|1851 Paid window tax||£51,218|
|1853 Will be charged house duty||53,432|
|Being an increase of||2,214|
|or about 5 per cent.|
|1851 Paid window tax||£66,596|
|1853 Will be charged house duty||67,584|
|Being an increase of||988|
|or about 1½ per cent.|
|1851 Paid window tax||£118,472|
|1853 Will be charged house duty||134,476|
|Being an increase of||16,004|
|or 10 per cent|
|Thus in these three great towns—|
|1851 Window tax was||£236,286|
|1853 House tax will be||255,492|
|Being an increase of||19,206|
|or about 8 per cent.|
§ Yet hon. Gentlemen opposite complained when he and others said of this Budget, that it was setting town against country. What else was it doing? When these figures came before the country, the people would see how matters stood, and he would assure hon. Members opposite, that, even if they did carry their Resolution, they would never be able to carry into effect a law which should exact such a tax from householders in towns. He would instance one more parish—that of St. George, Hanover-square—in which many hon. Members resided. The window tax in 1851 was 47,350l. The house duty in 1853 would be 63,212l., thus increasing the taxation in that parish by about 25 per cent. His hon. Friend who spoke last, the worthy Alderman (Mr. Ald. Thompson), said that the house tax was a landlord's, not a tenant's tax. He was sorry that that hon. Member was not in his place, or he would ask him, as he asked any hon. Member opposite who took the same view of the question just to take his (Sir B. Hall's) own case. He held a house of a very respectable body of men—of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Did the hon. Gentleman suppose that the Dean and Chapter would come to him when the house tax fell due, and say, "We will not allow you, a lay tenant of ours, to pay this tax?" The hon. Member might think they would, but for his own part, he knew1470
|Bedford, Bucks, Cambridge, Salop.|
|1851 Paid window tax||£51,998|
|1853 Will be charged house tax||22,142|
|Being a decrease of||29,851|
|or nearly 60 per cent.|
|Lincoln, Norfolk, Dorset.|
|1851 Paid window tax||£66,286|
|1853 Will be charged house tax||30,996|
|Being a decrease of||35,290|
|or 45 per cent.|
|Cumberland, Hereford, Hertford, Huntingdon, Northampton, Rutland, Suffolk, Westmoreland, Wilts.|
|1851 Paid window tax||£118,521|
|1853 Will be charged house duty||49,158|
|Being a decrease of||69,363|
|or 70 per cent.|
|Whilst in sixteen agricultural counties, of equal assessment as regards the window tax—|
|1851 Window tax was||£236,800|
|1853 The house tax will be||102,298|
|Being a decrease of||134,504|
|or about 50 per cent, whilst the towns are increased 10 per cent.|
§ very well that he would have to pay it. They took houses from noble Lords and ecclesiastical corporations, who owned the property on which they were built, and it was absurd to suppose that this would be a landlord's tax. The question arose— Why were they to pay this tax? Why should they allow from 40 to 70 per cent reduction of taxation to be made in counties, and pay 5, 10, or perhaps 25 per cent of taxation over and above that of 1851? Why should they let the tenant-farmer who rented a farm of 299l per annum go free of income tax, whilst the tenant tradesman was to be taxed? The statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, that the farmer should be relieved because of the great competition to which he was exposed. Let him go to any of the thoroughfares of our towns, and ask if there was not great competition amongst tradesmen as well as amongst farmers. In this vast increase of taxation, the inhabitants of the towns wore offered a reduction of one-half of the malt tax. It had already been shown, and especially by the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), in a speech remarkable for the lucidity, the soundness, and the closeness of its argument, that this reduction would confer no benefit on any class of the community, excepting the maltsters and the brewers; that the whole staff of excise must be kept up; and that a vast 1471 deficiency of revenue would occur without any real benefit to the public at large. Hon. Gentlemen opposite quoted M'Culloch in favour of their views; but that economist was quoted on that side of the House against their arguments. For his own part, he had no great faith in quotations from political economists, for they were often made without reference to the context, and sentences were picked out to prove either side of a question. The best opinion on a matter of this sort was that of the person who sold the article. He could give them the opinion of Mr. Barclay upon the subject of the reduction of the malt tax. In his examination before the Committee of the House of Lords, he said that the malt duty restricted the demand for barley in a very small degree, and then went on to show that the consumption had not increased with the increase of population, but had, on the contrary, decreased. In 1837, 5,000,000 quarters had been charged for duty; in 1834, only 4,600,000 had been charged, and he said that he considered that the reason of this was, that the people must have become much more sober. Taking off the whole of the malt duty, he thought, might make porter one halfpenny a pot cheaper; but it would be a great loss to the revenue, and that loss would not be made up by benefit to the consumer." This was the opinion of a person who was going to sell the article of which he spoke, of one who was not a theorist, who might be quoted by hon. Members on either side of the House. He spoke plainly and intelligibly. When the inhabitants of the great towns saw that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to put 100 per cent additional taxation on them over and above what was paid by other classess of the community, they would certainly expect of them that they should strive to obviate that injustice as much as lay in their power. The hon. Member for the county of Hertford, who was, by the way, somewhat severely treated to-night by the hon. Member for Middlesex (but not unjustly), had said the other evening that he considered that the reduction of half the malt tax would be of great assistance to the farmers, but that above all he considered this a poor man's question. Had they never heard of "the poor man's question" before? When the Corn Laws were under discussion, every Gentleman Opposite cried aloud that the maintenance of these laws was a poor man's question. These laws were repealed; hon. Gentle- 1472 men opposite all became free-traders, and then they told the poor man that he was never better off than under the repeal of the corn laws. He no more believed that the reduction of the malt duty was a poor man's question, than that the continuation of the corn laws was a poor man's question. They wanted to keep up that cry merely to spare the pockets of landlords, and now they said the same to do the same thing. But the poor man knew that they led him astray before, and he would not believe them when they said that this, too, was a poor man's question. When the Budget was brought forward, he (Sir B. Hall) said that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer might rely upon it, that his proposal was the commencement of a war between town and country. He said so now. And he would say farther, that if the inhabitants of great towns remained quiescent—if they remained passive under what was proposed to be done —and if they suffered this 100 per cent of taxation to be added to their burdens, he could only say that they deserved that the right hon. Gentleman should come down next year, if he should be in power, which he did not believe would be the case, and take off the malt duty altogether, and put another 100 per cent of taxation upon them. But there was too much intelligence in the towns to admit of this species of taxation, and he would again assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that even if they carried their Resolution to-night, they would never be able to carry it into effect.
§ SIR JOHN DUCKWORTH
said, he wished to accept the invitation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the whole Budget as a financial scheme of taxation, and, in that view of it, he gave his cordial consent to the principles which appeared to him to be involved in the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman. The reductions proposed in favour of the shipping interest, with which he was connected through his constituents, were universally admitted to be reasonable and just. With regard to the question before them, he thought the course adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was more proper than if he had made any attempt to reverse the commercial policy which had been adopted by the country. For he was now convinced that, under the altered circumstances of the country, the question of free trade had changed in its bearing; and, there fore, although a certain amount of pressure had 1473 fallen by the change on some classes, the evils that would arise from reversing that policy would exceed those which were now felt by any portion of the community. He also approved of the remission of the tea duties, because it would be attended with great good, and in the event, it was to be hoped, could not very much diminish the revenue. Although the reduction of the duty on malt would not afford any benefit to the J agricultural interest in that part of the country with which he was connected, he thought he should be acting a selfish part if he refused to entertain a proposition which in so many parts of the country was deemed to be of considerable importance, He viewed the reduction of this duty with leas cordiality, because he did not see that the producers, whatever of indirect gain and advantage might arise to them, would be directly benefited by it. Neither did he think it would be of any great advantage to the consumer; and if not to the consumer, then it cut both ways, for I the producer could not hope to gain. He was of opinion that reductions in the duty of other articles would have been attended with greater advantage to the whole of the people. It was perfectly obvious, from the moment free trade was adopted by that House, that the deficiency created in the revenue by the remission of indirect taxation must be met in some way, and the only remaining mode was by direct taxation. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was justified in imposing a reasonable equivalent of direct taxation for the indirect taxation remitted. When he had arrived at this point, however, he shrank from going the length of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he now felt himself greatly released from the difficulty under which he laboured, by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening. For although he desired to support the Government, yet, entertaining the views that he held, if the right hon. Gentleman were to impose a larger amount of direct taxation than was a fair equivalent to the reductions made in the other parts of the Budget, he should have been unable to give his consent to that increase of taxation. He felt, therefore, relieved from the consideration of the question as regarded the increase of taxation, and whether the doubling of the house tax was or was not more than a fair equivalent for what his constituents 1474 and the nation at large would derive from other portions of the Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said early in the evening that he placed this Resolution upon the paper with a view of testing the opinion of the Committee with regard to the question of increasing the area of direct taxation. He (Sir J. Duckworth) was glad to be able to give his support to that principle. But it was a still more important imperial question to consider that, in coming to vote upon this question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had invited them to regard that vote as a vote of confidence in the Government, and not as a mere question of the details of the Budget. Though he (Sir J. Duckworth) confessed that he thought the class amongst which his constituents ranked would have been treated unjustly by so large an increase of taxation as that proposed, yet as he understood that that increase of taxation was not definitely affirmed by the Resolution now before the Committee, but that, on the contrary, it would be open to them hereafter to discuss the extent to which it should go; he was prepared to give his vote in favour of maintaining the Government in the position which they now occupied, and which, he believed, was the real question which he was called upon to decide. He did so in a confident belief that the result would be—that justice would he done to all classes of the community—to those whom he had the honour to represent, no less than to those whom other hon. Members represented. On these grounds he would be prepared to give his vote in favour of the Resolution. MR. HUME said, that he was anxious to offer some observations to the Committee on two specific grounds: first, because had it not been for his Motion limiting the duration of the Income tax to one year, they should not have had the present discussion; and, secondly, because he had given notice of his intention to submit certain Resolutions with regard to that tax. Before proceeding to speak of the Budget, he would beg to submit to the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in consequence of what had fallen from him at an earlier period of the evening, the question before them was not entirely altered, and whether it would not be better to withdraw the Resolution and modify it in such a manner that they might be able to come to a clear understanding on the subject, and know what was the point on which they were to divide. He had on a 1475 former occaston proposed to increase the area of the house tax to 10l. houses, and upon that point there was no difference of opinion between himself and the right hon. Gentleman. Why, then, did he oppose this Resolution? Because it increased the amount of the tax besides extending the area; and as there was a surplus revenue he did not think that any cause had been made out for an increase of taxation. He hoped that, before a division, the right hon. Gentleman would give some explanation as to what the principle of the Resolution really was; for at present it would puzzle any man, in or out of the House, to know what was the subject of debate, and what they wanted to arrive at. If the point involved in the Resolution was merely the question of the extent of the area of direct taxation, he was perfectly ready to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer his vote, and he saw no reason why the Committee might not he unanimous. With regard to the Budget as a whole, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman had taken a bold though not very judicious course. The declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, that his Budget was to be a free-trade Budget, and was to put at rest for ever the disputes of parties, appeared to him (Mr. Hume) of great importance, if they could only secure its realisation. There were some right and some wrong proposals in the Budget, which he would proceed to point out; but he must say, first of all, that he thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had dealt fairly with the shipping, colonial, and agricultural interests. He desired to give the right hon. Gentleman full credit for the manner in which he had disposed of those interests. If there was one branch of reform which this country was bound to look to more than another, it was that relating to the shipping interest. Ever since a Committee had sat upon the subject in 1823, he (Mr. Hume) had not ceased to point out the injustice done to our mercantile marine; and if the right hon. Gentleman would carry out the reforms he had proposed, he would be acting in a manner creditable to himself and advantageous to the country. There was not a shipowner in the country who did not consider what were called "passing tolls" as a species of robbery; and he (Mr. Hume) cordially approved of the proposal to abolish them. With regard to pilotage and ballasting, the right hon. Gentleman would find no difficulty; they depended altogether on the Trinity House, 1476 which would not stand in the way of reform. He besought the Government to settle speedily the question of enlistment at sea; great hardship and injustice resulted from the present regulations on that subject, and he could even mention cases in which ships had been lost owing to this cause. He was satisfied that the manning clause was one of the most mischievous enactments in existence, and the efforts which seamen were now making against it deserved immediate attention. With regard to the question of salvage, perhaps the Committee were not aware that both the French and the American Governments had ordered that no ship belonging to the navies of those two countries should ever call for one single shilling for assistance rendered to merchant ships; and the captains in those services were directed to afford assistance, not only to their own mercantile marine, but to that of other nations. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the alteration he had effected here. We had at the present time no fewer than 4,400,000 tons of shipping, and no want of seamen could possibly arise so long as there was no other country in the world which had so many ships as we had. He, for one, should never be satisfied until British ships were free from lighthouse and all other dues; and when they could enter and leave all harbours freely, the number of ships in our mercantile marine would be greatly increased. There was no reason, in his humble opinion, why a mercantile ship should have to pay light-dues which were not paid by the ships of Her Majesty's Navy; and by removing this charge, the Legislature would enable shipowners to lower their freights, and thus to enter into competition with the whole world. The right hon. Gentleman had also done well in conferring a boon upon the sugar colonies, and it now only remained for him to devise means for increasing the amount of labour in those colonics. Our colonial possessions had suffered much by our legislation, and they now deserved to be considered in the most favourable light; money, indeed, could not be lent to them, but there were many arrangements by which they might be benefited, especially by allowing them the free management of their own affairs. The colonies had hitherto hung to us like leeches, drawing our money from us, but it was absolutely necessary to let them drop off from us one by one, and assume the management of their own concerns. The arrangement with 1477 regard to refining sugar in bond would be beneficial to the colonies, and would be no loss to this country. He only wished the right hon. Gentleman would contrive some means for conveying labour to the colonies; otherwise they would never be able to pay the interest upon their loans. Having been ruined by imperial legislation, they ought to be considered. With regard to the general policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he (Mr. Hume) could not say that the right hon. Gentleman had done what he ought to have done. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Ball) said that free trade ought to be carried out. Yet 233 manufactured articles still bore protective duties, and about 42 articles connected with agriculture. Why did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer abolish these protective duties? He need not then have added to the taxation of the country at all. The abolition of half the malt tax was not enough. It ought to be abolished altogether. The public might then get rid of the monopoly of the brewer, if the licensing system were also abolished. He should be prepared to show at some other time that socially, morally, and physically it was necessary to bring back the people from the use of ardent spirits, to which they had been driven by the high price of malt. These 233 articles only produced 434,000l. The duty on cheese only brought 85,000l. to the revenue, and that upon butter 158,000l. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had cleared off all these duties it would have been a great honour to him, and would have been received with acclamations by the country. With regard to the income tax, in proposing to draw a distinction between incomes from trades and professions, and incomes from realised property, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was taking certainly a bold step, because it was opposed by both of the two previous Chancellors of the Exchequer, but yet a step highly consistent with all the evidence adduced before the Committee on the Income Tax, and one in which the feeling and the good sense of the whole community would go along with him. The country was in favour of direct taxation, and only wished to see it divested of its injustice and its partiality. Unless all were made to pay according to their ability, the system amounted to confiscation as regarded those who were selected to bear the burden. The ability of every person should be determined by the property which he had, 1478 that property to be estimated at its market value, and then there would be no difficulty in apportioning the incidence. Let there be an entirely separate schedule for incomes from trades and professions; and he, for one, could not see why the clergyman should be assessed on a higher scale than the members of any other profession. This would bring the income and property tax to a state of at once the greatest fairness and the greatest simplicity. He thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have dealt with the assessed taxes, which were a great burden upon the industry of the country; for there could be no greater mistake than to suppose that a tax on carriages and servants only affected the rich. The revenue of the country for the year ending April 5, 1852, amounted to 52,468,000l.; and looking at the different heads into which it was divided, it would be found that 39½ per cent of the whole revenue was derived from the Customs, and another 27½ per cent from the Excise; making 67 per cent of the entire revenue of the country derivable from the two heads of Customs and Excise alone; and it must be borne in mind that the greater portion of that 67 per cent was raised from the industrious classes. In addition to this, 3,500,000l. of the income tax was raised from trades and professions, showing that these classes were unfairly taxed as compared with the propertied classes. Why, the property of the country, looking at its entire amount, now contributed but a small modicum of the revenue of the country. The land in 1814 and 1815 bore 64 per cent of the whole property tax that was then raised; but in 1848 its proportion was reduced to as low as 34 per cent. This arose in a great measure from the extensive introduction of railways, canals, factories, &c, which had altered the proportion that the land bore to the rest of the property of the country. Well, he maintained that by a direct tax properly assessed on the whole of the realised property of the country, they might easily raise a sum of 8,000,000l. to the revenue; and he believed that a tax of less than five per cent on the whole property of the country would raise an amount that would be sufficient to enable them to dispense altogether with the assessed and the excise taxes. With regard to the exemption of incomes from property under 50l. a year, he (Mr. Hume) considered there ought to be no exemptions at all; the tax ought to he levied upon the 1479 lowest, amount of; income derived from property, because all the evidence taken be-fore the Committee showed that the existing 150l. limitation had been the cause of the greatest frauds upon the revenue; and all the authorities said that if the tax was to be continued it ought to be imposed on all without any exemptions. In assessing property to the tax, he certainly thought a deduction ought to be made for repairs, in order that the capital—the subject of tax-ation—should be left intact; and with regard to houses, it would not be fair to tax them on the same scale as other descriptions of property, because house property was only worth seventeen or eighteen years' purchase. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would look further into the subject of the income tax, and be induced to go further than he now intended to do in the same direction. If he did so, he (Mr. Hume) should be glad to give him every assistance in carrying out his measures. He now came to the house tax; and that he must say he considered to be one of the worst taxes that could be levied. If anything had been a greater reflection than another upon the rich and wealthy classes of this country, it was the numbers of wretched hovels that were to be seen in close proximity to our stately mansions. This evil, however, had been in the course of gradual extinction. In Liverpool alone 27,000 cellars had been given up, as wholly unfit for human habitation. The taxes on bricks, timber, and glass had been reduced, and model cottages and lodging-houses established to improve the dwellings of the working classes; but the effect of this house tax must be to check these improvements. He held that the house tax, as at present levied, was most unequal and unjust, because it was assessed according to the amount of the rental, and it was well known that rent absorbed a greater proportion of the income of people of small means than of the income, of the rich; and the consequence was, that the payers of the tax were not charged according to their ability to contribute; and the result of the proposal to extend and double the house tax would be that the occupier of a house at 20l. rent would have to pay 1½ per cent on his income, estimating his income at 100l. a year the, occupier of a house at a rent of 100l would have to pay ¾ per cent on an income of 1,000l, a year; and the man worth 10,000l. a year, and renting, a house at 1,000l., would only have to pay ⅜ per 1480 cent on his income. That, he thought, was a most unequal and unjust mode of assessment, placing the heaviest burden on the shoulders that were least able to bear it, and relieving the millionaire from contributing according to the extent of his ability, as he should be required to do. He (Mr. Hume) would prefer that they should abolish the house tax altogether, and add 1 per cent to the property tax instead. Looking at the altered position of the country, and the fact that the manufactures of the country now paid 30 per cent more than the land paid between thirty and forty years ago, England must now depend no longer, as it had hitherto done, upon the land for its support, but must depend upon its manufactures and its commerce; and to render these manufactures and that commerce as profitable as possible, and to enable them successfully to meet the competition of the United States of America and their other rivals, we ought to relieve them from the burden of indirect taxation, and to revert to a more complete system of equitably-adjusted direct taxation. He believed that we might raise one-fourth, and even one-third, of the entire revenue of the country from a tax upon property; and he wished to convince the landed proprietors that the value of their land was owing to the manufactures and commerce of the country. In conclusion, he would only add that he should vote against any increase to the taxation of the country, and also against the proposed appropriation of the 400,000l. from the Loan Commission Fund, which he considered a robbery.
§ SIR EDWARD DERING
said, that being the representative of a large and important agricultural constituency, he was unwilling to give a silent vote on the question before the House. He was not about to canvas the abstract merits of direct and indirect taxation, but would confine himself to the consideration of the effect of the measures proposed in the Budget upon the various interests of the country. He believed the first portion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's financial statement relating to the relief of the shipping and the West Indian interests, as well as that relating to the reduction of the tea duty, had been received with general satisfaction throughout the country; and, for himself, he fully participated in the general feeling, But there was another question of infinitely greater importance, on which the country had expressed a no less unequivocal opinion, but 1481 to which grave objections had been raised in that House; he meant the proposed modification of the income tax, and the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman intended to draw between permanent and precarious incomes. Popular opinion, in this instance, was on the side of the right hon. Gentleman, and he thought it would not be difficult to show that the proposition had the sanction and authority of those recorded opinions which were worthy the attentive consideration of the Committee. When the income tax was first proposed, there had been no disposition on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen to modifications of it, nor had they scrupled to pronounce a system which raised the same amount from precarious incomes and from real property as unequal, unjust, and unwise. The first authority that he would quote was the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell), who had told them the reason why Mr. Pitt made no distinction between realised and precarious incomes. In 1842 the noble Lord said—He thought Mr. Pitt was perfectly justified in making no such distinction, because at the same time the nation was engaged in a struggle for its very existence. There were many to whom, under the circumstances, he acknowledged that the tax ought not to apply; but as the nation was then engaged in a most arduous and perilous struggle, he said that wherever he found income he took the tax."—[ 3 Hansard, lxi. 900.]He found that in 1848 the noble Lord still entertained the same opinion. In one of the debates which took place during that Session, the noble Lord said—They had the means of modifying the income tax, so as to make it press with less injustice and severity on those whose precarious incomes brought them within its scope.Another very high authority in that House, the right hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), asked—If it was desirable to impose a tax on property, why not attempt to arrive at some equitable and reasonable mode of assessing it? He was opposed to the inequality and injustice of the present system of assessment.Another right hon. Gentleman, who possessed great weight in that House, the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. T. Baring), asked—Was it a just or equal tax? Was it fair that those who were in occupation of property should pay in the same proportion as those who obtained their annual incomes by their own exertions? His own opinion was that no tax could be devised which would operate more unequally, more unjustly, and more oppressively.He could only add that he cordially par- 1482 ticipated in the views contained in the extracts he had quoted. He should certainly vote for the proposed modification of the income tax, not only because he believed it was in accordance with the general feeling of the people of England, but also because he believed it was founded on principles of equity and justice. He next came to the consideration of two other important taxes, which had been much dwelt on in the course of this debate—he meant the malt tax and the house tax. He regretted that in the discussion of these two taxes attempts had been made by some hon. Members opposite to raise up an agitation of the towns against the country, setting the interests of one part of the community in opposition to those of the other. The hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) had not scrupled to assert that the only object for which the repeal of the malt tax was proposed was to afford compensation to the agricultural interest. He had even gone further, and said, if he heard him right, that the proposed extension of the house tax might almost be considered as an act of revenge against the 10l. electors. Now, he (Sir E. Dering) had no hesitation in saying that he thought the utterance of such extreme opinions was very much to be deprecated, because they were at variance with that spirit of moderation and mutual forbearance with which those great questions ought to be discussed, if it was their wish to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion. With the leave of the House he would now inquire whether the malt tax was to be considered in the light of compensation to the agricultural interests, and whether the house tax should be deemed an act of revenge?? If the remission of one-half the duty on malt had been offered to the agriculturists as a compensation for those burdens to which they had been unduly subjected, he said he was perfectly certain, speaking on behalf of the agriculturists, that they would have repudiated any such offer as that as totally unworthy of their serious consideration. He would go a step further, and say that, except in special cases, he thought the repeal of half the malt tax would be of very little benefit to the farmer. The barley grower might very likely derive some advantage from it; but as regarded the wheat lands, he thought very little or no benefit would be derived, at least compared with the enormous amount of revenue that would be sacrificed by it. It appeared to him there was only one general advantage which 1483 could be gained by the repeal of one-half the malt tax, as stated last night by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E, Ball), and that it was by inserting the wedge they might hope to obtain at a subsequent period that which would be the enormous boon to both producer and consumer, the total and entire repeal of that obnoxious impost. There was another ground on which he thought some possible benefit might arise. If the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were right, in concluding that a great increase would take place in the consumption of malt from the remission of the duty, then he thought some incidental advantage might possibly be derived by the hop-growers from an increased demand for bops. On these grounds, the one general the other special, and looking to the prospective advantage to be expected, rather than to the partial and immediate benefit, he should certainly give his support to the proposal for the reduction of the malt tax. With respect to the proposed remission of half the duty on hops, he could hardly believe there was any serious intention on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to continue an army of excisemen merely for the purpose of levying the insignificant amount of 150,000l. This was so contrary to every sound financial principle that he hoped very sincerely the right hon. Gentleman on more mature reflection would not fail to adopt the conclusion which must suggest itself to every one's mind, that if any alteration was to be made, there was but one reasonable mode of dealing with this duty—that of getting rid of it altogether. He now came to the consideration of that most unpopular impost, which had created so much division of opinion in the House, the house tax. He was much struck the other night with the observations made by the right hon. Baronet the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, which appeared to him to tell in favour of the Ministerial plan. The right hon. Baronet pointed out that by it the House was about to deal with classes who up to that moment had been nearly exempt from taxation. [Sir CHARLES WOOD: Exempt from direct taxation.] Well, the question occurred to him, as it must to every other Gentleman in that House, why should that class which had benefited to the full as much as any other in this country by late legislative measures, be exempted; why should it be the only class in this country exempted from paying its fair share of 1484 taxation. It was a very numerous class: they heard the other night that the 10l. householders amounted to no less a number than 350,000, and it was known that they exercised a very powerful influence over the deliberations of that House; therefore he saw no reason in justice why they should be placed on a different footing from all other classes of the community. Recollect that out of 3,500,000 inhabited houses in this country, 3,100,000 were totally exempt from the tax; they had the authority of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, when proposing his house tax, that the whole inhabited house duty was paid by 400,000 houses only. Well then, all he could say was, that he was surprised that such a state of things should exist— it was quite time that such an anomaly should be done away with. He admitted there was an appearance of hardship in imposing in one and the same year two direct taxes on persons who up to this moment had not been subject to this species of taxation. That might be a good plea for modifying the tax, and in all probability some graduated scale might be proposed for the consideration of the Committee. Reserving to himself the power of voting such a plan, he thought a very great principle was involved in extending the area of the tax, and he should record his vote with great satisfaction in favour of the Resolution. Another point on which he wished to say a word regarded that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's financial scheme which related to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department argued, by the Act 5 & 6 Vict, the Irish and English fundholder were placed precisely on the same footing; and that it was by a subsequent section—the 88th—that residents in Ireland were exempted from payment of the income tax, thus furnishing an inducement to persons of moderate means to reside there. By the adoption of this argument the right hon. Gentleman had taken up a position perfectly untenable. Let him ask, what was the present state of Ireland? Were hon. Gentlemen prepared or not to admit that at the present moment distress existed in Ireland? If distress did exist, he asked whether it was "wise, just, or beneficial" to take away from the small fundholder in Ireland the only inducement he had to live and spend his money in that country? If there Was no distress existing in Ireland, then he asked upon what principle of justice could they 1485 contend that it was right to exempt the land of Ireland, and place it on an entirely different footing from the land of England? He hoped the Chancellor of the Excheruer, if he were aware that he had not sufficiently considered that portion of his financial scheme, would either entirely withdraw it, or substitute some alteration more in accordance with the maintenance of the public credit, and not less conducive to the welfare and prosperity of the people of Ireland. He had now briefly touched upon every point in the Budget on which he had felt it important to give his opinion, and he hoped he had done so without offence to those who differed from him. Reserving to himself, then, full power to deal with any amendments or modifications that might be proposed, he should certainly give his vote in favour of the general principle of the Budget.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
In proceeding to address you, Sir, I shall endeavour to follow the example of the hon. Baronet the Member for Kent (Sir Edward Dering), both as to the tone and manner in which he addressed you. I am extremely obliged to you, Sir, for calling upon me. I never am able to address this House with that perspicuity and self-possession which I desire, yet, having attended most assiduously to this protracted discussion, I am bound to say that the more I have listened to it the more I have become bewildered with the confusion which has attended the debate. I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose with great attention, and, I am sorry to avow, I cannot understand the view which he is disposed to take on this occasion. He says he is a great friend to direct taxation; and yet he says that he altogether objects to the house tax; and, again, objecting to the house tax, he says that he is very willing to diminish the exemptions from the tax, and to bring the limit down from 20l. to 10l. Again, my hon. Friend says that he has the greatest possible regard for public credit, and the most earnest desire to maintain the revenue of this country in a prosperous and flourishing condition; and yet he is willing to sweep away the whole of the duties of Customs and Excise; and he will also vote for the repeal of the malt tax. I understand him to say that he is willing to support the total repeal of the malt tax, the total repeal of the assessed taxes, and that his moderate views of direct taxation would lead him to impose only an additional duty 1486 of one per cent on property and income, which he thinks would be amply sufficient to cover all the deficiency in the public service. Now it is always difficult enough to discuss a Budget, especially one so large and ample as that which the Chancellor of of the Exchequer has brought before us; but to add to the difficulty my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose has a rival project—he has proposed another Budget— and, with all the difficulties of the subject proposed to us by the Government in the consideration of the income tax and its principle and details, my hon. Friend has another scheme for capitalising income, and dealing with the income tax on a principle entirely different from that of the Government. But again, I thought at first that we were to discuss the whole of the Budget; then again, it was suggested by some hon. Gentleman that certain parts of it were peculiarly brought under our consideration to-night; whilst, among all these fluctuating views, never was it so important that we should understand distinctly the issue we have to try. From the very commencement of the discussion I distinctly understood that the issue which we were called upon to try was, approbation or disapprobation of the entire measure proposed by the Government; but in consequence of the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster in the early part of this evening, it appeared to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his answer to that question, was inclined more or less to change the issue. The question before, as I distinctly understood, was this —are we, or are we not, for the purpose of the present Budget, considering the whole of the change involved, in the proposal of the new house tax—-that change, as proposed by the Government, embracing both the doubling of the amount and the reducing of the exemption from 20l. to 10l.? I thought that was the issue we were to try. Well, Sir, from the answer to the question put by the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Westminster, it appeared to me—unless I misunderstood the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that the right hon. Gentleman wished to convey that it was no longer of importance whether we agree with the Government in respect to doubling the amount of the house tax or not, and that it was only asked of us to say aye or no to the question of extending the area of taxation in respect to this tax. Before proceeding further, I should like to know 1487 whether I am correct in saying that we are only asked, by the Resolution we are now discussing, to consent to the extension of the area from 20l. to 10l., and that we are not discussing the question of doubling the amount? Before I proceed further, this is the question I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer—are we discussing the narrow point of the extension, or does the question involve that of the duplication of the tax?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The case stands thus—the hon. and gallant Member, without any communication with me in the House, made a complaint—which had been made before— that sufficient notice had not been given to the country of the measures of Government, and that sufficient time was not given to the House to consider them. Various representations were made to me from Gentlemen sitting opposite, as well as some from friends of our own, to the same effect. The hon. and gallant Member stated that in consequence of the Government not having given sufficient time, also of its being supposed that an intention was entertained on our side to close the debate prematurely, his view was that it would be a proper thing to adjourn the debate. When these representations were made to' me, I certainly did say I thought the House should take into consideration the position in which the Government was placed — seeing that we were forced to bring forward our measures at a period of the year most inconvenient—at the same time, that there was not the slightest wish on our part not to give the country the amplest opportunity of considering the measures, nor any wish to restrict the debate upon them, whilst still we thought that, under all the circumstances, it was important that the House should as speedily as possible come to a decision upon them. I said privately, as I said publicly tonight, in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, that, as far as I was concerned, I had no objection to narrow as much as possible the issue, and to allow. the vote to be taken, provided we could so agree, on the Resolution before us. The right hon. Member for Carlisle says we are seeking to change the issue: but if he. will look to the terms of the Resolution, he will see that it contains nothing with respect to any change in the amount of rating of the houses, but it does contain a most important principle—namely, with respect to the area over which the tax 1488 should be extended. This is the most important vote which could be placed in the first instance on the table of the House, and upon that vote we are about to come to a decision. That is my statement to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ SIR JAMBS GRAHAM
As I understand what has just fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is his wish that we should not to-night discuss the whole of the Budget, but that we should discuss the narrow question of whether the area of taxation under the house tax shall be extended or not. Now, Sir, up to the present moment I, in common I believe with the whole House, understood that we were debating the whole question; nay, more, that we had been challenged to discuss the whole question.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Yes, yes; but I am not talking about the continuance of the debate, but about the issue of the debate. I challenge the Government to that issue. Her Majesty's Government have said distinctly that they would stand or fall by the judgment of the House as to their Budget on the principle embodied in this Resolution. But if the House will bear with me, I think I shall show them it is impossible to narrow the issue to the question of the area of taxation only, inasmuch as, looking to the Budget of the Government, if they are not prepared to encounter an absolute deficit, at the end of the second year, they cannot be content merely with an alteration of the house tax. I want to deal with that point in the first instance. If I mistake not, the house tax as now levied yields 700,000l. a year. The effect of adding to the area by bringing the exemption down from 20l to 10l would only be to levy an addition of 150,00l a year. Therefore, without doubling the house tax, the effect of increasing the area would only be to bring into the Exchequer an additional sum of 150,000l But the right hon. Gentleman, in stating his balance for the year 1853–looking also for the year 1854– credit for 1,700,000l as the produce of the house tax. In the first year, with the addition of the Exchequer Loan Fund, as to which I shall say something by-and-by, that yielding him 400,000l, he will have only a balance of 400,000l In the first year only half the increased house tax will fall to be collected, and the other half, amounting to 350,0002l. 1489 will not be received, thus leaving him in the first year with a balance in his favour of 50,000l. In the second year he will have only the additional sum arising from the house tax, without augmentation from any other source, and he will be left with a deficiency, on his own showing, of 450,0001. Under these circumstances, I want to know whether it is possible for Her Majesty's Government, with any regard whatever to the credit of the country, the safety of the revenue, and the necessary provision for the public service, if they remit one-half the malt tax and the hop duty—without adverting to other particulars—is it not absolutely necessary that they should contend for the augmentation of the house tax in the manner I have stated? I shall take the liberty, then, of considering the Budget as originally proposed by the Government, and deal with it, under this Resolution, in the manner I understood to be meant at the commencement of the debate.
Sir, although we have sat for some time during the present Session, and in direct legislation there is not much to show as the result of our sittings, yet I must say I think our time has not been thrown away. We have made great progress—we have settled matters that have been long disputed, and concerning which there was a necessity to come to a definite decision. In the first place, we have, by a large majority, agreed that unrestricted competition, as the Government says—or free trade, as the hon. Member for the West Riding has justly termed it by the shorter and more appropriate designation, in pure Saxon phrase—shall henceforth be the rule of our commercial and financial legislation. It has also been decided by a very large majority, that the taxes henceforth shall not be imposed for the purpose of favouring any particular interest, but shall be levied only for the exigencies of the revenue—or, more shortly speaking, protection is by common consent abandoned. Again, we have agreed that cheapness and abundance of food are the mainstays of the prosperity of the great body of the people of this country; and further, it is our opinion, unequivocally expressed, that this is the result of recent legislation, and that this free-trade policy, firmly maintained and prudently extended, will best enable the industry of this country to bear its burdens, and is the policy most conducive to the permanent welfare, contentment, and happiness, of the country. 1490 This, Sir, puts an end to a great controversy. This is really the harvest of the seed sown during the last six years—for it is a great matter that, by common consent, or by all but common consent—that of an overwhelming majority in this House —those great principles are now distinctly recognised. Sir, I am hound to say that I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in opening his Budget, dealt with a very important part of it in a manner perfectly satisfactory; for, before he proposed his financial scheme for the future, he considered what was due in equity and justice to classes whose interests, as it was alleged, had been prejudiced by the course of recent legislation. He alluded to those three great branches, the commerce and navigation of the country, the sugar-growing colonies, and the landed interest; and he said it was most desirable that all regard to classes should henceforth cease in reference to the question of taxation—that what was equitable as concerning the past should now be done once and for all, and that henceforth the good of the entire community should be the sole rule in imposing taxes to be paid by the people of this country. With respect, first, to the shipping interest, I entirely concur in the observations which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. I think that the arrangement proposed by Government for setting apart an amount of 100,000l. for the relief of that interest from peculiar burdens falling upon them to which they have been exposed, is one that is perfectly justifiable, and meets my entire approbation. Let me say that in justice to the members of the Trinity House, of which I am myself one, it is right it should be remembered that since the year 1842, that corporation, by awards of juries or by arbitrations, have had to pay no less a sum than 1,200,000l. for the purchase of lights which had been granted by Crown charters to private individuals; and yet that they have so managed their funds that in the last ten years they have reduced their debt from 1,100,000l. to the sum of 112,000l.; and that under the guidance of my right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Labouchere), since the year 1849 they have reduced the charge for lights by a sum of 115,000l. a year, and that also within that period they have diminished their debt by the sum of 117,000l. It cannot, therefore, be said that their management in these 1491 respects has been improvident. The proposals of the Government with respect to pilotage and light-dues appear to me conducive to a beneficial arrangement of these points, and worthy the sanction of the House; and I may say the same as respects their proposal with regard to the cessation of passing tolls on shipping, which I think is a burden which should not be thrown on the shipping interest. With respect to pilotage, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Henley), having this subject distinctly before him, might, on the part of the Government, have very safely introduced a measure without previous inquiry. My own belief is, that the exclusive rights of the pilots of the Cinque Ports and of the Bristol Channel cannot he? maintained, and that Government would have judged rightly if it had introduced a Bill abolishing their exclusive privileges, and that the question might have been so dealt with. I approve "also the proposition of the Government with respect to other particular grievances-such as salvage, anchorage, and certain claims of Her Majesty's ships, and I do not anticipate any difference of opinion as to this part of the subject. And now with respect to the sugar colonies, I must also rejoice at the marked progress which has attended our deliberations on this head. Towards the close of the last Parliament the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Colonies (Sir J, Pakington) expressed an earnest desire of dealing with the descending scale, for the purpose of arresting the diminution of the duties, and he said that nothing but the apprehension that the Government would be put in a minority in this House prevented him from making that proposition. Now, any such wish is distinctly renounced—fully and fairly renounced-— and I rejoice at the change of opinions thus acknowledged on the part of Ministers. I recollect when it was predicted that the discriminating duty proposed in 1848 would be the knell of free trade, and it was predicted that through the medium Of that duty free trade would be defeated, and protection would ultimately triumph. These predictions are now falsified, the arrest of the descending scale is abandoned, and that, too, with the consent of Her Majesty's Government. Now I, for one, am extremely glad that the West Indian interest is to give a receipt in full of all demands upon permission being granted for refining in bond. But I wish that the House, before this de- 1492 bate is closed, may hear some answer given to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn), as bearing on the financial effect of the Ministerial propositions. If this permission is to be optional, I understand it is estimated that the importers of half of all the sugar brought into this country, including all the inferior qualities, will avail themselves of the privilege; and I understand, also, that if they do so avail themselves of the privilege, 10 per cent will be lost to the revenue by that permission. One-half of the whole sugar duties amounts to 2,000,000l. and 10 per cent on that is no less than 200,000l.; and yet in the balance of the year the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not dealt with the question of any loss of revenue consequent on the permission to be given to the West Indian interest as to refining in bond; and therefore apart from the question of doubling the house tax, and the credit he has taken for the product of the malt tax when one-half of it has been remitted, his balance is already verging on a deficit; and if you admit that the sum of 200,000l. will be lost by giving the option of refining in bond, that narrow surplus will be converted into an actual deficit. According to the statement so impressively made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University — a statement recommended to us by all the weight belonging to his large experience, his spotless character, and his great abilities as a financier—that warning, given as it was with all the earnestness to be expected from one remarkable for his honest attachment to the public service, tells with tenfold effect; and I say that it does become the Government, before the close of the debate, to satisfy us as to the effect of this apparent deficit instead of balance. I pass on rapidly to another subject; and again I say we have made immense strides in this short time for which the new Parliament has been sitting. I have heard all the arguments about local burdens on land discarded by those who had most insisted on them as absolutely convincing. No longer is any stress laid on them. Even with respect to the assessment for the county rate, and the vexed question of its removal to the Consolidated Fund, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would only be a relief of l½d. in the pound on rent, and that this was a matter so insignificant that he should hesitate about offering it for their acceptance. I very 1493 much doubt, let me say in passing, whether the repeal of the malt tax will amount to a relief of 1½d. in the pound on rent. With regard to another point, still more important in my view, an admission of immense value has been made. It is now distinctly stated by the Government, who have hitherto been advocates for the transfer of local burdens to the Consolidated Fund, on account of the injury done to the land by the repeal of the Corn Laws, that the best security for the prosperity of the landed interest is to be found in the welfare of the working classes and in their prosperity; that the landed interest no longer seeks any benefit at the expense of the community, but is satisfied with the admission of that great truth, that their prosperity is based on the welfare, the happiness, and the contentment of the working classes. How is that illustrated? It is illustrated by that which was often predicted—and even in adverse circumstances it was a prediction from which I never receded in despondency, that if you would make provisions cheap—if you would give abundance to the great body of the consumers of this country, the weight of your poor-rate, which mainly falls upon real property, would rapidly diminish. And what, Sir, was the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I heard it with infinite pleasure. He said, that, in the last three years—from 1849 to 1852—the burden of the poor-rate had diminished 25 per cent; that considering the sum upon which the reduction had occurred from 6,180,000l to 4,800,000l., it was a relief of 25 per cent to the landed interest; and in his opinion that relief satisfied the claim of the landed interest, with reference to any equitable demand that they might put in for compensation for the injury which they had sustained either by the repeal of the corn laws or by the remission of the duty on the importation of cattle and sheep. So that now we have closed accounts retrospectively with all those three great classes—we have made payment in full to the shipping, to the sugar grower and to the landed proprietor. ["Oh, oh!"] I am not now stating my own views, but the deliberate statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made, as I think, with great ability, with great fairness, and with great perspicuity. And I think it is right, before we discuss the Budget, to mark those points, and while there is much left on which we differ, to show how much has been achieved on which we are all agreed.
1494 Well, Sir, I will now pass on to the prospective view which is taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and I must say that I cannot help thinking that there is a very great advantage in the production of this Budget by the responsible advisers of the Crown. After all that has occurred, it was to me a matter of great anxiety to sec the precise plan which Her Majesty's Government would introduce—a plan which had been announced as a system for the revision of the taxation of this country, which was to produce immense effects, and to give general satisfaction and contentment, and equal relief to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. Now, I am delighted to see this great measure at last brought before the House in a tangible shape, and in a manner which precludes the possibility of any evasion on the one hand, or any exaggeration on the other. It was observed, by some one the other night, that one Government was very much like another, so I must say I think that all Budgets, whoever may be their progenitors, have a very great family resemblance the one to the other; and I cannot see anything in this Budget which is very remarkable, or which much distinguishes it from other propositions of the like nature. Strip it of the repeal of half the malt tax, strip it of the repeal of half the hop duty, and of this question of the house tax—about which there is to-night a disposition rather to vary the question whether it is to be doubled or not—and it would appear to me a very common-place Budget, a very acceptable Budget, and one about which we should have very little dispute. The question of the renewal of the income tax—that is, as to the principle upon which it should be renewed—would still be open to discussion and debate; but, apart from this debatable ground, whether you make a discrimination between different sources of income or not, the amount, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would be very much the same; and if it be the same, your present prosperous revenue, without any rash dealing with the other sources of taxation, would enable you to deal with the duty on tea without any fear of a deficiency. Now I should like, first of all, to notice the mode in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to deal with the hop duty; and, with his permission, I will call his attention to what I think I recollect his laying down as what he said were the canons for all Chancellors of the Ex- 1495 chequer on this subject. It was, indeed, before he took the responsibility of office, but still the canons he laid down are singularly applicable to the present case. He said —"That which I would uphold as the golden rule for all Chancellors of the Exchequer is, to beware that no tax whatever—whatever form it may take—whether it be a Custom duty, an Excise duty, or a direct tax which is imposed—should in its nature be excessive;" and then he goes on to say, "Complete remission or complete commutation; these are the two principles upon which a finance Minister should proceed." Complete commutation or complete remission! Now, this is the rule which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down as the canon for Chancellors of the Exchequer. Let us try the course which he is about to take with reference to hops and malt by that canon, which I consider so sound. Now, with respect to the hop duty, I imagine it is pretty nearly agreed, by common consent, that the remission of half the hop duty is exactly, according to the rule of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, the most objectionable course which he can possibly take. Repeal the whole of the hop duty, and you get rid of the entire charge and vexation of collection, and the loss to the public revenue would not be very great. The cost of collection is great, the amount received is small; and the impost is, I believe, vexatious and onerous to the grower, as it certainly is onerous to the consumer. The interest of the consumer certainly is, that the entire tax should be remitted. Now, I believe that the retention of half the tax will not be attended with any advantage whatever; the vexation of the mode of collecting the duty and watching the growth of the plants still remains unchanged; and, then, if you let in foreign hops upon a duty strictly countervailing and non-protective, I am satisfied that the grower of hops, so far from thanking you for this reduction, will be greatly injured by it. And when we come to the Motion of the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Frewen) we shall find that it affirms that view of the case. I do not think that any course can be conceived which is in more direct violation of his own canon, and which is more inexpedient in every respect than that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to take in the remission of half the duty on hops, I will now, Sir, proceed to the malt tax; but that subject has been so thoroughly discussed that I 1496 am very unwilling at this period of the evening to prolong the disquisition on that particular point. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Walpole) was pleased to magnify me into a great authority on this subject, and he quoted a prophecy of mine which I ventured to make in 1839. I must tell my right hon. Friend, that now when we are agreed as to the repeal of the corn laws, the less that is said about prophecies with respect to that subject the better— ["Oh, oh!"]—because it may be that the Gentlemen whom I see on the opposite side of the House, should, under present circumstances, be the first to desire that all prophecies as well as promises with respect to the Corn Laws, should be buried in eternal oblivion. But, however, I must say this, that I have invariably opposed the repeal of the malt tax, or any remission of it. It has been truly said that this experiment has been often tried, and always without success. In 1816—I think it was—a large reduction of that duty took place, and a loss was sustained to nearly the whole amount of the duty taken off. In 1819 it was again increased; and in 1821 the duty was for a short time again reduced with the same result. In 1833 I had the honour of being in the service of the Crown, together with the Earl of Derby, under Earl Grey, when a Motion was carried somewhat unexpectedly that the repeal of the malt tax was expedient. In forty-eight hours afterwards Lord Althorp, the representative of that Government, in the House of Commons came down to the House with the full concurrence of the Earl of Derby himself and of his other Colleagues, and announced to the House, that if that Resolution were not reversed, the fate of Lord Grey's Government was sealed, and that he would no longer be responsible for the Government of the country. The consequence of that Resolution was, that the House, contrary to the usual practice in such circumstances, did not hesitate to rescind the Resolution to which they had come. Again, I think my hon. Friend, if he will permit me to call him so, the hon. Member for the North Riding (Mr. Cayley), in 1851, proposed the repeal of the malt tax; and I then, being out of office and exercising my own individual judgment, voted against that Resolution. I was certainly led to believe that the noble Lord at the head of the Government entertained, even at that time, the same opinion. He and I acted together for many years on the sub- 1497 ject of the malt tax, and he then declared that he could not countenance the repeal of the malt tax, as it was a branch of the revenue so large that he did not think it right, with reference to the safety of the State and to its credit, that it should be placed in jeopardy. Now, I listened to the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass) on this subject, last night, with great instruction. He urged arguments which, if I had any doubt with respect to the repeal of the malt tax, appeared to me to be conclusive in favour of maintaining it. It has been said sometimes that the excise regulations are most vexatious, and that they interfere with the making of the malt in the best and most advantageous manner. But my hon. Friend the Member for Derby declared that such was the improvement which had taken place in the excise regulations, that they did not interfere in the slightest degree with the manufacture of malt, and that such was the skill of the British maltster in preparing his malt, that if they had a drawback he was clear that they could export malt to the continent of Europe. Another argument has been brought forward with respect to the feeding of cattle. The hon. Member for Derby declared, however, that as the law now stands there is nothing to prevent any farmer from wetting his barley, germinating his barley, and in fact doing everything but drying it up to the particular point necessary for brewing or distillation. He said also, what I believe is perfectly true, that that process, carried on up to that point, is all that can possibly be required for the feeding of cattle. Well, now, I will not go at any length into the question of what effect the repeal of half the duty will have upon the retail price to the consumer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood) read to the House the other evening the evidence of the greatest brewer in this metropolis, and I believe in the world—Mr. Barclay—who has distinctly told you that the effect of the remission of the whole duty would only he to reduce the price of porter to the consumer in this metropolis to the extent of ½d. a pot, and, consequently, that the reduction of half the duty would only be attended with a reduction in the retail price of ¼d. per pot. Now, I am satisfied that when any reduction in the price of an article by the remission of taxation, as affecting its retail consumption, is limited to an amount less than the coinage in current use, that the advantage of that reduction 1498 is not appreciable. My hon. Friend the Member for Derby also told you that pale ale would only be reduced 4s. per barrel. That is, a reduction (if it is possible to appreciate it) of something less upon the barrel than that calculated by Mr. Barclay; that is, of something less than ¼d. a pot. Let us take now the case of the barley grower. I am bound to say that, with reference to the real barley land, I think there is every reason why the remission of this duty is not to be desired by the strictly barley-growing districts. The effect of the present law is to give the strictly barley-growing districts a premium on the cultivation of barley. The demand for barley of the first quality is almost boundless; but the supply of barley of the first quality is very limited. It is confined almost entirely to three counties—to Hertford, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and, perhaps, Norfolk. Now, the importation of malt is strictly prohibited, and while that prohibition continues, I believe that the barley grown on naturally first-rate barley soils—from the almost boundless demand for it, and the limited supply under the existing law— will under that law command a higher price than if half the malt tax were repealed, and foreign malt admitted under a countervailing duty. With regard to the districts which are supposed to have suffered most by the repeal of the corn laws—the wheat-growing districts of England—they are heavy soils, not suited for the growth of barley; they would derive no benefit whatever from any encouragement given to its cultivation, and would not partake, in an agricultural point of view, of any advantage derived from the remission of this tax. With regard to the rest of the area of this country, the soils—generally of a damp and cold description—are not suited to the growth of barley, and I believe that at present prices oats will be found a more profitable crop; at all events I am satisfied that no great benefit will arise to them from the proposed measure. Then how stands the case with regard to Scotland? I hardly know what the Scotch Members will say—but with respect to the proposition for taking off the discriminating duty between barley and the inferior descriptions, such as bere and bigg, it is, I think, one of the harshest propositions ever made to Scotland. There is an intrinsic inferiority in the grain itself; and why, when you say that you wish to favour the agricultural districts, you place the growth of "bere and bigg" in Scotland on a less favourable 1499 footing than at present, I cannot see. The withdrawal, too, of the drawback upon malt spirits in Scotland, will, instead of a favour to the agriculture of that country, be a moat severe blow.
I will now, with the permission of the House, pass on to another topic, on which, if the country Gentlemen will permit me, I would really speak to them as a friend. [Laughter.] If community of interests does not entitle me to address you in that capacity, I really am afraid I cannot plead any argument which will convince you with reference to my motives. But still I have great reliance on your reason, and I will put the matter to you, as I think, with irresistible force, with reference to the point upon which I am now about to touch. I am about to refer to the Exchequer Loan Commission; and I must be permitted to say that, though I have opposed the transfer of local burdens to the Consolidated Fund, yet I think that if ever there was a fund really useful as an aid, and circulating for the constant benefit of the landed interest, it is the fund now in question. It is a most legitimate fund in aid of local burdens —a fund not costing the public at large any sum whatever to their detriment or disadvantage, but a revolving sum of 360,000l. a year, which is lent to the landed interest throughout the United Kingdom from time to time for purposes purely local, and these loans have been attended with the most beneficial results to the landed interest. Now will you allow me just to read you a list of the purposes to which this loan has been applied, and you shall then judge for yourselves-—rejecting my authority altogether -whether I am not right in saying that the works to which I am about to refer as made by means of this fund are of great local importance, and are works which, if this assistance be withdrawn, must be executed without the aid of capital advanced on such advantageous terms, but entirely drawn from the pockets of the country gentlemen. Now, the last return which has been presented to Parliament with reference to this subject is dated in 1852, and I will show you from it what is the benefit which the land has received, and what is the corresponding benefit that the towns hare derived. With regard to land, the works executed have been the construction of canals, rivers, drainage, bridges, roads, railways, collieries, and mines. Now, all the Gentlemen with whom I had the pleasure of sitting on the Committee upstairs with respect to the county rate, 1500 will remember the heavy burdens to which the land is exposed with reference to lunatic asylums, law courts, gaols, and public buildings; and they will also remember that, above all, there is, under the new Poor Law, the enlargement of workhouses, for which no less a sum than 1,100,000l. has been lent from this very fund. There is another matter also bearing on the state of the poor—assistance has been given from this fund for the purpose of promoting emigration from certain parishes where the population was redundant. Now all these works and beneficial purposes have up to the last moment been aided from this fund. Stop this fund, and a large proportion of these works must still be continued, and fresh demands will arise; and I contend that they must be met by great sacrifices on the part of the country gentlemen, out of their own means, either immediately or by loans effected on terms not nearly so advantageous to them. Then we come to the works executed in towns. There there have been churches built, gas and water works and baths and washhouses erected, and the execution of town improvements, of harbours and docks, and of other local works of great importance, aided with this fund, without which their execution would in many cases have been absolutely impossible. But it is said that the state of the money market does not render any such advances necessary at the present moment. That may be true; but this system has been in operation for thirty years. Loans have been issued, and have come in again during that time without loss; and with reference to the facility of repayment there is a facility granted under this system without risk to the public, such as no private lender could give. Now, there has been, as I have said, no loss on these transactions, but, on the contrary, the public have been the gainers. Why, then, disturb it? I appeal to any Gentleman who has been conversant with the Government, and I really should think that the right hon. Gentleman himself, in the comparatively short time which he has held the office with which he is now entrusted, must have felt the convenience of the existence of this fund. Frequently there is a strong pressure on the Crown, with strong local interest, to make advances which these communities desire. The answer of the Government is—"We cannot interfere with this local matter; go to the Exchequer Loan Commissioners; if you have a good 1501 case on principle, you will get aid from them; if not, we cannot interfere." Now, I say, the existence of that body is a great convenience to the public, and I believe that, as relates to the interests of the public, it is a very economical body. Nor do I think it possible for a fund so useful as I have described to be placed under the management of gentlemen of more unimpeachable integrity than those by whom its distribution is directed. It so happens that there has been a gratuitous and honourable assistance given by men of first-rate position and pre-eminence in the distribution of this fund, so as to prevent even the suspicion of its misapplication. I may mention that there are among the Commissioners Lord Hatherton, Sir T. Acland, Mr. W. Whitmore, Mr, Loch, Lord Portescue, Mr. Labouchere, Mr. A. Robartes, Mr. T. Baring, M.P., Mr. Norman, Mr. Warburton, Mr. G. Grlyn, M.P., and Lord Overstone. Now, is it possible to have a fund placed under more unexceptionable control; and why will the Chancellor of the Exchequer lay violent hands upon it, in order to prevent a deficiency solely of his own creation by his tampering simultaneously with two great branches of the taxation of the country—the malt tax and the tea duty—yielding together an income of ten millions per annum, or not less than one-fifth of the whole revenue of the country? With a balance of 1,500,000l. in his favour, he tampers with these two great branches of revenue in such a manner that, in order to meet the deficiency which he himself creates, he is driven to lay violent hands on the funds of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners; and without this sum—even omitting other points which without further explanations would swell the deficiency— the right hon. Gentleman has no surplus either in the first or second year, except what this particular fund will enable him with difficulty to obtain. An appeal was made, which has not yet been answered, but which I hope will be answered before the close of the debate. I see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control for the Affairs of India (Mr. Hemes) in his place. There is no Member of this House who has had so long an experience in the finances of the country. There is no Gentleman, I verily believe, who understands all the minute details of finance in this country one half so well. I ask him, with all his long experience in office under different Administrations, has he ever known a Budget opened to the House in a period of pros- 1502 perity with a surplus of 1,500,000l. available, which would create for the first year a surplus of only 400,000l., to be obtained by seizing a loan fund such as that to which I have adverted, and which, on taking an ulterior view, and referring to the second year, would produce, according to the most sanguine calculation, no surplus whatever? And if this sum shall not be thought by the House to be permissible to be so taken, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes, is my right hon. Friend (Mr. Herries) prepared to advise the House to pass this Budget, which will leave the resources of the country without any surplus whereby, as has been observed by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, the credit of the country may be shaken to its foundations? I hope in the course of the debate we shall hear the opinion of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Herries) on this point.
I shall not trouble the House on several points which other Members who preceded me have touched upon. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) spoke with great force and ability last night. I hold, with him, that it is a most objectionable course so to deal with great branches of revenue, that in the year in which you make the proposition there shall be very little diminution in the receipt of taxes for that year, but that in the year next ensuing there shall be an immense diminution. My hon. Friend described that system most admirably. He said it was drawing bills on popularity at a long date and discounting them at once; I must say that is a transaction which, as it appears to me, is not altogether worthy of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall take another point. You remember well the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) with reference to the question of direct and indirect taxation, in which he laid down this principle broadly—and he referred to it again the other night—that direct taxation, with large exemptions, is confiscation; and I must also refer to that which I heard, and hearing could not forget, that without large exemptions direct taxation is impossible. Let us try the plan of the right hon. Gentleman by both these tests. Has he materially altered the exemptions from direct taxation? There is the great exemption of Ireland —that is to say, the largest existing exemption. Now, has the right hon. Gentleman, according to the strict canon laid down by himself, materially al- 1503 tered that exemption? What does he propose to do? He proposes to tax the funds and salaries in that country, and to leave all realised property in land, and all charges upon land, free from the tax, and also professional incomes and incomes derived from trades. He proposes also to do that which even that ardent admirer of direct taxation the hon. Member for Montrose thinks too severe. In the same year, in the same Budget, at one stroke, he proposes to bring down the exemptions from the income tax from 150l. to 100l., and also the exemptions from the house tax from 20l. to 10l. Let us try this—let us analyse this great scheme for revising taxation, which is to do justice to all parties, and to remove all inequalities. Take a clerk receiving a salary of 100l. a year, living either in London or in Edinburgh. For the first time you will tax the income of that man about 2l. 4s. a year. He lives in a 10l. house—it is hardly possible that he can obtain a lodging for less than that amount—and you will therefore tax his residence; you will lay altogether upon that man an impost amounting to about 3 per cent; but the clerk living in Dublin and in Cork will not be taxed, and neither the income tax nor the house tax will affect him. On the other hand, Ireland pays the malt tax—Ireland pays the tea duty. The only compensation you give the clerk in England or in Scotland is the amount he gains by the diminished price of the tea and porter consumed by him; you take off in duty say 4s. a year from his tea, and if he drinks ale he may gain by the reduction of duty to the extent of 7s. or 8s. a year—you, therefore, on the most sanguine view, give him a remission of 12s. in respect of indirect taxation. But the clerk in Ireland, who has neither income tax nor house tax to pay, will derive equal advantage from the reduction. How, then, can it be said that the right hon. Gentleman has materially altered the exemptions so as to apply the tax more equally to all parts of the United Kingdom? I will go further. Let us try your new schedule for the income tax. I should have presumed, after the Committees that have sat on the subject, and which were attended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for two years, and as he had ample time to consider all the inequalities of the schedules as they stand, we might now have expected to see them a perfect model of equity and justice. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), in a masterly 1504 speech, which proved his intimate and perfect knowledge of the subject, said he thought the schedules had been framed in haste, and without a distinct knowledge of their contents. I really must say, not presuming to assume any tone of confidence, I do think that much still remains to be done, if justice and equity are to be the rule of your new regulations. As regards the income tax, mines, collieries, railroads, gas-works, canals, are all in Schedule A, and will be taxed at the rate of 7d. in the pound, while a steamboat company or a joint-stock banking company is in Schedule D, and will pay 5¼d. Where is the greater certainty with respect to capital embarked in a colliery or in a mine than in a steamboat company or in a joint-stock company, and why should they be differently charged? I will now give you the case of two persons, both pursuing professions and enjoying about equal incomes. By a fiction of law a Bishop draws his income as if it were from land, and on his 5,000l. a year you tax him 7d. in the pound; the Judge has also 5,000l. a year for life; but he is in Schedule D, and you only charge him 5¼d. Take another case. A widow receives 160l. a year charged on land in the shape of jointure, and under the Government proposition she will be taxed 7d. in the pound. We have heard of Mr. Moore, with his 7,000l. a year for a patent place, which he considers as a freehold. You tax the widow having 160l. a year at the rate of 7d., but Mr. Moore, with his 7,000l. a year, is only asked to pay 5¼d. These are your amended schedules, and here is your view of perfect justice and equity. But I will give you another case: you talk of realised property, and your notions of equity regarding it have been acted upon in the same way. Now, any person having property in land in the colonies—any person having property in land in any part of Europe— any person having property in the foreign funds, is to be only charged 5¼d.; and then, with all your care and anxiety for realised property, there is, in the very heart of Schedule C, which regards the fundholders, for whom you profess the tenderest regard—the holders of terminable annuities. While the holder of realised property abroad is to be only taxed 5¼d., your fundholders with terminable annuities, who lose their capital at the end of 1860, must, according to your amended schedule, pay 7d. Take, again, the case of Ireland. I will put the case of a 1505 most distinguished gentleman, at the head of his profession, and who has honourably risen by his exertions, his talents, and his merits to the high position of leader of the Irish Bar. I will not pretend to say what his income is—I will not say it is more large than he deserves—but he, at the head of his profession as Attorney General for Ireland, is not to be taxed one farthing; while his clerk, who receives his briefs for a salary of 100l. a year, is to be taxed 5¼d. in the pound on his salary. The tidewaiter on Lough Foyle, with perhaps some small salary of 120l. a year, is to be taxed 5¼d. in the pound; while the Bishop of Derry, living in his palace beside the lake, is not to pay one penny. Hon. Members for Ireland should take care what is the vote they will give on this question. If they are content to share with the other parts of the United Kingdom in the gradual and safe reduction of indirect taxation, such as our growing means may safely allow, they will partake of the common benefit; but let them give a vote that will wing the arrow of direct taxation to the humbler classes of Great Britain, and I warn them that the time is not far distant when its barb will wound themselves. I must make one observation applicable to the whole of this subject— namely, in reference to the great question of the relative merits of direct and indirect taxation. I hold that an admixture of direct and indirect taxation is the sound and the safe policy for this country. That admixture requires great caution, and the proportions of it must be most carefully adjusted. Will the House allow me to refer to the opinions of Lord Derby on this point—and I do it, not in a taunting or angry spirit—but I must say that Lord Derby has, in reference to this subject, given opinions which are well worthy of the attention of the House at this particular juncture. Lord Derby said in 1847,"By acting rigidly on the principle of free trade, you will introduce inextricable confusion into the finances of the country." Now, I do not say rigidly; but I will substitute for that word rashly and extravagantly, and I say if you act upon the principle of increasing your direct taxation, without great caution, rashly and to an extent the country will not bear, you risk all the advantages of the moderate use of that admixture, and you will, as Lord Derby said, involve the finances of this country in inextricable confusion. Again, this very year, in this very Parliament, nay, 1506 since we met, Lord Derby has thus expressed himself:—If I understand the common meaning of' free-trade, it is this—that you will not impose taxes for the purpose of protecting individual or local interests, but that you will impose them for the purpose of revenue, and of revenue only; and that in the imposition of these taxes you will have especial regard to lightening the burdens which may be imposed on those articles which mainly enter into the consumption of the great mass of the community."—[p. 53.]That is a very good definition of the principle; and what is Lord Derby's comment upon it?—Now, in that system I see much of advantage; I do not deny that I see much of difficulty and future embarrassment. I see great present advantage. I am not sure—God forbid! but I should be wrong—that that system may not lead to future embarrassment by unnecessary changes in our financial system.Thus it appears that Lord Derby sees himself the danger arising from the extravagant application of this very doctrine of pushing direct taxation in lieu of indirect taxation to an immoderate extent. I may be allowed with greater confidence still to refer to the opinions of Sir Robert Peel in respect to this matter. What did Sir Robert Peel say in reference to direct or indirect taxation? The very last time he spoke on the income tax, in 1848, he thus expressed himself:—I am quite aware that there are limits to direct taxation; and I do not agree with those who would substitute direct for indirect taxation. I do not think that you could, except for a special and temporary purpose, wisely carry direct taxation to a much greater extent than you have already carried it…ֵNo doubt hon. Gentlemen say, 'Oh, as to public credit, there can be no question; but let the system of taxation be revised; let the burden be more equally adjusted.' The feeling is, of course, unanimous as to public credit. Well, Sir, but I would rather have the income tax in reserve before I come to consider this amended system of taxation. Suppose this new system to be proposed on the 1st of February next, with the certainty that the income tax must expire on the 8th of April. Now, notwithstanding all the professions of your determination in the abstract to support public credit, I have so much dread of the failure of the new method of taxation, that I should wish to have the income tax to fall back upon in the contingency— the possible contingency—of your new system not being relished, or working successfully."— [ 3 Hansard, xcvii. 281.]I think you will discover that your new system is not much relished; and I think you will agree in the policy of Sir Robert Peel, that is better to have the income tax before you attempt to pass the different propositions comprising your new system. You say that there is no reason why these 1507 exemptions, both as regards the income tax and the house tax, should not he reduced. I venture confidently to entertain a different opinion. I think there are very good reasons why those exemptions should be maintained. I am of opinion that the class having incomes between 100l. and 150l. in this country consists exactly of that class of persons whose position is that of the greatest struggle in maintaining their position. It is exactly the point where skilled labour ends—where, if I may so express myself, the fustian jacket ceases to be worn, and broad cloth comes into use amongst the working classes. It is more or less a class of persons who are driven by the force of circumstances to maintain a position somewhat higher than their means allow. As an instance of what I mean, I will say that clerks in counting houses, the humbler clerks in public offices, many of the ministers of the Established Church, and nearly all the Dissenting ministers, have to maintain a position somewhat higher than their humble means will easily permit. And then, with reference to indirect taxation, here I have before me twelve articles which are subject to indirect taxation, yielding in the gross a revenue of 32,369,000l. annually, and of which the persons in the particular class to which I have alluded pay more than their due proportion. There is tea, 5,902,000l., and it is quite right that you should deal with it. There are means, without your new projects, sufficient to meet the reduction of the tea duty, which I think you propose to effect in a manner most judicious and unexceptionable. There are spirits, 8,550,000l.; malt, 5,035,000l.; tobacco, 4,486,000l.; sugar, 4,175,000l.; soap, 1,043,000l.; Post Office, 1,046,000l.—I include that because the humbler classes are relatively more interested in it than those of a higher class —corn, 508,000l.; coffee, 445,000l.; paper, 928,000l.; butter, 167,000l.; cheese, 84,000l. In all, 32,369,000l. Taxation to this large amount is placed upon twelve articles of the first necessity, which, as I contend, presses with peculiar severity, in the shape of an indirect burden, on that very class on whom you now propose for the first time to put this income tax. It is easy, you will say, to make objections; but the view I take of this matter is this—that you should have your machinery of direct taxation complete, and easy of arrangement, and that you should not make the burden of it heavier 1508 than can possibly be avoided in time of peace. I agree in opinion with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cam-bridge University, when he said, "You may talk of militia, of your naval preparations, of the increase of artillery and your batteries; but if you disorganise your finances and indispose the people of this country to meet their burdens, all your preparations are nothing when contrasted with the mischief you will have then done." I say have your machinery of direct taxation ready, for if the fatal necessity should arrive of protecting the safety and honour of this country, you must have immediate recourse to direct taxation; and I have that confidence in the spirit of the people of this country, that if the safety of the nation or the honour of the nation were in clanger, I am satisfied that they will not refuse to hear any necessary burden, but, bearing it, they will take good care that you do not prolong the contest longer than the safety and honour of the country imperatively demand. They will expect, too, that the additional burden imposed on them shall he strictly a war tax. There is the experience of 1815 in reference to this matter. A pledge had been given that the 10 per cent property tax should be a war tax, and last no longer than the war. Never was there a stronger Ministry than that of Lord Liverpool in 1815. The march to Paris had been accomplished, the victories of Wellington consummated, and the British arms were gloriously triumphant. The victory was won—but the people of this country, always generous, hut having a great love for the solemn observance of the contracts made with them, said, "This 10 per cent property tax was a war tax—the war has ceased, and so must the tax." Lord Liverpool's Government entreated that it might be continued for one year more, in order to be able to wind up the expenses of the war; but a great majority of this House, faithfully representing the feelings of the country, opposed. the continuance of the tax, and it was not merely reduced, hut abolished in 1816, Now, I say, guided by that experience, do not press unduly your direct taxation in time of peace; it is your great resource in time of war; and I entreat you, on these grounds, to pause before you consent to the Resolution now proposed.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I feel that I rise under the double disadvantage of discussing a subject which has now been 1509 well nigh exhausted by a most able and Ml debate of three successive nights' duration, and of following the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), who has entered so largely and fully into the subject, and addressed the House upon it with the ability which always distinguishes his speeches. Sir, it is not my intention to follow the right hon. Baronet through all the details of his protracted address. But there are some of the points to which he has adverted which I cannot pass over without some comment; and the first point to which I must beg the attention of the House is the mistake into which the right hon. Gentleman appears to have fallen with regard to what has been the purpose of the Government, announced several days ago, upon the subject of the Resolution now before the House. Now I bog to say that there has not been the sudden change of purpose which the right hon. Gentleman seems to suppose. Some days ago a question was put to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe), with regard to his intentions upon the subject of this Budget; and what was the language of my right hon. Friend? If I remember rightly, it was, that he should consider it arrogant on the part of Her Majesty's Government to attempt to dictate to the House on matters of detail; but that he should certainly call upon the House, previous to the Christmas holidays, to decide upon the principle of the Budget. Let me ask the House, then, to bear in mind what is the first Resolution that is to be put from the Chair. It is this:—That from and after the 5th day of April, 1853, the Duties granted and made payable by the Act 14 & 15 Vict., c. 36, upon Inhabited Dwelling Houses in Great Britain, according to the annual value thereof, shall cease and determine, and in lieu thereof there shall be granted and made payable upon all such Dwelling Houses the following Duties, that is to say—[Laughter, and cries of "Go on!"] Sir, I will go on when the House ceases to interrupt me. I beg to say that I have read the whole of the Resolution that is now to be put from the Chair, and that that Resolution does involve the principle of dealing with the house tax, but it does not involve the exact extent to which that tax is to be increased. I contend that after settling that question, the next point will be whether it shall be the pleasure of the House to double the house tax; or whether it shall be the plea- 1510 sure of the House to add to the existing house tax in any minor degree, without doubling it. ["Oh, oh!"] I contend that that is the principle of this Resolution —that it is the first portion of the principle of the Budget which the Government have submitted to Parliament. The principle of that Budget I hold to be this—that the property and income tax shall be assessed and levied upon a more equitable principle, and that direct taxation shall be increased so far as may be just and prudent, in order that we may be enabled by that increase of direct taxation to lighten those burdens which now press upon the consuming classes of the country. That I hold to be the principle of the Budget, and I maintain that that principle is raised by the first Resolution on which the House will be called upon to divide, and on which will rest the whole of the details which must be left for subsequent consideration. I beg to add that we do not propose to carry direct taxation to any imprudent extent, or to any extent in the least inconsis tent with what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) himself. The right hon. Baronet has quoted an extract from the language of the late Sir Robert Peel, and in doing so he said that Sir Robert Peel expressed the opinion that direct taxation should not be carried to any imprudent or dangerous extent; and that he doubted very much whether it would be prudent to carry direct taxation to a greater extent than it was carried when that statesman was Prime Minister. Now if we carry out the whole of the plan which the Government have submitted to the House—if it be the opinion of the House that it is proper to double the house tax—if the whole of this Budget be carried out, let me remind the right hon. Baronet and the House that the direct taxation of the country will even then be considerably below, by several hundred thousands of pounds, what it was at the moment Sir Robert Peel used that language, and that that was in time of peace. I think, therefore, that upon the right hon. Baronet's own principle, we may claim exemption from the charge of having proposed to carry direct taxation further than Sir Robert Peel thought prudent to carry it at a moment of profound peace. The right hon. Baronet has made a rather direct reference to me with regard to our proposals for refining sugar in bond. I am sure, however, the right hon. Gentleman will not expect me, at this hour of the night, to go 1511 into all the details of a complicated subject of that kind. So far as the principle is concerned, the right hon. Baronet has admitted the justice and the fairness of that principle: his only accusation was in confirmation of what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, that by doing this act of justice to the West Indies we may impair the revenue now derived from sugar. I will not go further into the subject than to say that Her Majesty's Government do not Anticipate that, by the plan they propose of refining sugar in bond, any injury will accrue to the revenue; but within a very few days from this time that plan which is to be adopted will be placed in the hands of the trade and the country. The House will then be in a better position to form an opinion upon that part of the question. The right hon. Baronet has observed that he thought it best that prophecies should for the future, on both sides, be abandoned; and on a recent occasion, when I addressed the House on the Besolution then before us, I ventured to express a similar opinion. There can be no doubt that the prophecies made on both sides in the late controversy have turned out all of them to be more or less incorrect; and I can assure him that I have no disposition whatever to throw against him now any prophecy he may have made with regard to the malt tax in former years. We have been reminded by the right hon. Gentleman of the many cases in which the malt tax has been dealt with by Parliament, and even occasions on which it has been repealed. But I ask you whether or not the fact of Parliament having so repeatedly assailed the malt tax—at one time reducing it one-half, at another wholly repealing it—does not justly lead to the inference that Parliament and the public have for years considered the question of the malt tax to be one of the greatest importance; and whether that fact does not justify the attempt we are now about to make, not to sweep off the whole tax, as was done at the period referred to, but cautiously and gradually to benefit the consumer, and, through him, the producer, by remitting the half of the tax? And now, Sir, as to what the right hon. Baronet and the other speakers against our plan say, that this remission will do nothing for the consumer. I will take the right hon. Baronet's own figures, though I do not admit them to be just. The right hon. Gentleman assumed the statements of other 1512 hon. Members that the reduction would amount to a farthing on the quart of beer. If so, that would be 8s. a year. But I do not believe that a farthing a pot will prove the fair diminution. I understood the hon. Member for Derby last night to assume that the saving would he 6s. a barrel, which was double the amount estimated by the right hon. Baronet. Now, I should like to know whether, in former days, when there was a great controversy about the bread tax, it would not have been made a great handle of that the labouring man was taxed 16s. or 17s. a year on an article essential to his comfort and health, especially if it were remembered that that sum would have gone a considerable way to enable him to pay his rent? I shall not advert to the attacks made on the proposal of my right hon. Friend on the subject of eking out the revenue by what was called the Loan Fund. I will allow my right hon. Friend to answer that part of the question. I will only challenge the right hon. Gentleman to point out the value of that fund as applicable to public works in the present day. I know from experience that in former years that fund has been most beneficial, and was largely resorted to in the case of many public works. But now the change in the money market has made a great alteration in that respect. In the county with which I am connected large public works are being erected; but we resort not to the Loan Fund and its high terms, but to the insurance offices, the very bodies to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. The right hon. Baronet commenced his remarks by saying that this debate has become so confused that he was bewildered and scarcely knew what they were discussing. I admit to some extent the correctness of the statement; but if confusion has arisen, I think it is not surprising, considering the magnitude of the subject, the vast variety of its details, and the very great number of objections which have been urged against the plan; but that is not the cause of the confusion that has arisen. The confusion is in some degree to be attributed, I think, to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have successively risen to oppose our plan, among whom there has scarcely been one—the right hon. Baronet is no exception—who has not paid the highest compliments to very large portions of our scheme. Speaker after speaker has arisen, and paid just tributes of approbation to the merits of the plan of my right hon. Friend; and, to such 1513 an extent has this been carried, that in many instances the speeches delivered ought clearly to have led, not to a declaration of opposition, but of an intention to support the Budget. In other cases the objections that have been made have been founded on misapprehension of the plan itself. I allude to one great misapprehension on the part of the hon. Member for Middlesex. That hon. Member declared that the taxation was immediate, and the relief prospective. That is not the case. The House must remember, in the first place, that my right hon. Friend has been compelled to make his statement at an unusual period of the year—that the financial statement has had to be made in the autumn of this year, instead of the spring of the coming year; and though it is true that the remission of the malt tax is not to take effect till October next, the repeal of the tea duty is to commence at the same time with the imposition of the house duty, the one of which will very nearly counterbalance the other. There is, therefore, no foundation for the allegation of the hon. Member for Middlesex on this point. But, Sir, I cannot pass over the speech of the hon. Member for Middlesex without adverting in terms of great regret—I had almost said with indignation—to one other portion of it. The hon. Member for Middlesex always addresses the House with ability, and I always listen to him with pleasure, occasionally marred by that personality in which he is sometimes too apt to indulge, but from which I was happy to find his speech to-night was unusually free. The hon. Member, however, made use of an expression which I cannot pass over without remark. He attributed to us, in bringing forward this Budget, a revengeful feeling against the towns. I was sorry to find that the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. F. Peel) made use of a similar expression last night—the hon. Member said that we were dealing with the question in a retaliatory spirit. I complain deeply of these opprobrious imputations. I say hon. Members have no right to conduct the debate on such principles. Let us join issue on whatever may be the points on which we fairly differ. Let us discuss the principles of the Budget, or the items of the Budget: but I maintain that no man has a right to assail us with imputations which are most unjust. Nothing, Sir, can be more offensive to our feelings—nothing more inconsistent with the truth, than to impute to us, that in bringing forward a great proposal of "this 1514 kind—which, if there he a characteristic at all, it is that of equal justice—nothing, I say, can be more unjust than to say that in doing so we have been animated with a revengeful spirit against any class of the community. I protest, once for all, against these imputations. I have said that the speeches of many hon. Gentlemen opposite ought in reason to lead them to vote for the plan of the Government, and not against it. No speech, in my opinion, is more open to this remark than that of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden). I cannot refer to that speech without protesting against the comparison which the hon. Member attempted to draw between the burdens proposed to be laid on houses and the burdens on land. The hon. Member first took the existing house tax, then the proposed house tax—which he found amounted to 10½ per cent. He then assumed that houses were worth 15 years' purchase, and that land was worth 30 years' purchase; so he doubled the 10½ per cent, and came to the conclusion that houses were taxed 21 per cent, and land only 3 per cent. I must protest against such a calculation, and must remind the hon. Gentleman that he entirely forgot the land tax as an exclusive burden on land, and also that the house tax will fall as much on houses in the country as on houses in town. The hon. Member then went on to criticise, as two of the worst parts of our scheme, the mode of levying the income tax on the farmer, and the remission of the hop duty. The hon. Gentleman might make such objections, but those were not two of the most important items in the Budget—on the contrary, they were the smallest and least important. But the hon. Member then went on to say that nothing could be more just than the proposed mode of levying the income tax, and he admitted that nothing could he fairer than our mode of dealing with the tea duty. With regard to the house tax, he raised an objection—not a very serious one—and stated that he had received remonstrances from some temperance societies who would have to pay the additional tax, and who would not be benefited by any reduction in the price of beer; but, with great respect for temperance societies, this was hardly a fair argument to be used against a great fiscal change. Except this, the hon. Member bad offered no other objection of any consequence. The hon. Member went on to state that he was in favour of direct tax- 1515 ation; and, under certain circumstances, of a repeal of the malt duty. I think, therefore, that we may fairly class the hon. Member among those who ought to support our plan. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University Of Cambridge indulged in an expression which I greatly regret. The right hon. Gentleman accused us of tampering with the credit of the country, and with creating a deficiency. That charge was also made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, who addressed the House in a tone and manner I will not comment on, after the just animadversions which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary bestowed last night on the right hon. Gentleman. Against the justice of such a charge I must earnestly protest. I deny that we are tampering with the credit of the country. The plan proposed is large and comprehensive—complicated, if you like—but it amounts to this, that the in-come tax is to be extended, and the system of direct taxation altered, whereby certain benefits are obtained for the consumers: and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge is the last person who should have made such a charge; for the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Government of Sir Robert Peel at the very time when he dealt with the finances of the country on principles as nearly as possible the same as those upon which the present Budget is founded. We are repealing a tax, but I deny that we are creating a deficiency upon a scheme of this kind, which is to leave a fair surplus at the end of the year. The rightion. Gentleman read an extract from a speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he stated that the plan which he wished to arrive at was one of equal taxation and cheap capital. Is not that precisely the present plan? I wish now to make one remark on what has fallen from the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), whose abilities are well known, and which the House must rejoice to see transferred from a Colonial to the Imperial Legislature. I listened with pleasure, but at the same time with surprise, to the first portion of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman has taken his Beat on what is supposed to be the Liberal side—among those who advocate progress —and yet the first argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman was, that we should remain as we were—that we should still 1516 allow the tax of 240 per cent to remain on tea—that we should leave the malt tax untouched—and that we should not make any effort to increase the comforts of the people.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I took down the hon. and learned Gentleman's words, and certainly he stated in the first part of his speech that there was no occasion to make these alterations, but that we should leave things as they are. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax had used very much the same language. I confess I was not surprised, for the right hon. Baronet seemed to think that we had better leave the finances as we found them, which from him was very natural; hut I was surprised to find such views expressed apparently by the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster. The hon. Member for the West Riding and the hon. Member for Marylebone accused us of setting class against class, and creating differences between town and country. This is a most unfounded charge. It is impossible to deprecate too strongly that unhappy difference between classes which has been one evil of the controversy which has prevailed for some years past. My opinion is, that this Budget, instead of creating difference between town and country, will have exactly the opposite effect. One of the great evils of the controversy lately closed was a sense of injury on the part of one portion of the community; and I was sorry to observe on the part of Gentlemen opposite, what I cannot help thinking a reluctance to allow this controversy to close. I cannot help thinking that now the Government have conceded their views, and met them in a fair spirit, they seem to feel their "occupation gone." Sir, on a former evening I heard, with very great regret and surprise, some expressions used by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), who alluded to some county where he said the farmers were more disposed to march against Manchester than they would be to march against Paris.
§ MR. BRIGHT
hoped he might be allowed to explain that he quoted a gentleman—he thought it was Mr. Chowler—who said the farmers had more horses than any other class, and knew how to ride them; and another gentleman—he believed it was Mr. Ball, he hoped it was not the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire—said they 1517 would rather march upon Manchester than upon Paris.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
The explanation does not make the slightest difference in my argument. It is immaterial to me whether the words fell from the lips of the hon. Member for Manchester, or from those of some other person. I refer to them because the hon. Member for Manchester treats them in a jocular way; but what I say is, come from where they may, if such a feeling exist in any part of England, I can scarcely conceive a greater evil. I know the English farmers well, and so do many around me, mixing with them as neighbours and friends, and acquainted with their good qualities; and if in any county in England the farmers could be so exasperated as even partially to entertain this feeling, it could only be taken as a proof that there was a quick sense of injury, and a feeling which, instead of encouraging, we ought to do everything in our power to allay. If such a feeling exists in any class of the community, we should do well to direct our legislation in the hope of putting an end to it; and, therefore, I was sorry to hear objections thrown out against anything which, even while it was mainly a benefit to the consumer, could be held out as a boon to the agricultural class, and a measure which might tend to put an end to such a feeling. I deny that there is any ground for any such charge against this Budget. With respect to the house tax, hon. Gentlemen seem to suppose that it is to be imposed on towns and not on the country. But the house of the tenant-farmer and the house of the country gentleman will be as much liable to this house duty as the houses in towns. Then, take the remissions proposed; will the benefit of the repeal of the malt duty be confined to the country? Will not the consumer in the town be benefited along with the consumer in the country? What can be fairer in principle than to relieve from taxation an article consumed by town and country alike? Take the tea duties again—that part of the Budget has met with general approbation. The right hon. Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) says he had himself intended to deal with them; only, as some member of the daily press said—only he didn't, and like many other just measures, which no doubt the Whig Government intended to bring forward—[Laughter]— they left it for their successors to accomplish. But the right hon. Gentleman gave in his ad- 1518 hesion to that reduction. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) said he not only approved of the policy of reducing this duty, but thought the mode in which it was proposed to carry it out the best that could be selected. Does the reduction of the tea duty partake of anything like class legislation? On the contrary, will not the consumer of every class and in every quarter of the kingdom benefit by this part of the plan brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It only remains for me at this late hour of the night to touch on that most important part of the plan of the Government on which it appears to me that more serious differences of opinion exist than on any other—I mean the arrangement proposed with reference to the income tax. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford has expressed his broad dissent from the view taken by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the arrangement they proposed in the harshest terms, describing it as an act of spoliation, and a breach of faith with the public creditor. But the right hon. Gentleman, with that ingenuity in which he never fails, and which he sometimes carries to a remarkable extent, proceeded to answer himself. He said, "Perhaps I have proved too much." That, certainly, was what he had done. He referred to a clause in an Act of Parliament, and it is perfectly clear that, if that clause means anything, it must absolutely and entirely exempt fundholders from all income tax whatever. It never has been held to bear that construction; for from the time of Mr. Pitt the income tax has touched the funds in common with all other descriptions of property. The right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge went rather further last night. I understood the right hon. Gentleman, whom I do not wish to misapprehend, as saying that the Government are proposing to tax the funds on a different principle from that which they applied to any other kind of property. I must dissent from that opinion altogether. The Government are not so dealing with funded property. We are classing it with all other fixed property. We say there is a broad distinction between property in the funds or in lands, and that class of income which is precarious, and by a change of trade or a visitation of Providence might be an income to day, and be wholly gone to-morrow. I do not think I could take a better illustration of the principle upon which we 1519 propose to act in regard to the income tax than the case quoted by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle this evening, but with the most opposite intention—I allude to the case of the bishop and the judge. 'The right hon. Baronet said, that the bishop may draw 5,000l. a year, and the judge may draw 5,000l. a year as the salaries of their respective offices, and that we propose to call upon the bishop to pay 7d. in the pound of his income, while we only ask the judge to pay at the rate of 5¼d. in the pound. Why, then, the right hon. Baronet asks, should there be this difference? Why, simply because between the bishop and the judge there exists that very principle of difference which in justice we propose to recognise. The bishop is the holder of an estate, and has really his income for life. But the judge is the holder of a salary which he may not possess for his life. [An Hon. MEMBER: The bishop may be deposed.] Whatever arguments may be directed against the view of the Government upon this subject, that now suggested by an hon. Member is the last I should expect to have heard. A bishop may be deposed! Why, it was possible that he might; but I can only say that I am not at all driven by that argument from the position which I have taken up, that the distinction between a bishop and a judge is, that the one holds an estate for life, the other a salary—which the visitation of Providence any day may, if not altogether take away, very seriously reduce; and in the supposed case of a deposed bishop, I doubt whether the House of Commons or the country would trouble themselves much about the amount of income tax which such a bishop should pay. Sir, Her Majesty's Government have deeply considered this most important question; and, in their opinion justice requires that the distinction to which I have adverted should be drawn. I believe too, it is a distinction which will be supported by an immense majority of the country, and by a very large proportion of the House of Commons. The views entertained on the other side with respect to this question evidently are extremely various. The Government are now threatened by a combination of parties on the other side. Four, different parties, having little in common of agreement, seem to think they may combine together to assail this Government,, I doubt the success of the combination. I do not believe the public will approve of such a combination for such 1520 a purpose. I am confident the sense of the majority of this House will sanction a principle which, in argument, hon. Members have been unable to contravene. If they should go a step further, they will find such a combination held together by a rope of sand. If they prove successful in their combination they must deal with the finances of the country. The income tax is one of the indispensable parts of the public income at this moment. Whether permanent or not—I hope it will not be so —they cannot dispense with it at this time. How, in their proposed combination, do they propose to deal with the income tax? The hon. Member for the West Riding, the hon. Member for Montrose, a large portion of this House, consisting of Members who sit on the other side, had declared that the re-enactment of the income tax on any other principle than that which the Government advocates will be unjust. Such is the voice of the country. The right hon. Member for the Uuiversity of Cambridge, the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, say that what their friends behind them called justice, they call spoliation and breach of faith. I should like to know how such a combined party mean to settle the income tax. I believe the majority of the House of Commons will feel that, while the Government have no desire to dictate to the House arbitrarily with respect to details, they call on it, and successfully, to support the principles on which the measure of the Government is founded. These principles are principles to be acted on in strict justice; they are founded on a regard to the comfort and welfare of all classes. There are those who have endeavoured to excite dissatisfaction and discontent in the country against the propositions made by the Government. I believe they have signally failed. I believe that even in those populous towns where such arguments might appear most likely to meet success they have failed. They had failed to excite the public feeling; and I do not believe that any large class can be found who will he prepared to uphold any principle, such as that of having an exempted class in the country— a principle which I consider most dangerous. The very class which hon. Gentlemen are seeking to exempt is that which have been most benefited by the Commercial legislation of the country. I believe, Sir that such will be the general feeling of tie 1521 country. I shall await with perfect satisfaction and content the decision of the Committee. Whatever it may be, the Government will at all events have the satisfaction of having submitted to Parliament a plan having for its object to promote the welfare of all classes, and which will be approved by the calm judgment of a reflecting people.
§ MR. CROSSLEY
said, he could assure the Committee that he would not detain them on that the first time he had had the honour of addressing them, further than to express his opinion in accordance with the statements he made on the hustings before he was elected representative for his native borough of Halifax. He would not oppose the Budget because it was brought forward by any particular Chancellor of the Exchequer, but because he did not approve of the principle of it. Show him a good case and he would vote for the imposition of any one of the taxes that was proposed; but he maintained that the proposition now before them was not fair and just to the people. For instance, if a person in business chose to leave his friend 100,000l., the Government took 10,000l. of it as a legacy duty; but if a landowner left to a friend the same amount in land, the Government took nothing at all. Was that fair? If a tradesman wished to insure his property from the risk of fire, he was charged a duty of 200 per cent; but if a landowner or a farmer wanted to insure his farming stock, he paid nothing at all. Was that just? If a manufacturer sent his horse and cart to the coal-pit, he was charged 16s. 8d.; hut if he sold that same horse and cart to a farmer, and that farmer took them to the coal pit, he had nothing at all to pay. Was that just? He was as much in favour of direct taxation as any man, but he could not agree with what was an inconsistency. He must first know that the direct tax was a just and an equal one; and, secondly, that it was needed by a real deficiency in the revenue. And if they were going to create a need by taking off some indirect tax, he must also know that that was the best indirect tax that could be repealed. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that malt liquor was a prime necessity of life. But there was a large class of persons in this country—hard-working men, too— who never tasted malt or any other kind of intoxicating liquors. Instead of doing them harm, they found that this did them 1522 good. He was himself a living proof of what of what he had been stating. For six years he had not tasted malt or any other kind of intoxicating drink, and he was not the worse for it—at least if he was, he did not know it. He thought, therefore, the malt tax was the very last that should be taken off. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) said last night that not a single meeting throughout the country had been held by the consumers of beer to petition against the tax; and yet hon. Gentlemen on the Ministeral side of the House had said that it was for the benefit of the consumer that they wished to repeal that tax.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, before the debate was adjourned, he wished to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he thought to be of the utmost improtance to enable the Committee to arrive at a conclusion of the debate. He wished to know what was really the proposition upon which the Government wished to take a division of the Committee. He thought the Committee was at least entitled to know what the proposition was to be. He had certainly had supposed that the proposal of the Government was, that the existing house tax should be doubled, and be extended to houses of the value of 10l. a year. But he had heard in the course of the evening certain expressions which seemed to imply that the part of the proposition which went to double the house tax, was to be abandoned, and that the only proposition to he put was one for extending the area of the tax. If that was the case it materially altered the proposition, not only with regard to the house tax, but even with regard to the whole of the Budget. In the first place, he believed that in point of form the proposition should be different from what was contained in the Resolution before the Committee, which ran in these terms:—That from and after the 6th day of April, 1853, the Duties granted and made payable by the Act 14 & 15 Vict., cap. 36, upon Inhabited Dwelling Houses in Great Britain, according to the annual value thereof, shall cease and determine, and in lieu thereof there shall be granted and made payable upon all such Dwelling Houses the following Duties (that is to say)—If it were merely intended to extend the area of the tax, it would not be necessary nor right in form to resolve that the duty 1523 should cease and determine. It would only be necessary to propose additionally that the tax should be extended to houses of 10l. value. But, in the next place, it appeared to him that the whole plan of the Government depended upon the existence of a surplus of 2,500,000l., to enable them to take off one half of the malt tax. Now, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to state that 150,000l would be gained by extending the house tax to houses of 10l. a year; and that the remaining sum required to make up the 2,500,000l. would be gained by doubling the amount of the house tax. That sum was absolutely necessary to be provided for in order to enable the Government to carry their other propositions for the reduction of taxes into effect. The words he had heard fall from different Members of the Government, especially from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, would induce him to think either that some alteration had been made in the proposition of the Government, or that hon. Members on his (Lord J. Russell's) side of the House had not rightly understood the proposition; so that the whole Budget seemed to be left in a state of considerable uncertainty.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he wished the vote to be taken on the first Resolution, and he should consider the result of that vote of the Committee to be conclusive on the whole Budget—on the whole of the propositions he had submitted to the Committee.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, nothing could be more clear and intelligible than what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, but he apprehended it did not correspond with what was stated in the Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman wished the vote to be taken upon the whole Budget, but he apprehended that the Chairman of the Committee, no doubt in conformity with the rules and customs of the Committees of that House, had not put the question upon the first Resolution, but merely upon the preamble of the Resolution— namely-—That from and after the 5th day of April, 1858, the Duties granted and made payable by the Act 14 & 15 Vic. cap. 36, upon Inhabited Dwelling Houses in Great Britain, according to the annual value thereof, shall cease and determine, and in lieu thereof there shall be granted and made payable upon all such Dwelling Houses the following Duties (that is to say)——a sentence which was in itself incomplete. If the question had been put upon 1524 the whole of the first Resolution, there would not have existed the slightest difficulty. But it was most important that the Committee should know whether they were really going to vote on the whole matter contained in the first Resolution, although, in point of form, the words of the Preamble only were put to the Committee. If they were going to vote for the first Resolution in its entirety, the Committee then knew perfectly well what they were about; but if they were only going to vote for the Preamble, he thought that no Gentleman could possibly know what he was about. A person who wished to diminish the house tax might, with perfect consistency, vote for the Motion; and a person who thought that any improvement might be made in the house tax might also vote for it. That was a most awkward position for hon. Members to occupy. He wished, therefore to ask whether a vote on the Preamble was to touch the substance of the Resolution or not? If not, then, as far as the Preamble was concerned, it might be allowed to pass sub silentio, and the vote be afterwards taken on the substance of the Resolution.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be driven from his object. The country would fully understand the meaning of the opposition to it. The question really was, were not the principles laid down in the Budget acceptable, just, and useful to the country? He would not even pledge himself to every single detail of the Budget, therefore he thought every Member of that House had every right, when he voted for the principle, to say he did not pledge himself to all the details of the Budget. Therefore he hoped that the House and the country would clearly understand how this vote would be taken— that was, whether the principle of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right or wrong. He himself thought that those who voted for it would not be expected to agree to all its details.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, the part of the Resolution put by the Chairman simply repealed the existing house tax, for the purpose of substituting other duties. That was stated in the former part of the Resolution, and was the first substantire enactment, and stated that 1s. 6d. should be imposed on every house, and 1s; on every shop, and the proposition was, that the extension should take place to every 1525 10l. house. The question was, whether the Committee would agree to double the house tax or not. [Cries of "No!"] That was substantially the enactment. Had hon. Gentlemen read the Resolution? That proposition was an extension of the house duty to houses of 10l. and upwards. That was practically the proposition. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) had moved a Resolution to substitute property paying Probate and Legacy Duty, and the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) urged him to withdraw that Motion, in order that a vote might be taken, aye or no, for doubling the house tax. Up to this night they had argued the question, that however necessary it might be to consider the other portions of the Budget—as the malt tax and tea duties—it was a clear understanding that the first vote was to be taken, aye or no, for doubling the house tax. To-night, however, it seemed there was a doubt thrown out whether that was the question on which they ought to divide. If the mere proposition was for an extension of the house tax to houses of 20l. and upwards, it would be utterly unnecessary to repeal the existing duty, and consequently this Resolution ought to be withdrawn. If they intended to alter the duty, well and good; but if they did not, they should withdraw this Resolution altogether. All they (the Opposition) asked was, that the Government would tell them what they meant; if they meant to say they abandoned the notion of doubling the house tax, let them say so—and tell them what they intended. Of course, that would involve the abandonment of some portion of the Budget—the remission of the duty on tea or the malt tax. If that was so, why did they not say so, and say what they really intended?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought he had frankly answered the question of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), and it appeared to him that the noble Lord was perfectly satisfied. He said that he thought it was perfectly understood they should take the division on the first Resolution, and that he should consider the opinion of the Committee on that proposition conclusive with respect to the general principles of the Budget. He had no hesitation now in saying, that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government not only to extend the area of taxation, but to propose an increase of the house tax. After the whole debate had been taken on the Budget, and after 1526 he had frankly stated it was the intention of Government to propose an extension of the area and an increase of the house tax, he reserved to himself and to the Committee the right of moving any Amendment they thought fit upon it.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he felt that the observations of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer were worthy of the very deepest consideration. He would support the views of the Government, which he believed to have been most frankly expressed, reserving to himself the right of hereafter giving his opinion upon their various propositions in detail. He was entirely opposed to the attempt which was being made to overthrow Her Majesty's Ministers by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were so ready to take their places—an ebullition of party feeling which would meet with no sympathy from him. He would give no countenance to the endeavours of hon. Gentlemen, who had no principles of their own, to climb into the places of the right hon. Gentlemen below him—an effort, let him tell them, in which they would not succeed.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he was entirely satisfied with the declarations of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whether or not it would be more convenient to take the division on the preamble, or, as had been suggested, to postpone the preamble, and take the division on the substantive part of the Resolution, was a matter which he thought well deserved consideration; but as to the explanation of the intentions of Government he was entirely satisfied. He supposed the adjournment would be to Thursday, and he hoped the House might be able to come to some understanding that the debate should close on Thursday evening.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that it was certainly of the utmost importance that some such understanding should be arrived at.
§ MR. V. SCULLY
said, that every English Member had been patiently listened to, but the moment he got up he was not heard, because he was an Irish Member. Ireland was considerably interested in this Budget; but, with one exception, none of the Irish representatives had had an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it. Before the debate concluded, he trusted that opportunity would be given.
§ The House resumed: Committee report progress.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock.