HC Deb 02 June 1851 vol 117 cc345-63

begged to nominate the following Gentlemen as Members of the Select Committee on the Income and Property Tax; Mr. Hume, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Horsman, Mr. Herries, Mr. Labouchere, Lord Harry Vane. Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Thomas Baring, Mr. Henley, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Frederick Peel, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Vesey, and Mr. Beckett Denison. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that on the 5th of May the House, after a lengthened discussion, limited the Income Tax to one year, with the view of having in the interim a full inquiry into the working of the tax, and also to endeavour to remove some of its inequalities. He afterwards moved, in consequence of that understanding, that a Committee should be appointed for the purpose of making that inquiry. A month had since elapsed, and now various persons felt anxious to know when that Committee would be nominated; and as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had given him permission to nominate it now, before proceeding to the Orders of the Day, he proposed to do so at once. It was necessary to state that the time which had elapsed since the 5th of May had been partly caused by a desire on his part to form such a Committee as would satisfy the House that full justice would be done to so great and important a question as the present. He did not believe that one side, of the House was more interested in it than the other; and, therefore, his great anxiety had been to select from both sides those who had devoted their attention to the subject. With that view he had selected names from the four divisions of the House, but it turned out that those names were not satisfactory. The landed interest seemed to be of opinion that the numbers were unfair, and that they would not be sufficiently represented on the Committee; and yet he was only anxanxious to select six names, leaving the remainder to be filled up by whomsoever on either side might wish to be on the Committee. At the last meeting on the subject he had altered two of the names. He had substituted since then a Member for Ireland, and another country gentleman, and he did not think he could have made a better selection. He was most desirous that the Committee should endeavour, as far as possible, to see how the Income Tax Act had operated since its enactment in 1842, and whether evasions of the payment of the tax could not be prevented. His own conviction was that the evasions of the tax had been to a very great extent. The tax was not levied on a just principle. His desire was that the imposition should be such as that every man in the country should pay a fair proportion of the taxation of the country for the protection which he enjoyed from its laws. He had been informed by the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others, that Mr. Pitt bad admitted the impossibility of adjusting the tax properly; but, on reference to that eminent man's speech, there was to be found this statement:— No scale of income which can be devised will be perfectly free from the objection of inequality, nor can evasions be altogether prevented—all we can do is to approximate as far as possible to a fair and equal distribution. That statement fully coincided with the view he (Mr. Hume) entertained. Mr. Pitt himself began on a most erroneous principle, by raising different rates from different sums, commencing so low as 60l. per annum, and varying the rate of the tax according to the amount of the income. A variety of alterations were afterwards made in the law, and it would be allowed that from the experience derived during the time of Mr. Pitt's administration, and from the operation of the Bill passed by him, and also from what had taken place since 1842, considerable advantages had been gained in respect of their knowledge on this subject. His wish was, that after the Committee should have ascertained the working of the present system, they should proceed to inquire whether any mode could be adopted to render the property tax fair and equal. He was against all exceptions from the tax on account of the amount of property which the party possessed. His wish was to lay the tax on the shoulders of those best able to bear it, and to free industry as much as possible. Another object he wished to attain was to render the tax permanent. Nothing was more desirable to be avoided than frequent changes in the system of taxation of a country. Even a change from bad to good was often attended with evil. Therefore, his wish for going into Committee was to sec whether it was not competent to adopt some permanent system. The origin of the tax, as was well known, was to enable the reigning sovereign to carry on a war; its object now was to enable the Government to pay the interest on the debt incurred by that war. He would cheerfully lend his assistance to the Committee, however onerous the duty might be, to render the inquiry in every way worthy of the expectations of the House and the country.


said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, contrary to his (Mr. Herries's) expectation, had invited the House to a discussion, which, if entered upon, would, he ventured to say, prevent any other business being considered that night. The hon. Gentleman had not only suggested as a subject of debate the past but the future history of the property tax. It was after midnight when, on a former occasion, the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) moved for his Committee, and he (Mr. Homes) was thus prevented from making the few observations which he now felt it his duty to address to the House on the Motion for its nomination. At an early stage of the Session, he (Mr. Herries) laid before the House his views respecting the property tax. A very large proportion of the House was then of opinion, with him, that at that time the House might have commenced the abolition of an inconvenient impost, and at the same time might have maintained public credit, and have made ample provision for the public service. That proposition having been rejected, but not by a large majority, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) proposed that the tax should be limited, not to three years, but to one year. To that proposition he (Mr. Herries), with perfect consistency, readily assented. It was perfectly true the hon. Gentleman, in his speech, though not in his Motion, made a proposition for the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry into the Property Tax. Now, he (Mr. Herries) wished the House to understand that, although he might not have opposed the appointment of a Committee, it was no part or condition of his assent to the tax being limited for one year, that such a Committee should be appointed. On the contrary, he should have thought it a good reason for not entering into an inquiry, that the tax was limited for one year only, his expectation being that that would have been a bond fide limitation of the term of the tax itself, as a preliminary to its being ultimately abandoned. This led him necessarily to advert to the different views with which they were about to enter upon this investigation. But if he understood rightly the tendency of the speeches of hon. Members on the other side of the House on this subject, it was that the property tax was to be a permanent tax. The Committee might mend it if they could, and they might institute an inquiry for that purpose; but if they could not improve it, it must be retained in its present form. Now, his (Mr. Herries's) view of the matter was exactly the converse of that. He said, "Since you arc engaged in this investigation, go into it; and if the Committee can make this tax more free from those objections which the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) considers to be inherent in it, namely, those of inequality, vexation, and fraud, then he would admit that, they would have reason on their side; but if the Committee could not show that, and if the result should not be favourable to those views, then he (Mr. Herries) contended that the only alternative was that the tax must cease." His proposition was, "either amend the tax, or abolish it;" but the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose was, "Amend the tax if you can; but if you cannot, then you must adopt it as it is." Hon. Gentlemen, in the course of their arguments on this subject, and, perhaps, the public in general, seemed to entertain the belief that the greatest objection to the tax consisted in the assessment of the duty on incomes derived from professions or personal earnings, or in any other way unconnected with the possession of capital, at the same rate as on incomes issuing out of vested property. Now, whatever might be the weight or validity of the objection to the assessment on that score, he (Mr. Herries) did not consider it as affording the strongest argument against the continuance of the tax. A paper recently presented to the House, exhibiting an extraordinary diminution of the amount of income, returned under Schedule D, had added to the conviction which he had previously been led to entertain, that it was under that schedule, comprising the return of the profits of trade, that the inequality, vexation, and fraud inherent in the tax were chiefly to be found. They depended on the declarations of the par-tics, which there were no means of checking except by severe inquisition. There existed, therefore, strong temptations to fraud, against which there was no remedy but vexation. He would adduce an example, for the accuracy of which he had the highest authority. Within one small manufacturing division, the total income returned was 70,000l. per annum. The Commissioners, convinced that it was much below the truth, instituted inquiries to ascertain the quantity of the raw material which passed into the several factories, by means of which they could form a judgment of the profits derived from the conversion of it. Upon those data they surcharged the parties up to 150,000l., and, after discussion, an assessment of 130,000l. was gladly acquiesced in. Many cases of the like nature were constantly occurring, and, therefore, he protested against the imposi- tion of a tax productive of such immorality, except under circumstances of extreme emergency. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) had adverted to the policy of Mr. Pitt; but he forgot that in 1798 Mr. Pitt imposed the property tax on a great national emergency—that of war. The present circumstances of the country were of a very different character. The hon. Member, had been good enough to put his (Mr. Herries') name down in the list of Members to serve on the Committee; but he was unable to undertake the task. Having thus declined to serve on the Committee, he felt himself the more at liberty to object to its composition. There were upon the Committee the names of eleven Gentlemen who voted for the perpetuity or permanence of the property tax, and the names of only four who voted on the other side. Could the report of a Committee so constituted be expected to be satisfactory? The members of the landed interest had not complained of the constitution of the Committee, although they were scarcely represented upon it; but they would have been justified in doing so, for the tax undoubtedly pressed with unequal severity upon them.


said, it was an, unpleasant task to object to the name of any Gentleman, but paramount duty compelled him to disagree to some of the names proposed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume). He objected, too, that no one member of the military or naval professions was nominated on the Committee. He (Colonel Sibthorp) had called the attention of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer to the fact; and he had given him (Colonel Sibthorp) to understand that a member of those professions should be placed on the Committee—but he did not see that it had been done.


inferred from the speech of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), and of the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), that it was still an open question whether there was to be a Committee at all. For himself he should be very glad to give his vote against any Committee being appointed. If that question could be brought before the House for decision, he, for one, would he happy to record his vote against it, not being aware that any possible advantage could arise from the inquiries of a Committee. The hon. Member for Montrose said the object of his Motion to limit the tax for one year was to have an inquiry. The right hon. Member for Stamford gave his vote to limit the tax to one year for no such purpose; and many other hon. Members did the same. If they had given their votes merely to inquire, a more stultifying vote in itself could not have been given. They were on the eve of the Whitsuntide holidays; July was near; even with a vote in the Committee that three should form a quorum, there would be a difficulty in getting three Members together; and he defied the Committee to report anything of any value before that period of next Session, when the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer must be prepared to say whether he proposed a renewal of the tax or not. A more fruitless inquiry could not be conceived, and he thought, at all times, a more objectionable inquiry could not be entered on, because it relieved the Government of responsibility, and transferred that responsibility to the House. This Committee could not possibly learn anything that the House and Her Majesty's Ministers did not already know; and therefore he saw no grounds on which the Committee need be appointed. They had had no discussion on the question whether the Committee should be appointed or not. It was taken as a corollary on the vote for limiting the tax to one year, and was agreed to early one morning without discussion. The hon. Member for Montrose said this was a question for both sides of the House. If there were to be sides in the Committee, a division of town and country, the landed interest was certainly not very fully represented. There were nine town Members to six county Members, and of those six, two were Members for one county—for the West Biding of Yorkshire. As far as he was concerned, he was very glad to see them there; but he doubted very much if hon. Gentlemen opposite thought them the fittest representatives of the landed interest. If any question should arise between land and trade, town and country, fixed property and industry (though he thought fixed property was nothing more than accumulated industry), it was important that the Committee should represent all interests. He hoped that if the Committee was persevered in, the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) would take further time to consider the names he placed on it, so as to give satisfaction. At present it was most unsatisfactory; and any report emanating from it would not be worth the time occupied, or the difficulties encountered. Let Her Majesty's Ministers make the tax more equitable, and have no Committee at all.


said, the House would do him the justice to remember that he had never expressed any opinion in favour of the Committee. He stated, when the proposition as to the Committee was first made, that the questions to be decided were questions of principle, and ought to he decided by the House itself, and ought not to be referred to a Committee, and he pointed out the contradiction such a course would involve, and the difficulties which would stand in the way of coming to any satisfactory conclusion. His hon. Friend the Member for Montrose nevertheless moved, and he would do him the justice to say he fairly stated that he moved, the limitation of the tax to one year, for the purpose of getting a Committee appointed, and with the hope that the result of the labours of the Committee would he to make the income tax permanent. The House would also remember that a good deal of discrepancy of opinion was expressed upon that Motion; and that when he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) pointed out the discrepancy, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, the able and eloquent loader of the Opposition, stated that he, for one, supported the Motion on the same grounds as the hon. Member for Montrose himself. Taking the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire as the exponent of the opinions of his party, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) apprehended that it was the wish of a majority of the House that a Committee should he appointed. The Government acquiesced in that opinion, because they conceived it was the opinion of the majority of the House. The House was now put in the very strange position in which it must always be placed when two extreme parties joined to carry a vote in which, in truth, there was no common concurrence. The hon. Member for Montrose did not wish, in point of fact, to limit the tax to one year. The hon. Gentleman opposite did not wish to have a Committee for the purpose of rendering the tax permanent. The consequence was that he believed, in his conscience, that a majority of the House did not wish for a Committee at all. After the division on the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, there was no discussion on the question whether the Committee should be appointed or not. It was moved at a late period, and there was no objection made to it. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I objected to it.] At any rate there was no division. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) took the opportunity of making a speech because be had not that opportunity when the Motion for limiting the tax was before the House. Taking the result of that Motion as an expressed opinion in favour of a Committee, the Government felt bound to acquiesce; and the question now before the House was the nomination of that Committee. He perfectly agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite that the names proposed were not such as would altogether give satisfaction to the House in a question of this vital importance. But, at the same time, it was right that the House should bear in mind the extreme difficulty which had been experienced in getting the consent of hon. Gentlemen to serve on this Committee, which was one very great objection to the appointment of any Committee at all. He thought it was indispensable that the Committee should be a fair representation of all parties and opinions in that House. He had conferred with the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Buckinghamshire and Cambridge University, and with others who had taken a prominent part on financial questions. He thought it indispensable that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who had taken a prominent part in discussing financial affairs, and whose authority stood high in that House, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), as a Colleague of the late Sir Robert Peel, should servo on that Committee. He certainly had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Herries) would have served on that Committee, but he declined to do so; and he found that none of the Colleagues of the late Sir Robert Peel would take part in the Committee, alleging, as their reason for declining, that they did not approve of the appointment of the Committee, and they did not believe any good would result from its inquiries. Thus all the hon. Gentlemen of great official knowledge and experience declined serving on the Committee; and he could not avoid seeing that this fact must considerably weaken any weight which the report of the Committee could possibly have on the House, or on the country. Eventually, after some further conference, he did give the hon. Member for Montrose five names. The complaint now was, that the landed interest was not properly repre- sented in the Committee; and he was inclined to think that that opinion was not altogether unfounded, seeing that the landed interest paid nearly one-half of the tax in question. He also thought that the Government were not immoderate in wishing to recommend four Members out of the seventeen; and one of the names which he did recommend would have met the objection of the hon. Member for Lincoln, as it was the name of an officer in the Army. After what had passed, he thought it but fair to the hon. Gentleman (Colonel Sibthorp) that an officer of the Army should be placed on that Committee. The hon. Member for Montrose did not suggest any such name, and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought right to suggest it himself, but then the hon. Member for Montrose objected to it. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought he was warranted in objecting to the present constitution of the Committee. It would be very invidious to object to any particular name, and therefore on the first name, that of the hon. Member for Montrose, to which there could be no objection, he would suggest that the appointment of the Committee should be deferred. After the declaration of the right hon. Member for Stamford, and when it was known that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Labouchere) could not serve, as his name had been transferred to the Kaffir Committee, he could not conceal from the House that the Committee now to be named would be a different thing from that which the House might have expected.


objected altogether to the Committee, because he would leave to the Government the responsibility of proposing the tax in question when the period should arrive for dealing with it. He should therefore move as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, that the order be discharged.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "the order for the appointment of the said Committee be discharged," instead thereof.


said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had misunderstood the opinion be had expressed on a former occasion. He observed, then, that he did not vote for a Committee in voting for the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose to limit the tax for one year; but that, in consequence of that Motion, and the speeches with which it was introduced, the Government were hound to support the appointment of a Committee; and as he (Mr. Disraeli) thought nothing was more to be deprecated than that votes on a subject of great importance should be given on any false pretence whatever, he was himself prepared to support Government in that view. The right hon. Gentleman was in error in supposing that in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, he (Mr. Disraeli) agreed with him in his idea that the subject should be submitted to a Committee. What he said on that occasion was, that he should support the hon. Member for Montrose, because he thought the assessments under the tax were unequal, and that it was possible, on reconsideration, to render them more equal. Schedule D had been already modified by Her Majesty's Ministers; and he (Mr. Disraeli) did not think modification impossible in Schedule E, but he would much prefer that it should be effected by the same agency as the modification in Schedule D. He thought the Government capable, and it was shown to-night to be ready, to undertake those modifications. Still, if the hon. Member for Montrose wished to have a Committee, he (Mr. Disraeli) should feel hound to give him his vote. But he appealed to the hon. Member to consider all the circumstances by which the question was surrounded. They were on the eve of the Whitsun holidays—a month had already been lost in the matter, since the hon. Gentleman had obtained his majority in the important vote to limit the tax to one year; it was not possible, in the probable period that the Session would last, to investigate thoroughly the whole subject, and the Committee would have to make an incomplete report, or to be reappointed again, and again begin their labours in the next Session. Then the materials of the Committee were not of that nature to give satisfaction to the House. None of the authors of the law, for instance, were on it. Irrespective of their high positions, it would be of the greatest advantage, in point of satisfaction, to have some of the Gentlemen of the political party who passed the Act in 1842 on the Committee. The hon. Member was deprived of other assistance which he might have expected, and now he (Mr. Disraeli) put it to him what prospect of a satisfactory conclusion would he have in commencing measures at the fag end of the Session, with a Committee which did not entitle itself to that confidence which the House generally extended to Committees named on such an important subject as this. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would give better consideration to the circumstances, and not ask the House to appoint the Committee of which he had given notice.


protested against that which would be a fraud upon the House and a fraud upon the country. He did not speak of any particular Motion, but of the proceedings of the House. Many hon. Members on that side of the House had supported the limitation of the tax to one year upon the distinct understanding that inquiry should he made as to rendering the income tax more equal. The notice, as expressed on the Votes, was to move— To limit the duration of the tax to one year, with the view of instituting an inquiry by a Select Committee into the mode of assessing and collecting the tax; and whether the injustice of levying the same rate of charge upon terminable as upon perpetual annuities, and upon fluctuating and varying incomes from trades and professions as upon fixed incomes from real property, cannot be greatly modified or altogether removed. The question was put simply "that the duration of the tax be limited to one year." But on the 8th of May, it was determined— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the present mode of assessing and collecting the income and property tax, and to consider whether any other system of levying the same, so as to render the tax more equitable can be adopted. He asserted plainly, in the face of the country and that House, that many Members would have voted for the continuance of the tax for three years but for the expressed intention of having a Committee appointed, and which was afterwards determined upon by the vote of the House, almost in the same terms as the terms in which that intention was conveyed in the original notice. Was it fair, then, without any notice, when they came to name the Committee, to bring forward a Motion that the Order of the House for nominating the Committee be rescinded? They were on dangerous ground, and ought not to take that mode of setting aside the deliberate opinions of the House. It was said the Committee was not a fair Committee. But why? Hon. Members who were invited to serve upon it declined; and, because they would not serve, were they to rescind the Resolution altogether? Let hon. Members object to any names pro- posed, or suggest any to be substituted, but do not let them meet the question in that discreditable way. He gave notice that if a Committee was not appointed, he would propose that the tax be extended to three years, and then the House would decide; but they should not endeavour to obtain a decision on false pretences.


begged to explain the course he had taken in selecting the Committee. In the first place he had taken the four Members on his own side of the House who had brought forward Motions on this subject in 1847 and 1848. The names of these Members were still on the list. He then crossed over to the other side of the House to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), and asked that hon. Gentleman to recommend four names from his party. The hon. Gentleman then named Mr. Herries, Mr. Thomas Baring, and Mr. Henley, and, after some objections, consented to serve himself on the Committee. He (Mr. Hume) then went to the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) and requested that he would serve, and name two or three other of his political Friends to serve also. The right hon. Baronet, however, declined on the ground that he doubted the advantages likely to arise from the Committee. He (Mr. Hume) then went to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had also been anxious to have the names of Mr. Goulburn and Mr. Card-well. Considerable delay occurred in receiving any answer from Mr. Goulburn, and this had greatly retarded progress with the Committee. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed the name of Colonel Romilly; but he (Mr. Hume) had considered Mr. Frederick Peel preferable, and had therefore put the latter name on the list. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed him that there were strong objections entertained to putting the two Members for the West Riding on the list (Mr. Cobden and Mr. Beckett Denison). As there was this objection, he should be willing to substitute the name of Mr. Scholefield for one of the hon. Members for the West Riding. Afterwards, the name of Mr. Vesey had been added. With respect to the Amendment, he could only say that he would be no party to postponing this question.


had supported the Motion on a former occasion to limit the income tax to one year, on the distinct un- derstanding that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the operation of that tax. He could not, therefore, vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Boston. He objected, however, to the way in which the landed interest was represented on the Committee, though he admitted the composition of that body was better than last week. He objected altogether, however, to the two Members for the West Riding being on the Committee, and he could not, moreover, see why the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Vesey) was placed upon it, except with the ulterior object of extending the income tax to Ireland. He feared, however, that if that was the object, the Irish representatives, who were in the habit of insisting that they should have at least three Members on every Committee, would hardly be satisfied with delegating the interest of Ireland to one only. He, therefore, recommended the hon. Member for Montrose to suspend for the present the further nomination of the Committee, with the view to meet the objections that existed against its composition.


said, that the hon. Member for Montrose forgot one step. He gave notice of his Motion on one night, and on the next he carried a Motion which had in its terms been changed. The House, therefore, had had no opportunity of coming to a decision on the question.


said, the great difficulty in which the House was at present placed had arisen from the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) not attending to the suggestion of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), who in the course of the previous debate said, that if the hon. Member had wished for a modification of the income tax, he should have moved for a modification of it, and the House would have known what it was about. Those hon. Members who were in favour of a modification would have voted for it, and those who were opposed to it would have voted against it. There was another way which he (Lord John Russell) suggested, and that was, that the hon. Member might have proposed a Select Committee to inquire into the expediency of modifying the tax. The hon. Member, however, did not take that course, but he took a third course, which it appeared was not intelligible to those who voted for it, viz., to limit the income tax to one year. Some hon. Members said, "We vote for the Motion with the view of having, during that interval, an inquiry into the present mode of levying and assessing the income tax. Other hon. Members, who, however, were not very prominent in the debate, said, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) had said to-night, "We vote for it as affording us another opportunity of diminishing the tax with the view to its ultimate abolition. It was evident, therefore, that the two hundred and thirty Members had voted for the Motion upon very different grounds, and, considering those different grounds, it was no wonder there should now he such a misunderstanding about it. After the vote was come to, he (Lord John Russell) stated, on the part of the Government, that they took the Motion in the sense which was put upon it by the hon. Member for Montrose—that they were willing to consent to an inquiry by a Committee, which Committee, in their opinion, ought to be as fairly selected as possible from persons on all sides of the House who had paid attention to financial questions, and who were, on all occasions, listened to by the House as authorities on those subjects. His hon. Friend, however, did not seem to have succeeded in accomplishing that object. In the first place, none of those Gentlemen who had held office under the late Sir Robert Peel had consented to serve upon the Committee, which, of itself, would prevent the Committee being such as he had suggested as desirable. In the next place, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford had stated that he also must decline to serve upon the Committee. Then there was one name upon the Committee to which he (Lord John Russell) must most decidedly object—he meant the name of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should go into the Committee along with two or three who might be of his own opinion to contend with a large majority pledged to a different view of the question from his own. If there was to be a modification of the tax, his right hon. Friend ought to make his own proposition to the House. The only thing that remained to be done was that his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose should propose such a Committee as he thought fit, of those who generally agreed with him in opinion; and that he should endeavour that some agreement should be come to upon the subject of a modification of the income tax, so that they might be able, if they could, to refute that proposition which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had stated that he (Lord John Russell) had more than once made to that House, that inequality, vexation, and fraud were inherent in the income tax. He should be very glad, as the Committee had been given notice of, and the country expected it, that it should be appointed in the best manner possible by his hon. Friend; but he did not think any Committee could be appointed which would possess the confidence of the House on this subject, therefore he could not vote for discharging the order for the appointment of the Committee.


said, that with reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby), he thought it rather hard that the House should be considered as committed to what the hon. Member for Montrose had put upon the paper, seeing that he had only proposed to the House a small portion of the proposition referred to. They were now placed in this position. The noble Lord at the head of the Government said he considered that it was quite impossible to get a Committee which would have the confidence of the House, and, therefore, that they ought to allow the hon. Member for Montrose to work out his own wicked will in the matter. He was not sure hut that the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) had got a wicked will, and he was very astute in carrying out his plans, so that he (Mr. Hume) might get up a very awkward sort of a report, which nobody would like, and which perhaps it might not be very easy to get rid of. He certainly did not think that the Committee as it was proposed to be constituted could command the confidence of the House; and as the subject was one of so much importance, he would rather support the Amendment than go on with an inquiry which at present did not offer the least probability of coming to a satisfactory issue.


said, many similar Motions had been made with various fortune. Rut so far from the present embarrassment having arisen from the views of extreme parties in that House, the truth was, that the embarrassment had been caused by the Government relying with too much confidence on the votes of their usual supporters. If the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) had adopted the course which had been suggested, of moving for a modification of the income tax without limiting its duration to one year, his Motion would, in all prabability, have shared the fate of all the previous Motions to the same effect which had been moved since 1842. It appeared to him that his hon. Friend adopted the only course which, in the circumstances, was possible for him with any chance of success. The hon. Member's object was not, as he understood it, to make the tax perpetual, but to make it more equal. There were various opinions as to the tax—his (Mr. Horsman's) was, that the income tax, as an experiment, had been attended with great advantage to the country.


felt sure that the House would never consent to make the tax permanent without a Committee of inquiry. He was quite willing to acknowledge all the disadvantages under which that Committee would sit, as the lateness of the Session, and the deficiency of Members of authority upon such a subject who could be got to serve upon it; still, the sense of the House having been previously pronounced upon the subject, he could not vote for the Amendment, or shelve the inquiry, unless upon the understanding that the tax was not to be a permanent one.


said, no one on his side of the House would desire to give a shock to public credit by withdrawing the tax at a time when the financial position of the country might require it; but he certainly did not approve of the proposal for making it permanent. He approved of it in the original sense and for the original purpose for which it was proposed.


said, that like some other hon. Members on his side of the House, he had voted against the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume). In public and in private he had remonstrated with his hon. Friend against the course he was taking. He (Mr. Cobden) had felt that the hon. Member was enlisting in support of his Motion a large body of hon. Members who would vote, not with the view of making the tax more just and equal, but in order to get rid of it altogether. He thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite might give his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) a majority, and, not calculating on any such trickery as was now attempted, he also thought they would have given him the Committee. He had, however, never expected any good to result from the Committee, because the majority of the House, as tested in 1848, had decided against any modification of the tax on precarious incomes. He had wished that the sense of the House had been taken on the substantive proposition that the tax ought to be modified on incomes of a precarious character. This would have done all they could have anticipated effecting. He joined with the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) in asking the House to pause before they placed themselves in the position which they must occupy should they refuse to nominate the Committee, and give facilities for that inquiry to which they had already assented. Every one would remember that the public opinion of the country gave the House credit for passing the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, with the determination of going honestly and fairly forward with the inquiry. He certainly did not anticipate a dissolution of partnership between his hon. Friend and hon. Members opposite so soon. He had expected that hon. Gentlemen opposite would at least have acted in good faith up to the time the Committee reported, when he admitted they would be justified in voting for or against the tax as they might think proper. Although he had voted against the Motion of his hon. Friend, he could not vote against the appointment of the Committee, especially after they had limited the duration of the tax to one year. The income tax was not a matter which could be considered per se, as the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) seemed to suppose. He (Mr. Cobden) could not regard these 5,000,000l. or 6,000,000l. of taxation except with reference to the necessities of the revenue. If the tax were bad—if it were unjust—there were other taxes which were worse—which were more unjust; and he took the income tax because he could not reduce the taxation of the country, in order to get rid of it. He took it in place of the Customs and the Excise, which were as taxes far more objectionable. Hon Members could not, he thought, take advantage of a mere transposition of the terms of the Motion, and decide in the very teeth of their former vote. He was confident that the Government, and those who acted with them, now that the tax had been limited to one year, with a view to inquiry, would on the present occasion vote in good faith with the hon. Member for Montrose.


said, that after the remarks which had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and others in the course of the present discussion, he felt himself fully justified in voting for the discharge of the order.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 193; Noes 94: Majority 99.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Dundas, G.
Adderley, C. B. Ebrington, Visct.
Alcock, T. Edwards, H.
Anderson, A. Ellice, E.
Anson, hon. Col. Ellis, J.
Armstrong, Sir A. Elliott, hon. J. E.
Arundel and Surrey Earl of Evans, W.
Farrer, J.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Fellowes, E.
Baldock, E. H. Fergus, J.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Baring, T. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Barrow, W. H. Foley, J. H. H.
Bass, M. T. Forster, M.
Bell, J. Fortescue, hon. J. W.
Bellow, R. M. Fox, W. J.
Bennet, P. Freestun, Col.
Bentinck, Lord H. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Beresford, W. Galway, Visct.
Berkeley, Adm. Gaskell, J. M.
Bernal, R. Geach, C.
Birch, Sir T. B. Gilpin, Col.
Blackstone, W. S. Glyn, G. C.
Boldero, H. G. Grace, O. D. J.
Booker, T. W. Greenall, G.
Boyd, J. Gwynn, H.
Boyle, hon. Col. Hall, Sir B.
Bramston, T. W. Hallyburton, Ld. J. F. G.
Broadley, H. Harris, R.
Brockman, E. D. Hastie, A.
Brotherton, J. Hastie, A.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Hatchell, rt. hon. J.
Carew, W. H. P. Hawes, B.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Chaplin, W. J. Headlam, T. E.
Child, S. Henry, A.
Clay, J. Hervey, Lord A.
Clay, Sir W. Heyworth, L.
Clements, hon. C. S. Higgins, G. G. O.
Cobden, R. Hill, Lord E.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Hill, Lord M.
Colville, C. R. Hindley, C.
Corbally, M. E. Hodges, T. L.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Horsman, E.
Crawford, W. S. Hotham, Lord
Crawford, R. W. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Cubitt, W. Jones, Capt.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Keating, R.
Davies, D. A. S. Keogh, W.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Kerrison, Sir G.
Deedes, W. Kershaw, J.
Denison, J. E. Knox, Col.
Devereux, J. T. Labouchere, rt. Hon. H.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C.T. Langston, J. H.
Disraeli, B. Lawless, hon. C.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Lewis, G. C.
Duncan, G. Mackinnon, W. A.
Duncombe, hon. A. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Duncuft, J. Meagher, T.
Dundas, Adm. Matheson, A.
Melgund, Visct. Sandars, G.
Meux, Sir H. Scholefield, W.
Miles, W. Scully, F.
Milner, W. M. E. Shelburne, Earl of
Morgan, O. Sibthorp, Col.
Morris, D. Smith, J. B.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Smyth, J. G.
Mulgrave, Earl of Somers, J. P.
Mullings, J. R. Somerset, Capt.
Napier, J. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Noel, hon. G. J. Stafford, A.
O'Brien, Sir T. Stansfield, W. R. C.
O'Connor, F. Stanton, W. H.
Ogle, S. C. H. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Osborne, R. Stuart, H.
Paget, Lord A. Sullivan, M.
Palmer, R. Tenison, E. K.
Palmerston, Visct. Tennent, R. J.
Parker, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Patten, J. W. Thompson, Col.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Peel, Col. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Peel, F. Vane, Lord H.
Pilkington, J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Plowden, W. H. C. Walter, J.
Plumptre, J. P. Wawn, J. T.
Ponsonby, hn. C.F.A.C. Westhead, J. P. B.
Power, Dr. Whiteside, J.
Price, Sir R. Wigram, L. T.
Repton, G. W. J. Wilson, J.
Ricardo, O. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Rich, H. Wood, Sir W. P.
Richards, R. Wrightson, W. B.
Roche, E. B. Wyvill, M.
Romilly, Col.
Rufford, F. TELLERS.
Russell, Lord J. Hume, J.
Sadleir, J. Aglionby, H.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Fuller, A. E.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Arkwright, G. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Baird, J. Granby, Marq. of
Bankes, G. Greene, T.
Barrington, Visct. Guest, Sir J.
Bateson, T. Hale, R. B.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Hall, Col.
Brooke, Lord Harcourt, G. G.
Buck, L. W. Harris, hon. Capt.
Burghley, Lord Hayes, Sir E.
Burke, Sir T. J. Henley, J. W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Herbert, right hon. S.
Cardwell, E. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Childers, J. W. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Cholmeley, Sir M. Hope, Sir J.
Christy, S. Hornby, J.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hughes, W. B.
Clive, H. B. Hutchins, E. J.
Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Cocks, T. S. Knox, hon. W. S.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Langton, W. H. P. G.
Coles, H. B. Lawley, hon. B. R.
Denison, E. Lemon, Sir C.
Divett, E. Lewisham, Visct.
Dod, J. W. Lockhart, W.
Du Pre, C. G. Long, W.
East, Sir J. B. Lopes, Sir R.
Egerton, Sir P. Mackie, J.
Egerton, W. T. Maher, N. V.
Floyer, J. Manners, Lord J.
Fox, S. W. L. Monsell, W.
Frewen, C. H. Moody, C. A.
Mundy, W. Thornhill, G.
Neeld, J. Tollemache, J.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Tyler, Sir G.
O'Connell, J. Verner, Sir W.
O'Flaherty, A. Vesey, hon. T.
Oswald, A. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Pakington, Sir J. Wall, C. B.
Pennent, hon. Col. Walpole, S. H.
Rawdon, Col. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Reynolds, J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Smith, J. A. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Smollett, A.
Spooner, R. TELLERS.
Stanley, hon. E. H. Mackenzie, W. F.
Thompson, Ald. Freshfield, J. W.

Question, "That Mr. Hume he one of the Members of the Select Committee put and agreed to."


said, that as he had great anxiety that the Committee should he fairly nominated, he thought he would best consult the convenience of the House by delaying the nomination of the Members of the Committee to some future evening, and wished to know what evening the Government would allow him for the purpose?


recommended hon. Members on the opposite side of the House to waive their objections, and take part in the labours of the Committee.


said, that he would take the nomination of the Committee previous to the Orders of the Day on Friday.

Debate adjourned.