Exhibition for Works of Industry, and of the Female Emigration plan, the right hon. Gentleman's the Member for South Wilts, how much of their money was diverted to the public exchequer. This advertisement duty was of very small amount—only 150,000l.; and from this must be deducted the sum the State itself had to pay for advertisements. He would venture to say, as would be shown by the return for which his hon. Friend had moved, that this amounted to a good round sum. After all, what was this sum compared with the injury that must be done to trade, to literature, and also to the interests of persons in distress, by retaining this tax. He could mention a case of great oppression, to show how this worked in reference to a newspaper. The Daily News had proposed to give in its impressions a list of all the sales that were to come, just as other newpapers gave the hunting appointments or the law notices, all of which, though not regular advertisements, were interesting to the public, and thus benefited the newspaper. But the Stamp Office said that they must not insert this list of sales without paying 1s. 6d. on each of them. The consequence was, that they were obliged to discontinue the plan, which appeared to him quite as reasonable as allowing the insertion of the hunting and sporting appointments in the Morning Post, Bell's Life, or other journals, without payment of duty. Why should they always single out trade and knowledge for impositions, leaving much less useful matters tax-free? The difference in the cost of advertisements between the newspapers of the United States and those of the United Kingdom was so large as to cause astonishment; in the latter it was six or seven times as much. He had seen it calculated that where it would cost you 230l. to advertise for one year in the Times, you could get the same number of insertions in a paper of equal circulation in the United States for 8l. or 9l., with a copy of the newspaper in addition. He did not mean to say that this analogy would be quite fair, because our habits of advertising and the course of trade would not immediately conform themselves to the plan prevailing in the United States; but at any rate if there were a disposition in the public of this country to advertise in the same way, the advertisement duty was a fatal objection. This tax, therefore, imposed an enormous burden on trade, industry, and the communications between men which were often so necessary; but as his hon. Friend was about to bring it forward as a substantive Motion, he should not dwell on it.

His last resolution related to an important subject, though the sum affected by it was small, the duty on Foreign Books, yielding only 8,000l. per annum. This, however, amounted to a very large percentage on the value of the foreign works imported into this country. It was a great obstacle to the supply of libraries with foreign books, and led to so many cases of injustice from the inability to divide the books into so many classes as the law required, that he hoped to have the concurrence of the House in saying that they ought to be removed. It was one of those duties of which the removal was contemplated when the tariff was altered, and which was not worth collecting; it was an obstacle to the free interchange of literature between this and foreign countries, and was attended with many practical inconveniences.

He now submitted his first resolution with respect to the Paper Duties. He should place it formally in the hands of the Chairman, and he did earnestly hope that it would receive the favourable consideration of the House. His conviction was, that if they did not remove these taxes, as he believed he had shown good grounds for saying that they impeded the spread of knowledge amongst the great body of the people, they would be laying up in store some great evils which would fall upon this country at a future time as a retribution of her erroneous policy.

Motion made, and Question put— That whereas all taxes which directly impede the diffusion of knowledge are highly injurious to the public interests, and are most impolitic sources of revenue, this House is of opinion, that such financial arrangements ought to be made as will enable Parliament to repeal the Excise Duty on Paper.


begged leave to second the resolution. He was not ashamed to say before the landed aristocracy, that he owed almost all he possessed to that manufacture to which his right hon. Friend had referred in the course of his speech. He was aware that the admission might lessen the value of the statements he was about to make, but his only object was to obtain justice, and to benefit the public at large. Perhaps the House would allow him to explain the peculiar restrictions which oppressed the manufacture of paper as distinguished from other excisable productions. In the first place, on all other excisable articles the duty was levied at once, but the duty on paper was levied by means of labels, which must be affixed to every ream or parcel, however small in bulk or value. Then it was the only article which had, in addition, to submit to detention, after the duty was charged, being equal to forty-eight hours' delay after it was put under the inspection of the officer. Twenty years ago, when the operation of paper making took three weeks, the delay of the Excise was not felt to be a very serious drawback; but subsequent improvements having reduced the time required to four hours, a further delay of forty-eight became a serious matter, seeing that it might be sent from Scotland to London and back again in that time. It was generally admitted that attempts to secure the duty by peculiar forms of construction of labels or stamps had failed, from the facility that existed of producing counterfeits. He had a proof of this in a letter which he held in his hand describing a fraud which had taken place in the sister country. The writer assured him that he knew of a case where a fraudulent manufacturer in Ireland had made the same wrappers serve seven successive loads of paper. His right hon. Friend had mentioned most of the grievances of the paper makers; but there was still one point to which he (Mr. Cowan) begged to call the attention of the agricultural Gentlemen. He held in his hand a publication of the year 1800, dedicated to George III., printed one-half on paper made of straw, and one-half from wood; and he begged to assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that if it were not for the restrictions, paper might be manufactured from straw suitable for many important purposes for which wood was now used at a much higher cost. But when he told them that the raw material cost 2s. the cwt., while the duty was 14s. 9d., they would cease to wonder at the small progress that had been made in the manufacture. If it were consistent with the usage of the House, he could show specimens of paper made from straw and the various cereal productions, which would be sufficient to prove that the removal of restriction would create a new market for agricultural productions. The fact was that straw was extensively used in other countries in the manufacture of paper, and would be similarly used here, were it not for the Excise restrictions. Ho, therefore, claimed the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite for that portion of his right hon. Friend's Motion. Indeed, he thought it claimed the support of both sides of the House, because free trade would be a perfect mockery so long as these restrictions existed; and on the other hand, Gentlemen who felt zealous for the protection of native industry could not refuse opening a new market for its produce. As to the exportation of paper, there was no such article mentioned in the returns. He presumed it was included in the item "stationery;" and it certainly was stationary in every sense of the word. He had been at the trouble of analysing the tables to show how small an amount of paper figured among our exports. In the course of his inquiries nothing had more surprised him than to find that to Brazil, where there was an enormous consumption of paper, our exports did not exceed 3,000l. or 4,000l. in value. He happened to know that the demand for paper in Brazil was enormous, and to show how little of it reached this country, he would read to the House a letter which he had recently received from an eminent house in Rio Janeiro. [The hon. Member then read the letter, the purport of which was that it was useless to send English paper, as it was certain to be undersold by the French and Italian manufacturers.] He was sorry to perceive, from indications he had already observed, that they need not hope much aid from the Government in altering such a state of things. He had accompanied deputations to the Government on several occasions, both before he was a Member of that House and since, to urge the claims of the paper manufacturers for a remission of the duty; but he must say, that he had never received the least encouragement from them, nor had they ever expressed any sympathy with the manufacturers. On a recent occasion, when he was accompanied by his friend Mr. Crompton, evidence was laid before the noble Lord at the head of the Government, showing the unjust manner in which the excise regulations operated against those paper makers who employed water in the manufacture, as compared with those who did not. But the lips of the noble Lord appeared congealed in official reserve; or if the deputation was answered at all, it was much in the same way as an ancient people of whom they read in the book of Exodus, were answered when they complained of the weight of the burdens imposed upon them by their Egyptian taskmaster—that was, they were told "Get you back to your burdens." From the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, all the satisfaction they could get was, that he could not afford to do what was just and right, in consequence of the state of the revenue. He hoped, however, the resolution the House would come to that evening would compel Ministers to take the matter into their serious and favourable consideration, with the view of giving the paper manufacturers, at no distant day, the relief to which he contended they were entitled. He apologised for detaining the House. He feared he was only proving the truth of what the hon. Member for West Surrey had said, when he drew a comparison, by no means to his advantage, between him (Mr. Cowan) and an illustrious man not now a Member of that House. He might, as he had referred to that illustrious individual, be allowed to say, that no man entertained a greater admiration of that distinguished historian and poet, Mr. Macaulay, than he did; and though he (Mr. Cowan) had boon almost the unwilling cause of the right hon. Gentleman's retirement from that House, in whose debates he had so frequently assisted with effect, and which had so often been the scene of his oratorical triumphs, no one was more anxious than he was that Mr. Macaulay might long live to continue the important historical work he had so ably commenced, and to enjoy his high and deserved literary fame. He thought the literature of this country was deeply indebted to that eminent man for his endeavours to establish a system of international copyright; but though he did not see any chance of such a measure being carried for some time to come, he was informed, on good authority, that if our literature were unfettered it need not fear competition with the literary pirates of the United States or any other country, and that it would make its way wherever the English language was known. He had, at all times, been anxious to give Her Majesty's Government a full and generous support; and he thought he might fairly ask them to give their favourable consideration to an appeal, the object of which was to deliver a most important and useful article of our home manufacture from that bondage under which it had so long laboured—that incubus by which it was weighed down. He cordially seconded the Motion.


said, he could assure his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, that he did not intend to object in any way to his having brought this subject before the House; and still less objection had he felt to listen to so able and eloquent a speech as that by which the right hon. Gentleman had introduced the Motion. His right hon. Friend had, however, put into his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) mouth, arguments which he never had used, and which he was not prepared to use, against the repeal or reduction of the duties to which the Motion referred. He was afraid that taxation was a necessary evil; and some taxes were more objectionable than others; when he had the means of so doing, he would readily remove those taxes which at the time appeared to him to press most heavily upon the people. It was only a short time since he had stated to the House the probable surplus of revenue in the course of the year which he conceived might be fairly devoted to the reduction of taxation; and he thought that the proposal he then made as to the taxes he deemed it most convenient to reduce, was received with satisfaction by the House generally. His right hon. Friend had quoted the opinion of the Commissioners of Excise as to the duty on paper; but he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that they expressed a still stronger opinion with regard to the objections to the duty upon bricks. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to what took place as to the reduction or repeal of various duties in 1842; but it must be remembered that the right hon. Member for Tamworth then imposed a new tax which raised an additional revenue of some where about 5,000,000l. Now, if he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could in any unobjectionable manner increase the revenue to such an amount, he might entertain some of the suggestions so constantly made for reductions; but he confessed that he did not think that he should find the House willing to agree to any new tax, and without some substitute he could not spare the various taxes for the repeal of which repeated Motions had been made. He must say that, when he had received deputations on the subject of the paper duties, he had been a little surprised at the statements made as to the annoying and unwarrantable interference with the manufacture of paper under the excise laws; for in the report to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, it was stated that the excise duty on paper was distinguished from other excise duties by the fact that it did not involve any interference with the article in the process of manufacture. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had heard it stated, and he had no doubt it was to a certain extent truly stated, that the excise regulations in regard to malt, spirits, and bricks, interfered with the process of manufacture, and prevented experiments and alterations which might cheapen and improve the article; but what was the opinion of Sir H. Parnell—what was the opinion of the Commissioners of Excise Inquiry? In page 10 of their 14th report, the Commissioners said— Unlike other excise duties the process of their (paper) manufacture la exempt from excise interference." To which exemption the Commissioners attributed "the very great progress which had been made in the application of various improvements to this manufacture, especially those arising from the extensive introduction of machinery, which had enabled the manufacturers, by combining the two processes of making and drying the paper through the operation of large cylinders heated by steam, to complete in a few minutes a quantity of paper, which formerly occupied a period of as many weeks. The absence of interference was considered by the Commissioners the distinguishing mark of the excise duty upon paper; and yet this particular duty had, upon the present occasion, been complained of on the ground of its causing a vexatious interference with the manufacture. When last year he saw a deputation of paper manufacturers, to whom he gave the answer which the hon. Member for the city of Edinburgh represented as so discouraging, namely, that there was no surplus to appropriate to a reduction of taxation, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) asked them whether there was any Interference with their processes to which they objected, or whether he could in any way facilitate them by different arrangements; and the answer was, that no improvement could be made in that respect, and that the Excise did not interfere with them in their processes. Then, as to the inconvenience, to what did it amount? That when the paper was ready to be sent out, it was weighed by the excise officer; that it must be kept a certain time on the premises, that the supervisor might come and weigh it, if he pleased. The deputation of manufacturers, coming from all parts of the country, did not complain of that; and they stated that what they wanted was not improvement in regard to excise regulations, but absolute repeal of the duty. The right hon. Member for Manchester went on to state the heavy burden this duty imposed upon publications; but he rather overrated the impediment it created. There was a very excellent commercial dictionary, for instance, which sold for 50s.; the weight of it was 4½ lbs., and the whole duty upon the paper in the volume was, it appeared, 4½d.—not a very heavy sum upon such a publication. As to the duty upon newspapers, he did not undervalue the arguments of the right hon. Mover, though he must observe with respect to the very ingenious suggestions of the difficulties which might arise as to the proper interpretation of the term "newspaper," and what was "news," and so on, that he had not heard that practically any great complaints were made upon the subject, or that any great inconvenience had been found. It was easy to magnify one or two cases into a great grievance, but he did not hear from the Board of Inland Revenue that any great dissatisfaction was expressed; he rather thought the statement of the extent of the grievance was founded somewhat more upon the imagination of his right hon. Friend than upon fact. But he must object to the proposition made to the House, as he objected the other day to the repeal of the window duty, upon the ground of the amount of revenue which it would withdraw, and the right hon. Gentleman had very fairly stated the amount of the various duties embraced in the Motion. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did not say that the time might not come when these duties ought to be removed; but it was impossible, with a due regard to the public revenue, to deal with them this year, and upon those questions nothing was so unwise as to pledge yourselves in one year to what you would do in another. If there was one thing to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bound, it was not to disclose his intentions. He must object to the repeal of these duties now; he must object still more, if possible, to any promise or pledge as to what was to be done with regard to taxation in future. The amount of the paper duty showed no symptom of decline. In 1840 it produced 581,000l.; in 1845, 758,000l.; in 1848, 745,000l.; and in 1849, 810,554l. The newspaper duty in 1849 produced 348,206l., the advertisement duty 163,211l., and the duty on books 7,748l. The produce of the four duties was 1,264,000l. in 1848; in 1849, 1,329,000l. He was not prepared to sacrifice any such amount of revenue. He hoped the House would excuse his taking this, the earliest occasion, after what had happened, of addressing to them a few words generally upon the subject of the various propositions for repeal of taxation which had been made within a short time, and were made, or intended to be made, that night. He hoped he was not more nervous than a Chancellor of the Exchequer might be supposed properly to be upon questions affecting the revenue and finances of the country; but he must say he could not look without serious anxiety upon the course a great portion of the House seemed disposed to pursue upon these questions. He had had the honour of holding the situation which he had now, however unworthily, filled for about three years and a half; he had held that office during times of extraordinary pressure. The famine in Ireland, the commercial pressure in 1847 the disturbances on the Continent, the Kafir war, and other circumstances to which he need not refer, all produced an extraordinary effect upon the revenue and expenditure of the country. Things over which we had no control led to very considerable difficulty at the time. In the last year the financial condition of the country improved, and the balance sheet laid upon the table on the previous night would show a surplus of near 2,500,000l. But, looking to the character and credit of the country, it seemed to him that if the present course was to be pursued, there would be greater difficulty now, when we had a surplus, than when we had a deficiency. That deficiency arose from "acts of God," from circumstances over which we had no control; if there should be a deficiency now, it was likely to be one produced by the wilful and deliberate conduct of the House of Commons. He stated a month ago that the surplus in the course of the ensuing year would probably be about 1,500,000l.; and he proposed to give relief in taxation upon two items, in regard to which the House generally concurred, to the extent of 750,000l., and to apply 250,000l. to the purchase of a most unprofitable annuity, known as the Equivalent Society's annuity, leaving a margin of 500,000l. to cover unforeseen contingencies; to meet the possibility of his being mistaken in his calculation, and, if he was right, to be applied in reduction of debt; and he did not think any Chancellor of the Exchequer would be justified in not leaving himself some such margin. In proceeding to the subject of the remission of the stamp duties, he found the pressure of the mortgage duty so great, that he had proposed on the previous night to reduce the ½ per cent to ¼. The House, not satisfied with that, voted a further reduction. The lowest estimate of the loss upon that was rather more than 100,000l. The Motion now before the House would take away 1,300,000l. [Mr. M. GIBSON: But you have not taken into account, on the other side, the postage on the newspapers.] He was stating the amount in round numbers; he had allowed more than he had taken; it was not worth while disputing about 10,000l. or so in dealing with large sums. Supposing the proposition to be carried into immediate effect, there must be an imposition of taxes or a reduction of expenditure to the amount of near 1,000,000l. The great services had been all voted; and, however anxious any one might be for economy—and he would not yield to any Member in anxiety to reduce the expenditure of the country to the narrowest limits compatible with its true interests—he did not suppose that any one expected that this year, whatever might be done hereafter, there could be a further reduction of expenditure to the extent of nearly 1,000,000l. Then, taxes of one kind or another must be imposed. Now, Gentlemen on one side of the House, friendly to direct taxation, might be disposed to drive the Government to a position in which, having a deficiency, they must impose new taxes, supposing that they must then come forward with a proposition for direct taxation. Gentlemen opposite might think that while there was a surplus there was no hope for their proposition of an import duty upon all foreign commodities; and they seemed not indisposed to join with the former in order to produce a deficiency, that they might have an opportunity of forcing their scheme upon the House. But let hon. Members reflect upon the position in which they would place the country. They would, by their deliberate act, have created a deficiency; and they would then have to settle between the two sides of the House how it was to be made good—by what system of taxation, direct or indirect. Might not both, in that contest, have to come to the conclusion that it would have been better to submit to the old burden for a time, and leave a surplus, both in this and in future years, which would enable the existing Finance Minister to deal with some of the anomalies which called for removal? But what would be the effect upon the character and credit of the country? It was bad enough when the deficiency was created by circumstances we could not control. It was most essential, as everybody felt, that the public credit should be kept up. He would not impute to his right hon. Friend any desire to interfere with it. Gentlemen on that side of the House had disclaimed any notion of repudiation. He must not for a moment be supposed to doubt the sincerity of that declaration. But he must state that if their proposition were carried, they would be in a position in which fears of repudiation might arise. He imputed to no Member the slightest intention of repudiation; but if the House wilfully and deliberately created a deficiency without providing how it was to be made up, such a fear might not unreasonably be entertained; and if propositions of this kind were to be carried, involving a sacrifice of taxation beyond what could be made up by any existing surplus, and leaving no margin for unforeseen contingencies, the House would be inflicting a most dangerous wound upon the character and credit of the country. The hon. Member for Montrose had another Motion on the Paper for that night, for the repeal of 1,500,000l. of taxation—the Customs' duties on the remaining manufactured articles subject to such duties, and on articles of agricultural produce—these duties produced last year 1,538,000l. With the Motion now before the House, it was proposed that evening to repeal duties to the extent of 2,800,000l. Really when propositions of this kind were made night after night, and when on a recent occasion a resolution with a view to the repeal of a duty amounting to 1,800,000l. was negatived only by a very narrow majority, there was enough to excite very serious anxiety as to the effect of votes, given perhaps without full consideration of the possible consequences they might have upon the credit and character of the country. These were the grounds upon which he should resist this Motion. He thought it would be exceedingly unwise, unsafe, and discreditable to the House and the country to vote away l,300,000l. of taxation; he thought it would be equally unwise for the House now to pledge itself to the way in which it would deal with these taxes next Session, He thought it would be exceedingly unwise to throw open the question of new taxation to be substituted for that removed, without the prospect of parties agreeing upon the kind of taxation to be adopted—deliberately to put in peril the safe and secure position which, by the goodness of Providence, we occupied, as regarded the state of our finances and of our public credit, when the financial condition of so many of our neighbours was the source of infinite alarm and danger to them. It would be an act of little less than political suicide. He treated the resolutions as a whole. It would not become the representative assembly of this great country to palter about 10,000l. or 20,000l when the question was one of public credit and character; and he called upon the House to negative as a whole the propositions of his right hon. Friend.


thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not fairly met the question. For himself, he had never heard any reference made to the doctrine of repudiation without protesting against it. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he entertained as warm a desire to maintain the public credit as himself, being convinced that any attempt to interfere with it would be attended with the most serious results. But the premises on which the right hon. Gentleman had asked the House not to agree to this resolution were not correct. The right hon. Gentleman had truly said that there was a general concurrence on the part of the House when he proposed the mode of dealing with the surplus. That was in respect to some of his propositions. He (Mr. Hume) considered the repeal of the brick duty a proper reduction, but he objected to applying any part of the surplus in reducing the national debt while such taxes as the window tax, and the taxes which were referred to in the present Motion, remained. It was, besides, absurd to talk of applying such a surplus to the reduction of a debt of 900,000,000l, and that at a time when the public were calling for relief from those burdens which pressed heavily upon them. The right hon. Gentleman had not fairly stated the position of the finances. He had stated that during the three years and a half he had been in office he had had to contend against the famine in Ireland, commercial distress in this country, and the continental troubles, and that these were causes beyond the control of Government, which had produced a deficiency in the three previous years. But he (Mr. Hume) contended that that deficiency was the fault of the Government, who had gone on increasing the expenditure by adding to the public establishments while the revenue remained the same. It was the extravagance of the Government which had led to the deficiency. Now, the Motion of the right hon. Member for Manchester went merely to the effect of withdrawing the advertisement duty and the duty on paper, and certainly the speech of that right hon. Gentleman was most able and convincing. He (Mr. Hume) must say, that often as he had heard the question of taxes on knowledge discussed in that House, he had never heard so convincing a speech in favour of the repeal of those taxes as he had now listened to, and he hoped that that speech would be duly weighed by the country. He considered the speech of great importance at the present time, because the Government were expending large sums of public money—money which might be rendered applicable to the promotion of instruction and education, but which was rendered inapplicable to that or any other useful purpose, so long as taxes were increased. The right hon. Mover of the resolutions had stated the means by which had impressions and dangerous opinions were allowed to be circulated without any antidote, and, therefore, the question deserved the most attentive consideration, whether the existing state of things should be permitted to continue. He (Mr. Hume) thought it would be a discredit to the House, at such a time as the present, to allow the taxes on knowledge to be any longer imposed. It was a reflection on the House to allow the window tax to continue, seeing that such large sums of money were being expended to promote sanitary improvements. In the same manner it was discreditable to them to continue the taxes on knowledge, seeing the evil effects which those taxes were producing. What was the alternative of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? That right hon. Gentleman had told the House that he was now called upon, by this Motion, and the one which followed it upon the Paper, to remit two or three millions of taxes. And perfectly right, too. He (Mr. Hume) would remit them at once. "But, then," said the Chancellor, "you have voted the principal taxes already, and now you are calling for the repeal of others." It was not the first time that taxes were voted which were not expended. When the Treasury possessed, as at present, upwards of 4,000,000l. of money more than was required for the public service, was he (Mr. Hume), or was any other hon. Member who supported this Motion, risking the good faith of the country by asking for a reduction of the taxes on knowledge? Those who voted for the principal taxes, and now desired to knock off others, might be acting an inconsistent part; but he was guilty of no inconsistency, inasmuch as he had opposed many of the votes hitherto passed. Let the House recollect that whenever taxation was abolished, great elasticity followed. He believed that the paper manufacture would be one of the most important branches of trade in this country, if the shackles by which it was crippled were removed. He believed that if they gave freedom to the capital and enterprise embarked in it, we should have paper manufactured by England for the supply of the whole world, for nowhere was that article so well or so cheaply made as in this country. No less than half a million a year was paid for old rags to make paper. But the manufacture was now confined to our own country, whereas, if we were allowed to do that which other countries did, we might, by a proper admixture of the materials formerly used with the improved materials now used, prepare a manufacture so excellent and so cheap that it would command a sale in other parts of the world. It ought to be known that many branches of our trade would be considerably relieved by the removal of the paper duty. The ironmongery trade, for instance, was one of these. The very paper wrappings of articles of ironmongery amounts to 5 and 7 per cent upon the value of the articles themselves. See, then, what an impediment to that trade would be removed if the price of paper were reduced one-fourth by the remission of the duty. He maintained that that remission would tend to increase the profits of the manufacturer in almost every branch of trade. The advantages in such a case would not simply be confined to knowledge—though the advantages in that respect alone ought to be sufficient to induce the House to remit it—but the supply of paper at a cheap rate would be beneficial to the linen, woollen, and iron manufacturer, and the home manufacture of the article would besides, as he had said before, circulate throughout the world. He had accompanied a deputation to the noble Lord at the head of the Government on this subject; and he was sure the noble Lord would admit the strength and importance of the facts stated to him on that occasion. He (Mr. Hume) was not himself aware of the vast importance which would result from the removal of the taxes on paper, until he heard it from the lips of the deputation. One manufacturer from Birmingham stated that no less than 10 per cent of the value of his articles would be reduced by the repeal of the paper duty. There were scissors, he said, made for a halfpenny a piece, and, when they were put up in dozens in double paper, the cost of the paper almost exceeded the value of the article. Of what immense value, then, would the removal of the paper duty be to manufacturers of that description. He believed the loss anticipated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer from the removal of this duty would not be realised, and that the elasticity which would be given to the various trades by its removal would compensate in a great degree for a portion of the loss which might be sustained. Was it not fit and proper to take away those impediments which interfered with the comforts and profits of the people? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had complained of the attempts made to repeal the window tax; but had he taken into account the vote the other night respecting the African squadron?—and was he not risking the credit of the country by keeping up that establishment? Again, of what use was it to keep a squadron running up and down the Mediterranean, nobody knew for what? He was perfectly aware that the Government had a right to complain of the House for supporting these establishments, and for now seeking for reductions at home; but they must, nevertheless, recollect that a grievous injury would be done by the continuance of the tax upon paper. It was impossible to put that injury in a stronger point of view than had been already done by the right hon. Member for Manchester. Let the Government renounce their large military establishments, and let the expense attendant on these establishments be saved, and then ample means would be found for repealing the window tax and the taxes on knowledge. Allusion had been made, in the course of the debate, to the Motion of which he (Mr. Hume) had given notice for that night, for the removal of the remaining import duties. But the answer upon that point was very simple. The House had adopted the principle of free trade. The agriculturists of this country had been exposed to competition from the whole world, and they had been saying that if they were to have free trade it ought to be carried out in everything. He had moved for a return to show the exceptions from that principle. The great art was to move for a return, in order that hon. Gentlemen might see effects placed before them in pounds, shillings, and pence. We had not free trade at present. We were only carrying on a fettered trade. But let his suggestions be adopted, and we should, indeed, enjoy free trade, and every interest would flourish. Therefore, he entreated of the House not to listen to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but, on the contrary, to listen to his (Mr. Hume's) advice. His advice was this—that as the country was borne down by taxation, and that as the taxes now were 7,000,000l. or 8,000,000l. more than were necessary for the wants of the country, those obnoxious imposts ought immediately to be removed, relief ought to be given, and means ought to be supplied for imparting instruction and knowledge, and thereby removing pauperism and ignorance and crime. This was the way to lessen existing evils. If the taxes were removed, then Government would be obliged to withdraw the squadron from the coast of Africa, and to abolish all unnecessary expenditure. He should cordially support the Motion, anxious as he always was to support the credit of the country, to diminish useless expenditure, and to limit burdensome taxation.


said, he was anxious to correct an observation which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer relative to the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester. The latter right hon. Gentleman had laid down two preliminaries. One was the general rule that our first object ought to be to enlighten and instruct the people; and the second was, that, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a surplus, the stamp duty and the advertisement duty ought to be removed. The right hon. Gentleman had not pledged himself to remove 1,300,000l., as the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to think, but he certainly would remove taxes to the amount of 300,000l. Now, if the men of property in this country desired to secure the affections of the people, they would submit to a greater degree than at present to a direct system of taxation. No one would be so Utopian as to propose that there should be a total change of system effected; but by submitting to an increased tax on property, there was no doubt that much general good would be produced. The extension of labour, and the removal of taxes on imports, were the means by which the future policy of this country ought to be supported. He thought it would have been wise had the Chancellor of the Exchequer made an approximation toward the reduction of the taxes on knowledge—for instance, if he had abolished the 150,000l. advertisement duty. But, as it was, the repeal of the whole of the taxes on knowledge would now be sought for, and the time was fast approaching when the paper duty, the advertisement duty, and the duty on books must be abolished. He thanked the right hon. Member for Manchester for the admirable speech he had that night delivered. That speech had exhausted the subject. Nobody could have listened to it without being convinced that the tax on knowledge was a tax on the raw material of the mind, one similar in its injurious effect to the window tax. An American witness, who had been examined before the Committee last year, said that the first thing which struck him on arriving in this country was the small number of readers that were to be found; and he observed that in America everybody attempted to read, because there were no taxes on knowledge in that country. It was a most difficult thing to introduce any system of education into England, because of the religious differences which prevailed; but if the people were given the means of educating themselves, they would learn with surprising facility, and by the cultivation of their own minds they would master instruction far more quickly than they could at school. Our colonies were better off in this respect than we were in England. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the circulation of newspapers was infinitely greater than in England, in consequence of there being no taxes on paper or advertisements. Steele, in the Spectator of August, 1712, had pathetically lamented the effects of the paper and stamp duty which had crushed that journal. The stamp duty in Steele's time was 4d., and so it had continued until Lord Monteagle wisely saw fit to reduce it to one penny. Newspapers were no longer now what they were in the time of Swift. They were then a luxury, they were now a necessity; and it was remarkable, that even the excise commissioners in their report had adverted to the advantages which would result from the total repeal of the duty upon these publications. He did not believe, from all he had observed, that any great evil was likely to arise from unstamped papers. The writings, for instance, in Chambers' Journal, Eliza Cook's Journal, and such papers, reflected honour on those who penned them, and on the taste of those who read them. The House would recollect the excellent effect produced by the repeal of the duty on almanacks. When first he entered that House there was a duty of 1s. 4d. on almanacks, and at that period they were despicable publications, abounding in fanciful prognostications as to future events. Lord Althorp took off that duty, which amounted to 27,000l. a year, and immediately an improvement was observable in them, which had gone on until now they had become admirable sources of information. Formerly they were published in the Isle of Man, in order to escape the duty, and then circulated in this country; and he recollected that his former constituents at Liverpool had complained to him of the plan adopted, by which the impost was then evaded. He believed that the same beneficial results which had followed the repeal of the duty on almanacks would follow the repeal of the duty on newspapers. He thought it unjust that local papers, which seldom passed through the Post Office, should pay as high an impost as the London papers, which were circulated in a great measure by post. But he sought for the abolition of the tax altogether on London and provincial journals. He supported the Motion most cordially, because he wished to see the press emancipated from the fetters by which it was enchained; and he entertained a sanguine hope that, though the success of the Motion might be retarded for one year, or for two, it could not be delayed for many years.


said, he should feel obliged reluctantly to vote against this Motion, and his reason was this: He asked himself what would be the practical advantage to the country arising from this question? If he were asked whether the resolutions were in themselves reasonable and expedient, he would answer that no man—not even the right hon. Gentleman himself—was more pledged to the subject than he was. But what would be the effect of the vote at this moment? Suppose there was a large majority against the Motion, that would do an apparent damage to their cause in the face of the country. Suppose, on the other hand, the Motion were carried, that would damage the present Government. [An Hon. MEMBER: It will strengthen them.] Why, if any Member of the Government were to tell him that they would be strengthened, and that they would like to be placed in a minority, he would help to place them in one with all his heart. But he must say he did not like to see the Government in constant minorities; and though he occasionally helped to place them there, it was always a matter of pain to himself; for he thought Members on his side of the House owed something to the Government, as, on the other hand, Government owed something to those who supported them; and he would like to see them occasionally concede a little more to their supporters, and not run their heads against posts of their own making. It had been slated that this was rather an abstract proposition; that it had a reference to what should be done next year more than the present. But he must say he did not like abstract resolutions, and he thought it was a dangerous course to decide this year on what they should do the next. If the question had been put to him at the proper time, he should certainly have preferred the abolition of these taxes—of the window-duties to the remission of the brick duties; and he was ready to pledge himself on every future occasion that he would do his utmost to suppress the African squadron and other extravagances, and thus prepare the way for the remission of these duties in a future year.


said, the speeches of the Mover and Seconder had convinced him of what he knew before, that what were popularly called the taxes on knowledge, were among the very first which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well to remove. But when he looked at what had taken place only twenty-four hours ago, he was reminded of a homely proverb which said, that "nobody can eat his cake and have his cake." Last night would have been the time for Members with whom he generally voted, to have supported the removal of at least a portion of what the greater part of the population of the country considered a crying evil, the unequal rate of the taxation. But, instead of that, they had joined in the representation that the rich were the only poor; they had coalesced in deploring the sufferings of men of large property, groaning under the infliction of "assignees, and mortgagees, and other uneasy things that end in ees;" and having chosen to do this, they ought not to wonder if they found an indisposition in the Chancellor of the Exchequer to agree in the Motion of to-night. He begged, therefore, by voting for the Motion, to be considered only as authenticating his belief that a duty of this kind was among the first the Chancellor of the Exchequer should look to. But he saw no policy in checking that servant of the public in his aspirations for the amendment of taxation, as was done last night. Perhaps he was from a contracted school; but he had great faith in the effect of acting in concert with those to whom the charge of public affairs was delegated. On one other point he felt bound to remark. He could not comprehend the policy of perpetually hampering the proceedings of what was called the liberal party, with the determination to restore the slave trade on the coast of Africa. For his own part, he had no transactions which the African squadron was likely to impede. He never met it, and it never met him. A few nights ago, he believed a vote might have been carried against the window tax, if it had not been for the impolicy of connecting it with the removal of the African squadron; for there must have been more than three Members in the House, who, after the connexion avowed with the restoration of the slave trade, felt doubtful whether they could with propriety vote for the removal of the window tax in such company. He wished Members on his side of the House would show a little more insight into consequences; but he verily believed no possible proposal could come from the other side, baited with the prospect of taking twenty pounds from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which hon. Gentlemen would not be induced to nibble at.


said, he would commence his observations with the proceedings of his hon. and gallant Friend who had just sat down. He (Mr. Roebuck) had watched him on the preceding day, and had seen him going out of the House to vote for the negative, when they were going to vote for that question which he thought so extraordinary. It seemed to his hon. and gallant Friend to be bad political economy to have commenced as they had done with the Stamp Act. He hoped no hon. Gentleman would take offence at his mentioning the word. He assured them that political economy was a science which it would do them a great deal of good to study. But he was somewhat surprised that his hon. and gallant Friend should be so startled by the result of the last night's division and debate. What was it but an attempt to raise a revenue in the least mischievous form in which a most mischievous revenue could be raised? It was enabling the country to derive from the whole community a tax which ought never to have been charged in the smallest possible proportion for each, and to raise the same revenue by spreading it over the largest possible number of persons. If his hon. and gallant Friend could find any fault with such a mode of procedure, he would be most willing to derive instruction from him. But now let the House attach itself to the question before it. And what was it? He had heard a song sung by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night. It was a melancholy song, he allowed, but it was the usual one. He had never yet heard a Chancellor of the Exchequer (and he had had experience of a good many) singing any other. He had always heard the same explanation given. Whenever anything at any time was proposed about the repeal of a tax, the Chancellor of the Exchequer always resisted it as something monstrous; his gorge rose at the bare idea of parting with a tax; he treated it as something calculated to destroy the whole fabric of existence—as equivalent to a proposal for altering the position of the stars. No matter how important the object to be gained, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would meet all arguments by telling them that the effect would be 50,000l. less in the Exchequer, and he would proceed to prove this as if it were as plain as that two and two made four; but he (Mr. Roebuck) would toll those right hon. Gentlemen that that was not good political arithmetic; it was difficult, however, to persuade such Gentlemen that their calculations were not infallible. When they showed that there might be 50,000l. less in the Exchequer, they evidently thought that they had done all that the occasion required; that they made out the whole case. But with what was the House now called upon to deal?—with a measure for instructing the great mass of the people. That, he submitted, was a matter for the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The question with which the House had to deal was, what effect the tax produced upon the education of the whole community? The House now had the instruction of millions under their consideration—millions who were no longer to be controlled by bayonets or soldiers, but who might be influenced by moral control; if not under moral control, they were strong to mischief; but when the condition of such numbers was at stake, of what importance were mere fiscal considerations? The Government reposed in mistaken security on a volcano if they resisted the instruction of the people. Their power for good would be immense if well directed. He would say, let the instruction of the people, then, be entered upon as an important and urgent duty; for he was tired and sick of hearing it called a work of charity. To talk of "charity" in this manner was an insult. Give the people the means of instruction, and they would not ask that House for charity. Let them acquire knowledge, and they would not need the assistance of that House in acquiring the means of subsistence. Now, an Administration that wished to be called a liberal Administration, which did not put its whole faith upon the mere holding on to place, but which had its purpose and object in raising the people on whose enthusiasm it had hitherto traded, such an Administration would have been the first to strike down all fiscal regulations and restrictions upon the education of the people. But the Administration of the noble Lord at the head of the Government was not of that character. That noble Lord had hung on to place. He had not sought to raise the people by instruction. He had wished to tide over the difficulties of his position, and had not sought to raise the great body of the people who had supported him hitherto. ["Hear, hear!" and a laugh.] He (Mr. Roebuck) did not care about Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and he could assure Irish Members who laughed, that they were many centuries behind the time. As to the pretence of some hon. Members around him that there was a probability of resuscitating protection, it was idle. Let them once attempt it, and we will put them under our heel. No Prime Minister in this country had ever enjoyed a position like that of the noble Lord. He had nothing to apprehend from the opposition in that House, and such a tide and flood were rolling on, that if the noble Lord rightly understood the people he would be omnipotent for good. But the noble Lord had a narrow spirit. He had a contracted mind. There was a boldness about the noble Lord he always liked—a courage, when he fancied he was right, that he always admired. But he often saw him falter when the noble Lord thought himself to be wrong, and he did not believe he had courage when he was wrong. He made this appeal to the noble Lord because he believed these noble qualities existed in him, and he called upon him to avail himself of his high opportunities to take the flood as it was rolling, and he might accomplish everything with a great people at his back. But let the noble Lord believe him, that if he did not, the flood would roll on and overwhelm him, and the noble Lord would be as nothing in the vast multitude of the waters that would surround him. He (Mr. Roebuck) believed that no proposition that had yet been made for a reduction of taxation had been more equitable than that proposed to-night. It might seem an exaggeration to say so, but he knew that thousands and millions of the people of this country were now rising up and asking for education; and if the House did not give them the right education, they would receive an education from the Socialists and Economists on the other side of the water. Having no right education afforded them, they would take the wrong, and the Government would be unable to command them. These masses would understand the power they would derive from combination. They will put you down to a certainty; but they won't know how to direct their power for the good of mankind. There were 30,000,000 on the other side of the water, quite equal to those he was addressing in intelligence, and yet did they ever see such a rope of sand as France was at the present moment? And why was this? Because these masses, who were now the governing power in that country, were destitute of the instruction that we wanted for the great body of the people here. Hitherto electoral power had been exercised by a very small portion of the population of this country; but the multitudes were rising up, and that House could not prevent their having power. He in-treated them, therefore, to encourage those whose office it was to instruct the people to communicate freely with them, without being hindered by fiscal restrictions, so that knowledge might be conveyed to those who must and would possess power which they hitherto had not enjoyed. He said, "For God's sake allow us to give instruction to the vast multitudes who are destined to exercise power in this country." Don't let, then, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when a question like this was discussed, put forth any narrow views of his, and say that 50,000l. of revenue were at stake. He appealed to all persons who knew the state of Europe at this moment—who knew what was going on in France, in Germany, and in Italy—and he asked them what was the cause of the present disturbed and dangerous state of affairs in those countries? It was, that the people were suddenly placed in the possession of political power, and came to exercise it without any previous political instruction. Well, that was the position that the people of England were about to occupy. He saw opposite to him—on the Ministerial side—many Gentlemen who represented large constituencies. He did not see any on his—the Opposition—side of the House. But what had such Members to meet when they went among their constituencies? Why, communist doctrines. When they went among their fellow-citizens, they were asked to support communist doctrines. He knew that Gentlemen on his side of the House did not meet with such persons. They were elected by "gentlemen," but they might depend upon it they would enjoy a short-lived existence. The thing was coming—they could not prevent it; the people of this country were excited, and they inevitably would have, and were about to have, political power. He had always supported a large increase of the franchise; he had done so with his eyes open, but he had done so in the hope that the Government would not put themselves in opposition to the education of the people. There was nothing pleasant to contemplate in the spectacle of an uneducated, excited, and ignorant multitude possessing the power of this vast empire. But they must and would have it, and he addressed himself to those who had in their hands the mighty interests of this kingdom, and he called upon them to discard these potty conceptions, to be no longer a Ministry clinging to power, to expand and exalt their minds, and to say to those who directed public opinion in this country—"We are about to raise the people to exercise and appreciate the great business of empire; the tide of time will raise them up to that position; we cannot prevent the consummation; but we are about to instruct the millions of our countrymen to understand their own interest, and, understanding it, to minister to the interest of mankind." Let this be the language of the Government, and let no narrow views interfere with the great proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester.


was certain that those Members who were not in the House at the time when his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke, could hardly have any correct notion of the speech of his right hon. Friend from the representations of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just resumed his seat. He asked the House to raise themselves above mere fiscal views, and to consider this subject with the greatness that belonged to it; but he (Lord J. Russell) must think that the view taken by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the more important one, and one upon which the decision of the House ought to depend. His right hon. Friend alluded in his speech to the proposition made after he had brought forward the financial statement of the year, and to the taxes which he had proposed to abolish, and he had stated, that after paying off an annuity of the value of 200,000l., which it was desirable to get rid of, he did not think that he should have a margin of more than 400,000l in the whole estimates for the financial year. His right hon. Friend then adverted to the various propositions that had been made for the reduction of taxation. He alluded to the proposal to take off the window tax, amounting to 1,800,000l.; he had considered as a whole the proposition now before the House, and involving a revenue of l,300,000l.; and he adverted to a proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose, which stood for to-night, to reduce the duties on various articles of agricultural and manufacturing produce, amounting to 1,500,000l. These proposals altogether dealt with taxes amounting to 4,600,000l., and his right hon. Friend said if the House, without considering the scope of all these various propositions, should take them piecemeal, and vote them when they had only a surplus of 400,000l., they would, after having got over their financial difficulties, find themselves again in embarrassments, and instead of a position safe, secure, and honourable, they would descend to a position unsafe, insecure, and injurious to the credit of the country. Now, such being the view taken by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he confidently asked the House whether this was a petty view to take of this question? And when the hon. and learned Gentleman told him of revolutions, and of the state of neighbouring countries, he would reply that he knew no cause more fertile in revolutions than that mismanagement of the finances which reduced the revenue of neighbouring States far below the expenditure, and which had brought on national bankruptcy, and in its train national revolution. Well, if that were the case, the warning ought not to be thrown away, and his right hon. Friend had, he contended, taken an enlarged view when he asked the House to consider these various propositions as a whole, and, when they were dealing with the stamp duties, the window tax, the paper duty, and the duty upon advertisements, to consider, not the particular defects of the tax before them, but how the abolition and reduction of the tax might affect the credit and the best interests of the country. He agreed with his right hon. Friend in these views. But the hon. and learned Gentleman said, the whole fault was that he (Lord J. Russell) had a contracted mind. He could not help the censure of the hon. and learned Gentleman. So it was, and so it must be. He could not rise to the heights of the hon. and learned Gentleman's magnificent sweep; but he trusted that he was not unfavourable to the progress of knowledge, and to the reduction of these duties when it could be done. The duty, however, which the Government had now to perform was to uphold the credit of the country; and it therefore behoved the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Ministry to place such a statement of the financial condition of the country before the House, as should prevent the House from injuring public credit. The hon. Member for Montrose had claimed credit for being consistent, and no doubt he had proposed that great reductions should be made in the naval and military establishments. But a great majority of the House had voted the principal items of these establishments. They considered it dangerous in the present state of Europe and of the world to leave this country defenceless, and he concurred in the wisdom of that opinion. Well, but then the Government were unable to effect these reductions and still to preserve the balance between the income and expenditure. Some hon. Members said that no mischief would happen if the income were reduced below the expenditure, because by the imposition of a duty upon certain articles of import, the Government might gain a revenue more than sufficient to replace the revenue they might lose. But the majority of the House considered such a proposal to be a return to a vicious system, and it was rejected by the House. So that here were different Members with different views concurring in particular votes who could neither agree in their plans of reducing the income to the expenditure, nor as to the mode of raising the expenditure to meet the income. And thus, again, by this process the House would find itself in a discreditable financial position at a moment when there were no difficulties of a financial kind before them. With regard to this particular tax, he was not disposed to say much. He would admit to the hon. Member for the city of Edinburgh, who seconded the Motion, that when gentlemen came to him as a deputation, to state their reasons against any particular tax, his lips were "congealed," as the hon. Member stated it, on the subject. He did not think proper on those occasions to express agreement with them in the objections which they urged; yet there was hardly a deputation that came before him, whether with reference to the Customs' duty on tea, or the duties on soap, or this tax on advertisements, or on windows, that had not admirable reasons to bring forward to show that the particular tax was injurious to the country. He could not well argue with them and dispute their statements; but, on the other hand, if he were to say they were right in asking for the abolition of the tax, he would very soon be taunted in that House with not coming down and proposing its abolition. He did not think that he and his colleagues had shown, particularly of late years, any indifference to the evils which were inflicted by these taxes. He found that, in 1833, the duty on advertisements was reduced from 3s. 6d. to 1s. 6d., by Lord Althorp, one of his colleagues, who announced that he would thereby cause a loss to the revenue of 75,000l. Lord Monteagle, also one of his colleagues, in a subsequent year, reduced the duty on newspaper stamps 309,000l.; and by reducing the duty on the higher class of paper to the same amount as on the lower, incurred a loss of 394,000l. Thus a sum of 778,000l. had been reduced by Governments with which he was connected on the very articles on which his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester proposed to make the present reduction. That at least showed that they had not been indifferent to the evils caused by these taxes, and that so far as such taxes were concerned—supposing that among all the variety of taxes there were none more objectionable than these—they would be ready to abolish them if their own merits were alone concerned. But, at the same time, he thought that in the able speech which his right hon. Friend had made, there was an exaggeration of the benefits to be derived from the abolition of these taxes. He thought the very phrase used, "taxes on knowledge," was itself an exaggeration. The hon. Member for Montrose said very truly that a great part of the evil complained of by the deputation which waited on him was the increase caused in the price of packages of goods packed up in paper parcels. But that any diminution of knowledge was caused by goods being packed up in such paper would surely not be contended by any one. Then, with regard to the newspapers, he certainly thought it very desirable that the people in general should have political intelligence conveyed to them, and when they were able to buy the newspapers, that they should, by means of them, be made acquainted with all the political concerns of the country. But there was much matter contained in many of the newspapers that could hardly be dignified with the name of knowledge; and that they deprived the people of knowledge by the tax on newspapers was what he was not prepared to admit. His right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester had shown the mischief of the unstamped papers; but they seemed to him (Lord J. Russell) to be so like some of the articles in the stamped newspapers that he scarcely knew the difference. There was a character of Earl Grey in one of them that he almost thought was written by Jacob Omnium, or some of the writers in the daily papers. For his part, he could not very much distinguish the difference in the style which the right hon. Gentleman wished to point out. The Government did not, as one of the deputations told him, keep on this tax to prevent knowledge being acquired and conveyed by the newspapers. He felt no apprehensions of that kind; but he believed that if the tax were taken off it would make little difference in the papers. The reason why the Times and other papers were charged so high as 5d. of which only 1d. was stamp duty—was that they put themselves to an immense expense for intelligence. A gentleman connected with one of the daily newspapers told him that the foreign express from Paris alone cost the establishment with which he was connected 600l. a year. The desire to obtain early intelligence, and the desire of the public to have that intelligence speedily communicated to them, was the cause of the high price of newspapers, and not the penny stamp. It was not to be said that he considered these to be taxes which it was desirable to maintain; it was only that he must decline entering into a pledge that these were the taxes that were to be abolished before any other. The hon. Member for Montrose spoke against those taxes certainly; but when he spoke against the window or the soap tax, he said all sanitary measures were useless unless they were abolished. He admitted that these were good arguments against those taxes, which, no doubt, did interfere to a considerable degree with the health, enjoyment, and means of cleanliness of the people at large. They were objections at least as strong as those urged against the taxes on knowledge. But then the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield said the Members of the Government had contracted minds, that they were about to fall into great dangers, and that the state of France was before them to show the nature of the perils they were likely to undergo. The present state of Prance, however, was not owing to any excessive price of newspapers, nor to any want of general instruction among the people. He was told that for a halfpenny they might obtain a newspaper at Paris full of the most ingenious epigrams and the cleverest writings, together with the intelligence of the day. Schoolmasters were spread throughout France, but, unfortunately, a great part of the newspapers contained attacks, not merely on the Government of the day, but on all Government; they were newspapers that endeavoured to make government impossible, and they were schoolmasters that endeavoured to make religion odious. He would say, then, that if they had cheap newspapers which endeavoured to make government impossible, and if they had schoolmasters that endeavoured to make religion odious, he could more easily explain the state of France than he could wish for our imitation of the course which they pursued. He did not believe, with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the people of this country had but lately been admitted to any share of power. They were a people long accustomed to political discussion; they had been long accustomed to know and take part in the political events of their country. The men of England had their hearts full of the victories of England, and they were men who had been proud of their loyalty to the Throne of England. They were men who loved the religion of their country; and, having that feeling, they had watched with anxiety and care every turn of the events of their country; and while they had hailed some Ministers with admiration and enthusiasm, they had been as ready to condemn others for their incompetency and unfitness. The hon. and learned Gentleman told him and his colleagues that they cared for nothing but holding on to place. Why, it was but a few days ago that he was reproached by an hon. Gentleman for the part he took with respect to the measure for the suppression of the slave trade, and was told that he was maintaining and encouraging a great public mischief when he declared himself determined not to retain office unless his opinions, which were held to be rash and unfounded, were assented to by the House. He was ready to submit to either implication, not feeling conscious that he was guilty in either respect. So long as they could maintain the principles by which they thought the greatness of England had been founded—so long as they could maintain this country in the possession of those great benefits which she had the happiness to enjoy—so long as they could keep her in the pursuit of that path which had been placed by Providence for her course—so long would it be a matter of pride to them to be the foremost advisers of the Sovereign. If, however, it pleased the House to take a course which they thought dangerous and humiliating, or disgraceful to the country, then their names must be severed from the possession of power, and they would only have to lament that the country had taken a course which they should deem unfortunate. He must ask the House to reject the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, and it was with all respect to him that he did so, agreeing as he did in many of the statements he had made with regard to these particular taxes. But this was not an occasion, this was not a time, when the House of Commons could lightly condemn taxes that were necessary to the support of their public obligations, and for the support of those establishments which they themselves had admitted were essential to their defence. That being the case, he asked the House to concur with him in the rejection of this Motion. He asked them to show in this country that they were determined to maintain its credit, and to be worthy of the people whom they represented.


wished, in a very few words, to state the reasons which influenced him in the vote which he was about to give. The question before them was this—ought they to agree to the first resolution of the right hon. Member for Manchester, a resolution which proposed to remove the excise from paper? That was the only question, he apprehended, on which the decision of the House was to be taken. He should not indulge in the general and somewhat impassioned views put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and the noble Lord the First Minister. They had both of them brought us to the Red Republic, and there he left them. Nor was it necessary for him to enter into the causes which, after a vast reduction of taxation, amounting to upwards of 9,000,000l., consisting of imposts which formerly pressed on the trade and commerce of the country, still, year after year, and day after day, the burden of taxation was felt to be more and more grievous and oppressive on that trade and commerce. Neither, like the noble Lord, should he remind the House, and especially his hon. Friends around him, that if they took any steps, when their constituents were loudly complaining of their burdens, to lessen the pressure of taxation, they must make up the deficiency by import duties. That was a point on which he should not now dwell, although it might offer an alternative not distasteful to him and those with whom he acted. All these considerations had really nothing to do with the somewhat hard and dry details under consideration. They were called upon to repeal an excise duty to the amount of 750,000l. per annum. Now, he could not view this question unconnected with the financial exposition of the Government, for the step which they might take that night was naturally connected with that financial statement. He held it, then, as a general rule that there were two considerations which ought to influence a financial Minister in dealing with that happy accident, a surplus. His first duty was to relieve any suffering interest in the country. If, however, the country were in that blissful state of having no interest of importance in great distress, his next duty would be to relieve all interests, by devoting the surplus to the reduction of the public debt, and so effecting a general reduction in the taxation of the people. Influenced by the conviction that these were the two considerations which ought to weigh with a public man when the Government were in possession of a surplus—and believing also that there was an interest, and that too the most important interest of all—not only suffering, but greatly suffering—that suffering having been recognised by the Government themselves—he had brought forward a proposition the object of which was to devote that surplus to the relief of the suffering portion of the community in question. What, under these circumstances, was the conduct of the Government? They opposed the proposition. They resisted the application of the surplus revenue to the relief of the interest with which he was connected. He had thus failed in his object—failed under circumstances which certainly brought to him, and to those who had supported him, no mortification. What was the subsequent conduct of the Government? Were they influenced by the second consideration in dealing with the surplus? Did they devote it to the reduction of the public debt, and, consequently, of the public burdens? They did not. They made a proposition which I am now justified in saying was most unsatisfactory to the country. They proposed the repeal of the excise on bricks—a proposition which, had he been present to hear, he should certainly have entered his protest against—but which was accepted by those to whom I it was announced as relief, with utter derision. By this proposition, the announced surplus was reduced upwards of half a million; while, as for the balance still remaining—with the cheers of last night still echoing in the House—the cheers which proclaimed the discomfiture of the plan proposed for its absorption—ho could only say that at this moment Government was actually in possession of a surplus revenue of one million. What, then, were they asked to do now? Why, to appropriate only a portion of that surplus to repeal the excise duty on paper. Before pronouncing any opinion upon that proposition, there was one observation which he wished to mate to his hon. Friends around him. It was true that the proposal to repeal the excise on paper, as well as that which was made the other night to repeal the window duties, were not propositions which were immediately connected with the interests which they represented on that side of the House. But what he wished to impress upon his friends was, that there was nothing more dangerous than to make proposals for relief from taxation invariably questions between the country and the town. He objected to the arts which he had often witnessed put in practice by those who wished to convey to the public that the only idea which on that side of the House they had as regarded relief from taxation, was to remit the burdens most pressing upon the interest with which they were more immediately connected. The question of relief from taxation was—if any question could be so called—a general and national question. And, if at any time, on his side of the House, any proposal had been brought forward for the relief of any one class, it had been because it was universally conceded that that class was not only the most suffering, but the only suffering class. But the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having declined to be influenced by either of the considerations to which he had referred in the disposal of a surplus, he found himself in this position—there was the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a surplus revenue, and there was also a proposition for the apportionment of that revenue. He (Mr. Disraeli) had then to consider whether it was most for the advantage of the country that the excise on paper should be repealed, or that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be left in the possession of funds for the discreet exercise of which he (Mr. Disraeli) had no security whatever. For the Chancellor of the Exchequer, let it be observed, had not come forward at half-past four o'clock that day, and frankly told the House what he meant to do. He had not told the House whether or not he intended to go on with his measure on stamps, and he had therefore permitted the House to consider under the most favourable circumstances, the first proposition of the right hon. Member for Manchester. What was that proposition? Was there a man in the House who entertained two opinions on its abstract merits? Was there a man in the House who entertained an opinion different from that of the right hon. Gentleman himself? Different opinions might be entertained as to the effect of duties on advertisements or newspapers; but there was no financial evil abstractedly greater than an excise, while in the present instance it was aggravated because to the physical a degree of moral disadvantage was to be added. He would not now go into the details which the right hon. Gentleman had brought under the notice of the House, but this he would say, that when the expression of "taxes on knowledge" was sneered at by the Prime Minister as an empty and fantastical phrase, he, for one, could not so easily forget how the Messrs. Chambers had been compelled to give up a publication of which the circulation was 80,000 per week—a publication, one of the most instructive and rational which had ever appeared—a publication most conducive to the cause of good order, good morals, and good government, but a publication which was beaten out of the market by a Holywell-street journal, which exceeded it in circulation, and which from its excessive cheapness carried the town before it—devoted as it was to indecent and blasphemous purposes. Could they, then, do better in the present state of the revenue, with the resources which they had at their command, than to assent to the first proposition of the right hon. Member for Manchester? In his opinion it was a prudent, a politic, and a beneficial Motion. Were they to be prevented, then, from assenting to a resolution so justified by circumstances, so beneficial in its character and its results, by the ensanguined phantom of a revolutionary republic being conjured up before them, or by the possible catastrophe of a change of Ministry dimly hinted at in Delphic sentences? The House might be safely assured that they were not near any misfortunes of the kind. The observation of the noble Lord that the people of England were deeply educated in political knowledge and the practice of public liberty—an observation in itself just and true—the fact set forth in that observation was the best security at all times for the conduct of the people; while, after all they had seen in this somewhat eventful Session—especially as regarded questions of finance—after all those scenes, respecting, for instance, the African squadron, to which, had they not been touched upon by the noble Lord himself, he (Mr. Disraeli) had intended, from motives of delicacy, not to have alluded, but which, as he could see from the uneasiness at once apparent in the faces of hon. Members opposite, bad thrown a somewhat darksome tint over the liberal benches—after all that they had witnessed last night, and all that they were likely to witness upon future nights—let not the House be frightened from taking the course justified by circumstances—a course which really involved no wild conduct whatever—the course which the state of the Exchequer and of public opinion alike vindicated—but let them, on the contrary, support, as he should support, the first resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester.

Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 89; Noes 190: Majority 101.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Keating, R.
Adair, R. A. S. King, hon. P. J. L.
Alcock, T. Lawless, hon. C.
Baillie, H. J. Lennox, Lord A. G.
Bennet, P. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Beresford, W. Long, W.
Best, J. Lushington, C.
Blair, S. Mackenzie, W. F.
Blewitt, R. J. M'Gregor, J.
Boldero, H. G. Manners, Lord J.
Booth, Sir R. G. Marshall, J. G.
Bright, J. Molesworth, Sir W.
Bruen, Col. Mowatt, F.
Chatterton, Col. Mullings, J. R.
Cobden, R. Mundy, W.
Cole, hon. H. A. Naas, Lord
Compton, H. C. Nugent, Lord
Conolly, T. O'Brien, Sir L.
Crawford, W. S. O'Connor, F.
Devereux, J. T. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Disraeli, B. Pilkington, J.
Dod, J. W. Portal, M.
Duncan, G. Prime, R.
Duncombe, T. Ricardo, J. L.
Edwards, H. Roebuck, J. A.
Ellis, J. Rushout, Capt.
Ewart, W. Sadleir, J.
Fagan, W. Salwey, Col.
Fellowes, E. Scholefield, W.
Filmer, Sir E. Seymer, H. K.
Forbes, W. Smith, J. B.
Fox, W. J. Stanford, J. F.
Galway, Visct. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Granby, Marq. of Stuart, Lord D.
Greenall, G. Stuart, J.
Greene, J. Thompson, Col.
Guernsey, Lord Thompson, G.
Gwyn, H. Trelawny, J. S.
Hall, Sir B. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Hastie, A. Waddington, H. S.
Heyworth, L. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hildyard, R. C. Williams, J.
Hill, Lord E. Wyld, J.
Hodgson, W. N. TELLERS.
Hope, H. T. Gibson, T. M.
Hume, J. Cowan, C.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, Sir T. N. Bass, M. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Bellew, R. M.
Anson, hon. Col. Berkeley, Adm.
Armstrong, Sir A. Berkeley, C. L. G.
Bagshaw, J. Bernal, R.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Birch, Sir T. B.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Blackall, S. W.
Baring, T. Blake, M. J.
Blakemore, R. Headlam, T. E.
Bowles, Adm. Heald, J.
Brockman, E. D. Heathcoat, J.
Brotherton, J. Heneage, G. H. W.
Browne, R. D. Henry, A.
Busfeild, W. Herbert, H. A.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Carter, J. B. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Chaplin, W. J. Hobhouse, T. B.
Childers, J. W. Hodges, T. L.
Clements, hon. C. S. Hodges, T. T.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hollond, R.
Clifford, H. M. Hotham, Lord
Clive, H. B. Howard, Lord E.
Cobbold, J. C. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Howard, P. H.
Coke, hon. E. K. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Jervis, Sir J.
Coles, H. B. Johnstone, Sir J.
Cowper, hon W. F. Jones, Capt.
Craig, Sir W. G. Keogh, W.
Crowder, R. B. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Cubitt, W. Langsten, J. H.
Dalrymple, Capt. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Lewis, G. C.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Denison, J. E. Littleton, hon. E. R.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Locke, J.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Loveden, P.
Duff, G. S. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Duff, J. Mackie, J.
Duke, Sir J. M'Neill, D.
Duncuft, J. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Dundas, Adm. Mahon, Visct.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Mangles, R. D.
Ebrington, Visct. Matheson, Col.
Egerton, Sir P. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Milner, W. M. E.
Estcourt, J. B. B. Milnes, R. M.
Evans, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Evans, W. Monsell, W.
Evelyn, W. J. Morison, Sir W.
Farrer, J. Morris, D.
Fergus, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Mulgrave, Earl of
FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W. Norreys, Lord
Foley, J. H. H. Ogle, S. C. H.
Fordyce, A. D. Ord, W.
Forster, M. Paget, Lord A.
Fortescue, C. Paget, Lord C.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Paget, Lord G.
Fox, S. W. L. Pakington, Sir J.
Freestun, Col. Palmerston, Visct.
Frewen, C. H. Parker, J.
Goddard, A. L. Patten, J. W.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Grace, O. D. J. Peel, F.
Greene, T. Perfect, R.
Grenfell, C. P. Pigott, F.
Grenfell, C. W. Plowden, W. H. C.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Plumptre, J. P.
Grovenor, Earl Power, N.
Guest, Sir J. Rawdon, Col.
Halford, Sir H. Reid, Col.
Hanmer, Sir J. Rich, H.
Harcourt, G. G. Romilly, Col.
Hardcastle, J. A. Romilly, Sir J.
Harris, R. Russell, Lord J.
Hastie, A. Russell, F. C. H.
Hatchell, J. Rutherfurd, A.
Hawes, B. Scrope, G. P.
Hayes, Sir E. Seymour, Lord
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Shafto, R. D.
Slaney, R. A. Vane, Lord H.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Verney, Sir H.
Smith, J. A. Walter, J.
Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. Watkins, Col. L.
Spearman, H. J. Wegg-Prosser, F. R.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wellesley, Lord C.
Strickland, Sir G. Willcox, B. M.
Stuart, Lord J. Wilson, J.
Stuart, H. Wilson, M.
Talbot, J. H. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Tancred, H. W. Wrightson, W. B.
Thicknesse, R. A. Wyvill, M.
Thornely, T.
Tollemache, hon. F. J. TELLERS.
Townshend, Capt. Hill, Lord M.
Tufnell, H. Grey, R. W.