§ House again resolved itself into Committee of Ways and Means; Mr. Bouverie in the Chair.1246
§ CAPTAIN MAGAN
said, I wish to avoid saying what I feel. The Irish Members have been taunted with reference to this income tax. [Interruption.] If hon. Members do not choose to hear what I have to say, I will move that the Chairman report progress. In the first place, Sir, I think there is a matter which ought to be explained with respect to how the Irish Members came to the conclusion to turn out the late Government. We had a meeting upstairs, and certain Members came there and assured us that if the Government we expected to come into office did come in, no income tax would be imposed upon Ireland. [Cries of "Name, name!"] I think that is a matter which affects somebody. Whether it affects the character of the Irish Members who made that announcement, or whether it affects the character of the Government, it is not for me to say. I will leave it in the hands of the House, and leave the House to decide whether that conduct was honourable or not. With regard to the hon. Member for Clonmel, who thought proper to interrupt me, all I can tell that hon. Gentleman is this—that I am quite willing to make every allowance for the great difficulties under which he must be labouring. If he had wished to accomplish what he intended by his Motion last night, and which he did not at all simplify to my mind by the incoherent wandering [Great confusion]—
§ MR. LAWLESS
Really I must rise to order. [Renewed interruption.] Perhaps, Sir, you will point out in a shorter way than the hon. Member who has just addressed the House, in what manner I have trespassed on the rules of this House, or any assembly of gentlemen, in moving that Ireland be exempted from the income tax. I can only pledge my word of honour that in that Motion I had no other motive. [The hon. Member was again interrupted; and Captain Magan rose and addressed the House at the same time, amid great confusion.]
§ Mr. WALPOLE
Sir, I rise to order. I think that the decision of the Chairman, whether we are in Committee or whether the House be sitting with the Speaker in the chair, should be implicitly obeyed; and I may inform the hon. Gentleman who has twice risen to interrupt the hon. Member for Westmeath, that he is not entitled to do so while the hon. Member for Westmeath is speaking, unless upon a point of order. The hon. Member for Clommel 1247 (Mr. Lawless) first rose to address the Committee nominally upon a point of order; in the course of his observations he went beyond that point, and Mr. Bouverie corrected him, and wished him to confine himself to the only point upon which he was entitled to speak. That question having been determined against the hon. Member for Clonmel, I think he ought now to abide by the decision of the Chair, and to allow the hon. Member for Westmeath to proceed in his observations without further interruption, unless he is out of order. I am sure it will be the feeling of the Committee that the business of this House cannot be carried on, and that we shall do no credit to ourselves if we do not yield implicit obedience to the decision of the Chairman.
§ CAPTAIN MAGAN
rose amid great confusion, to proceed with his address; but was again interrupted by Mr. Lawless, who said, "I move that these words be taken down."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I think, with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), it is absolutely necessary that if any point of order arises, the Committee should, in the first place, maintain silence; and, in the next place, that the Chairman should be heard, and that hon. Members should not rise in opposition to him.
I wish to say a word on behalf of the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless) who has not been able to obtain a hearing. He rose to request that words made use of by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Captain Magan), accusing him of a "guilty conscience" should be taken down. The hon. Gentleman [who addressed the House amid continued confusion] was understood to contend that Mr. Lawless was entitled by the rules of the House to have the words referred to taken down if he considered them to reflect upon him.
I understood that the hon. Member for Clonmel interrupted the hon. Member for Westmeath to speak to order; but I did not hear the hon. Member for Clonmel make any Motion as to any words used by the hon. Member for Westmeath. To the best of my judgment, the hon. Member for Clonmel was travelling beyond the point of order, and therefore I thought it my duty to call him to order. Since then I understand the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lawless) has moved that certain words spoken by the hon. Member for Westmeath be taken down. I confess that I did not myself hear any disorderly words from the hon. Member for West- 1248 meath. If the hon. Member for Westmeath has used disorderly words, and if a Member of the Committee calls attention to them, I should be bound to call the hon. Member for Westmeath to order. And here I may observe that the proceeding yesterday was to me entirely a novel one; and upon one point of form I have been told by the highest authority that the directions I gave to the Committee were not strictly regular. I am informed that it is for the Chairman, and not for the Committee, to judge whether the words should be taken down or not. A Motion having been made yesterday, I thought the question ought to be put to the vote; but I am informed that it is for the Chairman to decide whether the words should be taken down or not.
§ CAPTAIN MAGAN
, who said: I think, Sir, that a Member whose words have been taken down is so likely to come off with flying colours, that I should be rather ambitious of having my words taken down. At the same time, I may say that I am not, perhaps, so obstinate as the hon. Member whose words were taken down yesterday, for if I have used language which has offended either the Committee or the hon. Member for Clonmel, I am most desirous to withdraw it. I am afraid, however, that the hon. Member for Clonmel won't allow a Member of this House the necessary liberty in stating naked facts. I wished simply to state why I did not vote for his Motion—why I went out of the House—and I should not have done that if the hon. Member for Roscommon had not used the word "we." I have said I am very sore as to the manner in which the Government have behaved with regard to this income tax; but I leave that matter entirely in the hands of the House. I do not think it necessary to name the Members who made the statements to which I have referred; but certainly persons who had a connexion with the Whigs and Peelites, by creating confusion, and making statements, did directly procure the defeat of Lord Derby. The same parties accuse us of wanting to obtain from one Government what we required from another, and of wanting to bring back Lord Derby. I, for one, tell you very plainly, that I do want to bring back Lord Derby; and I want to bring him back for the purpose of putting him out again. Now, as to those hon. Gentlemen on the other (the Ministerial) side, who call themselves independent Members, and talk about their consciences, 1249 they are not independent Members, and their consciences are in safe keeping in the counties and boroughs they represent. They are not allowed to bring their consciences here, or to use any discretion whatever. They come into this House, if I may make use of a vulgar simile, like a pennyworth of butter wrapped up in Sharman Crawford's Bill. I believe I am the only Member professing these politics who has any claim whatever to independence. It would not suit me to state particulars; but that it is so is perfectly well known. I consider that those Gentlemen who have voted with Her Majesty's Government have broken their pledges to their constituents. I wish to say that in the most polite manner possible. There are two classes of them. There are some Irish Members who, I am sure, voted conscientiously, though I conceive that they entertain mistaken opinions. But with regard to the other class, who have no discretion at all to use, and who have replaced in counties and boroughs persons of a class which always represented those counties and boroughs, I certainly expected that they would have kept their pledges, and that expectation was entertained by the country. I think I have a right, on behalf of those Irish Members who have kept their pledges, to say that it would be much more convenient to us for the future if we could hold our Irish meetings without finding Government emissaries present.
said, a great many accusations had been bandied about on both sides of the House with regard to the conduct of hon. Members. Hon. Members on the other side of the House ought not to be so exceedingly thin-skinned and nice with reference to any remarks on their conduct, seeing that they were not so particularly sparing in their comments upon the conduct of others. With reference to what passed on a certain occasion, it was rumoured that if the Gentlemen who had been in opposition should come into power, the income tax would not be extended to Ireland. His vote was not at all influenced by any such motive. But it was very generally rumoured that such a contract had been entered into; and that was in some degree confirmed by the statement of the President of the Board of Control, who said he thought Ireland was not in a fit state to bear the income tax, and that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he had always refused to impose that tax on Ireland, in consequence 1250 of the immense burdens under which that country was labouring; and he concluded his speech by saying that he still entertained the same opinion. The right hon. Gentleman now rested his vote in favour of the tax on the remission of the consolidated annuities. Now, the annual payment on account of those annuities was 245,000l., to one-half of which, the labour rate, a Committee of the other House had reported this country not to be equitably entitled. The income tax and the increased spirit duties would impose fresh taxes on Ireland to the amount of 658,000l., deducting from which sum one half the payment for the consolidated annuities, there would be a balance of additional taxation against Ireland of about 500,000l. Then, again, there was the legacy duty. But against that he would set off the benefit to be derived from the change in the tea duty. He decidedly objected to the imposition of this additional taxation on Ireland, particularly at a time when she had not fully recovered from the difficulty and distress under which she had been so long labouring.
§ MR. E. BALL
was astonished that no reply had been given to the statement made by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Captain Magan), that an accredited agent of the Whig and Peelite parties had waited upon the representatives for Ireland, and stated to them that if they would assist in turning out the Government of Lord Derby, Ireland should not be saddled with the property and income tax. He was not familiarly acquainted with the forms of that House, but he could not help expressing his belief that, if the statement of the hon. Member was correct, the conduct pursued on the occasion referred to amounted to a gross violation of good faith and patriotic feeling. The subject was not one which could be allowed to pass without explanation. He did not know who the "accredited agent" might be; possibly he was one of the Secretaries of the Treasury; and if so, it was desirable that some explanation should be given to the Committee, in order that what what might be called a discreditable reflection might be wiped away from a large and important party in that House.
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
said, he had to charge the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood) with not carrying out the promise inferred from the declaration he made to the Irish Members in that House in reference to the 1251 extension of the income tax to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman now stated that the question now stood upon a different footing in consequence of the imposition of the tax being accompanied by the remission of the consolidated annuities; and that inasmuch as that remission would relieve the land from a charge to which it was now liable, he did not consider himself bound to adhere to his declaration against the income tax being extended to Ireland. The House would recollect that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman against extending the income tax to Ireland was made in reference to the proposal for that purpose brought forward last year by the right hon. Member for Bucks; but that proposal did not in any way affect the land—consequently, the right hon. Gentleman's explanation was in no way applicable. The right hon. Gentleman, it would be remembered, called on Irish Members to beware how they permitted the small end of the wedge to be inserted, and advised them not to allow the income tax to be extended to Ireland in any shape, for that Ireland was in no way capable of paying the income tax, and that therefore he was opposed to it; and now that a proposal for imposing that tax to a far greater extent was brought forward, the right hon. Baronet turned round upon the Irish Members, and abandoning altogether his declaration against this tax in any shape as applicable to Ireland, he supported it, giving as his only explanation that some relief was to be given to the land—a description of property that was not at all affected by the former proposal. He denied that the right hon. Gentleman could be released from his declaration upon such a ground, and maintained that he was bound as a man of honour to resist the imposition of an income tax upon Ireland.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it would be better, if the hon. Gentleman had a charge to make against his right hon. Friend—that he could not honestly and honourably vote for the Government proposal of the extension of the income tax to Ireland, which he had declared his intention to vote for—if the hon. Gentleman had such a charge to make, it would be better that he should make it when his right hon. Friend was in the House, that he might have the opportunity of meeting it.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
His right hon. 1252 Friend was in the House the whole of the earlier part of the evening during the discussion that had taken place, when the hon. Gentleman, who was also present, might have brought forward his charge; but he had thought it more convenient to make it in the absence of his right hon. Friend, and very probably in doing so he had exercised a wise judgment. His right hon. Friend had, however, in the course of the debate, fully explained his conduct, and he (Lord J. Russell) believed that explanation was considered satisfactory, at all events by a great majority of the House. His right hon. Friend then said that he considered the proposition of the right hon. Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli) to impose part of the income tax on Ireland for three years, was one that ought not, under the circumstances, to be carried out; but that in considering the proposal brought forward by the present Government, he thought, upon the whole—balancing the advantage with the disadvantage—that Ireland would be a gainer by the remission of the consolidated annuities—that remission comprehending not only those advances made on account of the distress in Ireland, but those also which were made for the necessities of the workhouses—to an extent that would more than counterbalance the burden of the income tax; and in the exercise of a judgment which he had full right to exercise, his right hon. Friend declared that he would vote in favour of the proposition. Such in substance was the explanation which his right hon. Friend gave—he went into details on the subject, and he (Lord J. Russell) was sure that many Irish Members, and certainly very many other Members, had also come to the opinion that it was better for Ireland to have the remission of these consolidated annuities, and to bear the income tax, than to go on paying these annuities. He had, he thought, said sufficient to answer the charge of his hon. Friend opposite, that his right hon. Friend had voted for this measure without fully explaining the reasons that had induced him to do so; and he would suggest if his hon. Friend had anything further to say on the subject, that he should take an opportunity of saying it when his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Control was in the House.
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
did not know when he spoke that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax was not in the House. Did the noble Lord mean to impute to him that he had made 1253 a charge against the right hon. Gentleman in his absence which he would not have made in his presence? If not, what did he mean? He could assure the noble Lord that he was not the person to shrink from bringing forward charges against any Minister, and in the presence of that Minister, when he thought them well founded.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, he was ready to concede to Irish Members the utmost liberty of debate, and to give them every reasonable opportunity of addressing the House, especially upon questions which more particularly affected Ireland; but he would respectfully remind them that there was such a country as England. He had no objection to a large and liberal allowance of eloquence and even of time to hon. Members from the other side of St. George's Channel, but he hoped that English Members would now be allowed to proceed with the business of the country. The greater part of the income tax must, under any circumstances, be paid by the people of England; and he hoped, therefore, he might be allowed to bring before the Committee a view of the question in which a large portion of the people of this country were deeply interested. He would again call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the proposition he had been endeavouring, ever since 1842, to impress upon the Government of the day. Every Chancellor of the Exchequer, since the tax upon property and income had been revived, had agreed that there was a limit of income beneath which all incomes should be exempt from the tax. Now, under the pre-sent system, every man who paid the tax paid it on the whole of his taxable income—and he would submit again that that was a system which operated very unfairly. A person in the annual receipt of 150l. was at present subjected to that tax to the extent of 4l. 7s. 6d., while a person in the annual receipt of 149l. 19s. 11d. was altogether exempted from the tax; and an anomaly of a similar character would prevail under the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, who would make the recipients of incomes of 100l. liable to the tax on the whole of that amount, while the recipients of incomes of 99l. 19s. 11d. would escape the burden altogether. Now, he (Sir R. H. Inglis) would remedy that anomaly by providing that the tax should only be payable on the amount of income which a man might possess beyond the 100l.—that is, that if he had 105l., he should pay on 5l.; if 110l., on 10l. It seemed 1254 to him that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by exempting the possessor of an income of 99l. from the tax, admitted the justice of the proposal which he (Sir R. H. Inglis) was then submitting to the consideration of the Committee. The adoption of that proposal would afford a most welcome relief to many classes of the community whose incomes were exactly 100l. a year—to the poor clergyman, the struggling half-pay officer, and the large class of clerks employed in carrying on the commercial operations of this country. These persons were compelled to struggle hard to make both ends meet; and they would feel heavily this tax. The only objections he could see to the plan were, first, that it would be very difficult to effect the changes in the schedules which would be necessary; and, secondly, that it would lead to the loss of a considerable amount of revenue. Now he believed that these objections were by no means of an insuperable character. He believed that the difficulty of remodelling the schedules would he successfully met if his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to cause the able functionaries in his office to direct their attention to the matter for a single fortnight; and as to the loss to the revenue which the adoption of the plan would entail, he confidently submitted that such a loss ought not to be held to afford any valid ground for the continuance of a grievance which seriously affected a large and very important portion of the community.
interposed and said, that as the hon. Baronet had not made any Motion or Amendment, there was nothing before the Committee, unless he was allowed to proceed with the Resolution, which had been partly read already. The hon. Gentleman then read the continuation of the Resolution.
Mr. J. D. FITZGERALD
moved as an Amendment, after the words "stipends or" to insert the words "to any person or persons whatsoever resident in Great Britain." This Amendment, if carried, would exempt from the tax all incomes derived from trades and professions in Ireland. He felt that, in the present temper of the House, and after the scenes which had recently taken place, it was somewhat imprudent to introduce an Irish question; but he believed that the ob- 1255 ject which he sought to attain by his Amendment was a just and reasonable one, and that it would commend itself to the favourable consideration of the House. It was not his intention or desire to interfere with the Resolutions to which the House had already come. He had voted against the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire, and in favour of the original Resolution for the extension of the income tax to Ireland, and therefore stood committed to the principle. He had done so, because he believed it was fair and proper that the funded property in that country, amounting to about 1,300,000l. per annum, incomes derived from land, railway shares, and bank stock, public and county salaries, and other descriptions of property, should pay their quota of the tax; but he thought an exception should be made of incomes derived from trades and professions, because the produce of the tax, if levied upon trades and professions, would be very small indeed, while the cost of collection would amount to a large sum. The Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated that the income tax would produce 460,000l. a year from Ireland, which, at 3 per cent, represented an assessment on rather more than 15,000,000l.; but it would perhaps be more correct to take it at 17,000,000l. From that sum was to be taken—land, 11,000,000l.; funds, 1,300,000l.; railways, 700,000l.; besides public salaries, county salaries, banking property, canal shares, and joint-stock companies; and the balance would represent the amount on which trade and professional incomes were to be assessed. He was not in a position to give the exact items of the account; but it would be seen that the amount of income tax that could be realised from trades and professions would be very small indeed. It was a fallacy of the hon. Member for Belfast, that by the remission of the consolidated annuities and the imposition of the income tax, such towns as Belfast would be taxed to pay the debts of others. Belfast would not be called upon to pay debts incurred by or for others, but to pay taxes which it was able to pay, and which it ought to have paid long ago, and from which it had been exempted on account of the distress of other districts. No doubt if the tax were confined merely to such towns as Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, it would be productive; but it would be impossible to apply the tax to any part of Ireland without applying it to the whole of that country; and therefore he said 1256 that the machinery and the large staff that would be required to be created and scattered all over the country, would render the cost of collection so great that a tax upon trades and professions would be very unproductive. Every town and borough in Ireland had made remonstrances on this subject. At a large meeting held in Dublin not long ago, representatives of all the trades and professions had spoken in the strongest possible terms against the extension of the tax to incomes derived from such sources. He admitted that his proposition to exempt these incomes from the tax, could be defended on no economic principle; but he thought it would be found, on inquiry, that the revenue to be derived from imposing it on the incomes derived from the trades and professions would be very small indeed, seeing that the greater proportion of it would be swallowed up in the expense of collection. On land, funded property, public salaries, and certain salaries payable in counties, the expense of collection would be very moderate; but the Committee ought to recollect that the trades, and especially the professions, were scattered all over the country. In some villages there would not be more than one or two persons subject to the tax, and yet for the trifling amounts to be paid by them the whole machinery of collection, with its odious inquisitorial character, was to be put in action. From the right hon. Gentleman's own figures with regard to the amount to be derived from this tax, he deduced that the proportion which would be paid by the trades and professions would be very small indeed. For its collection in Ireland there was no existing organised system available. The tax was admitted to be odious in England; but in Ireland, where political and sectarian animosities unfortunately ran so high, its odiousness would be greatly aggravated. The bodies by which the tax was collected, ought, as far as possible, to be free from party and religious bias; but the poor-law boards in Ireland, to whom the collection of the tax would probably be entrusted, were the normal schools of political agitation. He maintained, therefore, that the reasons assigned by Sir Robert Peel, in 1842, against extending the tax to Ireland still existed in undiminished force; and he would again urge upon the House the long-admitted principle that no tax was just which absorbed the chief part of its returns in the cost of collection. Vari- 1257 ous statistics had been adduced by the opponents of the Budget with regard to its effect upon Ireland; but the manner in which the calculations had been made reminded him of the course pursued by the professional accountant, who, when called in to make out certain accounts, asked first on what side his employer wished the balance to be made out. The hon. Member for Mayo reckoned the interest of the consolidated annuities at 440,000l., but he did not take into account the consideration that at the end of six years the principal would be entirely wiped away. One of the arguments urged against the extension of the income tax to Ireland was, that certain distressed portions of the country were not so well able to bear the burden as other parts; but the question was, would not the western and southern districts of the country be more benefited by the relief from the consolidated annuities, as a whole, than they would be burdened by the income tax? Now the consolidated annuities in his own county (Clare) for forty years were 19,000l. a year; while the income tax would only impose a burden of 6,000l. a year; and he believed that in all the surrounding districts a similar result would be arrived at. He considered that the remission of the consolidated annuities would be a boon to the tenant-farmers of Clare, Galway, and other districts upon whom the burden pressed very heavily; and to afford relief to the poorer classes he was willing that the proposed burden should be placed upon those who were well able to bear it. For that reason he had voted for the Resolution of the Government, although he knew that to do so might be unpopular. He considered that the Irish Members on the other side had been acting under the greatest delusion, if they thought that by defeating the present Budget they would exempt Ireland from the income tax. If they had succeeded, one of two things must happen—either there would be a new Government, or Parliament would be dissolved. If Lord Derby returned to power he never could resist the extension of the income tax to Ireland; and he (Mr. Fitzgerald) said this, because it was reported that a compact had been entered into between a certain portion of the Irish Members and the late Government, to the effect that if Lord Derby returned to office he would not insist upon extending this tax to. Ireland. Let them remember that 1258 the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in the discussion of Sir B. Hall's Motion, declared his opinion that the income tax ought to be extended to that country; and the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), on the same occasion, said he thought that the poorest classes of Ireland ought to be relieved from the grinding taxation which pressed upon them in the shape of the repayment of advances, and that the income tax should be extended to those classes in that country who were able to bear it. Again, another section of the Members of that House who would, no doubt, form part of any new Government, had declared in 1848 and 1849, when Ireland was still in severe distress, that the income tax ought to be extended to that country, and that without any equivalent remission. But, on the other hand, if a dissolution were to take place, there was no doubt that this Budget would go before the constituencies as a free-trade Budget; and would hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to identify themselves before the country with hostility to the newly-established commercial policy? He would only add, that he proposed his present Amendment as a real and not a delusive Amendment, and he intended to divide the House upon it, unless it should appear that the argument upon which he rested it was baseless. His argument was, that the expense of levying the income tax from trades and professions in Ireland would be so great that it would yield no substantial product to the revenue, and therefore he believed it would be contrary to the sound rules of finance to ex-tend this impost to that country.
§ Amendment proposed, line 11, after the word "stipends or," to insert the words "to any person or persons whatsoever resident in Great Britain."
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, in consequence of what has just fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman on the subject of some compact, which he has stated to exist between hon. Friends with whom I act, and a certain portion of Irish representatives, I am anxious to say a few words. So long as such rumours were merely confined to the pages of a hostile press, I took no notice of them; but now as they have been repeated by two hon. Gentlemen in their place in Parliament, I wish to state most distinctly that any such compact, negotiation, treaty, or understanding between my hon. Friends and 1259 any portion of the Irish representatives, in order to secure their co-operation on the occasion of the late debate and division, is entirely and altogether unknown to me. I know nothing about it; but, on the contrary, I repudiate and disbelieve it. At the same time, I beg to state that I shall not be deterred by any such idle and groundless rumour from doing my duty honestly and conscientiously by Ireland. I hold we who represent English interests are equally bound with those who represent Irish interests to attend to the claims of Ireland as an integral portion of this empire; and I am decidedly of opinion that the Budget presses hardly and unfairly on that country. If the debate of the early part of this evening had not been cut short, I should have taken the opportunity to have said as much; but that I declare now to be my positive and conscientious conviction.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I am anxious to state why we Members from Ireland on this side of the House, desire to take no notice of the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, without meaning him any personal discourtesy whatever. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that we acted under a delusion. It may be so; but we acted conscientiously and sincerely. No less than forty-two of us, Irish Conservative Gentlemen, voted with our brethren of England—as we will always do in support of a fair and just Amendment It was the only chance Ireland had left of being saved from a tax described by every hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial bench—the Chancellor of the Exchequer excepted—as iniquitous, partial, unjust, and inquisitorial. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who spoke so confidently, and who expects, no doubt, to have his Amendment triumphantly carried, has in my humble opinion, following out his own misguided judgment, as also the hon. Member for Clonmel, taken the shortest, the best, and most decisive course to defeat the interests of their country, as also have those hon. Gentlemen who acted with them on the late occasion. If, therefore, the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that hon. Members on these benches could enter into a discussion of this proposal, he was mistaken; they would be no party to it, for they would not discuss a proposition which they believed to be a "sham." The Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman to exempt trades and profes- 1260 sions from the income tax in Ireland, with a view to cast the burdens altogether upon the land of that country, is a Motion which the hon. and learned Gentleman is too well skilled in finance not to know to be impossible, and one which I believe to be as abortive as it is fatal. I shall therefore either vote against the proposition, or walk out of the House. It is our intention to submit the case of Ireland to the Committee on the Bill; and if the decision be against us we must submit. But we venture to hope that the House will not be insensible to a claim which we believe to be founded in justice and equity.
§ MR. F. SCULLY
was anxious to explain the grounds on which he had given his vote in the recent division. A speech had been made by a right hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial side of the House (Sir Francis Baring) which went entirely against the extension of the income tax to Ireland; and yet he voted on the main question in favour of the proposition contained in the first part of the Resolution, that is, for the Budget as a whole; and that evening again he had voted in the same lobby with him (Mr. Scully) against its extension to Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen said of Irish Gentlemen on that side of the House, what he would not venture to say of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth. He (Mr. Scully) gave his vote solely on the question, whether this Budget as a whole should be adopted or not, and whether there should be an income tax for England or not. The question relating to Ireland, did not arise till a great part of the Resolution was disposed of; and then the hon. Member for Clonmel moved his Amendment, for which he (Mr. Scully) had voted. He (Mr. Scully) asked the Chairman whether by voting for the entire Resolution, he was voting on the main question only; and he replied that he was, and that he was not precluded from voting for any Amendment. The imputation of inconsistency which had been cast on him, then, was not fair. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Ennis, he thought that, after the result of the division that evening with regard to the extension of the income tax to Ireland, it was the duty of every Member, and particularly of Irish Members, to propose Amendments calculated to render the tax less objectionable in Ireland. He (Mr. Scully) had taken time to make up his 1261 mind as to the main question of extending the income tax to Ireland, and he had fully weighed the balance of evils. The question was, whether we should or should not impose an income tax on Ireland for seven years, in return for the remission of a liability of 4,500,000l. which had been incurred, and which now constituted the consolidated annuities. He was of opinion that the consolidated annuities would press more severely than an income tax in many parts of Ireland, particularly upon small farmers and householders in towns, and generally where the poor-rate was highest. The report of the House of Lords Committee said that this annuity tax exceeded the highest property tax ever levied in England during the war in many places, and in others it doubled it. The injustice in the system of collection and payment of it was also most striking as between one electoral division and another: supposing a Union to consist of ten electoral divisions, of which three had paid their amount of the annuity, and seven had been unable to make such payment; the whole annuity becomes payable out of the whole amount of rate in the treasurer's hands. The result is, consequently, that the three electoral divisions which have performed their engagements will find a portion of the rate applied to cover the deficiency of the seven electoral divisions in default, in addition to the full amount of their own debt which they themselves had already paid. He would now call the attention of the House to the description of classes who were liable to those annuities, and the different position in which they would be placed, supposing the income tax were substituted for them: out of the entire number of holders or occupiers of the soil in Ireland, amounting to 608,066 in 1851, not more than about 1,500 would be liable to income tax; while the large number remaining would be entirely relieved from both annuities and income tax. In the county of Tipperary the entire annuities amounted to no less than 658,360l., which were spread over a period of forty years in every union except one. It amounted to an annual tax of 16,467l. 8s. 10d., being an average of 6½d. in the pound upon the present valuation. According to the late census returns for 1851, he found there were 28,346 in the county; of these 20,625 were between 5 and 200 acres, 482 between 200 and 500, and only 80 over 500 acres. From this it would ap- 1262 pear that over 20,000 would be relieved from the annuities, and not pay any income tax; while only about 280 would have to contribute to the income tax, and he doubted whether there would be so many. If he looked into the different unions, the facts would be equally striking; for instance, the entire assessment of the union of Tipperary was 121,800l., and the annual payment on account of the consolidated annuities was 3,000l., or 6d. in the pound. Take now the case of the income tax, and what would be the result of that as applied to this union? He found, by returns, that according to the poor-law valuation the farmers of this union paid upon the consolidated annuities after the following rates: Where the rent was 25l. a year, the tax was 6s. 3d.; 50l. a year, 12s. 6d.; 100l. a year, 2l. 10s.; 300l. a year, 3l. 15s.; and 400l. a year, 5l. Now, in the case of the income tax the first three of these instances would go free, while as to the others, if the tax was levied in Ireland as it was in Scotland, which he had reason to suppose would be the case, the fanner who was now rated at 300l. a year, and paid an annuity tax of 3l. 15s., would save 1l. 13s.; and the farmer who was rated at 400l., and paid an annuity tax of 5l., would gain 2l. 12s. 7d. by the change. This was essentially a tenant question, because the rates for the poor, and the consolidated annuities, pressed most heavily on that valuable class of men. At the present moment it was well known that the respectable, industrious, and well-conditioned tenant-farmers of Ireland were leaving their native land for the shores of America, solely on account of the heavy poor-rates and consolidated annuities, the more grievous because it was quite uncertain to what amount they might rise. He therefore thought it would be immeasurably to the advantage of many unions to exchange the annuity for the income tax. It was not alone the tenant-farmer class who would gain by the exchange. It was said, indeed, that the shopkeepers do not pay the annuity tax; but that was not so, for in some unions the highest amount of poor-rate and the annuity tax was borne by the towns. For instance, in the Cashel union the consolidated annuities amounted to 126,000l., or 3,152l. per annum for forty years, being an average of 7¼d in the pound on the entire union. In 1851"the expenditure for poor-rates averaged 3s. 6d. in the pound on the entire union for that 1263 year. Now observe the position of the city of Cashel electoral division. The expenditure and rates for the poor in that division was not less than 7s. 7d. for that year; while the charge for consolidated annuities for that electoral division amounted to 9d. in the pound additional; therefore the remission of the annuities would be a greater boon to the city where it was heaviest, and the poor-rates highest, than to the surrounding rural districts, where both were so much lower. With regard to the Budget, as it would affect Ireland generally, he believed it would be beneficial, particularly after the year 1860; and in this he differed altogether from the calculation of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth, who made out that Ireland would only gain 47,000l. a year after 1860, while England would gain millions. He (Mr. Scully) considered the total remissions of duty, including tea and other articles, stamps, and consolidated annuities, would amount to 659,000l. a year; while the imposition of new taxes, including income tax, spirit duty, and succession duty, would amount to 755,143l., showing a loss to Ireland of 95,353l. up to 1860; but on the understanding that the income tax is to cease then in both countries, the gain to Ireland would amount to several hundred thousand pounds per annum, instead of the 47,000l. which the right hon. Gentleman calculated on; and, in fact, in his estimate, he never considered the cessation of the income tax in Ireland, though he reckoned upon it as certainly ceasing in England at that period, and made his calculations for that country accordingly. Allowing for the remission of the consolidated annuities, and for the cessation of the income tax on the one hand, and for the continuation of the spirit duty and the legacy duty on the other, the gain to Ireland after 1860 would be something like 497,797l. per annum; and that was his principal reason for supporting the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was said that the annuities were very bad, and very unjust in their operation. There were, however, inequalities in the operation of the income tax as well as these consolidated annuities; and now that the income tax was to be extended to Ireland, he was anxious to see these inequalities removed as much as possible. He certainly did not approve of it in the shape it was proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There ought to be a dif- 1264 ference made between England and Ireland, in the mode of collecting the income tax, or in certain small towns in Ireland the tax would be grievously oppressive. The ascertained property of Ireland should be made to bear its fair share of taxation. At present there were numerous parties living upon annuities, rentcharges, and such like properties, who did not pay a shilling towards the support of the State. Now, these ought to be made to pay; but, on' the other hand, there was something like 460 small villages, where the tradesmen found it so great a struggle to get a living, that it would be the height of injustice to require them to pay the income tax. There ought certainly to be a distinction made between those who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow, the man whose income was precarious and uncertain, and the man whose income was fixed and certain, and who experienced none of the difficulties in sustaining his position such as the industrious tradesman had to endure. If not entirely exempt, the latter ought at least to be partially exempt from the operation of the tax. He would say that a tradesman with an income under 200l. a year ought not to be rated at all; but if he was rated, certainly it ought not to be higher than 5d. in the pound. There was another class, too, which he thought ought to be exempt from the tax, namely, the working clergymen of all persuasions in the United Kingdom. Take the pluralist and the man who enjoyed a large living, but do not compel the poor curate, who found the greatest difficulty in keeping within his means, to pay an income tax. In Ireland there were at least two thousand hardworking, useful, and benevolent clergymen, who were supported by voluntary contributions, and, to his mind, he could see no possible justice or policy in requiring them to pay the income tax. There were other matters relating to the tax which demanded some attention at his hands, but he could not wait to touch upon them all. One in particular he must notice, and that was, as to the mode of collecting the tax under Schedule A. He would most earnestly press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to adopt the system prevailing in England, namely, making the tenant pay for the landlord in the first instance. That, in Ireland, would be open to many abuses, and would be a serious grievance to the small cottier tenantry in that country. The demand for 1265 this tax would be made upon the tenant at a period of the year when it would be very inconvenient, and perhaps impossible, for him to meet it; besides, he would be paying it in advance for his landlord, who might only set it off against some imaginary arrears of rent, or never get credit for it. Under these circumstances, and for many other reasons too numerous to mention at this period of the debate, he implored of the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to adopt it. One word more, and he should have done. The legacy duty upon land, it was calulated, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would produce something like 2,000,000l.; but the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast, who enjoyed a large practice at the Equity bar, and consequently must be supposed to know something of the matter, estimated that it would produce 4,000,000l. in the three years. Now, when the legacy duty amounted to 4,000,000l., there would be an additional reason for doing away with the income tax in 1860, and he hoped when that time arrived, Ireland would be entirely relieved from the burden. In the meanwhile he plainly saw that there was no help for it but to extend the principle as it was now proposed by the Government; but much of its injustice could be got rid of by adopting such measures as might improve it in Committee, and he trusted no obstacles would be thrown in the way of their passing.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I certainly, Sir, feel the same anxiety which the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken may naturally have felt, to explain at large his views with regard to the extension of the income tax to Ireland, which he has done with great clearness, and also with great fairness. But I do not think it my duty to avail myself in the same manner of the indulgence of the House. I should be abusing that indulgence if I were to do that which he has done in a different position from that occupied by myself. But although I, like others, am so far a loser by the rapidity of the division on the question of extending the income tax to Ireland, that I lost the opportunity of discussing that subject at large, I think I shall best discharge my duty to the House by only discussing the matter immediately embraced in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman—especially after the distinct announcement of the learned Member opposite, that 1266 the entire question of the income tax, and the propriety, justice, and expediency of extending it to Ireland, will be again raised when we go into Committee upon the Bill. Under these circumstances, Sir, I repeat I think I had better confine myself to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Ennis, and to that part of his speech which referred to it. After showing in a very conclusive manner the justice of the general propositions of the Government, the hon. and learned Gentleman addressed himself to the particular proposition which he has recommended to the notice of the Committee, the effect of which would be, as far as Ireland is concerned, to strike Schedule D—I do not say entirely—but almost entirely out of the Income-tax Act. I believe the hon. Gentleman does not object to joint-stock companies being taxed; but with regard to merchants, to manufacturers, to retail dealers, to professional men in Ireland, I understand the hon. Gentleman to propose that they should be entirely exempted, and that no tax should be levied upon them. The hon. and learned Gentleman founds his argument for this particular proposition—which is altogether distinct from the general proposition of the levying of the tax—on the belief he entertains that Schedule D in Ireland will be so unproductive that it will yield—I do not know that he says no appreciable revenue, but, at any rate—no considerable revenue after the expenses of its collection are defrayed. If I correctly understand the hon. and learned Gentleman, he stated very fairly the objections which existed against this exemption on any other point of view; he admitted very candidly that the exemption of this class would raise heartburnings and ill-feeling among other classes—among the class with salaries, for instance, not in the public establishments alone, but in mercantile establishments—that among that class it would create great discontent if such exemptions existed. In fact, it was fairly and frankly admitted by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that, abstractedly considered, his proposition would be a bad measure, and that he grounds the proposition entirely upon this, that after the expenses of collection are defrayed, it will yield little or nothing that is worth collecting. Now, I would venture to suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that, on a question of this kind, I can neither explain satisfactorily to him nor 1267 to the Committee the grounds on which I have come to a different conclusion till the Bill itself be before us. When that Bill is laid upon the table of the House, you will see the nature of the machinery with which we propose to raise the tax. At present the question between the hon. Gentleman and myself is mere matter of opinion. He thinks—and I have no doubt he thinks not only conscientiously, but with that clearness derived from his own ability and great experience which must always give his opinion much weight in this House—he is of opinion that Schedule D will yield comparatively little to the revenue when collected in Ireland. I, on the contrary, am of opinion that it will produce, even after the expenses of collection are defrayed, a considerable sum. I do not wish to be understood as saying that I think the modes of collecting the tax in Ireland, ought to be, in all respects, analogous to those in use in England. I am not of that opinion. But, looking to the case of Dublin—looking especially to the case of Belfast, I feel that, even if the hon. and learned Gentleman could make good his case with regard to the small towns, still the total omission of Schedule D would be liable to many objections. The difficulty in dealing with Schedule D arises from this—that after we have dealt with the case of a few large towns, in which I do not know that there are more formidable obstacles to be encountered than in England, you must then come to consider how, without a staff of intelligent Government officers, and without the power of availing yourself of local fiscal officers, you are to levy a tax under Schedule D, in cases where, except the clergyman of the Established Church, the Roman Catholic priest, perhaps the Presbyterian minister, the medical man, and one or two retail traders scattered thinly over the district, there are none on whom the tax can be levied. I admit that cases like this will require considerable care, and I hope you will see, when we come to discuss the provisions of the Bill, that it has had much attention from us. I shall not abuse the patience of the Committee by going into all the points raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and by others connected with Ireland, who held a conversation with me some time ago on various matters connected with the application of the income tax to Ireland; but there are two points to which they then referred, on 1268 which I wish at once to put an end to all uncertainty. The first point is one to which they attached great interest—that is, the mode in which the rent of the Irish tenant farmer shall be calculated with relation -to the income tax. At that time I gave the Irish Members to understand that though the amount of the sum involved in this question is small, yet the smallness of the amount would not have induced the Government to concede anything that affected the principle on which they have all along proceeded, unless considerations of justice recommended the concession. What they propose to do is this. Judging between the position of the tenant-farmer in Ireland in relation to the rent he pays his landlord, and the profit he obtains for himself, judging between his position and that of the Scotch tenant-farmer, we think that the case of the tenant-farmer in Ireland will bear a fair analogy with the tenant-farmer in Scotland rather than in England. We therefore propose in the Bill to place the tenant-farmer in Ireland in the same position with relation to the tax as the Scotch farmer. I heard in the course of this evening some taunts and jeers thrown out against a portion of the representatives of the sister country because they did me the favour to enter into an amicable discussion with me on these points, as if they had thereby forfeited their allegiance to their country. It is not for me, Sir, to instruct the Irish Members, or to presume to commend them; but this I can say, on the part of the Government, that we feel greatly obliged to them for having taken that course, and that we feel indebted to them for many useful suggestions. The other point to which I wish to refer is one on which it is evident that extreme and very just anxiety prevails in Ireland—in respect to the employment of local parties and local agents in assessing the income tax under Schedule D. With the other schedules there will be little difficulty, and there has been raised no question. But with respect to Schedule D, the Irish Members have expressed their opinion that there would be in general great objections to the employment of local persons in assessing the tax. I wish therefore to state that whatever is done with respect to the levying of the income tax, will be done under the immediate control and agency of the Executive Government. I am quite aware that, while that announcement gives satisfaction as to that point, it will increase 1269 the difficulty of levying the tax, particularly in small country places, where those liable to it are thinly scattered. But we shall endeavour to cope with this difficulty as well as we can. While we endeavour to deal justly by the revenue, we shall at the same time study to avoid cases of a vexatious 'character, or such as would entitle any one to say that the provisions of the Government are of a harsh and oppressive character. I therefore venture to express a hope that hon. Gentlemen will see the advantage of delaying the discussion of this matter till they can do so with the Bill in their hands. They will then see precisely the extent to which we are prepared to go in meeting their views, and the extent to which they, or the House at large, may think it their duty to press us to go further. There is one point, which was mentioned by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, at the close of his very able speech, with respect to the legacy duties—a remark which, on the one hand, is to me most attractive and delightful, but which, if I were to allow it to be supposed that I gave it a moment's credence, would be the parent of such dangerous delusions, that I cannot pass it without some notice. We are, I hope, approaching to that stage in these discussions when we shall be able to enter at large into the question of the legacy duties. I shall only say, now, that an estimate of 2,000,000l. addition to the revenue is the estimate which I have been supposed to make with respect to these duties, but which I entirely disclaim. That estimate, however, has been set down by some as absurdly small; and the proceeds have been set down at 4,000,000l.—one hon. Gentleman indeed promised 6,000,000l. I can only say that I should be most thankful—I might almost say that I am inclined to offer a large reward—but at any rate I shall be most thankful to any hon. Gentleman who will assure me of such a return; and though the system of farming the taxes is generally allowed to be a bad one, yet if any hon. Gentleman is disposed to offer a rental of 4,000,000l. for this tax, or even a fourth part of that sum additional, I shall be most happy to close with him.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I rise for the purpose of asking a question. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Committee have misapprehended him, supposing that he offered an estimate of the ultimate amount of the tax on successions to real 1270 property as amounting to 2,000,000l. sterling. But we on this side of the House had an idea that the right hon. Gentleman did, in the course of his financial statement, estimate the ultimate amount of this tax at 2,000,000l.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me an opportunity of clearing up this misunderstanding. I estimated that the proceeds from the legacy duties would be 2,000,000l. in addition to the 1,300,000l. which we now receive. I hope it will amount to that sum: indeed it would not surprise me if it should amount to 200,000l. or to 300,000l. more; but I have not taken credit for that overplus, because the probate duties are on a scale that must shortly come before the House for modification; and when they are modified, there will be a small loss. But, speaking in round numbers, the estimate was 2,000,000l. I must here, however, correct a slight error that I fell into on that occasion. I said this estimate of 2,000,000, would he reached in four years—I believe it will not be realised in less than five. But my statement was this. I stated that 2,000,000l. of additional revenue would accrue to the State from the change in the law with respect to the legacy duties. From that statement, the inference has been precipitately drawn that the increase would arise from the change in the law with respect to real property. No doubt, a portion of the increase will arise from that change; but another and an important portion will also arise from the change in the law with respect to settlements of personal property.
§ MR. VANCE
considered the Motion now before the House, like that of the hon. Member for Clonmel last night (Mr. Lawless), a mockery and a delusion; not intended for, and not brought forward with, any hope of success. There had been a Motion brought forward on a former occasion which would have included both those propositions, and against which the movers of those two propositions had voted. It was pretty plain that these two Motions were designed to cover the unpatriotic votes which their movers had given on the previous occasion. The Resolution proposed had been, "that the continuance of the income tax for seven years, and the extension of it to parties hitherto exempted from its operation, without any mitigation of its inequality of assessment, is unjust and impolitic." The 1271 first part of this Resolution met the proposition of the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless), and the latter part included the proposal of the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Fitzgerald); and yet both these hon. Members voted against it. That these hon. Members and those around them had been influenced by corrupt motives, he (Mr. Vance) would not say; but this he would say, that he thought they had been "mesmerised" by the Government. He repeated, that Government influence had produced its effect among them. He told them, that, as independent Members, they ought to have voted for the Resolution he had referred to, and that they would have to answer to their constituents for not doing so. He did not, as an independent and patriotic Irish Member, thank the Government for the remission of the consolidated annuities. They might as well require the West Indies to pay back the 20,000,000l. voted for negro emancipation as to call upon Ireland to pay back these annuities. They ought to have remitted them as a matter of justice, without any compensating tax. The people of Dublin disliked being in debt, and they had taxed themselves so that they had been enabled to get rid of their share of the consolidated annuities, and they had actually liquidated the entire to the extent of 40,000l; but, notwithstanding that, the income tax was to be imposed upon them. There had been some strange arguments used on this subject upon the opposite side of the House. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had said that the manufacturers of Lancashire and Yorkshire would be aggrieved if those of Ireland were not subjected to the income tax. But he (Mr. Vance) happened to be connected by property with Yorkshire; and a constituent of the hon. Member had told him the manufacturers there had no such small jealousies of their Irish brethren, and, on the contrary, knew that Ireland was one of their best markets, and that they knew the prosperity of that country was identical with their own, and that it was important that its rising enterprise should not be interfered with. The hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) had, however, used an argument which would somewhat astonish his constituents, namely, that their interest would be promoted by the imposition of the income tax. As to the remission of the consolidated annuities, it was a mere imposition to repre- 1272 sent it as a boon. The Government never could have continued those annuities. They had been condemned by that House, by the House of Lords, and by public opinion; and it would have been impossible to maintain them, especially after the significant vote come to not long ago on the Motion of the Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore). There was, therefore, no gratitude due to the Government for the remission of those annuities, particularly as they had coupled the remission with an "equivalent" in the shape of new taxation. There was a just feeling of indignation in Ireland against the measure. There had been a compact with that country at the Union that in certain specified instances it should be more lightly taxed (as it had only a debt of 10,000,000l.) than England, and the compact had been so far recognised that up to the present time no direct taxation had been imposed upon Ireland. But now the compact was to be entirely disregarded by the imposition of an income tax, and also of a licence duty. It was true that the latter duty was likewise to extend to the English traders; but they would not feel it so much as the Irish traders, whose returns were far smaller. The tax on licences would press most harshly and unjustly on the traders of Ireland; and the income tax would be most unfair and oppressive both to the landed interest and trades and professions in that country. The people, one and all, were against it, and it would produce more dissatisfaction than would be counterbalanced by any paltry advantage the Government could derive from extending it to Ireland. And he concluded as he began, by declaring that the Motion now before the House was a sham and a delusion.
MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he would have an opportunity of renewing his Amendment when he had more materials on which to form a judgment, and as he understood he was to have to have no support from hon. Gentlemen opposite, he did not think he would be warranted in taking up the time of the House further. ["Oh, oh!"] He was not disappointed at hearing these exclamations from the other side, and he hoped the House would allow him to say something personal to himself. The hon. Member for Mayo, and the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, had both used expressions in the course of the debate which ought to have been replied to, but he had hitherto abstained from 1273 doing so, as his Wish was to avoid angry feelings. But he must be pardoned for saying a Word or two in reply to the hon. Member for Dublin. That hon. Member appeared to-night for the first time in the character of a patriot; but he believed no place would be more surprised than Dublin would be at his assumption of such a character. And when the hon. Member said that he (Mr. Fitzgerald) brought forward this Motion without hope of success, and that he was acting under Government influence, he would give that statement a contradiction in language as positive and explicit as the forms of this House would permit him to use. He had not brought the matter forward without canvassing the matter amongst his friends, and with them weighing the chances of success; and, as to his acting under Government influence—he spoke in the presence of several Members of the Government, and he defied any one of them, or any Member of the House, to say that either for past, present, or prospective favours he was under any obligation to the Government. If there was compliment on either side it was on his, though he would never admit that Her Majesty's Government could be under an obligation to an independent Member because he felt it right to support them. He had given a fair and independent support to the measures of the present Government, as he would support the measures of any Government which he thought were right; but there were measures which he had equally felt it his duty to oppose. At the same time, looking to his political position, he saw no choice between the present Government and that of Lord Derby. In Lord Derby's Government he had no confidence, and the only pledge his constituents exacted of him was, that he would exert himself to remove them from power. He had confidence in the present Government, and having confidence in them, he felt it his duty, as an independent Member, to give them his support. In giving that support, the purists on the other side—for what reason he knew not—had thought fit to impugn his motives, and even the gallant Member for Westmeath (Captain Magan) could restrain himself no longer, but had appeared to-night on the floor of the House as the impersonation of personal purity. With regard to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, he had only to State that for his opinion he had no value 1274 whatever. He trusted the Committee would pardon these observations, which had been forced from him; and now, seeing that he would have another opportunity to renew his Motion, he would, with the leave of the Committee, withdraw it.
§ MR. M'MAHON
trusted that the hon. and learned Member would not withdraw his Amendment, but press it to a division, and by that means procure the resignation of Her Majesty's Ministers. His constituents, composed of the agricultural and commercial classes, were of opinion that they would derive the greatest relief from the remission of the consolidated annuities; but they would prefer the continuance of that charge to the imposition of the income tax in any shape. One gentleman with whom he had been in correspondence described the Budget as a "tricky, delusive, and infamous" affair. It was, he believed, the universal opinion of every class in Ireland that the Budget was intended entirely for the benefit of England. Successive Governments had been for a long time taking off duties from the raw material for the benefit of England; and the present Government were about to remit the soap duties, which applied peculiarly to this country, and impose an equivalent tax upon Ireland. Upon a recent occasion thirty-one Irish Members had supported Her Majesty's Government; but could any of those hon. Members rise in his place and say that in so acting he followed the wishes of his constituents? The whole of those constituencies would be found against their representatives with respect to this vote—indeed, all classes in Ireland were averse to the tax. Had a single county or borough meeting been held in its favour? He was anxious that the Budget should be carried in such a way that the people of Ireland could feel convinced that they were not being cheated or robbed in order that England might be relieved of those taxes which it was her peculiar duty to bear. A high financial authority in the House had established that, as the Budget was at present framed, Ireland would be essentially a loser by it. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a former occasion remarked that the consolidated annuities were not to be considered as a mere question of money, he (Mr. M'Mahon) had not been prepared to find that more was to be imposed on Ireland than was remitted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth, who had himself 1275 been Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was well qualified to advise on such a subject, had made a speech on the subject, which no one on the Ministerial benches had as yet attempted to answer. No one had as yet controverted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that the remissions as regarded England would amount to 1,040,000l., whereas the increased taxation on Ireland would amount to 423,000l. The people of Ireland would like to know how that was to be accounted for. A Member of the Government had stated that the present attempt to tax Ireland, was getting in the narrow end of the wedge. The remissions in the Budget were, in fact, in the interest of England, and not of Ireland. It was proposed to remit the annuities; but he thought it unworthy of a great Empire like this to make a profit out of these loans. The Committee of the House of Lords, who appeared almost in a judicial capacity, had struck off 2,000,000l. from these sums charged to Ireland, on the ground that the money had been foolishly wasted on officials, and not for the relief of Ireland. The duties now proposed to be levied on spirits, together with the income tax, would amount to double what could be fairly charged on the score of the annuities. It was said, however, that there was to be a remission of the tea duties; but surely in that remission it was only the right of Ireland to participate. Even the quota which Ireland was to pay for the legacy duty would be an equivalent for the consolidated annuities; and if the Government acted with fairness, they would so consider it. But, instead of that, they were going to impose 460,000l. income tax, 200,000l. for legacy duty, 200,000l. for spirit duty, and 30,000l. for licences; showing on the whole a large balance against the sister country. In fact, the taxation proposed for Ireland was especially for the benefit of England and the injury of Ireland; and, to add to the injustice, the charge for the militia, which ought to have been borne by England exclusively, was in part thrown upon a country which had had nothing to do with it. But the fact was, that this description of legislation was of a piece with all that had gone before. For many years past taxation had been remitted to England, without any corresponding advantage being given to Ireland. Within the last six years, for instance, there were the window tax remitted 1276 to England, 1,278,000l., Ireland gaining nothing; the brick duty, saving 456,000l. to England, and Ireland gaining nothing; the glass duty, giving 624,000l. to England, and Ireland gaining nothing; and so on throughout the whole category, until, in a series of years, it would appear that England had gained 5,500,000l., and Ireland only 8,000l. Instead of acting upon this old bad system, the right hon. Gentleman should have considered some plan by which, while remitting duties to England, Ireland also would have benefited. The House would allow him, perhaps, to state a few plain facts, to show that Ireland was a great loser by the Budget, if not by design, at least by accident. First, the abolition of the soap duties could confer no benefit upon Ireland, for it paid no soap duties. And there was no concealing the fact, for it was notorious that the chief soapdealers had been applying for the remission of the soap duty, because they were unable to compete with the Irish manufacturers in the foreign and colonial markets. If the Chancellor had been anxious to confer a boon upon Irish manufacture, he would have done something to protect Ireland's only manufacture—that of beet root sugar, which in the English market next year would stand in no better position than slave-grown sugar. English manufacturers were very fond of crying up free trade, yet what was the fact? Why, there was not a single manufacture of Manchester, York, or Leeds, which, though relieved from Excise restrictions, was not still protected. He maintained, therefore, that if the Chancellor had been anxious to have favoured Ireland, he would not have dealt with her as he had done. He would only say, in conclusion, that no Member of that House was more anxious than he was that Ireland should be treated as an English county. He wished to see the two countries absolutely incorporated, to all intents and purposes, Ireland being no longer subject to peddling and exceptional legislation, but governed by the same system of statute and common law. If that were done, if they would but confer on Ireland the same local institutions which were enjoyed by England, they would be able to economise their local expenditure, and reduce their highway rates from the present amount of 1,100,000l. a year to half that sum.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, he would not have taken any part in the debate, had he 1277 not wished to mention two points for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The first related to the revenue to be raised by a tax upon successions. A very large amount must necessarily be raised from that branch of taxation; and what he wished chiefly to say on that subject was, that he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be induced to embrace in his proposal that large class of property which was held in mortmain. The second point had reference to the mode of collecting the income tax. A very large increase might be obtained by the right hon. Gentleman, if he would bear in mind what he (Mr. Aglionby) was about to state. He alluded to the case of copyhold tenants, who now paid double—first upon the value of the land, and then upon what was taken by the lord on the basis of two years' value; while, on the other hand, if the right hon. Gentleman examined into the matter, he would find that only one-sixth of the lords made any return.
§ SIR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN
was not going to annoy the House with quoting figures, which were often calculated to confuse rather than to inform. He rose merely to say, that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to make any changes in the Irish part of the Budget, he must not take it for granted that the tenant-farmers of that country would derive all the advantage from his scheme which had been described. He must say that he was perfectly amazed at the picture drawn by his excellent Friend the Member for Tipperary of the advantage to accrue to that class.
§ MR. F. SCULLY
I said that the remission of the consolidated annuities would confer a great boon upon the farming classes of Ireland.
§ SIR TIMOTHY O'BRIEN
would like to know if the hon. Gentleman had ever taken a walk from Cashel to Tipperary, from Cashel to Clonmel, or Cashel to Thurles; for if he had he would have seen nothing but ruins of the dwellings of tenant-farmers. It was all very well to talk of the tenant-farmers being benefited by the remission of the annuities, but they had never paid them—the only rates paid by Irish farmers were on account of writs. The fact was, the remission was no sufficient equivalent for the sacrifice they were called upon to make. He had never given a selfish vote—he came there neither for nor against the Government. But he must protest against the system pursued by Irish 1278 Members—a system calculated to do the greatest injury to their country. They formed themselves into cliques of sixteen or a dozen, held meetings, and came forth to dictate as to the government of Ireland. He believed that those who opposed the Budget of the Government held quite as great a stake in the country as those who favoured it. In its every feature, with the single exception of the repeal of the tea duties, the Budget was adverse to Ireland; and let him warn the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the repeal of those duties would lead to little or no increased consumption of that beverage as far as that country was concerned. He begged, therefore, to say that his vote on Monday was given conscientiously and unfactiously; nor had he heard anything since to make him regret the course he had taken.
§ SIR GEORGE GOODMAN
wished to make one remark in reply to an observation of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin (Mr. Vance). That hon. Member was one of his (Sir G. Goodman's) constituents at Leeds, and had also extensive property in the town; but, in reply to his remark that the manufacturers of Yorkshire would be very loth to have the income tax extended to Ireland, he begged to say, that neither from the borough of Leeds, nor of the county of York, generally, had he heard a single objection to it. He believed the inhabitants of Yorkshire considered it a step in the right direction. Speaking of the Budget generally, he believed it would prove very beneficial both to this country and to Ireland.
§ MR. MAURICE O'CONNELL
said, the hon. Member for Cashel (Sir T. O'Brien) had spoken of a certain deputation as a clique; he begged to say that it represented as much landed property and as large a proportion of the Irish constituency as could be made the subject of boast by some hon. Gentlemen who were often very loud in that House. As chairman of the deputation he performed only a ministerial duty, and he begged to say that the hon. Member for Cashel might have been present. To impugn the proceedings of that deputation, would be to impugn his private character and honour.
§ MR. R. M. FOX
hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn. He hoped, also, that along with that there would be a withdrawal for ever from that House of all acerbity of feeling of one class of Irishmen against another. He thought that, having never himself been guilty since he entered 1279 that House of using a single expression calculated to offend any other Irish Member, he stood in a position to entitle him to ask of the good feeling of his fellow representatives that such scenes as had been witnessed in that House yesterday and today would not again be repeated. He thought that the only consideration which should influence them in judging of the Budget was the consideration of how they could make the best bargain for their common country. That was the way in which he had considered the matter, and he believed he might say the same of most of his friends near him.
§ MR. MAGAN
believed the hon. Gentleman's Motion was a perfectly sincere Motion. The hon. Gentleman was engaged in the same task as he was—namely, to avoid the imposition of the income tax on Ireland. There was one mistake made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, which mischievous minds like his own (Mr. Magan's) would be ready to suspect—he had too long delayed making an apology for the observations he had made. He would say no more, as he wished to leave the hon. and learned Gentleman "all alone in his glory."
§ MR. J. BALL
rose to address the House amidst cries of "Divide!" He said he entirely sympathised with the feelings of many English Members, who naturally shrunk from the infliction of another night's debate on this question, and he should endeavour not to prolong their sufferings. But he wished to recall to their minds the position in which the question then stood. It could not be doubted that the question was one which was calculated to excite the deepest interest in Ireland, and one upon which no great difference of opinion existed. [Mr. M'CANN: No, no!] The hon. Member for Drogheda would have an opportunity of replying on that point, if he wished. It was very important that erroneous statements made in that House should not go forth to Ireland, and that the question should be put before the people on its merits as clearly and distinctly as possible. [Interruption.] If hon. Members from Ireland thought it expedient that the discussion should be cut short, he, for one, had no objection; but he did not think it fair that he should be interrupted in the way hon. Members were doing. He had been under the impression, indeed, that hon. Members opposite relied more on arguments than on interruptions for the strength of their case, 1280 and he challenged them to discuss the matter with him.
§ MR. M'CANN
said, it had been stated by several Members on the opposite side that Irish Members who opposed the imposition of the income tax on Ireland wished to flinch from the payment of taxes which they ought to pay. He begged to say that he was not one of those. He believed that Ireland was already taxed beyond what she ought to bear; and he was willing to lay that point before a fairly selected Committee of English Gentlemen, and to abide by their verdict.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ MR. MICHELL
did not bring this Amendment forward to damage the Ministry, but because he thought justice required the alteration should be made. He was not opposed to the Budget; he thought it was a fair Budget, and that it would be impossible to get a Budget to please every one. His constituents rather liked the Budget than otherwise. Government proposed to remit taxation on the industrious classes. The right hon. Gentleman had taken off the taxes on knowledge, and had placed them on the compositors and reporters. By this arrangement the man who earned only 1l. 18s. a week, perhaps because he was idle, was to be exempted, while the industrious, the more honest, and more sober man, who earned 2l. 2s. per week, was to be brought within the operation of the tax. Was this just? The same principle of injustice pervaded the tax as applied to other industrious classes. He thought it would be advisable to make the tax operate on the working classes this way—to take no notice of the 100l., and to commence levying the tax on' all the amount beyond the 100l. By this means they would not only afford a well-merited relief to the smaller classes of industrial incomes, but take away a fertile source of evasion; for when the tax rose up at once from nothing to 2l. 1s. 8d., people naturally thought it very hard, and set about trying how to evade it; but when it began at 6d. or 7d. they thought nothing about it, but paid it quietly. What he desired to effect by his Amendment was, to protect the working classes, and, at the same time, to do away with the temptation of endeavouring to find out ingenious ways to evade the impost. He was convinced that if they did not make the tax discriminating, it would never work well.
To leave out the words 'or from any profession, trade, or vocation,' in order to insert the words,' and for and in respect of any profession, trade, or vocation, whether the same shall be respectively exercised in the United Kingdom or elsewhere; and for and in respect of the annual profits or gains arising or accruing to any person or persons not resident within the United Kingdom, from any trade, profession, or vocation exercised in the United Kingdom, on the first hundred pounds of Income no Duty shall be charged or chargeable thereon:
'For every twenty shillings of annual value or amount thereof above the yearly profits of one hundred pounds, and below five hundred pounds,
|For two years from April 5, 1853.||5d.|
|For two years from April 5, 1855.||4d.|
|For the three years from April 5,1857.||3d.|
§ "'And for every twenty shillings above the annual profits of five hundred pounds, the sums of 7d., 6d., and 5d., for the above-mentioned times respectively,' instead thereof."
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said the Amendment as it at present stood would go to exempt all the different descriptions of rating in the previous part of the Resolutions. The correction which had been made in it confined it to trades, professions, or vocations. It was not necessary for him to state at any length his reasons for not acceding to the Motion. They rested on two grounds. In the first place, the Motion, although intended by the hon. Gentleman in all sincerity to facilitate and improve the working of the tax, involved principles most inconvenient and even dangerous. It involved all the difficulties that arose at a former period, of different rates on different classes; and another set of difficulties—namely, those which related to a graduated income tax. It was quite true that Mr. Pitt proposed what in some sense might be called a graduated income tax. He proposed a tax graduated below 200l., and no doubt on abstract grounds that involved the principle of a graduation applicable to all incomes. But they stood in this matter not so much on abstract grounds as on prescription and custom. Ever since they had had the income tax they had had exemptions of some sort; but they never exceeded the amount of 200l. Mr. Pitt graduated the tax below that sum in order to obviate the anomaly that existed. It was always graduated on a certain principle, and with reference to classes of limited incomes. In fixing 150l. as the amount 1282 under which there should be exemptions, Parliament had adopted a very liberal rule. But whatever the amount was below which the exemption was fixed, above it there had always been a uniform rate. The hon. Gentleman proposed to graduate up to 500l; but if they adopted that principle, there was no reason why they should not extend it to 5,000l. The adoption of such a principle would give rise to a controversy, which it was easy to open, but which it would be impossible to close, as to the rate at which they should tax the rich as compared with the poor, through all the gradations between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. It was his belief that Parliament would never thus sanction the introduction of a principle so dangerous. Though it would give him great pleasure to meet the wishes of the hon. Gentleman in any way, he could not consent to his proposal. It was a great deal too expensive, and, if adopted, would cost little less than 700,000l. a year. He need not point out that if they gave up that amount they must readjust the remissions of taxation which had been proposed in connexion with the tax. Under the circumstances he must oppose the Motion.
§ LORD A. VANE
hoped the hon. Gentleman would carry his Amendment to a division. He had heard hon. Gentlemen opposite give-up principles to which they pledged themselves. The basis of the income tax was an extension for seven years; and as it was a broad principle that the man who earned his bread by hard labour should not be compelled to pay in the same proportion as the man who sat in his easy chair and did nothing, he (Lord A. Vane) should not recede from it on this occasion. As long, therefore, as he had a vote in that House, he would record it in favour of that principle. He had heard every point of the financial scheme objected to, and yet hon. Members professed to vote for the whole Budget. The whole was composed of all its parts; and as he objected to the chief part, he should vote against the continuance of the income tax as it stood. Without pledging himself to the terms of the Amendment, he would vote for the principle to which he had given his assent, in case of a division. He would not accept the whole when he objected to the chief part.
§ MR. SPOONER
suggested that the hon. Member for Bodmin should modify his Amendment. To impose a tax upon 100l. a year was to tax labour. He admitted the difficulty of graduating the tax; but he thought there could be no difficulty in fixing a minimum sum. A hundred a year was too low. The lowest should be 150l. The principle of the proposition of the hon. Member—namely, a graduation of the tax, he was prepared to support at the fitting opportunity; and its adoption would have the effect of getting rid of all the expense of the staff of clerks now employed at Somerset House to regulate the exemptions. He therefore advised the hon. Member not to press his Amendment on that occasion, but to avail himself of another opportunity.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. ROBERT PALMER
, who had given notice of an Amendment, providing that the income tax should be levied on the net annual value of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, after due allowance made for repairs, insurance, and management, said, that as it was now so late, he would not proceed to move his Amendment, but would move that the Chairman report progress.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
hoped that if the hon. Member would not consent to postpone his Amendment until the Income Tax Bill, founded upon these Resolutions, was before the House, he would now proceed with the Amendment.
§ MR. DISRAELI
observed, that, as there had been considerable discussion upon the Resolutions to-night, and as it was now nearly twelve o'clock, he thought it too late to commence a debate upon the question raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
hoped the hon. Member for Berkshire would consent to state his views, because it was a matter of great importance that they should proceed as rapidly as possible with the Income Tax Resolutions. He must remind the Committee that the proposed remissions of the Customs duties could not be effected until they got through the Committee on the income tax.
hoped the Committee would not attempt to proceed to a discussion on the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Palmer) to night. It was a proposal which required full consideration, and it was impossible that a discussion on 1284 such a subject, commenced at midnight could be satisfactory.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
admitted the importance of the proposition, which was, he believed, exactly the reverse of that made by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire; but he regretted that they would not be able to make further progress in the discussion of the Resolutions to-night. He would propose, however, that they should proceed with the consideration of the Resolutions in Committee on Monday.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, the noble Lord might find that the discussion on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire would be longer than he anticipated, because the noble Lord was mistaken in supposing that the Amendment of that hon. Gentleman was a counter-proposition to that which he (Mr. Disraeli) had made, and therefore some discussion might be necessary to show the noble Lord that he was in error.
§ The House resumed; Committee reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.