HC Deb 13 June 1853 vol 128 cc62-121

Order for Committee read, Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


in rising to more the Amendment of which he had given notice, said that on a former occasion be had referred not only to this tax, but still more to the machinery by which it was proposed to enforce it, in terms of the strongest possible disapprobation. He believed that if that House consented to pass this measure in the shape in which the Government now submitted it, they would abandon the first duty they owed to those who sent them to Parliament. If, however, the measure were to be forced upon the House'—if the opponents of the Bill were powerless to prevent its becoming the law of the land, and would thereby be prevented from saving the people of this country from its most objectionable machinery, it would be at least a satisfaction to place their opposition on record. He had already had to thank the House for its indulgent attention whilst, at considerable length, be stated his objections to the measure; but a long time bad elapsed since the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed the Resolution on which the Bill was founded. His (Sir J. Pakington's) speech on the former occasion was in reply to the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer enforcing the tax. Admitting the clearness and ability of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he did not think that those who heard it regarded it as the speech of a Minister who felt strong in the justice of his proposal, but of one who, to an unusual extent, had to adopt a tone of apology. The right hon. Gentleman touched on the objections which had been offered; but he abstained altogether from entering into any refutation of those details on which the objectors to a tax of this description rested their case. Into these details he (Sir J. Pakington) had fully entered on a former occasion, and he now challenged argument on the justice of the case he had then established. He contended now, as he had done before, that indulgence in party passion would be unavailing on a proposal of this kind, and that all opposition must fail unless it were based on the clear ground of reason and justice. He might have fallen into some errors of detail, but as regarded the general substances of the figures he had stated, and the explanations he had given, he believed them to have been unimpugnable. In two important respects he stood in a different position to that which he occupied when he last addressed the House. A most important discussion on the subject had since taken place in the House of Lords, and the Bill, including the machinery by which it was to be worked, had been placed in the hands of Members. Let him first advert to the discussion which had occurred in another place. The statements produced on that occasion were tested in the usual manner by a division, but that division was a very narrow one; and he was disposed to think that the country had marked the fact that that portion of that assembly, of whom he might speak as a "corporation sole," had expressed their entire approbation of a tax to which neither they or their order would be subject. However, such was the manner in which the proposal of the Government was there saved from virtual condemnation. But he would now turn to what was far more important than the composition or the extent of a particular majority.—namely, to the signal triumph of reason and argument which characterised the discussion which then took place—to that remarkable display of learning, close reasoning, and of great eloquence, and which was met on the other side by brief statements, and by the only argument which he (Sir J. Pakington) had as yet heard advanced in favour of the Government proposal—the argument which rested upon the alleged anomaly of our existing laws. It was certainly true that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a speech which was clothed with his usual ability, had told them that they must adopt this tax as a substitute for an income tax. But his answer to the position of the right hon. Gentleman was ready at hand, and he could reply, that looking to the nature of the tax—looking to the mode in which it would be levied, that, in his opinion, the income tax was the lesser evil of the two. And, again, the right hon. Gentleman said that it would relieve the landed interest from a great burden of indirect taxation. But he (Sir J. Pakington) disputed the wisdom of the Government in seeking, however desirable it might be, to get rid of some portion of indirect taxation by means so questionable as the imposition of a tax open to such grave, serious, such insuperable objections as attached to the tax which he was now endeavouring to resist. But could they really vindicate the measure upon the ground of anomaly? His opinion was they could not. The right hon. Gentleman had dwelt most strongly upon that which he (Sir J. Pakington) thought the strongest part of the case—namely, the objection arising from the difference between settled and unsettled personality; still he was prepared to oppose the Government measure upon that ground. One of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments was, that when he came into office he found the present state of the legacy duties so full of objection, so extremely unwise, that something ought to be done; that in fact unless some such alteration as he proposed were accepted, he must proceed to repeal the legacy duties as they stood. Now he, for one, was quite ready to accept that alternative, for he thought it would be a far better arrangement, and he was backed by the high authority of Mr. Pitt in not concurring in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman; but he felt no doubt that, before long, if it became a question whether the duties were to be extended as the Government proposed, or to be repealed, the Government would be compelled, by the general feeling, as well as by a sense of justice, to have recourse to any other mode than that proposed of making up the difference in the revenue. Of course when they urged the extension of this tax to personalty, they raised the question whether it was not a tax vicious and unsound in its principle; and if it was a tax vicious and unsound in principle, they were not borne out upon the mere grounds of alleged anomaly in seeking to extend a tax open to such objection. In fact, the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer assumed this character: he said, "I find the legacy duties are unequal in their pressure. I cannot leave them as they are. Deal with them I must; and therefore to do so I will make them worse than they are." It had been well said in the debate in another place that in order to tax settled personalty with fairness and justice the tax should be made prospective—that Parliament had no right to tax personalty already under settlement—and that it could not do so without making an ex post facto law, and doing that which amounted to actual confiscation. And what was the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? Why, he dealt with the question as a matter of policy. He said he could not afford to wait until fifty years had expired; for in case the argument of his opponents were allowed, it would be fifty years before his tax was in operation. But he (Sir J. Pakington) could not admit this to be a good argument, for, if it were wrong and unjust to make an ex post facto law, and to throw a burden upon this property, it was no answer to tell him that to lose the revenue which the tax would bring in would be inconvenient, and that the Government could not afford to be just. Both in that House, and elsewhere, upon various occasions, the main argument had been, not with respect to the anomalies between settled and unsettled property, but as to the anomalies between personalty and rateable property. And here let him observe, this was not a land question. It was a question, certainly, in which he was quite prepared to admit the land was deeply concerned, and which was treated in the most oppressive manner by the Bill; but there were other interests which were affected by these allegations quite as much as the great mass of the landowners of England. But he believed that because the measure of the Government did affect the land, the present course had been mainly adopted. There was in this country a party, and which had its representatives in the House of Commons, that was ready to adopt any plan which dealt a blow at the aristocratic institutions of the country, or a blow at the property by which those institutions were supported; and he was sorry to see any Government, from the necessities of their position, he presumed, lending themselves to further the objects of that party. But be that course unjust or unwise as it may, it was only a delusive cry as regarded the present question; for the small tradesman in the towns, the owner of small house property, the manufacturer in his mill, the merchant in his warehouse, were all, as holders of rateable property, as much interested in resisting the measure of the Government as the landowner. Let them not forget that the plan, as proposed, touched younger children, and that at a moment when they were deprived of the comforts of the paternal home, and had to trust for their establishment in life to a small pittance; and yet they would diminish their small capital by the additional impost now proposed. He would beg to refer the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) to the forcible expression of the late Earl Grey, then Mr. Grey, in 1805. When Mr. Pitt proposed to extend to direct descendants the personal legacy duties, Mr. Grey then said that he must regard such a tax as a "tax upon the unfortunate." Well, he maintained, then, that the anomaly between the rateable and personal property was part of the anomaly upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer rested his case; and, at all events, it would be generally allowed that it affected a very large and important portion of the question. Now he would ask, was it not equally an anomaly that rateable property should be burdened with poor-rates, which personal property was not called upon to pay? Why, did not they all recollect that in days now gone by—days which he hoped never would recur—when they were fighting the battle of the corn laws, hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House were always met with the reply, "See you don't pay the legacy duties, and, therefore, you have in that an equivalent for whatever other taxation you have exclusively to bear." But he would ask, was it not possible to find other and similar anomalies affecting rateable property? Was it not, for instance, exposed to very heavy payments in the way of a tax upon transfers and conveyances, and to a land tax? He maintained, then, as regarded that portion of the statement, that his answer was perfectly conclusive. But he was able to go further, and he could prove that this supposed anomaly was countervailed not by one, not by two, but by many anomalies, and that if they were bound to call upon Parliament to redress certain of these anomalies which were complained of, that the rateable property had an equal claim to demand of Parliament to get rid of those anomalies to which he had just adverted. But he had heard it said that there could be no anomaly in rateable property being subject to these rates and imposts, for landed proprietors had originally purchased their estates subject to them. That was an argument, however, which should receive no concurrence from him; and it was a very poor consolation to a man to find himself exposed not only to very heavy burdens, but to fluctuating burdens, And if be had to pay a poor-rate heavier at one time than another, or a tithe rate heavier at one time than another, it would be no consolation or justification to tell him that he bought his land subject to those inconveniences, and, therefore, he must remain content under them. It was, therefore, an argument which the right hon. Gentleman, above all others, ought not to have recourse to, as he had frankly admitted in his able speech the extent of the burdens upon rateable property: indeed, if ha remembered rightly, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking on this subject, had made use of the expression, "peculiar and exceptional burdens." In adverting to this subject, he would not weary the House by again going over the figures which he had previously used, but he preferred adopting the figures of the right hon. Gentleman himself with regard to one portion of this question. Now what did these amount to? They bad it from the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself that the rateable property, speaking in round numbers, amounted to about 80,000,000l, sterling. They had it also on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman, that the direct burdens upon that amount of rateable property, including the land tax, was not less than between 14.000.000l. and 15,000,000l. He might remark, however, in order to remind the House of what had formerly occurred, that he (Sir J. Pakington) had, on that occasion, in reference to this calculation, alluded to the charges for fire insurance, and also to the stamp tax; and, therefore, he believed it might be demonstrated that the rateable property was directly burdened with the payment of 17,500,000l. per annum, which was very nearly 22 per cent upon its estimated value of 80,000,000l. Now, how, on the other band, was personal property dealt with? Why, to assess the burden affecting it to the very utmost figure, it only amounted to from 3.000,000l. to 4,000.000l. per annum. How, then, he would ask, was the Government justified, looking at such a state of facts, and resting as they did upon an alleged anomaly'—he would ask, then, how could they vindicate the imposition of a further burden upon realised property upon anything like grounds of justice? But, said the right hon. Gentleman, the present tax was only to be a tax upon life interests. That, however seemed to him (Sir J. Pakington) to be the greatest objection against the proposal of the Government, as it necessarily involved a great inequality in the tax—an argument which had been most forcibly applied in 1796. Now, to show the working of the plan, be would take the life of a man at a given age, according to the schedules which had been placed before them; and he must say in passing that he did net wonder that the right hon, Gentleman bad kept them back as long as be could, for he thought they would only serve to show how enormous and insupportable the tax would prove. But let him take the cases of two men of twenty-one years of age, one in the bloom of early manhood and all the vigour of life; the other already within the very grasp of disease, wasting under the effects of consumption. Well, let the House look at the position of these two men—so dissimilar, so unlike. And yet, in the eye of the succession duties, they were regarded in precisely the same situation. Again, take the case of a man of fifty, in vigorous manhood -— another sinking under a chest disease; the came thing occurred—the same glaring inequality must extend from beginning to end. Ay, let them shape the tax or view it how they might, its inequalities and injustices would be forever presenting themselves. One property might escape the tax altogether for half a century, while another would he constantly within the grasp of the taxgatherer. And it was that very objection, in the first place, which led to the rejection of the tax upon a former occasion. It was his impression that the country was not at all aware of the cruel nature of the burden, or of its characteristic incidents which the Government intended to impose. He believed the greatest possible Amount of ignorance existed on the subject And here, again, he wished to observe that the question was one not merely affecting the landed interests of the country. [Mr. W. WH. LIAMS: Hear, hear!] He was unable to determine what was meant by the cheer of the hon. Member for Lambeth; but this, at ail events, he would say, that he challenged him to disprove the facts which he had produced. But to continue: he would not take the case of a son inheriting directly, and who would pay I per cent, nor the case of the entire stranger who was to pay 10 per cent; but he would refer to the case of a brother or an uncle, and who would have to pay 3 per cent. Now, let them consider the case of a man at thirty-nine, and suppose him to succeed to the small property of his brother, worth— say 100l. a year—which, in round numbers, might be valued at 1,500l. At 3 per cent, the burden imposed upon him would be 45l., which would be spread over five years, [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHE-QUER: Four.] The right hon. Gentleman was right, inasmuch as the party would not be called upon to pay anything for the first year; he would, however, have to pay 11l, 5s. per annum by eight half-yearly instalments. That was to say, more than 11 per cent would be deducted from him during those first years of his occupancy, when, as was known to all, the expenditure on account of his property would be most pressing. For instance, if the property left was a house worth 1002. a year, in all probability he would be called upon to make an outlay on account of furniture or repairs; of course he would have other charges and demands to meet; such, perchance, as the payment of legacies. And yet, upon such a man, at such a juncture, you would impose the additional, the grievous, impost of this new tax upon his succession, thus causing him a most serious injury. He wanted the country to know thoroughly what was the nature of the proposed tax, and he should, therefore, take another case as an illustration. Suppose the case of a man succeeding to property which produced a yearly income of 1,000l. He would then have to pay a sum of 450l., which payment would extend over four years, in instalments of 112l. 10s. a year, and this he could not but consider a most objectionable burden, more particularly as for the next seven years at least there was the additional imposition of the income tax, which was to be paid simultaneously with this, what he must call a property tax, and in his opinion there was not much chance of the removal of the income tax then. Well, he would now turn briefly to that portion of the plan which had been explained the other evening by the right hon. Gentleman—namely, the mode in which he proposed to deal with the tax upon corporations. That portion of the plan included of course all those corporations who held in trust the property of charitable institutions. Now, it was a very old saying in reference to such a species of taxation, that "charities and younger sons always paid 10per cent." The right hon. Gentleman, however, intended to modify this view altogether, and he proposed to treat charity as a first cousin, for he proposed to seek from it an annual payment of 6d. in the pound. They had, then, the open avowal that, in addition to the income tax, the property of the country was to be subject to a tax in the most objectionable form in which it was possible to impose a tax. He believed that it would be far better, more candid, and he was sure more just, if Her Majesty's Government, instead of calling the measure a succession tax, had called it at once, as he had previously hinted, a property tax. His (Sir J. Pakington's) earnest conviction was, that they would never have submitted this proposal to Parliament, if they had not presumed upon the weakness and selfishness of human nature. The Government had presumed that as the actual holders of property would not have to pay the tax, but as its payment devolved upon their successors, that Parliament would more readily submit to such a tax than to one to be levied from the living generation. He hoped, for the honour of that House, and the honour of his countrymen, whatever their decision might be, that the House of Commons would not allow itself to be influenced by such unworthy, such selfish, such grovelling motives. Let them bear in mind that the tax was avowedly a personal tax, and that those who paid it would soon pass away. But, turning again to its influence upon corporations sole, he confessed he was glad to hear that, so far as the poorer clergy were concerned—he was glad to hear that they were to be exempted from its payment. For the position of the clergyman, with regard to the disbursement of his income, was a very hard one; and the payment of rates of any kind fell very heavily upon him. Nevertheless, however, he must say he had heard this exposition of the right hon. Gentleman with some degree of surprise, and he could not regard the admissions which he made otherwise than as admissions against the tax in general. For if this was a tax upon property in general, he could see no reason why the property of corporations sole should be altogether exempted from its payment. With regard, indeed, to one branch of corporations sole—the bishops—it must be admitted that already the plan of the right hon. Gentleman had received their marked approbation. He (Sir J. Pakington), however, was utterly unable to determine upon what grounds they had been released; and he could have no objection to seeing them obliged to submit to the same regulations imposed upon other corporate property; and certainly he could not admit one of the main objections of the right hon. Gentleman, upon which his remission in favour of corporations sole was based—namely, the heavy expenditure to which such a species of property was liable immediately following a succession. That undoubtedly was perfectly true; but he maintained that it was a truism equally applicable in the cases of all species of property. He would now come to the right hon. Gentleman's Bill itself, as hitherto he had merely dealt with the tax; and his first objection on the present occasion, also, must be to the inquisitorial nature of the measure. Why, the inquisition exercised in the case of the income tax was nothing as compared to the inquisitorial nature of this duty on succession. A person assessed under the income tax— the tradesman, for example—merely states what the amount of his property or profits were which were liable to the tax; whereas, in the case of this duty, at the moment of death the successors were responsible to communicate directly every particular of the property in question—every burden which it bore, every deduction to be made from it, every debt the deceased person owed, and the amount of every fortune which he had left to his children. And all those circumstances were to be stated under what he must call the penal clauses of the Bill. He did not blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer for those clauses—he rather blamed him for proposing a tax of this kind at all; but he thought he was wise in the enactment of his machinery, because the right hon. Gentleman knew that this tax would he so odious and intolerable to the country, that the first impulse of those to be affected by it would be to seek to evade it. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, knew that it was necessary to fortify such a tax by tyrannical and arbitrary enactments in order to enforce it. But there were two questions remaining behind of considerable importance. The first was whether Parliament would consent to pass those penal clauses; and the second, if Parliament be so subservient as to pass them, the right hon. Gentleman had to learn whether the country would submit to them. He hoped and believed that it would not. He was the last man to counsel the people to resist the law; but he would, without the slightest hesitation, exercise every influence he possessed to induce the country to resist by every legitimate and lawful means possible an impost so vexatious in principle, and in its machinery so tyrannical and inquisitorial. In reference to the clause which dealt with property in timber, he was disposed to think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not conversant with the mode in which timber was used, and for what purposes it was felled. This, indeed, was a clause which affected rather the rich man than the poor; but rich and poor alike were entitled to protection from injustice. The manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had framed this clause, manifested, by its peculiar imperfections, that the right hon. Gentleman was not himself a landed proprietor. It left to the owner of timber, on succession, two alternative modes of being taxed—that of being taxed on the average yearly profits obtainable by the sale of such timber, or that, the principal value of the timber having been estimated, the person taking the life interest should pay a percentage on that value. He could scarcely pronounce which of these two modes was the most objectionable. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to imagine that the timber on a gentleman's estate was a source of income, which any one practically acquainted with the subject knew was very rarely the fact. In the large majority of cases timber was sold as a means of bearing the expense of repairs. So that, if the owner adopted this alternative, he would actually pay a tax on the money he expended for repairs. That applied to the first of the alternatives. Now he would deal with the second: the timber might have stood upon the land for generations, and might still remain for generations to come. Timber, which had never paid the proprietor one farthing, was to be valued on every occasion that a death took place amongst the proprietors, and a fresh impost placed upon it. The Government called this taxation. He would call it plunder. If they succeeded in carrying out this clause with all its detestable machinery, he repeated that it would be plun- der, and not taxation. He would now pass to what he called the penal clauses of the measure. Let the House weigh the position in which Clauses 42 to 45 inclusive, and especially Clause 45, placed the persons who, as trustee, guardian, committee, or husband, were, besides the successor, accountable for the duty. They were to render— A full and true account of the property, for the duty whereon they shall respectively be accountable, and the value thereof, and of the deductions claimed by them, together with the names of the successor and predecessor, and their relation to each other, and all such other particulars as shall be necessary or proper for enabling the Commissioners fully and correctly to ascertain the duties due." "And the Commissioners," [proceeded the clause] "if dissatisfied with such account and estimate, to cause an account and estimate to be taken by any person or persons to be appointed by themselves for that purpose, and to assess the duty on the footing of such last-mentioned account and estimate, subject to appeal, as hereinafter provided; and if the duty so assessed shall exceed the duty assessable according to the return made to the Commissioners, and with which they shall have been dissatisfied, and if there shall be no appeal against such assessment, then it shall be in the discretion of the Commissioners, having regard to the merits of each case, to charge the whole or any part of the expenses incident to the taking of such last-mentioned account and estimate on the interest of the successor in respect whereof the duty shall be due, in increase of such duty, and to recover the same forthwith accordingly; and, if there shall be an appeal against such last-mentioned assessment, then the payment of such expenses shall be in the discretion of the court of appeal hereinafter appointed. There was to be an appeal, said the clause; but to whom? To the Court of Exchequer! The poor holder in the north of England, if dissatisfied, might appeal to the Court of Exchequer! Then, if all the forms required by the Bill were not complied with, came, in Clause 44, a long list of penalties upon the unhappy, and, very probably, totally unconscious, defaulter. Let the House consider the terrible predicament in which these most tyrannical provisions would place the poor landowners, or the poor houseowners, who were by far the preponderant class of successors, the rich being but a mere fraction. Either they must pay the impost at once, unquestioned, or they must incur penalties for non-compliance with the various enactments; or, questioning the impost, they must employ some lawyer to advise them. They would thus not only be burdened with this succession tax, but would have also probably heavy law expenses to meet. But he (Sir J. Pakington) wished to call attention to what he thought was the most unjust and intolerable grievance of all—he meant that accumulated taxation which the right hon. Gentleman sought to impose. He heard, with extreme surprise, on the occasion of the financial statement, the right hon. Gentleman say, that in the event of settled property—if one life succeeded another within a period of five years, and before the instalments were all paid, that the instalments of the predecessor would cease; but in case of an unsettled estate when the successor succeeded, not to a life interest, but to the fee, the unsettled instalments were to be paid to the Crown—so that this party would not only have to pay his own succession duty, but also the duty which should have been paid by his predecessor. Now, he contended that if this provision of the Bill were adhered to, the payment of those instalments might in many cases amount to something like 25 per cent upon the value of the property. He was sure that Parliament would never assent to such gross injustice as he had exposed. If it did, he was satisfied that the country would never tolerate them. He would ask the Government upon what authority did they propose such a measure? When he looked to the construction of the Government, it was difficult to know what authorities every portion of this amalgamated and incongruous Government would recognise. But he thought he could discern those authorities. He supposed that a portion of the Government, at all events, looked with respect at the names of Fox and Grey. Another portion would look with similar respect upon the name of Pitt. A third portion would be disposed to recognise a high authority in the name of Adam Smith. He, however, could confidently appeal to every one of those authorities in condemnation of this Bill, for he was certain none of them would have sanctioned such a measure as this. The late Sir Robert Peel, whose opinions were held in high respect generally, had omitted this very tax from his financial measures, by the emphatic statement, that, before they attempted to pass it they should correct' the inequalities of taxation upon rateable property—that they should deal with the stamp duties and the land tax to which rateable property was exposed. But the right hon. Gentleman opposite appealed to the authority of Mr. Pitt; but that authority did not bear out the right hon. Gentleman in his present proposition. He (Sir J, Pakiugton) hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would follow the example of Mr. Pitt in one respect, namely—Mr. Pitt utterly failed in burdening this country with such a tax. But this was not the plan of Mr. Pitt, for it differed from the scheme of that statesman as widely as it was possible for one plan to differ from another of the same nature. Mr. Pitt proposed half-yearly instalments, similar, no doubt, to those proposed by the right hon. Gentleman) but Mr. Pitt did not attempt in the first instance to tax the direct de-Scent. It was true, in 1805 Mr. Pitt modified this tax by extending it to 10 per Cent, and to direct descendants; but it should be recollected that Mr. Pitt proposed this as a war tax. The argument of Mr. Pitt in proposing the tax was in effect this: we are involved in a war in which property is to be defended, and it is fair and right for this defence of property that such should be taxed. He (Sir J. Pakington) had no doubt but that if a similar state of things existed at this moment, there would be a general acquiescence to the passing of such a measure. But there was no emergency at the present time that could justify such a measure of taxation as was now proposed. On the contrary, the Government were only imposing it either as an equivalent for an income tax upon this species of property, or to supply a deficiency which they themselves had created, or to correct anomalies which really did not exist. He was afraid that there was another motive, less creditable to the Government, for imposing this tax—a motive arising from, and the result of, the extraordinary manner in which the Government was constituted—a Government which had no party upon which to depend for support, and which was therefore obliged to conciliate as they best could the support of some four or five different sections upon which their continued existence depended. At one time that was to be done by an apology for a Protestant speech which was deemed necessary in Order to bring back Roman Catholic support. At another it was to be done by pandering to Radical prejudices and Radical exactions. The present measure came within the latter category. He thought it was high time that this war of classes was at an end. He never heard words in which he more thoroughly concurred than those which had been uttered the other night by his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr, Disraeli), when re- ferring to the financial proposals of the Government. His right hon. Friend said that this war of different classes ought now to cease, and town and country should have but the one common interest. He thought that the responsibility which rested on the Government was deep and serious in proposing a measure like the present, which must inevitably have the effect of raising in the minds of owners of rateable property in this country a revived sense of injury and injustice. He frankly said, he traced this proposal to the necessities of the Government position; he traced it to the fact that the Government had determined to propose an unmodified income tax, and they had no hope of support in that proposal from one of those sections upon which they depended for their existence) unless they accompanied that proposal by another burden on rateable property. He looked upon this measure as one offered by the Government as a price for their support of the income tax; and he thought if be wanted facts to prove his assertion, he would find them in the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), who, when they were debating on a former evening the Resolution upon which this tax was founded, openly said, that if it were not for this measure he would not give his support to the Budget of the Government, He (Sir J. Pakington) objected to the motives by which this measure was influenced, as much as he did to the tax itself. He had endeavoured to express clearly his objections to this mew-sure. He would, without hesitation, oppose it, and every portion of it. He told them that with regard to rateable settlements they had no right to extend a tax that was unsound in principle, and was most unjust and tyrannical in the machinery by which it was to be carried out. The Government had no right to add still greater burdens to this kind of property. He objected to the measure from its odious and inquisitorial character. His conviction was, that they had better not reckon upon a permanent revenue from this source, for when the full character of the measure was known throughout the country, there would be such a public feeling raised that Government would never dare to struggle against it. He believed that the day was not far distant when the present Government, or their successors, would be compelled to repeal this tax, in obedience to the all but unanimous demand of an indignant nation.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words' this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee; instead thereof.


said, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have felt it his duty to oppose the principle of this Bill; for though the right hon. Gentleman bad criticised some of the features of the measure, and complained of the inquisitorial character of its machinery, yet the Motion he made had not for its object to redress any portion of its alleged injustice, or to soften the rigour of its machinery, hut to negative all further proceeding with the Bill, and to put on record a protest against the imposition of any tax whatever on successions. He was the more surprised at a Motion of this kind, especially coming from the right hon. Gentleman who had been a Member of a Cabinet which had come to a determination to propose the imposition of a tax similar to the present. ["No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), speaking in the name of the late Government, said— We have not neglected carefully to examine the question of the stamp duties and the probate duties, and we think it not impossible to bring forward, on the right occasion, a duty on successions that will reconcile contending interests, and terminate the system now so much complained of."—(3 Hansard, cxxiii. 898.] He must say, therefore, he was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman complain of a measure which the Government he had been connected with were prepared to introduce, and he was certainly not justified in characterising a similar measure as one of pandering to Radical prejudices, or in calling it plunder.


said, he must give the most distinct contradiction to that statement. They had made no such proposal.


said, he did not know exactly what the contradiction of the right hon. Gentleman applied to. All he wished to insist upon was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Government of which the' right hon. Gentleman was a Member, made the statement which he had just read in the name of that Government; and it appeared to him plainly to intimate that they intended to propose a measure of this kind. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have made the present Motion, not because he thought it would retard the passing of the Bill, which had been sanc- tioned by the country, but because the tendency of such opposition was to revive jealousies and suspicions that he thought were better laid at rest, and because the landed gentry of the country would, in the estimation of the manufacturing and commercial interests, be placed by it in a false and undignified position. He would not raise the question that this opposition rested on mere selfish interests, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman bad been singularly unfortunate in the eases of hardship which be bad brought forward. He quoted the case of tradesmen in towns, and endeavoured to show that this Bill would fall heavily on them, and on the whole class of landed proprietors. Now, the tradesmen in towns were almost invariably leaseholders, and, so far from this Bill imposing a burden on them, it positively diminished the harden they now had to bear, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman was very unfortunate in selecting that class as one exposed to hardship by the Bill. They had bad no remonstrances against this measure out of doors. He did not know if there had been even one petition against it. Certainly there had been no public meetings on the subject; and even the press—which was always ready to detect a grievance, and not slow to give expression about it—was silent in so far as remonstrance went. But what was the great burden that called forth the opposition of the right hon. Gentleman? At this moment personal property was subject to two perfectly separate and distinct taxes: first, the probate duty, charged on the whole bulk of the person's property; and, secondly, the legacy duty, charged on property coming into other hands by descent, and according to the degree of relationship. From the probate duty real property was entirely free, and that, he thought, was a good equivalent for the charge now proposed to be put upon it in the form of a legacy duty. Then, property was only to pay to the extent of a life interest; and he was satisfied that in no ease whatever would a landed estate pay so much as on twenty years' purchase, even supposing it were left to a child of four years of age. At thirty years of age it was rather more than sixteen years' purchase; at thirty-nine it was fifteen years' purchase; that was to say, a person succeeding to a landed estate of fee-simple at the age of thirty-nine, instead of paying on the whole value of the land, would, in point of fact, pay on half the value of it. For instance, if a person left 20,000l. to his son in Consols, that son would have to pay a probate duty of 2l. per cent upon the capital; but if a person left an estate worth 20,000l. to his son, that son would have to pay no probate duty, but a legacy duty, which would only be on one-half the value of the land. Then came the real question, was it desirable for the landed interest that they should be the parties to raise an opposition to such a measure as this? He knew this, that the manufacturing classes generally, and numbers of his constituents among the rest, considered they had great grievances to complain of, as arising out of the present Budget; but, seeing that there were general provisions in it calculated to do good to the whole community, they were contented, on that consideration of the matter, to give up their own particular complaints. For himself, he conceived this Budget, taking it upon the whole, to be brought forward with large views for the general good of the whole community; and that unless this succession tax, which was an integral portion of it, was granted, it was utterly impossible that the income tax could cease at the end of the specified period. For those reasons he thought it desirable for the whole country that the Budget should pass unimpaired.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newcastle seemed less willing to undertake a defence of the measure, than to borrow for it the sanction of Lord Derby's Government, and at the same time to impart to his (Mr. Freshfield's) right hon. Friend, who had so ably supported the Amendment now before the House, the inconsistency of opposing a plan which the late Government, of which he was a Member, contemplated as proper to be proposed to Parliament; and it was not the first time the taunt had proceeded from opposite benches, but he (Mr. Freshfield) must say, with very slight, if any, foundation. It was true that in December last his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, near the end of one of the most splendid speeches which it had been his pleasure to hear, having fully treated of all the measures embraced by his Budget, said that the Government— had not neglected carefully to examine the question of the stamp duties and the probate duties; [adding] and we think it not impossible to bring forward on the right occasion a duty on successions, that will reconcile contending in- terests, and terminate the system now so much complained of."—[3 Hansard, cxxiii. 898.] Was it to be supposed that a subject so frequently forced upon the attention of Parliament, namely, the supposed favour shown to the territorial interest in exempting real property from the legacy and probate duties, and in relation to which a notice had recently been given in the House of Commons, had not formed one of the many considerations demanding the attention of a new Government in a new Parliament. But did his right hon. Friend pledge himself, still less can it be said that he pledged the Government, to any specific plan, or indeed that any plan would be submitted to Parliament upon the subject? and certainly it was not promised nor threatened to be such a plan as that which it was the misfortune of the country to have now in progress. His right hon. Friend had, however, said this by implication, at least if not directly: the stamp duties must form a part of any plan for rendering real property subject to a legacy or a succession tax; and so indeed should those duties be revised when even as to personal property you change a legacy duty into a succession tax, in relation to interests which had previously borne the impost of deed stamps and ad valorem duties; and even with that intimation of caution, showing that he had considered the subject, his right hon. Friend had only said, that the Government thought it not impossible "that on the right occasion" they might bring forward "a duty on successions;" such a duty as might reconcile contending interests. But did his right hon. Friend shadow out an occasion like the present, when the income tax was not only renewed, but renewed for a term more than double that obtained by Sir Robert Peel in 1842 and 1845, and by the Whig Government in 1848? Did he promise that as a mode of reconciling contending interests, land should be taxed because permanent property was taxed, and yet that land should bear the poor-rate, and permanent property should be exempt? He (Mr. Freshfield) said, if the succession tax was to be defended, it would be upon the broad grounds of justice and necessity, and not. upon a sanction erroneously attributed to the late Government.

So much in the absence of his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, he had thought it right to say, and especially as his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich had not the opportunity by the forms of the House to defend his own consistency. But he had a much more serious duty to discharge in resisting the progress of the Bill, which involved consequences more serious, as affecting personal as well as real property, than hon. Members seemed to be aware of. A prevailing notion entertained was, that by this measure little more was effected than removing the exemption which real property enjoyed, from the payment of the legacy duty charged upon personal property; and it might have been reasonable to expect that such would have been the scope of the measure, seeing that upon no occasion had any plea been urged for changing the legacy duty into a succession tax; and in order to test the object and intentions of hon. Members, who had been most active in advocating the non-exemption of real property, he (Mr. Freshfield) had submitted to the Committee of the whole House an Amendment upon the Resolution of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the object of which was to subject real property to the legacy duty, in like manner as personal property was by law subject. But that was resisted, and the Resolution was carried in the form to found upon it the present Bill. There was an end, therefore, of the notion that the principle of this Bill was to render real property liable as personal property was and is liable to a legacy duty, It was really and in truth the imposition of a new tax founded upon new contingencies; and he must say that he saw nothing, even in the legacy duty, as originally imposed, so desirable as to recommend it to large extension.

In 1795, Mr. Pitt proposed it as a part of his Budget. He said it was his intention to apply it to all legacies, with the exception of those to widows and to the lineal descendant, commencing with a duty of 2 per cent upon persons in the first collateral degree (that is, brothers and sisters) and their descendants, till he came to strangers, who were to pay 6 per cent; and he contended "that in a war for the protection of property, it was just and equitable that property should bear the burthen." It was not to be confined to any species of property; it was to include both landed and personal. Mr. Pitt first introduced his Bill, now on our Statute-books as the 36 Geo. 3, c. 52, imposing the legacy duty on personal property. It was opposed by Mr. Pox, Mr. Grey (the late Earl Grey), Mr. Sheridan, Sir William Pulteney, and other eminent statesmen. It was truly said to be a tax upon capital. Mr. Fox said that the idea of an ad valorem duty on a man's property was repugnant to the sense of justice in any country, but especially in such a country as ours, where it was impossible to calculate the inconvenience to which it would give birth; and he strongly urged that the Legacy Duty Bill should be delayed until the Bill for imposing a succession duty on land should be before the House, and should be joined with the other, because by applying the tax to landed property the impracticability of it would be more striking. Mr. Pitt pressed the moderate and favourable details of his Bill: it was not to affect the first degrees of consanguinity; in every case the widow and the direct descendant would be excepted; it would be confined to bequests; it would be on the capital bequeathed; it could have no operation upon contracts. On the 5th of April, 1796, the Bill passed the House of Commons, and on the 21st of the same month Mr. Pitt introduced his Bill for imposing the same amount of duty on succession to real property, and excepting the lineal descendant. Mr. Fox and Mr. Grey opposed the Bill; the former contending that it was a tax on capital. He said it was a system which, if acted upon in the extent to which the principle might be carried, would enable the State to seize upon the whole property of the country; adding, that from brothers—the first degree proposed to be taxed—it might be extended in time to reach children; and in this Mr. Fox proved himself to be a prophet, because nine years later, by the Act 45 Geo. 3, c. 28, a legacy duty of 1 per cent was imposed upon the child of the testator. Mr. Grey said that the Bill proposed a partial and bad mode of levying a land tax: it was to all intents a tax on landed capital; would prove a source of vexation, and might become an instrument of influence to a Minister over landed gentlemen; and. Mr. Fox urged powerfully the policy of allowing to individuals the complete power of disposition over their property, to the enjoyment of which he attributed much of our national prosperity. The Succession. Bill continued to be opposed in several stages, and upon questions connected with the third reading. The Minister being on one question in a minority, and carrying another only by the Speaker's casting vote, withdrew the Bill.

The fate of the Succession Bill in May 1796 in the hands of a Minister so power- ful as Mr. Pitt, not only furnishes a strong direct authority against such a measure, tout the authority is greatly strengthened fey the fact that we continued to be engaged in an expensive war. The urgent necessity of meeting the necessary exertions of the country are well known as matter of history. Not only would such a revenue as the produce of the succession duty have been important, but even a much smaller sum to provide for the interest of our annual loans, and yet no attempt was Made to impose such a tax; and it was reserved for a period of almost general peace, and at the distance of forty years from the last French war, that we resort to what Mr. Sheridan described in 1796 as an "execrable measure of finance." It was true, that although no Minister renewed the proposal, yet the territorial interest were not without opponents in and out of Parliament, who desired not only that all the burdens upon land should continue their full weight, but as many more as it Could be made to bear, and the sue cession tax, or, as it had hitherto been called, the legacy and probate duty, to be included in the number; and in the year 1842 a Motion was proposed to the House of Commons by Mr. Elphinstone— That it will be expedient to this House at an early period to resolve itself Into a Committee of the whole House, for the purpose of considering the Act 55 Geo, 3 c. 184, with the view of imposing legacy and probate duty on succession to real estate, of the same amount as are now imposed by the Said Act on the succession to personal property. One objection taken was to the form of the Motion, which would hot reach any property under settlement, as the legacy duty did not attach to personal property under settlement; and his right hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member for the University of Cambridge, showed that in adjusting any such question the stamp duties must be taken into consideration; and he illustrated that statement by detailing the expense to which a man would be subject in the investment of 5,000l. in land, as compared with a similar investment in the Funds. The latter investment Would require no deeds, no stamps; but the man who became a landed proprietor by the investment of his 5,000l., would have to pay 68l., not including law charges as to title or conveyance. At the end of twenty years that sum would have more than doubled by the addition of interest, and then the successor would have to pay legacy duty according to Mr. Elphinstone's plan, equal in amount to that paid by the son of the stockholder, who had not been subject to any expense on his purchase.

The noble Lord the Member for the City of London opposed the Motion, and opposed it upon more grounds than one; and, unless he had changed his opinion, ought to vote for his right hon. Friend's Amendment. The noble Lord strongly objected to Sir Robert Peel's proposal of an income tax (this was in 1842), which he regarded as unadvisable and unnecessary; and he said he did not think it would be at all amending the condition of the country if in addition to that tax they were to consent to impose an additional burden on the country in the shape of probate and legacy duties. He thought it would be very fit when the income tax was passed, to go into a revision of those probate and legacy duties, to say that so much was collected by that means that the aggregate should not be increased, but that it should be fairly levied upon all species of property; and as one of those who considered taxes as well as commercial restrictions in themselves an evil, he should not feel himself warranted from any abstract love of this tax of probate and legacy duties in giving his vote in favour of such a tax. These being the opinions of the noble Lord in 1842, was it unreasonable in Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House, but voting upon independent principles, and as representatives of this great country of mixed interests, to say, that having borne the income tax eleven years beyond that at which the noble Lord declared it to be unadvisable and unnecessary, and having agreed to bear it at least seven years longer to the amount in seven years of 17l. 1s. 3d. per cent, this was not the time to extend the legacy duty upon personal property by converting it into a succession duty, and imposing the tax for the first time upon the territorial interest, which includes a very considerable number of small proprietors, proud of their Stake in the most permanent description of national property. He (Mr. Freshfield) trusted it would not be deemed out of place to confirm the very limited sanction of the noble Lord to even the then existing legacy duty, and his own strong objection to it, by quoting the opinion of Lord Howick (now Earl Grey) upon Mr. Elphinstone's Motion. His Lordship said— A legacy duty was in its nature a peculiarly offensive and oppressive duty, operating as it did at times when families were suffering distresses, and adding to their personal afflictions by the inquiries and investigations it led to as regarded the amount of the property of the deceased that would he affected by it. He would have been much better prepared to vote for the taking off the legacy duty on personal property, for if they were to submit to the annoyance of an income tax, with all its offensive inquisition into private affairs, and its expensive machinery, surely it would have been better to have had a larger percentage at once, and so have got rid of some taxes in the Excise and Customs which pressed heavily on the industry of the people, as well as of a legacy duty on personal property; but taking the Motion as he found it, he must vote against it. The opinion of Sir Robert Peel upon the Same question was not only important, but it was a lesson to those who should deal with the subject as to what on such an occasion should be done, but which unhappily had received but little attention in framing the Bill for the new succession duty.

The right hon. Baronet, he might truly say his right hon. and lamented Friend, described the question invoked in Mr. Elphinstone's Motion as most extensive and complicated—that no just conclusion could be drawn without looking to the whole of the stamp duties and taxes upon conveyances; and he did trust if at any time a modification of the existing system should be made, that there would be a Government sufficiently in the possession of the confidence of the House to be intrusted with the review of the whole question, rather than it should be devolved upon a Select Committee. Any modification of the probate and legacy duties, or an extension of them to other property, could not take place without a change in other burdens that bore in a different way on different kinds of property. Look, said Sir Robert, to the probabilities of evasion which would arise in the imposition of such a tax from the facilities which persons bad for divesting themselves during life of the property which, unless the proposed tax were imposed, they would transfer by legacy.

The proposal of Mr. Elphiastone was negatived by a majority of 144, there being 77 Ayes, and 221 Noes, and in the majority will be found the names of the noble Lord the Member for London, the right hon. Mr. E. Gladstone, the present Duke of Newcastle, the right hon. Sir Francis Baring, the right hon. Sir James Graham, the present Earl Grey, the right hon. E. Cardwell, and other Members of the present Government; and although the popular ground taken by Gentlemen opposite for supporting the succession tax, is, that by means of it they purchase the repeal of the property and income tax, yet they adopted no Such policy upon the several renewals of that tax in 1845, 1848 and 1851. And they are now content to accept a problematical expectation in return for the present infliction of one of the most oppressive measures ever submitted to Parliament, and one founded on the worst policy, discouraging the accumulation of property, and unjustly, by retrospective operation, taxing rights acquired under deeds of settlement, expressly authorised by former legislation, in respect of which stamp duties have been imposed and paid to the State.

The right hon. Mover of the Amendment had in some degree criticised the particular provisions of the Bill; other opportunities would offer in Committee; and he (Mr. Freshfield) had already stated some objections in moving an Amendment to the original Resolutions. He would, therefore, in the present stage, but generally refer to some of the clauses, all of which were of the most stringent character, and calculated to bring within their operation nearly everything by which a man's pecuniary condition may be improved, with no clear distinction, or, as it appeared to him, any tendency to distinction, between that succession which was fortuitous, and that which was the consequence of previous contract. Clause 2 described the subject of tat as— Every past or future disposition of property by means whereof any person has or shall become beneficially entitled to any property, or the income thereof, upon the death of any person dying after the term appointed for the commencement of this Act, either immediately, or after any interval, either certainly, or contingently, and either originally, or by way of substitutive limitation, and every devolution by law of any beneficial interest, or property, or the income thereof, upon the death of any person dying after the time appointed for the commencement of this Act. Here was a description of a succession. Could anything be less like that which hitherto had* been the subject of taxation as a legacy? And yet it was by the determination to confound what had been liable to legacy duty, with what would be liable under the general term succession, that the pending measure had any chance of becoming a part of our financial system. And general as was the rule established by the second clause, it seemed as if even that was to be extended, if possible, by the terms in which the very few exceptions were described. Take for instance Clause 15, which provided that a policy of insurance taken out by a man upon his own life should not deemed a succession. Why, who could entertain any doubt upon the subject? Policy of insurance is an engagement to pay on the death of the party a sum of money in return for an annual premium paid by that party: the amount would form a part of the general property of the deceased, as any other debt to which his executors were entitled, and would be administered subject to the duties applicable to the property of a deceased person; but the very exception illustrates the careful determination to let nothing loose that could be brought within the operation of this measure of exaction. The effect, however, requires a further observation: the very enactment of such an exception, shows what may he deemed a succession. The insurance by a man upon his own life, is not to be deemed a succession; hut what then would follow upon the ordinary ease of creditors insuring the life of their debtor, upon whose exertions, or perhaps life income, may depend their prospect of payment? Why, obviously by the very terms of the exception, not being within the exception, the money received upon their policy would be deemed a succession, and liable to this grasping tax; and that term is especially applicable when those clauses come to be examined, by which the mode of calculating the succession duty, and providing for what shall not be allowed in reducing the capital to be assessed, comes to be examined; also the priority of the duty over every other charge, so that a mortgage affecting the life-interest of a person entitled to a succession may be deferred until after the payment of the duty, not merely upon a sum equal to the mortgage money, but upon the whole amount of the succession; and, then, until the successor is able to meet the immediate outgoings on coming into possession. In short, the duty is made to operate as a new charge, taking precedence of the mortgagee's debt; and the same or a worse character is preserved in the administrative or penal clauses requiring notice to be given of successions—penalty of 10 per cent per month for not giving notice—powers of the most objectionable character given to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue; and, as if to defy any rigour more extreme; it is proposed by the 53rd Clause, that— Any person wilfully making a false statement to the Commissioners in relation to any account, (not merely to any account which might and probably would be something definite, but to any ac- count) or estimate, should be subject to all the pains and penalties to which by any law for the time being in force, any person convicted of wilful and corrupt perjury, should be subject. This clause, he said, was in itself so coarse, so offensive, indicating so little self-respect in those who could so readily propose that a statement of such matters, collected possibly from many sources, even though charged to be wilful, should be treated as a crime, deemed in law to he one of infamy. He defied the Minister to carry such a clause: it could not be the suggestion of the Minister, or of any of the eminent legal men connected with the framing of the Bill, but it must have been borrowed from an inferior code connected with our earlier fiscal regulations. He would only add, that nothing of the sort was to be found either in Pitt's Act imposing the Legacy Duty, or in the Bill which he failed to pass for enacting a Succession Tax; nor would other penalties provided by the present measure derive authority from the provisions of Mr. Pitt's Bill.

He was prepared to state many cases of hardship and injustice which must arise under this measure, and against which no caution could protect, although some cautions would no doubt be adopted; but those very cautions would be productive of social evils, which Parliament would not directly and openly sanction; and he must be allowed distinctly to adopt the opinions of Mr. Fox, and the present and the late Earl Grey—the first pronouncing a decided opinion that"there was no principle of taxation more destructive than that which tended to destroy the power of exchange and transmission, and thereby lessen the desire of acquisition; and he believed that much of our prosperity was owing to the complete disposal of property which was enjoyed. "The present Earl Grey declaring that in his opinion, even" a legacy duty was in its nature a peculiarly offensive and oppressive duty. "And his venerated father (the late Earl) objected strongly to the succession duty as a tax upon capital, declaring that" a tax upon the capital of any country could not fail to hurt its prosperity; and the discovery of the state of property to which the levying of the tax would necessarily lead would prove a source of vexation."

Such opinions of such men must have considerable weight, even opposed to a legacy duty to be imposed upon landed as well as personal property. But the Government of this day were not satisfied with the right only to search the pockets of the dead man, and proceed to his escrutoir and his box of deeds to ascertain and to tax the property of which he died possessed; and yet many supporters of the Government thought that nothing more was sought; but this measure did not condescend upon any such simple and matter-of-fact limit. It was not a mere administration of the dead man's estate, which was all that the Legacy Duty Acts effected, but it had objects much more extensive: it sought out the recipients of any benefits derived by any and every person as a successor to property or income, whether belonging to the deceased, or devolving upon others by his decease or the decease of any other persons; and the inquiries relating to his concerns was, in fact, only one of the sources of inquiry in pursuit of the fiscal object; and let it always be remembered, that this change in the law applied not to real property only, but also to personal. He felt morally certain that if the Act passed, the tax could not be continued: its operation would be productive of almost general discontent and clamour for its repeal; the exception would only be on the part of those who regarded the possession of property to be a crime, and acted upon principles antinational and selfish. He should give his cordial support to the Amendment of his right hon. Friend.


said, he could not avoid remarking the strangeness of the contradiction made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington), to the statement made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Headlam). His hon. and learned Friend cited the speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer from Hansard. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down did not deny that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had used the language respecting the succession duty attributed to him, but argued that it was coupled with other words with respect to bringing forward such a measure when the proper time arrived. Surely there could be no doubt, even upon the version of the hon. Member (Mr. Freshfield), that some such promise had been made by a distinguished Member of the late Cabinet, of which Cabinet the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich was himself also a Member. And, with this recollection, he thought the right hon Baronet ought to have somewhat qualified the very strong language he used in respect to those who proposed and ad- vocated this tax. He must confess his astonishment at the charge made against the Government by the right hon. Baronet, of "pandering to the Radicals;" for he must declare that, since he had the honour of a seat in that House, a more Radical and revolutionary speech than his own he had never listened to. The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by a wholesale attack upon the bench of bishops, because of the manner in which they had exercised their votes in the other House, and then he made a most violent declamation, saying that if Parliament were subservient enough to pass this Bill, he trusted the people would not submit to it. Had such language been attributed to the most violent demagogue, it would have been thought exaggerated and a caricature. He did not know what language amounted to an incitement to violate the law, if this did not. The right hon. Gentleman had said that personal property paid no poor-rates, but leasehold property paid poor-rates. The fallacy of the right hon. Gentleman's argument was, that all landed property was real property, whereas, by law, half the landed property of this country consisted of what was called personal property—namely, an interest in the property for years, which did not amount to a freehold estate. It was the peculiarity of the English law that if a man had an interest in land for 20,000 years, it would be considered personalty; whereas if he had an estate for life it would be regarded as a freehold. A leasehold for 999 years would pay the legacy duty, while a life interest would not. These were the peculiarities of the English law—


in explanation, said he had throughout the whole of his observations drawn a marked distinction between rateable and personal property.


said, he could not see how the distinction had been made out. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the alleged injustice of charging this duty upon timber grown for ornament, and he had dwelt upon the excessive cruelty of making this species of property pay legacy duty, on the ground that it was not grown for profit. But the right hon. Gentleman entirely overlooked the case of hereditary diamonds and plate. These paid duty upon successions, and would continue to pay it so long as the legacy tax remained. The right hon. Gentleman, in justifying his opposition to the present Bill, had relied upon the authority of great names—of Grey and Fox, of Adam Smith and Sir Robert Peel; but the authority of some, at least, of those illustrious personages, on such a question as the present, be (Mr. Phillimore) must, with great deference, be permitted to doubt. Mr. Fox's deficiency in that science, the value and importance of which was now universally acknowledged—political economy—all candid persons must admit. To venerate that great statesman in the character of a political economist was, to use an expression of Mr, Canning's, like worshipping the sun when he was under an eclipse. With respect to Sir Robert Peel, his opinion could not be quoted with any great propriety against the present Bill; for it should he remembered that, whatever Sir Robert Peel might have said against the principle of the measure, was said in the presence of very different circumstances from those which now existed, and at a period when there was no such alteration of the stamp duties as had now for some years existed. If he could bring himself to believe that there was any truth in the assertion that this Bill was a blow aimed at the aristocracy, it should receive from no one a more strenuous opposition than from himself; but it was because he believed in his heart it was otherwise intended, and would otherwise operate, that he gave it his cordial support. The noble Lord the Member for Huddersfield (Viscount Goderich), had described it in its true colours when he said that it would benefit the aristocracy by relieving them from the odium to which they were now exposed, from the general belief that they enjoyed an immunity from which their fellow-subjects were excluded. He should not, however, have dwelt so long even as he had done on the subject, if he had not thought that as to the rating of personal property the right hon. Gentleman had stated what was not in substance correct.


said, if the question raised by this Bill had been confined to the imposition of a legacy duty upon landed property, he should have been among the first to give it his support. But when he considered the nature of the proposed tax, that it was a tax upon all real and personal property, settled and unsettled, upon property settled by past and present and future documents, and the evils which would arise from it, he could not but feel alarm and apprehension. He should consider the Bill briefly under three heads: first, the nature, operation, and consequence of the tax; next, the amount which weald be produced by it; and, thirdly, as to the machinery by which it must be carried into effect, He need not go into a definition of what was real and what was personal property, be-cause that had been done by the Bill itself, With respect to personal property, he wished the House first of all to consider what would be the operation and effect of the Bill. A more stringent and a more inquisitorial law never could be proposed. He would assume that a younger child, who had a portion upon an estate, had, several years ago, settled that portion by deed of settlement, upon which heavy stamp duties were paid. The tenant for life was still living. Up to the present time the party and his children would be free from duty; but by this ex post facto law in all cases of this kind the burden would be east upon the parties of the succession duty, though the settlements had been executed many years, and they had paid very heavy ad valorem stamp duties. Consider next the case of a tenant for life, either of money or an estate, who had sold that money or that estate to a purchaser for a full and valuable consideration, For the purpose of protecting himself against the contingency of death, the purchaser of such estate would insure the life of the party; but though he might have paid in insurance premiums more than the value of the policy, he was, upon the death of the party whose life estate he bad bought, subject to this tax, In another case, a man was entitled to a reversion of 20,000l. either in money or land, and sold it to a purchaser who made his calculations free from all charge either of legacy or succession duty. He would pay upon the full value; and if he happened to purchase the reversion from a stranger in blood, there would be taken from the purchaser a sum of 2.000l. He was stating these propositions in the presence of an hon. and learned Gentleman who would know immediately whether they were correct or not; and he ventured, with great deference, to tell him that this was the construction which must be put upon the Bill, When the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer made his proposition, he stated that the produce of the tax would be about 2,000,000l., and that the charge upon land would only amount to about 400,000l. But he (Mr. Mullings) could not make any distinction between property in houses and property in land. He had taken some trouble to ascertain what would be the amount produced by this tax, By a re- turn of burdens affecting real property, of the 19th of June, 1846, he found the annual value of real property assessed to the property tax in 1842, for England, Wales, and Scotland, was 95.284.497l,; add for Ireland, 12,000.000l.; increase since 1842, 8,000,000l.; waking about 115,284,497l. He had deducted for leaseholds for years, and money secured upon land now paying duty, 35,284,497l.; leaving 80,000,000l. to pay duty. He had calculated the average mortality or duration of life, as conferring a succession, at twenty-one years' and the real estate at twenty years' purchase. He bad tested this by an examination of descents in a copyhold manor, and they occur in twenty years. He had taken the Royal Family of this country since the Restoration, and found that from 1649, the accession of Charles H., to 1837, and adding twelve years for the period of deposition of James II., was 200 years; and there had been ten successions, which was just twenty years for each succession. The duty on the 80,000,000l. at 2¾ per cent— the calculation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for personalty—would produce 2,200,000l,; but as the duty would be assessed upon life interests only, he took one-half of that amount, or fourteen years' purchase, which would be 1,100,000l,; to that be added one third, as the difference between twenty-eight years' purchase for the real estate and twenty-one years for succession, 366,666l., making 1,466,666l. It WAS admitted that the personalty now paying duty was only three-tenths of the whole; the whole of the present legacy duty was 1,315,300l.; from that he deducted, for leaseholds and charges upon personalty, 415,300l., making 900,000l. He added for six-tenths, sinking the one-tenth, 1,800,000l; to that he added for the realty the 1,466,666l., making 3,266,666l. This 3,166,666l odd would be the new tax; to that add the present legacy duty of 1,315,380l. making 4,582,046l, He would have much preferred a tax of 6d. in the pound, like that proposed upon corporations, which would produce 6,000,000l. per annum, on 120,000,000l. of realty, and 120,000,000l of personalty. They were getting back to the times of the ancient English tenures, when all owners (including monasteries) paid aids for the support of the Crwn—which were now represented by our stamp duties—to reliefs for taking up the estate, which were represented by our proposed succession duty, and to fines on alienation, which were represented by the henry charges for making out titles and proceeding to sales of estates, and which became so onerous and unbearable as almost to produce a rebellion, and which led to their entire abolition by the Statute 12th Charles II. The mode of recovering these was by inquisitions post mortem, which was again adopted by the 47th section of this Bill; and, as Sir Thomas Smith said, writing upon the Commonwealth, when he came to his own, after he was out of wardship, he found his wood damaged, his houses and buildings out of repair, his stock wasted, and his lands let and barren. To reduce him still further, he was yet to pay half a year's fine for sueing out of his livery; and when his fortune was so shattered and ruined that perhaps he was obliged to sell his patrimony, he had not even that poor privilege allowed him without paying an exorbitant fine for a licence of alienation, That right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that the duty upon personalty would be two and four-fifths per cent, and that the duty upon land would be only one and two-fifths per cent, or one-half of that upon personalty. Now, he (Mr. Mailings) was utterly and entirely at a loss to understand or ascertain by any means of calculation hew the right hon. Gentleman had arrived at that conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman then added that they called upon landed property to pay a more limited and fighter rate for two reasons: first, because there was no interest prior to a life interest. He (Mr. Mullings) could not understand this expression, but it appeared in the newspapers. {The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I said higher.] The word used was "prior." This, said the right hon. Gentleman, reduced the tax by one moiety, therefore the burden would be only one moiety of that upon personal property; and next, because to a certain extent landed property ran in a more direct line than personalty. He (Mr. Mailings) believed the very contrary was the fact. He could imagine no possible case in which the rate upon land would be lower than upon personalty; at all events, he could not conceive a case in which there would be the difference stated by the right hon. Gentleman. As a maker of as many wills, perhaps, as any man in the country, he knew of no such case; for he had tested the duration of life in various ways, and found it was twenty years; but for the purpose of considering this Bill, he would take it at twenty-one years. He came now to that which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) had alluded to as the machinery of this measure. With regard to land, he admitted there would be but little difficulty in bringing it under the operation of the tax; but horn did they propose to get at settled personalty? After considering this subject, he had come to the conclusion, that they would never be able to get such a return as would be required with regard to the personalty; that they never could get a that which was a subject of transmission from hand to hand; and would never be enabled to prevent a family from handing it over from one to the other of its members without returning it for the purpose of the succession duties. He believed, such were the powers granted by the Bill, that if it passed, they would have in future no trustees or executors—that men would not be found to put themselves into that position. By the 47th clause of the Bill it was provided that— The Commissioners, for the purpose of ascertaining the duty payable upon any succession, may require any accountable party to afford to them such information as they may deem necessary, and also to produce before them or their officers such books and documents in the custody or control of such party as may be capable of affording any necessary information for that purpose, and they may make such extracts therefrom, and copies thereof, as they shall think necessary for the purposes of this Act. Why, talk about the inquisitorial powers wielded of old under the order of the Court of Wards and Liveries—they were nothing to what these were! The House was now going back to those times, and to those principles, which became so onerous and burdensome that they nearly stirred up a rebellion, until the Statute of Charles II. abolished them. He was not one who would shirk taxation; but, if the country was to have a tax levied for the purpose of getting rid of indirect taxation, do impose one in the mode which had been proposed for the purpose of taxing corporations—namely, an annual payment of 6d. in the pound, which, he believed, would produce something more than the succession duties, for it would realise about 6,000,000l. per annum. He would support the right hon. Gentleman most cordially in a proposition of that kind, because he thought nothing could be more unjust than that they should stave off a burden from themselves to cast it upon those who succeeded them, and who would succeed to the property at a time when of all others they would not probably be able to pay these succession duties, and would have to mortgage the property to defray the payment to which they would be liable. He could not give his support to a Bill which he believed would inflict the greatest hardships, which would have most serious and burdensome consequences, and which, when its real effect came to be Known, would in twenty years make the right hon. Gentleman to be considered on of the most dangerous and mischievous Chancellors of the Exchequer that this country had ever seen.


said, he had several times brought the subject of the exemption of real property from legacy duty before the House, and he had pointed out the great injustice of levying the tax upon personal property alone. He had shown that out of 26,400 persons, whose wills paid the legacy duty, in 1848, 17,600 left property of from 20l. to 250l. That fact demonstrated that the whole of the larger properties of the country were exempted from taxation. He was astonished now to find great landowners denouncing, as a system of plunder, a tax of 3–8ths of one per cent upon their properties, which would only amount to a payment, allowing interest for the four and a-half years allowed to pay it in, of 11l. 12s. 6d. during a man's lifetime upon 3,000l. This was as paltry sum of which to say that its payment would stir up a rebellion amongst landed proprietors, while those hon. Gentlemen who made this loud complaint had the magnanimity to levy not only a legacy duty but a probate duty in addition, amunting to 12½ per cent upon the portion left to the poor widow, by her father and mother-in-law! He did not know where the justice and the Christianity of such a principle as this were to be found. Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt, and Adam Smith had been quoted by hon. Gentlemen opposite; but Mr. Fox was decidedly opposed to the division of the Bill for taxing the succession on personal property from that for taxing real property. He denounced it in the strongest terms; and Mr. Pitt said of the tax upon real property that it would be the least felt of any. In 1841 he suggested to the late Sir Robert Peel the imposition of the same legacy and probate duty on landed and other real property as was paid on personal property, as one measure for making up the then deficiency of the revenue, instead of imposing the income tax. He had also moved it as an Amendment to the house tax proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli.) He considered that the Bill provided in the most efficient manner for reaching all descriptions of personal property, which was of infinitely greater value, and would produce an enormously greater amount of revenue, than the extension of it to land. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich had referred to the operation of this tax upon an estate of 100l. a year. Now the schedule valued an estate worth 100l. a year, to which a person succeeded at the age of thirty-five, at 1,500l. What was the amount of legacy duty which a person in the first degree of consanguinity—which the right hon. Baronet himself admitted was the case with nine-tenths of the landed property of the country—what was the amount of legacy duty which such a person would have to pay? Why, only 15l., and that estate, valued at thirty years' purchase, might be sold any day in the market for 3,000l., while personal property of the same amount would have to pay 30l., and pay it in twenty-one days, too, though landed property was allowed four years and a half to pay it in, which was equal to an allowance of 22½ per cent in favour of land, and would reduce the payment of legacy duty payable on land to three-eighths of one per cent. [Laughter.] Yes, he would defy them to make it more. And yet the land had been hitherto exempted, while personal property had been taxed for the last fifty-seven years without a voice being raised in protest against it, except by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) and himself. All legacies that were made charges upon the land were called to pay duty, while the land itself had been exempt. He could not conceive how any man, calling himself a just man, could allow such a state of things to exist. There might have been some sense in proposing to repeal the tax altogether; but to propose to continue it upon personal property, while landed and real property were altogether exempted, was a gross and monstrous injustice. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) said that land paid 17,000,000l. of the taxation of the country; but he begged to remind the right hon. Baronet that the whole taxation of the country, public and local, was 75,000,000l., so that the contribution of the land, by the right hon. Baronet's own showing, was disproportionately small. He hoped that the landed Gentlemen, for the sake of their own credit, for the sake of morality, for the sake of the position which they held in the country—he hoped they would not go into the lobby against a paltry tax like this, which only levied a tax of three-eighths of one per cent upon their own estates, while a legacy left to one of their own domestic servants was taxed 12½ per cent if bequeathed to him by a person beyond a certain degree of consanguinity. He hoped that this measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be carried by a triumphant majority; and this at least he could tell him, that, be the fate of his measure what it might, he had, in proposing this tax, shown more political virtue, more moral honesty, than any of his predecessors had done for more than a century.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down argued this measure as if it were only one that affected gentlemen who were in possession of extensive estates. Now, as the representative of a county where there was, perhaps, the largest number of small proprietors in England, he hoped the House would bear with him for a very few minutes, while he endeavoured to state their case. The hon. Gentleman said the general taxation of the country amounted to 75,000,000l., of which, according to the statement of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington), 17,000,000l. were exclusively paid as local taxation by the land. But his right hon. Friend in that statement referred to the rates upon property—he was not speaking of general taxation—and the hon. Gentleman forgot that the landed proprietors contributed their full share to the revenue of the country raised by indirect taxation, besides the sum of 17,000,000l. With regard, however, to the case of the small proprietors, he knew that this tax would press upon them with peculiar severity. Take the case of a proprietor of a few acres of copyhold. There were many parishes in his county where the land was entirely held by proprietors, varying from a few acres up to perhaps 300 acres. In many cases the produce of this land was all the property of the proprietors, and those who were acquainted with them know what a poor and hard-won maintenance it was. On the death of such a proprietor his successor paid a fine of two years of the improved rent, and the steward's fee frequently amounted to another year's rent more. In many cases that sum was only raised by mortgage; and if this additional tax were added, forcing the successor to another mortgage, what could the result be but ruin? And, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer forced on a compulsory sale, how could the measure be described but as confiscation? But he objected to this tax on still broader ground, because any tax was unjust that was unequal in its incidence, and in this case the incidence of the tax depended upon the uncertain duration of human life. Thus, one property might, and would, pay it five or six times, while another only paid it once. There was one large landed proprietor in his own neighbourhood—a noble Lord at whose house he first met the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) more than thirty years ago—and in that family there had only been one succession since the year 1756; and if the present noble possessor should live three years longer—which he hoped he might—this family would only have paid one succession tax (had it been in existence) in a century. Contrast this with another case in his own county, where, in the course of sixty-six years, there had been no less than seven successions in a family in the highest rank in the Peerage, while in four cases those successions took place within one year of each other; and in several cases the estates had gone to collateral descents. If the Government Bill had been in operation, there would have been confiscation in the latter of these cases, and exemption almost in the other. These inequalities made all taxes on succession most unjust and unfair. They were a step backward towards the feudal times, when estates were held in capite; and if this Bill passed, estates would really be held of the Crown. No property could be alienated while the Crown held a charge against the estate; and while this tax was impending no possessor of an estate could sell it. He believed that so long as any portion of this tax was unpaid, the debt might be entered up as a judgment, and would be a bar to the sale. [The SOLICITOR GENERAL: There will be the power of paying it in advance.] But suppose the owner were obliged to sell it to pay the debt. Having been security to the Crown for a friend whose situation required him to find securities, he found that he was unable to convey a few acres of land to a railway before he had received his quietus from the Crown. He had also acted as executor both in large and small estates, and as trustee of a large estate; but if this law should pass, he should for the future repudiate all these trusts, and never would he accept an executorship, for no man would be safe if this Bill were carried out in all its stringency. He did not mean to say that the tax was onerous in amount; and he admitted that the right hon. Gentleman, by allowing five years for its payment, was not disposed to make it more onerous than he could help. If, as he believed, executor-ships would be declined if this Bill passed, the landed gentry would be left to the tender mercies of the Court of Chancery, one of the most expensive courts in the country; and a large portion of every man's affairs would come under the purview of that court, which might account for the favour with which the Bill was regarded by hon. and learned members of that Court. He had risen, however, to plead on behalf of his constituents, the smaller proprietors, who had represented to him that it was a great hardship that their property should pay a succession duty, while the great corporate estates in their neighbourhood administered by trustees escaped scot free, He was happy to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now proposed to rectify this omission. He wished he would also rectify a still greater omission which the right hon. Gentleman had made in leaving out corporations sole, for he could see no reason why corporate charities should be taxed, and corporations sole should escape. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he did not wish to tax the clergymen of small incomes, and he had adverted to the great expenses to which they were subject on their induction to their livings, But there were large prizes in the Church as well as small ones, and was it right that they should escape? A pregnant example had lately been given that the holders of the large prizes of the Church rejoiced in the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from the operation of which they were exempt. He thought that one of the most indelicate votes that could be given on their part; and when the House knew that many of these right rev. prelates were receiving more than three and four times as much as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Parliament had contemplated, he, for one, wished to ask, if the country were prepared that they should be untouched, or that they should sit in judgment upon a legislative measure from the operation of which they were altogether exempt? He must say that his feeling of the stability of that principle under which they allowed right rev. and most rev. prelates to vote away the property of others, while they themselves escaped unscathed, was very much shaken. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Ex- chequer to look at the debates in the. year 1796, and he would then see that when a jess rate of duty was asked by one of our most potent financiers (Mr. Pitt), he did not propose to tax lineal descendants, and his maximum rate of payment was 6 per cent. This, too, was at a moment of great national peril, when the country and Parliament were prepared to vote for a large amount of taxation. The Parliament of that day, however, refused to Mr. Pitt what he hoped the present Parliament would refuse to his successor.


said, the general feeling among his constituents was that the Budget of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer far exceeded in value that of any former Minister, Whig or Tory, for many years past. A meeting had been held in the borough which he represented (Southwark), and, although there was some dissatisfaction expressed at the tax upon licences, yet his constituents were reconciled to what they considered the defects of the Budget, by finding the burden made to fall upon shoulders that had for so many years contrived to escape it. His constituents thought the financial scheme of the right hon. Gentleman eminently entitled to be called the Poor Man's Budget. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite might laugh, but he believed that the feeling was participated in by the rest of the metropolitan constituencies. He hoped that the great landlords of England would now, at a time when there was a proposition made to establish a uniform system of taxation, adopt the course which they ought long since to have adopted, and submit to the proposed tax upon succession. Of the Budget he believed the legacy duties formed the key-stone. The total repeal of the soap duty was universally admitted to be better than the remission of half the malt tax, while the succession duties favourably contrasted with the increased house tax. Admitting this to be a tax upon property, had they not taxed capital for the last fifty years under various descriptions of personalty, subjecting it to probate and legacy duties, from which the land had altogether escaped? The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had said that the tax would bear extremely hard on a young man who had just succeeded to his father's property, and who would thereby find himself in a situation full of difficulties; but if that man happened, by the accident of birth, to be a commercial man, and succeeded to property in mills and machipery, he would find himself called upon to pay a probate and legacy duty which would press twice as hard as the proposed tax on successions. He agreed with the hon. Baronet who had just spoken that corporations sole had no right to be exempted from the succession tax. With respect to the class of persons who seemed to possess so much of the sympathy of hon, Members opposite, namely, the holders of small copyholds and freeholds, there were a great many in the neighbour-hood of London, but he had never heard any complaint from them. If hon, Gentlemen opposite were really desirous of benefiting that class of persons, let them do all in their power to get rid of the copyhold system altogether, which, in his opinion, had a far more evil tendency than the imposition of this new tax could have. Another reason which induced him to support this measure was, that he considered it extended the area of direct taxation in the right directions and, in addition to that, it was, in his opinion, a measure of retrospective justice due from the landed to the commercial interest.


said, he regretted that he had been compelled to be absent from the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed his measures, for he must have derived some advantage from hearing those proposals expounded by the right hon. Gentleman himself. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing his financial statement, had dwelt on the necessity of dealing with this question sooner or later. It required, said that right hon. Gentleman, a very limited degree of political foresight to see, that, in the course of some two or three years at the furthest, this tax must inevitably, by sheer force of public opinion, be enforced against the landed interest, But he (Sir J, Walsh) could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman was acting under a pressure of a far more urgent character than that to which he alluded, He could not help thinking, with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, (Sir J. Pakington), that the existence of the present Ministry depended upon the introduction of this measure. It was well known that the appeal made to the country by the Government of Lord Derby had failed in placing them in a majority in that House; and in consequence of the arrangements which followed their retirement from office, the present Ministry came into power. Now, there was a party of Gen- tlemen, who, although they would, perhaps, have objected to an intimate connexion with the late Government, were still pledged to vote with them on one or two important questions. A union on any of these points would have been fatal to the Ministry, and it therefore became necessary to contrive some measure, which, by yielding some point to the extreme democratic party, would induce them to postpone their own operations; and as the tax upon succession had long been sought for by that party, that was the measure selected by the Government, and the result had been the relinquishment by that party of the graduated income-tax scheme—a question which would have been fatal to the Ministry. That appeared to him to be the cause for the introduction of the measure, and it did not seem to have been decided upon at once. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, at an early period of the Session, against one of the usual Motions of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams); and as he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) then advanced many arguments against such a measure as the present, he (Sir J. Walsh) was not a little surprised to find him proposing a tax on successions to landed property. He (Sir J. Walsh) could not help thinking, that with respect to this measure, Her Majesty's Ministers were less the principals than the agents. He must look upon them as the instruments of that power, which, although in a minority in that House, had the means of influencing, and, in his opinion, to a most dangerous extent, the fortunes of this country and the conduct of the Government. Under such circumstances, it was difficult to know which, if indeed any, of the Members of the Government were in favour of this measure. He rather suspected that many of the arguments which pressed upon his own mind, pressed also with great weight upon that of the right hon. Gentleman himself against this measure. He would, therefore, feel it his duty to address his arguments, not to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but to the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams), as he was the leader of that party who had displayed the greatest anxiety to impose fresh burdens upon the landed interest. He opposed the imposition of this tax upon principle, and because he considered that the grounds urged by the hon. Member for Lambeth were untenable and not founded on fact, and contradicted by a careful and impartial inquiry into the subject. Even if he were to admit, for the sake of argument, that an injustice was being done to the owner of personalty, he would be at a loss to conceive how that would be remedied by extending the operation of the tax to another class; but, going even still further, he considered that the owner of personalty would not only derive no relief, but would actually suffer injury, from a larger amount of taxation being levied from an objectionable source, and thus causing it to enter more completely into the general system of the taxation of the country, and more difficult, consequently, at any future period to eradicate. The relief, in fact, which might have been given to holders of personalty would by this measure be rendered almost impossible, and they would be just as liable as heretofore to this tax. He would not dwell upon the subject of the burdens peculiar to the land, because his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich had treated it already in a manner that he could not hope to imitate; but he wished to correct the mistake which had been fallen into as to what his right hon. Friend had stated. The amount of revenue levied upon the landed interest by local burdens, was, as had been stated, about 17,000,000l.; but this was independent of other taxes to which that interest was subject in common with other classes. No substantial injustice had been done to the holders of personalty in subjecting them to the probate and legacy duties, because they had been exempt from burdens which had fallen with peculiar severity upon the shoulders of the holders of real property. He would say that there was a class of persons who had been relieved by the remissions of taxation to an immense extent, and whom it seemed to be the object of all Ministers of Finance to relieve still more; and not only that, but there had also been a tendency not merely to relieve that class of persons, but also to throw upon the class holding real property the whole mass of taxation from which those other classes had been relieved. There were bounds, however, to everything; and he did think that when it was proposed to saddle the landed interest, who were already suffering, with a fresh impost of a tax of a most onerous description, that it was their turn to ask whether a time had not arrived in which it was not necessary to proceed with such great rapidity in the relief afforded to other classes at their expense? He was told that he might sub- ject himself to great unpopularity, and he was aware of what were now the general cries in this country. "Relieve the springs of industry," "Emancipate trade," "Reform the operative classes," were now the usual cries; but, in his opinion, the essential element of good government was to endeavour to reconcile the conflicting interests of all classes. But to consider this question from a right point of view, it was necessary to take into consideration the recent state of affairs in the country, and to consider if any system of taxation could be devised which would not disturb any existing interest. It should be asked, is the state of the country such as to render a change in the system of taxation expedient? Is it necessary, at the present moment, to extend the area of direct taxation in this manner? When the law imposing the probate and legacy duties was first introduced, the circumstances of the country were very different from what they were at present. At that time the country was fighting for its very existence, and the national independence was at stake. Hon. Gentlemen might ascribe our prosperity of late years to a variety of causes; but he believed that the foundation of that prosperity was laid in that war, and that by the firm and lofty position which England gained by the peace, she obtained that amount of prosperity which she subsequently enjoyed, and therefore those taxes and that war were the price which she justly and wisely paid for glorious results. The Budget of the right hon. Gentleman had not in any way referred to the chance of a war, and might fairly be considered as a peace Budget; but if the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned that there was a necessity of upholding the national dignity, or of maintaining, at all cost, any national engagement, then the case would have been very different. From the returns which had been laid upon the table of the House, it was quite clear that the income of the country was increasing. If one turned to the working classes, it was seen that there never was a period in which they were in a more prosperous condition, or in which wages were better paid; the necessaries of life were never cheaper, nor was there ever a greater demand for labour, or a greater degree of general prosperity. Why, then, he would ask, were the landed interest called upon at such a time to make this sacrifice? The landed interest had never, in any time of national emergency, been backward in responding to any claim made upon them; but there was no reason at present upon which any claim could be founded. He thought it only fair, then, to be informed on what ground they were asked to submit to this cruel sacrifice. He would take a rapid view of the history of taxation, because it was essential to consider what had been done of late years in the way of remitting taxes, and upon what classes the benefits of these remissions had chiefly been bestowed, for without this consideration it would he impossible to form more than a very imperfect opinion on the subject; and he could assure hon. Members who took alarm so easily that he would not detain the House at any length, nor enter into any long details, as he always considered that statistical details were better adapted for the closet than for a general assembly, and he would state the broad facts in a few words. The Return to which he would call the attention of the House was one made by the right hon. President of the Board of Trade of the income and expenditure of the country from the year 1822, although he did not understand why it had not been carried back as far as the year 1806, for if it had been the result would have been more satisfactory. The first fact to which he wished to call the attion of those hon. Members who belonged to the economical school was, that although attempts had been made by nearly every Minister of Finance to reduce the expenditure of the country—and he would not accuse any Minister of Finance of extravagance, for he was aware that every Finance Minister had endeavoured to introduce a principle of retrenchment—still their attempts had not been successful. The Return showed that in the last thirty years the income of the country had varied very slightly, and that the expenditure had sometimes been brought a little below its usual amount; but it had always been done at the sacrifice of the efficiency of some part of the establishment, and it had always been found necessary to restore it to its general average. The remission of taxation had been carried on to an enormous extent, and there had been remissions upon all those articles which entered into the consumption of the great body of the people. Upon all those articles which were connected with the growth of corn, upon the manufactures, and upon the foreign commerce of this country, during the period to which he had referred, there had been vast remissions of taxation, and the class of the people more immediately con- neeted with those articles had derived enormous benefits. Beginning with the year 1822, and taking a period of ten years, which he might call the last ten years of the Tory party, he found, by the Return, that the remission of taxes had been to the amount of 19,487,371l., while hew taxes had been imposed to the amount of Only 1,651,984l., so that during that period the total remission of taxation had been 17,835,387l. During the next ten years, which he would call the period of the Whig Administration, taxes were repealed to the amount of 6,883,241l., while new ones were imposed to the amount of 2,536,979l., leaving a balance of taxes remitted amounting to 4,346,262l. There was a remarkable difference between those two periods—that while during the period ending with the Wellington Administration remissions of taxation were made to a Very large extent, and scarcely any new tax levied, still there was a surplus in the revenue; whereas the ten years which followed left the country in debt, and a deficit in the Treasury. In the succeeding period of eleven years, the dangerous principle of transmutation of taxation, and shifting burdens from one class to another, was introduced; but the amount of taxes repealed Was 13,463,985l., while that of new taxes imposed was 6,255,793l., leaving a balance in favour of the remission of 7,208,192l, The result to which this calculation led was, that during the course of the last thirty years the Whole extent of taxes remitted had amounted to 39,834,579l., While only 10,444,756l. had been imposed; thus the balance in favour of remission was 29,389,841l; When, therefore, it was considered that a remission of nearly 40,000,000l. had taken place upon those articles to which he had alluded, and also when it further appeared from inquiry that a large proportion of the 10,000,000l. which had been imposed had been imposed upon the owners of property, it did seem to him that the landed interest had good right to ask what was the necessity of at present imposing upon them this odious and oppressive burden. He would remind the House that the land was in reality an industry, and that if burdens were heaped upon it it would interfere with the outlay of Capital upon its improvement. There were other reasons Why the remission of some portion of the taxation did not involve the necessity of placing any burden upon the land. The increased consumption of articles freed from duty would go towards increasing the revenue, and, in addition to that, at no very distant period a portion of the national debt would be paid off, and thus a reduction made in the annual expenditure. Under these circumstances, the infliction of a new burden upon the land appeared to him impolitic and unjust. It seemed to him monstrous that while all the other classes of the community were confessedly prosperous, the only suffering class should be saddled in this manner with so cruel an impost. He did trust, then, that when they came to consider this question, the feeling of justice which was so deeply inherent in the bosoms of Englishmen Would have its due weight, and that they would not be stimulated by those oratorical declamations against the landed interest which they had heard of late; that they would not be prevented looking dispassionately at this question, and they would see that the landed interest were not treated on this question with harshness and cruelty. To their sense of justice he left this case, and with an intense conviction that the claim of the landed interest was founded in justice, and that they had a right at all events to be patiently heard.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Sir J, Pakington) spoke with great vehemence upon the subject of this Bill, and seemed inclined to lead the House away from the simple question of its justice or the reverse, and to induce us to partake somewhat in the passion and warmth of feeling which he displayed on the subject. I am glad, however, to see that the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has tended greatly to calm the temper of the House, and to bring us down to that tone of sober equanimity in which we can consider fairly what is the question before the House. It appears to me, Sir, that there really is very little cause for the Warmth which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) showed on this occasion. I think that the question itself—I am not now speaking of the clauses of the Bill before the House, but the question itself—that is, whether We shall now go into Committee on a Bill of this nature, is not one of a very difficult or Complicated character. For a consider able time past this House has been in the habit of hearing expressions in favour of a revision of taxation. These expressions have come from a part of this side of the House, and hare been echoed by hon Gen- tlemen opposite. And When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he adopted a scheme for the revision of taxation as one of the most likely means to settle equitably the questions of taxation which have been long in controversy in this House and the country. It always seemed to me that a revision of taxation was not a thing to be done all at once. But for many years questions relating to the revision of taxation have been under consideration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire made a laudable effort for this purpose. I did not consider his measures as very judicious; but, no doubt, the attempt was one for which the right hon. Gentleman deserved every credit. But in the course of the speech in which he introduced his propositions to the House, he told us that the question of the legacy and probate duties was one of the subjects which had engaged the attention of the Government to which he belonged; that he Was not prepared immediately to introduce any measure with reference to it; that the subject had been under consideration, and that it was not impossible that at a future time he should be able to bring forward a plan for the imposition of a tax on successions. The question remained in this state until my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer acceded to office. When, therefore, my right hon. Friend, on going through the various parts of our financial system, came to the legacy and probate duty, nothing, I think, could be more natural than that he should be struck with the injustice and the irregularities of this tax. You have, in the first place, a tax which bears very hardly upon the succession to personal property in many instances, which does not bear upon the succession to real property, which follows the very artificial distinctions of our law, discriminating between settled and non-settled property, falling upon a lease for 999 years, because it is considered as personal property by our law, and not upon an estate for life, because that is regarded as real property. One would have thought that he proposition could have been more natural, or more likely to meet the assent of those who consider a revision of taxation desirable, than one by which these anomalies and irregularities might be in some degree amended. I think, too, that my tight hon. Friend was likely to be confirmed in his intention by looking at the history of this tax. For he could not fail to be struck by finding that when Mr. Pitt, in an emergency of war, proposed this tax, he at first contemplated its imposition both on personal and real property; that, although he afterwards divided his measure into two Bills, he brought both under the consideration of the House of Commons; and that it was only upon a division in this House in which there was an equal number—fifty-four—on each side, that he abandoned his intention of imposing a tax upon real property. Therefore, nothing could be more clear than that, in Mr. Pitt's view, the two taxes should go together; that even if there were separate Bills, the principle was the same; and if you were to impose a tax upon the one, you should likewise impose a tax on the other. Well; but let us consider a little what was the reason of Mr. Pitt's defeat. Mr. Fox objected to the tax, but he objected also to the tax on personal property, in the first instance, in the very strongest manner; and it was only because he was defeated by a large majority that that opposition was unsuccessful. His principle of opposition to both was the same; and it was based on the principle that he desired to give no additional means for carrying on the war. Mr. Pitt was intent upon increasing the means of carrying on that war. Mr. Fox, opposed to that war, was equally intent upon depriving him of those means. But Mr. Fox, who had entirely failed in opposing the tax upon personal property, was successful when he joined in the opposition to the tax on real property. And let me ask what was the cause of that success? It was, that Mr. Pitt had failed in the earlier period of his life in carrying that reform of Parliament of which he had been the advocate. And I have no doubt, that if he had carried that reform, and if the commercial and manufacturing interests had been duly represented in this House in 1795, that he would have carried the two taxes together; and that we should not now have had to discuss the question of the inequalities which have been so much complained of. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), however, referred to a discussion which took place at a later period—in 1842-and particularly to the representations which he and other Members of the House then made. And it certainly seemed, from his statement, as if I had been one of the opponents of the extension of the tax to real property. But upon referring to what took place on that occasion, I find that my objections were of a totally different character. I said that I objected to the proposal then made because it did not extend to settled property and that if you interfered with this subject at all, settled property should the tax as well as non-settled. Well, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes that part of his scheme; therefore that is an objection which I cannot make to the proposition before the House. But I then made another objection. I said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made his arrangements for the finance of the year; that he had not proposed a succession tax amongst his ways and means; and that I was not so enamoured of taxation as to propose additional taxes beyond those which the Chancellor of the Exchequer considered necessary. But that is not the case at the present moment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reviewing the taxation of the country, has very wisely made this part of his financial scheme. The question really is, whether you will continue this tax upon successions, and whether, so continuing it, you will make it an equal and a just tax. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich appeared to be suddenly struck with the great injustice of the principle of this tax; he talked of the imposition of a tax on capital being contrary to the doctrines of all political economists, and said that he could not bear the idea of imposing a new tax on successions when persons had, as at present, very great difficulties to encounter. But the right hon. Gentleman had not been struck with these objections before. So long as they applied only to personal property—so long as persons inheriting personal property, or having it left them by legacy, were alone subject to this tax—all this injustice, all this violation of principle, passed unnoticed by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. It was but the other day that, in speaking to a person with respect to this tax, he told me that he himself, having acted as an executor, had had to pay the legacy duty three times in two years for a person in a humble situation of life—a market gardener—who had left to a relation what, being chattel property, was liable to this impost. No doubt this, like many of our taxes, imposed very great hardships; and the right hon. Gentleman said at once that we had better get rid of it altogether. That is very easy to say, but there are at present more than 2,000,000l. derived from it; and the right hon. Gentleman has not proposed to get rid of it otherwise than in his speech. He did not propose a single step in order to get rid of the existing legacy duty; and he would, therefore, as it seems, leave those who are now subject to it liable to the hardships it imposes. Even with respect to that clause which so much excited the anger of the right hon. Gentleman, that, in a tempest of declamation, he called it "plunder"—the clause as to timber—he would have found, if he had looked at the Act of 1795, that when plate is left to a person who has no power to dispose of it, it should not be liable to legacy duty; but if left to a person with power to dispose of it, such a person should pay the tax on it as property. Now, exactly the same principle which is thus applied to plate is adopted by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the case of timber, and in fact nearly the same words are used in both cases. But the right hon. Gentleman, who could feel nothing when the tax was only applied to plate, is suddenly indignant when it is to be applied also to timber. That affects the land; and if you affect the land you will have a democratic revolution. Therefore, it does seem to me that if you intend to make the tax at all equal and consistent, you should adopt at least the principle of this Bill. It is quite another matter, whether, in considering the Bill in Committee, you find the clauses properly adapted to carrying that principle into effect. I think the House will agree, as the country has generally agreed, that if there is to be a legacy duty—if there is to be a succession tax—it should apply to all sorts of property equally, and that it should not be applied by capricious rules to personal property in some cases and not in others, and to landed property in some cases and not in others. Hon. Members have been so much transported upon the subject as to predict very fatal effects of having a tax of this kind passed, and it has even been stated that the institutions of the country would be placed in jeopardy by the proposal. The only jeopardy I see has been the language used by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, and the right hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Sir J. Trollope), in reference to the other House of Parliament, where not only they complain, in terms not at all ambiguous, of the decisions of that other House, but divide that House into two parts, and say, while they are quite satisfied with the Temporal Peers, they are not at all pleased with the conduct of the Spiritual Peers. Really, I am somewhat alarmed lest the Motion brought forward some years ago to "relieve," as it was termed, the Bishops from their duties in the other House, should be again brought forward, and this time under the potent sanction and support of the right hon. Gentlemen and their friends. I trust the right hon. Members will not pursue the opposition, opened in so strenuous—I may say so vehement—a manner; and that this measure, regarded as another attempt, by a revision of our taxation, to make that taxation more fair and equal, will receive the sanction of this House, as it has received the sanction of the country generally, and that no further impediment will be offered to the committal of the Bill.


said, it had been proved distinctly that the landed property of the country had been exempted from the tax upon succession in consequence of the large additions which had been made made to local taxation. When, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked, why real property should not be dealt with in the same manner as personalty, he quite omitted to go through that long catalogue of rates and taxes to which that species of property was exclusively subjected. The right hon. Gentleman also stated that he extended the legacy duties to real property, in order to counterbalance the inequalities of the income tax; but he (Mr. Duncombe) was utterly unable to see how such a determination could tally with any degree of justice with his own acknowledgment, that the land of the country was charged as high as 9d. in the pound for income tax, while every other species of property was rated at but 7d. But was it a reason for imposing injustice upon one class that already another class should be dealt with in an odious and unjust manner? And, therefore, when the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) boasted of the popularity of the financial scheme of the Government, he was utterly astonished to see the representative of the greatest commercial constituency in the kingdom delivering a speech of an hour and a half's duration in defence of a Budget which revived the unjust and inquisitorial income tax. The late Government had proposed a revision of taxation; but, to use the expressive language of his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), it was rejected because "it was not conceived in a spirit of hostility to the land." Granting the income tax did press with severity upon trades and professions, that could not be accepted as a reason why another tax-equally unjust should be imposed. He looked upon the succession tax as a war tax, and nothing else. It had been stated, indeed, by the Government, that that was the end of their scheme; but it was capable of demonstration that this could not be. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might boast of having carried free trade, and also vaunt the success of their financial measures; but if, whilst they reduced taxation on one hand, they imposed heavy and odious taxes on the other—if they desired to increase commercial wealth at the expense of political economy, then their free trade was a fallacy, and their financial system a delusion. He never heard a proposition better calculated to prolong the war of classes than the present. The tax now proposed involved the necessity of either borrowing money to pay it, or else necessitated the sale of the land. But he could not understand how a Government, calling itself "Liberal Conservative," could conceive a measure, and propose it to Parliament, which would be so liberal in its effect and so conservative in its nature as to compel the confiscation of the landed property of the country, and he, therefore, should decidedly oppose it.


said, he was anxious to avail himself of this opportunity to make a few brief observations as to the policy and justice of this measure, which the right hon. Gentleman had justly termed the pivot of his financial arrangements. He would preface his remarks by saying, that it was far from his wish to claim for the landed interest any exclusive privileges which were unshared by the other classes of the community; but, at the same time, he was prepared to contend, that in the revision of taxation which had been alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for London, it was the bounden duty, not only of the Government, but of that House, to provide, that all the great interests of the country should be placed on a footing of the most perfect equality. It was hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of the Bill now before the House: the amount which the right hon. Gentleman expected to realise by its adoption afforded no criterion of its real importance; because it was obvious that if the principle was once admitted, the amount was susceptible of indefinite increase. It was a measure which differed widely in its character from the income tax; it was not imposed for a temporary purpose, but it established (as the preamble of the Bill clearly stated) an impost which was hereafter to form a permanent charge on the real property of the country. Before they sanctioned the imposition of any fresh burdens on the land, they were hound to convince themselves that the Legislature had done everything in its power to remove existing inequalities, and to place the laws affecting real and personal property on one uniform basis. If he applied that test to the measure of the right hon, Gentleman, he did not hesitate to say, that it appeared to him essentially deficient in the fundamental principles of equity and justice. In the general principle laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "that some tax should be laid on all successions to property that may take place by death," he entirely concurred; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had failed to show that there was any connexion whatever between that abstract principle and the particular measure which he was now pressing upon their consideration. What were his arguments on that occasion? In his financial statement the right hon. Gentleman proved to demonstration, that land paid already 2d. in the pound more than other property; with what propriety, then, could he urge that his present proposition was necessary to redress the inequalities of the income tax? The right hon. Gentleman told them also, that without this tax, the finances of the country would not be in a state that would enable them to dispense with the income tax in 1860. He should much regret the prospect of any renewal of the income tax, but he had yet to learn on what principle of justice they sought to relieve the whole nation of its burden at the exclusive expense of the owners of real property. The right hon. Gentleman said, it was impossible to maintain the law as it stood, and called upon them to remove an anomaly most unjust in its nature. He (Sir E. Dering) admitted the existence of the anomaly; but he called upon the House to pause before they legislated, and to consider whether they would not inflict by this Bill a far greater amount of injustice than that which it was proposed to remedy. They were required to impose a new and heavy tax on real property, without making the slightest effort to remove, or even to lighten, those burdens from which the owners of personal property were almost entirely exempted. He did not allude to local burdens, because it had been already admitted that they amounted to 16 per cent on the gross income; and if any proof was required to show that 16 per cent was a minimum amount, he would refer to a property, the details of which were annually submitted to public examination, and were consequently above suspicion—he meant the Crown property of the Duchy of Lancaster, where hon. Members would find that the difference between gross and net income was not less than 25 per cent. The burdens, however, to which he alluded were of a different character, and were entirely under the control of Parliament: he meant the enormous expenses attending the transfer or mortgage of land in this country. The House had rejoiced to hear the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, "that he would hail with satisfaction any measure for the reduction of the costly cumbrous machinery now in use." He duly appreciated the value of that expression of sympathy; but he would have felt still more gratified, if he had heard an announcement, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, that, previous to imposing any fresh burdens on the land, he was prepared to introduce some broad and comprehensive measure, which would place the transfer of real and personal property On the same footing. No one in the House would be prepared to deny that the present state of the law as regarded the transfer and mortgage of real property was a great reflection on the intelligence of the age. It appeared to him, that one of the greatest obstacles in the way of carrying out any extensive system of reform arose from the imaginary difficulties conjured up by those who could not reconcile their minds to any innovations on old-established usage: but when public opinion had been strong enough to overcome this opposition, as for instance in extending the jurisdiction of the County Courts, it was marvellous how quickly difficulties, which at first were declared insuperable, if fairly grappled with, altogether vanished, and were heard of no more. In order to show that there was no practical difficulty in simplifying the present mode of transferring land, he would remind the House of the state of the law in reference to the exchange of land. By the 8 & 9 Vict., C. 118, chap. 147, investigation of title was in certain cases entirely dispensed with. The effect of that clause was, that parties who wished to exchange lands were empowered to do so to any extent, without any examination of title whatever. They Were required to show that they were in uninterrupted possession of the lands proposed to be exchanged; and to prove to the satisfaction of the Enclosure Commissioners that the exchange would he mutually beneficial. In order to secure publicity, the proposed exchange had to be three times advertised in the county newspapers where the property was situated; and at the expiration of three months, if no objection was raised, the transaction was completed by a short and inexpensive Unstamped conveyance under the hand and seal of the Enclosure Commissioners, which secured the title as efficiently as the most expensive and complicated deed. He was speaking with confidence on this subject, because he had himself had practical experience of the benefits of that mode of exchange: a few years back he exchanged lands with a neighbour at a cost of little more than 10l., which, under the old systems would have cost 1502.; and he was at the present time concluding another exchange of land, which he was informed on the old system would have cost 500l., and which how would not cost one-tenth of that sum. He hoped the House would excuse his introducing such a personal matter, but it was precisely because it had come within his own personal knowledge, that he was enabled to speak as to its positive advantage. His principal object, however, in drawing the attention of the House to it, was to show, that, as the Legislature succeeded in making such an inroad on old-established usage some years back, and as no bad consequences had resulted from it, it was both a precedent and encouragement to the House to extend the principle, and to establish a comprehensive system of legal reform. There were two points' on which he was anxious to say a few words: the first, the most important, and over which the House possessed the supreme control, was the stamp duties. There was, he believed, some difficulty in ascertaining the precise amount of stamp duties paid by real property, but he apprehended it far exceeded 1,000,000l. annually, and from this charge the owners of personal property were entirely exempt. On what principle, he asked, could such a distinction be justified? It was laid down as a fundamental principle by the late Sir Robert Peel "that no extension of the legacy duties could take place without a previous revision of the stamp duties, and the taxes upon conveyances," and yet' now It was proposed to impose the legacy tax, and at the same time to retain the burdens which had always been considered a full and fair equivalent. The pressure of the stamp duties would be seriouly increased by the operation of the Bill, which would necessarily increase very much the number of mortgages. Now the law, as it stood, taxed most heavily all mortgages, not only when they Were first effected, but also when they were transferred or paid off! so that the landowner was placed in the unfortunate position, that he was compelled to borrow money in a moment of distress) on his first succeeding to his property-perhaps in an unfavourable state of the money market—he was placed entirely at the mercy of the money lender; whatever rate of interest was charged he dared not transfer it, because that would entail an expense as great as that which he incurred on the first investigation of his title; and if, by dint of economy he was able in a few years to pay off the mortgage, they rewarded that economy by subjecting him to the expense of another taxed deed) which was the only mode by which he could legally obtain the reconveyance of his own property to himself. The second point to which he would advert, were the enormous expenses incurred in the investigation of title. England, he believed, was the only civilised nation in Europe without a general register, or where it was considered necessary to establish a sixty years' title". It had been calculated that the value of real property was thus diminished by not less than three years' purchase; so that, assuming the annual value of real property to amount to 80,000,000l; it formed at once a deduction from the value of 240,000,000l. The question naturally occurred) why should they require to carry their researches further back in England than in any other country? The farther they went back the more complicated, the more expensive, did the investigation naturally become. The Legislature appeared to recognise such a result-when they passed the Statute of Limitations, 3 & 4 Will, IV., c. 27, by which twenty years of uninterrupted pos-session was held to constitute as good a title as sixty years had previously done, Twenty years had now elapsed since that alteration took place; no increase of litigation had arisen in consequence of that change, so far as he was aware; and al-though it might not be practical to apply the principle to its full extent to all inves- tigations of title, he thought that a judicious curtailment of the present lengthened period of sixty years would he unattended with any practical inconvenience; it would afford substantial relief, and tend materially to diminish those heavy useless expenses that were now incurred. He thought they might take many useful hints from the practice that prevailed on the Continent in their mode of transferring property. For instance—throughout the whole of Germany, every town and every parish possessed its own register, and had the complete management of its own affairs. A purchaser wishing to buy land applied to the registrar to see that the seller had a clear title free from mortgage, and if the inquiry was satisfactory, he got the property transferred in the books of the registrar, from the name of the original possessor to his own. No previous sale of the property, no mortgage, nor any family settlement, would be valid unless it appeared on the register; and when the conveyance, which was very short and simple, and cost about 5s. per 100l., was once registered and recognised by a court of law, it was so effectual as to prevent the possibility of any suit being brought against the registered purchaser. The result of that system was, that land was transferred with the same facility as stock; litigation arising out of that mode of transferring property was almost unknown, and they had evidence on the table of the House to show that land sold for several years' purchase higher than in this country. He was aware that without an efficient system of registration it would be utterly impossible to simplify the present mode of investigating title in this country. He knew he might be told that at this moment a Registration Bill was in progress through the House; but he also knew that there could be no greater delusion than to represent that Bill as likely, in the smallest degree, to facilitate the transfer of land. He was borne out in that view by the admissions made by the first legal authority in introducing the Bill into another place. The Lord Chancellor said, "I will not attempt to misrepresent to your Lordships, or to the country, what I conceive to be the advantages of registration; but it is obvious it can be of little or no immediate advantage." He would quote one more authority, because it was perhaps the highest on all matters connected with real property; Lord St. Leonards, in giving his opinion on the Registration Bill, said, "that so far from simplifying the transfer of property, the burdens on land would be greatly increased by such a measure. If the Bill had been entitled a Bill to increase the burdens on land without a corresponding benefit, it would have been an accurate description of its practical effect." He (Sir E. Dering) believed that no system of registration would be effectual unless it was simple and inexpensive, and he questioned very much whether it ought not also to be compulsory. Their own experience in England was sufficient to show how utterly worthless was the establishment of a mere nominal register. They had already two register counties, and they had abundance of evidence on the table of the House to show, that so far from affording any facility for dealing with landed property, all transactions were more costly in Yorkshire and Middlesex than in the unregistered counties. The House would, moreover, bear in mind that they already possessed the materials for establishing a most efficient system of local registration. The whole kingdom was already divided into union districts, and they possessed first-class maps certified by the Tithe Commissioners, and which were ample to afford satisfactory evidence of the limits of property, if Parliament should decide on establishing a system of local registration. He had purposely abstained from commenting on the details of the Bill now under consideration, because if the House should decide on going into Committee, that would be a more fitting opportunity to point out the almost insuperable objections that might be urged against its adoption. When that time arrived, it would not be difficult to show, that a Bill more inquisitorial in its character, more complicated in its provisions, or more unjust towards the owners of real property, never was laid on the table of the House. When he spoke of the owners of real property, he repeated, that he claimed for them no exclusive advantage; the one before them was not a question of class interest—it ought not to be one of party warfare: it was a great social question, in the solution of which every class must feel its interests to be deeply involved. He wished the right hon. Gentleman could only be persuaded to act boldly up to his own convictions. The landed interest had never felt disposed to avoid their fair share of national burdens. If a uniform succession tax was necessary, let it only be fairly and equitably imposed, let it be accompanied with measures of even-handed justice towards the land, and the right hon. Gentleman would carry with him the voice of public opinion both within and without the walls of Parliament. He would add strength and stability to the Government, for he would rally round him a mass of independent supporters, who would enable him to carry out those measures on which he sought to establish a high and lasting reputation, and which he believed, from the bottom of his heart, would contribute most materially to the future welfare and prosperity of the country.

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

The House divided: —Ayes 268; Noes 185: Majority 83.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Cobden, R.
A' Court, C. H. W. Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.
Adair, H. E. Cocks, T. S.
Alcock, T. Coffin, W.
Anderson, Sir J. Collier, R. P.
Annesley, Earl of Colville, C. R.
Anson, Visct. Coote, Sir C. H.
Atherton, W. Cowan, C.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Ball, J. Craufurd, E. H. J.
Baring, H, B. Crook, J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T, Crossley, F.
Bass, M. T. Crowder, R. B.
Beaumont, W. B. Dalrymple, Visct.
Bell, J. Dashwood, Sir G. H.
Benbow, J. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Berkeley, hon. C. F. Denison, E.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Denison, J. E.
Bethell, Sir R. Dent, J. D.
Biddulph, R. M. Divett, E.
Biggs, W. Drumlanrig, Visct.
Blackett, J. F. B. Duff, G. S.
Bonham-Carter, J. Duff, J.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Duke, Sir J.
Boyle, hon. Col. Duncan, G.
Bramston, T. W. Dundas, G.
Bright, J. Egerton, W. T.
Brocklehurst, J. Egerton, E. C.
Brockman, E. D. Ellice, E.
Brotherton, J. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Brown, W. Emlyn, Visct.
Browne, V. A. Esmonde, J.
Bruce, Lord E. Euston, Earl of
Bruce, H. A. Evelyn, W. J.
Butler, C. S. Ewart, W.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Fagan, W.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Fergus, J.
Caulfield, Col. J. M. Ferguson, Col.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Ferguson, Sir R.
Challis, Ald. Ferguson, J.
Chambers, T. Fitzgerald, J. D.
Charteris, hon. F. Fitzgerald, W. R. S.
Cheetham, J. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Christy, S. Foley, J. H. H.
Clay, Sir W. Forster, C.
Clinton, Lord R. Fox, R. M.
Cobbett, J. M. Fox, W. J.
Freestun, Col. Masterman, J.
Gardner, R. Mathieson, A.
Geach, C. Mathieson, Sir J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Maule, hon. Col.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W.E. Miall, E.
Glyn, G. C. Milligan, R.
Goderich, Visct. Mills, T.
Goodman, Sir G. Milner, W. M. E.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Milnes, R. M.
Greenall, G. Milton, Visct.
Greene, J. Michell, W.
Greene, T. Mitchell, T. A.
Gregson, S. Moffatt, G.
Greville, Col. F. Molesworth. rt. hn. Sir W.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Monck, Visct.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Moncreiff, J.
Hadfield, G. Monsell, W.
Hall, Sir B. Morris, D.
Hanmer, Sir J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Harcourt, G. G. Mure, Col.
Hardinge, hon. C. S. Murphy, F. S.
Hastie, A. Murrough, J. P.
Hastie, A. Norreys, Lord
Headlam, T. E. O'Connell, M.
Heard, J. I. O'Flaherty, A.
Heneage, G. H. W. Osborne, R.
Heneage, G. F. Paget, Lord A.
Herbert, H. A. Palmer, R.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Palmerston, Visct.
Hervey, Lord A. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Peel, F.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Pellatt, A.
Hutchins, E. J. Philipps, J. H.
Hutt, W. Phillimore, R. J.
Ingham, R. Phinn, T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Pigot, F.
Jackson, W. Pilkington J.
Jermyn, Earl Pinney, W.
Johnstone, J. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Johnstone, Sir J. Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.
Keating, R. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Keogh, W. Price, Sir R.
Kershaw, J. Pritchard, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Kingscote, R. N. F. Ricardo, O.
Kinnaird, hon. A, F. Rich, H.
Kirk, W. Robartes, T. J. A.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Rumbold, C. E.
Lacon, Sir E. Russell, Lord J.
Laffan, R. M. Russell, F. C. H.
Laing, S. Sadleir, J.
Langston, J. H. Sawle, C. B. G.
Langton, H. G. Scholefield, W.
Lascelles, hon. E. Scobell, Capt.
Laslett, W. Scrope, G. P.
Lawley, hon. F. C. Scully, F.
Lee, W. Scully, V.
Legh, G. C. Seymour, Lord
Lemon, Sir C. Seymour, H. D.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Seymour, W. D.
Locke, J. Shafto, R. D.
Loveden, P. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Lowe, R. Sheridan, R. B.
Mackie, J. Smith, J. B.
Mackinnon, W. A. Smith, M. T.
M'Cann, J. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
MacGregor, J. Smollett, A.
M'Taggart, Sir J. Stafford, Marq. of
Mangles, R. D. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Marjoribanks, D. C. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Marshall, W. Stuart, Lord D.
Martin, J. Stuart, H.
Massey, W. N. Sutton, J. H. M.
Tancred, H. W. Wickham. H. W.
Thicknesse. R. A. Wilkinson, W. A.
Thompson, G. Willcox, B. M.
Thornely, T. Williams, W.
Traill, G. Wilson, J.
Turner, C. Winnington Sir T. E.
Vane, Lord H. Wise, A.
Vernon, G. E. H. Wood, rt. Hon. Sir C.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Wortley rt. hon. J. S.
Vivian, J. H. Wrightson, W. B.
Vivian, H. H. Wyvill, M
Wall, C. B. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Walmsley, Sir J.
Walter, J. TELLERS.
Warner, E. Hayter, W. G.
Whitbread, S. Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Alexander, J. Duncombe, hon. W. E.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Dunne, Col.
Archdall, Capt. M. Du Pre, C. G.
Arkwright, G. Egerton, Sir P.
Aspinall, J. T. W. Elmley, Visct.
Bagge, W. Farnham, E. B.
Bailey, Sir J. Farrer, J.
Bailey, C. Fellowes, E.
Ball, E. Floyer, J.
Baldock, E. H. Follett, B. S.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Forbes, W.
Barrington, Visct. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Barrow, W. H. Forster, Sir G.
Bennet, P. French, F.
Bentinck, Lord H. Freshfield, J. W.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Galway, Visct.
Blair, Col. Gaskell, J. M.
Blandford, Marq. of George, J.
Booker, T. W. Goddard, A. L.
Booth, Sir R. G. Graham, Lord M. W.
Bowyer, G. Grogan, E.
Brisco, M. Guernsey, Lord
Brooke, Lord Gwyn, H.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Hale, R. B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Halford, Sir H.
Buck, L. W. Halsey, T. P.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hamilton, Lord C.
Bunbury, W. B. M. Hamilton, G. A.
Burghley, Lord Hamilton, J. H.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.
Burroughes, H, N. Harcourt, Col.
Butt, G. M. Hayes, Sir E.
Butt, I. Heathcote, G. H.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Herbert, Sir T.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Hildyard, R. C.
Cayley, E. S. Hume, W. F.
Child, S. Irton, S.
Cholmondeley, Lord H. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Christopher, rt. hn. R. A. Jones, Capt.
Clinton; Lord C. P. Jones, D.
Clive, hon. R. H. Kendall, N.
Clive, R. Ker, D. S.
Cobbold, J. C. King, J. K.
Codrington Sir W. Knatchbull, W. F.
Coles, H. B. Knight, F. W.
Compton, H. C. Knightley, R.
Conolly, T. Knox, Col.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Knox, hon. W. S.
Davies, D. A. S. Langton, W. G.
Bering, Sir E. Lennox, Lord A. F.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Dod, J. W. Leslie, C. P.
Lewisham, Visct. Seaham, Visct.
Lockhart.W. Seymer, H. K.
Long, W. Smijth, Sir W.
Lovaine, Lord Smith, W. M.
Lowther, Capt. Smyth, R. J.
Macartney, G. Somerset, Capt.
M'Gregor, J. Spooner, R.
Magan, W. H. Stafford, A.
Malins, R. Stanhope, J. B.
Manners, Lord G. Stanley, Lord
Manners, Lord J. Stirling, W.
March, Earl of Sturt, H. G.
Maunsell, T. P. Talbot, C. R. M.
Meux, Sir H. Thesiger, Sir F.
Miles, W. Tollemache, J.
Montgomery, H. L. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Montgomery, Sir G. Tudway, R. C.
Moore, R. S. Tyler, Sir G.
Morgan, O. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Mullings, J. R. Vance, J.
Mundy, W. Vansittart, G. H.
Naas, Lord Verner, Sir W.
Napier, rt. hon. J. Villiers, hop. F.
Neeld, J. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Newark, Visct. Waddington, H. S.
Newdegate, C. N. Walcott, Adm.
Newport, Visct. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Noel, hon. G. J. Wellesley, Lord C.
North, Col. West, F. R.
Oakes, J. H. P. Whiteside, J.
Ossulston, Lord Whitmore, H.
Pakenham, E. Wodehouse, E.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Woodd, B. T.
Palmer, R. Wyndham, Gen.
Parker, R. T. Wynn. Maj. H. W. W.
Percy, hon. J. W. Wynne, W. W. E.
Portal, M. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Robertson, P. F. Taylor, Col.
Rushout, Capt. Mandeyille, Visct.

Main Question put, and agreed to; Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed; Bill reported.