§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice. Before the House went into Committee, he felt it his duty to call the attention of the House to the necessity of instituting a preliminary inquiry as to the fiscal and political relations of Great Britain and Ireland, with the view of ascertaining whether Ireland did not at the present moment bear her fair share of the Imperial taxation. There were various reasons why the House should grant this inquiry, which he would lay before it, and which appeared to him conclusive. The first reason was, that there was very little knowledge among the English Members of the House, or, indeed, this country generally, of the actual condition of Ireland. They boasted that great prosperity now prevailed in Eng- 505 land, and it was sometimes said, or implied, that Ireland shared in this prosperity. He regretted, however, to say that it would be found that she had not prospered to the same extent as England since the Union; and it was remarkable that, during that period, while Great Britain was raised to her present pitch of wealth and glory, Ireland had little share in the former, however much she had contributed to both. Again, another reason why be proposed this Resolution was, because at no former time, or even when Ireland was more prosperous than she was at present, had any previous Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that such vast additional burdens should be placed upon that country: in fact, her inability to bear further taxation was even given by them as a reason for not imposing them; and no good ground had been alleged why the income tax should be imposed upon Ireland now, when she had but just been visited by an infliction unparalleled in modern history, and she was far less able to bear it than at the period when these statements were made. A third reason was, that this Budget would inflict greater injury upon Ireland than any former Budget that he remembered. He did not now stand there to deny that Ireland ought to bear her fair share of taxation—he did not even at the moment say that the income tax ought not to be extended to that country; but what he contended was, that before Ireland was to be saddled with a heavier load of taxation than she had hitherto borne, a preliminary inquiry should take place into the resources of that country. And he further maintained that if they extended this tax to Ireland without first instituting such an inquiry, they would be guilty of a direct breach of the articles of the Union between the two countries, because those articles required that the assent of both the contracting parties must be given before Ireland could be subjected to such a new impost; and likewise provided that periodical comparisons should be instituted into the resources of England and Ireland, and into the relative taxation of the two countries. The treaty of Union did more: it laid down the principles on which their relative taxation should be fixed, and pointed out three modes in which the calculations should be made: first, upon the relative value of the imports and exports; secondly, upon the consumption of spirits, beer, malt, sugar, tobacco, and other exciseable articles in each country respec- 506 tively; and, thirdly, on a result drawn from both these considerations. He did not, therefore, ask them not to extend a fair share of taxation to Ireland, but to extend it only in the legal and proper manner, and not to proceed in a manner quite contrary to the Act of Union—or as it was termed by the Statute itself, "the Treaty of Union"—merely because they had a majority of the English Members of the House with them. By that Act it was declared that its provisions should be perpetual, and therefore bound the House now as much as when the Act was passed. Nor could he admit that any subsequent neglect or even breach of this treaty could be said to abrogate it, or weaken the obligation which bound that House to fulfil its provisions. The first article, relating to the fiscal arrangements of the two countries, declared that the proportion of taxation to be borne by Ireland should be 1–17th of that of England; and a subsequent clause pointed out how the revenue should be assessed. It was well known the terms of this treaty were extremely injurious to Ireland, and to the advantage of England; and the burdens since laid on Ireland were much heavier than she could or ought to bear. The requirements of England, and the wars in which she engaged shortly after the Union-between the two countries, instead of reducing it, as was then held out, in fact raised the taxation of Ireland, year after year, to an enormous amount. Nor had the expectations been realised of an increased colonial trade for the latter country, which many had indulged in at the time of the Union. At the time of the passing of the Act of Union the value of Irish exports to foreign countries was about 176,419l., in 1846 it was but 273,400l.; the imports were 286,117l., they were now but 705,677l.; while in the same period English foreign exports had increased to 76,000,000l., and her imports to 105,000,000l. At that time the debt of Ireland was little more than 25,000,000,l., but in 1815 it had been increased to 105,000,000l.; and in the year 1815, the Exchequers of the two countries were consolidated, and when the late Lord Fitzgerald moved the Resolution for that consolidation, he stated that Ireland ought not to be accused of adding to the burdens of the other parts of the kingdom, but that she was loaded with more than she could bear. The consolidation of the two Exchequers did not affect the conditions of the Act of Union; and Lord Fitzgerald 507 stated—and the assertion was afterwards proved before a Committee of that House— that while in the fifteen years preceding the Union, Ireland raised a revenue for her own expenditure amounting to 41,000,000l. she was subjected in the fifteen years after to a taxation which obliged her to raise an amount of 148,000,000l., of which 78,000,000l. was paid in taxes; and it was needless to say this expenditure far exceeded her own requirements; and the debt now set down against her was for the expenses of a war by which England reaped all the advantages. Now Ireland had of late years suffered fearfully from famine, which had entailed a total loss of produce upon her, which had been estimated by Lord Fitzwilliam and others at 25,000,000l., 33,000,000l., or even more. By the repeal of the corn laws— whatever might have been the effect of that measure in cheapening food—she had lost more in the difference of the price of corn. Whatever advantage might have accrued to those who paid the poor-rate from that assumed cheapness, he maintained that the loss was still to that extent so far as Ireland was concerned. So that in many respects Ireland was infinitely worse off than she was before the Union: her debt had been increased, her commerce and manufactures crippled, her metropolis had been stripped of her nobility, and the non-residence of her proprietary caused another heavy drain of her resources. From an early period the drain of capital from the country had been reckoned a principal cause of the poverty of the country. Laws had been enacted against it; Swift had denounced it. It had been estimated that within a period of thirty-five years no less a sum than 282,000,000l. had been transmitted to this country from Ireland for the benefit of an absentee proprietary. Her revenue was not spent on her own shores, but on the contrary it had been shown that a surplus of 2,000,000l. was sent to the Exchequer of this country. Again, the Woods and Forests in Ireland realised a yearly sum of about 61,000l., of which only scarcely 11,000l. were spent in that country. Under these circumstances it was now proposed to impose a burden of an additional half million and upwards of taxation upon Ireland by the introduction of the income tax into that country, and Ireland would not receive any benefit of any sort or kind from that extra charge upon her. He said that it would be most unjust to call upon 508 Ireland to submit to this additional contribution, without first instituting the preliminary inquiry, which they were bound to institute, into her resources, relatively to those of this country under the terms of the Act of Union? The agitation for the repeal of the Act of Union had been opposed and condemned by Governments. That agitation had lately ceased: did Her present Majesty's Government desire to raise an agitation in that country for the enforcement of the Act of Union?—for he maintained that if they refused the Committee for which he now asked, they would excite a well-founded discontent in the minds of the Irish people. He warned the House against the danger of violating the articles of a solemn treaty, and giving as the only answer to those who remonstrated against such a flagrant injustice, that such was the will of a majority of that House. England had entered into a compact with Ireland, of which she had appropriated all the benefit; and all that Ireland asked was, that she should be allowed to enjoy her share of its advantages. He had shown that Ireland was in a condition ill able to bear any additional taxation, and that the present proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer inflicted greater injury on Ireland than any which had been made for a long time past. It was most absurd to suppose that the imposition of the income tax would be compensated by the remission of consolidated annuities. This seemed to him an absurd argument; for what did these annuities consist of? They consisted of certain advances made to Ireland, administered by the Imperial Government, and so ill-administered that Ireland had received no benefit from them. The advocates of Irish interests had applied to the highest tribunal in the country, the House of Lords, which had condemned these annuities, and declared that the demand for payment of them was unjust, and ought no longer to be required. It was absurd, therefore, to say that the remission of this burden was an equivalent for the income tax. But he (Colonel Dunne) objected to the remission of the annuities in all cases; he went so far as to say that in many instances there was no ground for it. Why should the purchasers of estates, confiscated under the Encumbered Estates Court, receive this remission? They had received more than the rent in the depreciated value of the estates they had bought. If a remission were made, the amount should be paid to the credi- 509 tors of such estates, who were yet unpaid, or the late possessors, who were robbed by their estates having been sold for far less than they were worth. In the extensive transfer of property which had taken place in Ireland since these annuities were imposed, there were many persons who had purchased land at a low price, the remission of the annuities having been allowed for in the purchase money, so that if the annuities were remitted in such cases, the parties who ought to benefit by it were clearly the creditors or possessors of these estates. Any one who inquired into the recent history of the two countries would be surprised to find how little the trade of Ireland had advanced since the Union. Even the Channel Islands had a larger trade with America than that country; and with almost all the colonial possessions it carried on hardly any trade at all. The only advantage in fact obtained by Ireland, was that of the direct trade with England; but that had now ceased to be profitable, for Parliament had opened the ports of the kingdom to the trade of the whole world. Meantime the circulation of money in Ireland had diminished; yet this was the time chosen for imposing on her people a new tax never hitherto contemplated. But, setting aside for a moment the declared injustice of enforcing the payment of these annuities, and allowing that to certain districts where the annuities were high, the income tax would for the time be a lighter burden, how could it be said that it was a relief to those districts in which there was no annuity, or one to an amount less than 11d. in the pound; and they were by far the greater part of Ireland. In fact, this tax was a large rate in aid, by which the wealthier parts of Ireland were made to pay these debts, which were charged, but which never would have been paid by the poorest and most depopulated districts. A deputation of Irish proprietors had waited on the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of these annuities, and deprecated the idea that the consideration of their remission or enforcement should have any reference to the forthcoming Budget, and they had left him impressed that he had recognised the justice of that application; but now they found it, notwithstanding the promise they one and all imagined they had received, made a part and one of the principal considerations of the Budget. The House was aware that the right hon. 510 Gentleman was a great master of language; but he seemed in this instance to have attained what the French diplomatist conceived to be its true employment—a means of concealing his thoughts and intentions. At all events, the deputation and the right hon. Gentleman were under totally different impressions as to what he said. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, who had been himself a Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir P. Baring), had proved the other night that while this Budget remitted to England a sum of 1,049,000l., it placed additional taxation on Ireland to the amount of 413,000l.; and this statement could not be impeached. But the object of the Motion was not so much to deprecate taxation as to call on the Government previously to ascertain what was the fair amount Ireland should pay by the means pointed out in the treaty of Union, and to which that treaty gave them a right at periods of not more than twenty nor less than seven years. This revision of taxation had never taken place, and at the end of upwards of fifty years since that treaty was made, he now demanded it, and begged to move the Amendment of which he had given notice.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'it is expedient, before additional Taxation be extended to Ireland, that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and consider the fiscal and political relations and relative taxation of Great Britin and Ireland, and to report whether the latter Kingdom does not bear her fair share of Imperial Taxation,' instead thereof.
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
complained of the little attention which had been paid to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington by the occupants of the Ministerial bench, who had not had the grace to remain quiet, even in appearance, during its delivery. He (Mr. French), following precisely in the course of his hon. and gallant Friend, had to state on the part of his constituents and himself that they did not shrink from their fair, just, and equitable share of taxation; but they thought they had a right to ask that that fair, just, and equitable taxation should first be decided by a competent tribunal. He defied any man to adduce a single rational argument why this Committee should be refused: there was no reason, beyond the fact that the Irish Members were only one-sixth of that House. This was not the first time they had asked for an inquiry as to how the 511 accounts between the two countries really stood. When a Motion of this kind was brought forward some years ago by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Sheil), the Government of that day did not condescend to answer him, and the hon. Member observed that the Irish Members had been "strangled by mutes;" and, probably, the present Government intended to follow a similar course on the present occasion, and to content themselves with strangling the question by mutes. He did not think it necessary to enter into the merits of the question further than by saying, that the English Government having entered into certain engagements with Ireland at the time of the Union, the Irish representatives only asked that those engagements should be fairly carried out. They only asked that a competent tribunal should be appointed to decide on the mode by which Ireland, considering her relative capability, should be called upon to contribute to the support of the State; and, if that tribunal should decide that increased taxation should be laid upon Ireland, they would willingly and cheerfully submit to it. But if, on the other hand, it should decide that no additional taxation should be levied upon that country, they hoped the Government should also be ready to abide by that decision.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
thought it the height of injustice in any Government to come forward with such a proposition as this, which must be regarded as an aggravation of the financial oppressions under which Ireland had suffered. One of the worst evils inflicted on Ireland for years past had been the poor-law, which was inefficient as a measure of relief for the deserving and helpless poor, whilst its administration was so enormously expensive that more than one-third of the proceeds was swallowed up in establishments. The united burden of poor-rates and county cess for the year 1851 amounted in England to 9 2–10 per cent on the rental, whilst in Ireland it was not less than 15 per cent. On this he rested the case for an inquiry into the circumstances of Irish taxation, and he was content to leave the question to the judgment of Englishmen and Scotchmen. Let them give a fair verdict, and they would get rid of one-third of the entire present taxation of Ireland.
§ MR. CONOLLY
conceived it to be his duty to insist on the absolute necessity of granting an inquiry of the kind now asked 512 for before the House put on Ireland a tax which went in the teeth of one of the leading articles of the Union, and which the people of that country considered eminently unjust. He claimed it as a right to have the grounds on which this proposition to extend the income tax to Ireland was made distinctly placed before them. On the principle of self-interest alone, if there were no higher grounds, Her Majesty's Government ought to grant this inquiry. It was his opinion, from his intimate knowledge of the circumstances of landed estates in that country, that the income tax would be very far indeed from being a source of profit, and he much doubted if the proceeds would pay the expense of collecting it. He was not alone in that opinion, for it had been held by that eminent statesman, the late Sir Robert Peel. In Ireland there was no machinery adapted for the collection of the tax, and they would have to construct a new machinery for the purpose. If the statistics had altered since that time, or if that great statesman was mistaken, it ought to be shown yet, for this chimerical object, Ministers were flying in the face of a whole nation, which they treated with a contempt that must be felt in its inmost heart. The present moment was one of peculiar weakness for Ireland; and therefore the proposal aroused a keener sentiment of irritation. It was felt, first, that this was not a just tax; and, next, that it was a most inopportune time to choose for imposing it. Sir Robert Peel refused, in 1845, to extend this tax to Ireland, and no man would tell him that its state at the present day was nearly as prosperous as it was at that time. He challenged hon. Gentlemen opposite to give them what Committee they liked, and to place on it if they chose Gentlemen of avowed hostility to the interests of Ireland. Let them have the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and the cynical Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), his ardent admirer and intimate friend, still he would have no fear for the result. There was not a peasant in Ireland who did not feel the burden of taxation weighing on his shoulders, and any additional pressure would be felt with that poignancy which must be expected in heavily burdened men. He would not submit to be told that the representatives of Ireland were trying to evade their fair share of the public burdens. If the result of the inquiry they demanded should be what he anticipated, 513 it would prove that Government were trying to add to the burdens of Ireland, not merely a legacy, or a spirit duty, but the most intolerable of all imposts, a sense of injustice and wrong.
§ MR. WILKINSON
thought that whatever were the other wrongs of Ireland, she could not complain of not having her full share of the attention of that House. He had been a Member only during the present Parliament, but he was quite sure that during that period Irish Members had occupied at least one-half the entire time taken up by the proceedings of the House. They were fond indeed of saying that their observations were treated with silent contempt but if they were not answered, it was because three or four Gentlemen got up to speak on the same side one after another. Whether the object they sought was right or wrong, he was sure they went about the business in a very bad way. He admitted that Ireland had great grievances to complain of—the Established Church, for instance; but Ireland, he thought, would never get equal rights until she made up her mind to submit uncomplainingly to equal taxation. In that sense he considered that the Irish Members were very ill-advised to come down to that House so often with their appeals in forma pauperis for fiscal exemptions. With regard to the Budget, generally, he thought that, with some defects and exceptions, it was entitled to the approval of the House. He thought the Budget of the right hon. Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli) was a good Budget; but it unfortunately contained a very bad feature—the doubling of the house tax, which prevented him voting for it. The Budget before them had not that fault, and therefore he wished to add his meed of praise to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for it.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, that the main ground which rendered it necessary for so many Irish Members to address the House on this occasion was the same which caused their attendance there—the Act of Union. Had it not been for that Act, the Irish Members would not have troubled the English representatives with their presence. He disclaimed any idea of suing for any remissions of taxation in forma pauperis; but if the Irish Members thought they could establish that the bargain made at the Act of Union had not been carried out, what was more consistent with the practice of Parliament than 514 that they should ask for a Committee to inquire into the question? The terms by which Lord Castlereagh induced the Irish representatives to surrender their rights as a separate Legislature were, that Ireland was not to bear any share of liabilities contracted before that time, but that future liabilities were to be borne by both countries in proportion to their relative abilities. The Irish representatives had therefore a right to endeavour to secure the fulfilment, not only of the letter but of the spirit of the conditions of the Act of Union; and to insist, as one element in the question, upon the ability of Ireland to bear any new burden being ascertained previous to its imposition. He had a right to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he deemed himself at liberty to depart from the principles that had hitherto been followed in the imposition of taxes upon Great Britain and upon Ireland; and on what grounds he considered Ireland now in a position to bear those burdens from which Sir Robert Peel considered her entitled to be exempted in 1845. At that time Sir Robert Peel distinctly justified the exemption of Ireland from the tax by the authorities of Pitt, Fox, Sidmouth, and Grenville. Now, as then, the condition of Ireland was not such as to render her fit to bear this additional taxation. He (Lord C. Hamilton) had indeed long thought that Ireland ought to pay the income tax if it was rendered permanent in England, and in that case he did not, he confessed, see on what ground Ireland could resist the imposition of such a tax. But he thought that the House should come to a decision in favour of the finality of the income tax before it was extended to Ireland. It had been said that this tax, the produce of which was estimated at 460,000l., would not be oppressive to Ireland, because 100l. there was the same as 100l. in England. But he took a wider view of the question, and would ask whether, when Ireland was just emerging from a very remarkable crisis, it was wise to seize for the imperial treasury the first fruits of her returning prosperity, and thus to prevent its further development? Even if it were thought that Ireland should be saddled with this tax on the ground that both countries should bear the same burdens, it would be impolitic to impose this tax upon her at the present moment. The present step had a far more serious aspect than the mere amount of the tax imposed, for behind the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer loomed the prin- 515 ciple of an equalisation of taxation between the two countries. Such a course could not, he thought, tend to encourage that introduction of capital from England and Scotland which was so much to be desired. By the Budget now before the House it was proposed to remit taxes exclusively applying to Great Britain, to the amount of 1,470,000l.; while the only remission exclusively applying to Ireland was that of the consolidated annuities, which he thought he could show should not enter into the balance at all. But even allowing 250,000l. for this, it left a surplus of remissions exclusively applying to Great Britain, amounting to 1,220,000l. On the other hand, the only additional burden imposed exclusively on Great Britain consisted in the extension of the income tax to incomes between 100l. and 150l. a year, the total amount of the tax derived from which would not exceed 250,000l. On the other hand, the new impositions of taxation upon Ireland exclusively consisted of the income tax, 460,000l., and the spirit duties,] 98,000l., or 658,000l. of new taxes imposed on Ireland. He could not think that this was legislating in the spirit of that provision of the Act of Union to which he had called attention, and by which English statesmen had induced the Irish representatives to agree to that measure.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that he could not commence the remarks which he had to make upon the present occasion, without adverting to the remarks of the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. French) as to what he had been pleased to term the inattention of the Government during the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had brought this Motion before the House. For his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) own part, he entirely denied that charge. He was in the House, and was attending to the speech of the hon. and gallant Colonel who introduced this Motion, when some of the Gentlemen who were now sarcastically cheering were not in the House at all. He was making the best endeavour in his power to hear the gallant Colonel, who was so attentive to his own Motion that he had left the House after making his speech, though he certainly succeeded most imperfectly, in consequence of the noise which prevailed in the House at the time, a large shave of which—he would not call it disturbance, but it was something like it— appeared to come from the neighbourhood of the hon. Member himself. The hon. 516 Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) had assured the House that this Motion was made in no spirit of evasion, and had indeed said that the fact of making the Motion showed that its supporters had no wish to raise such a question. Now, when the hon. Member said that he had no intention to evade the discussion, or to prevent the imposition of a fair share of taxation upon Ireland, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) accepted his assertion implicitly, without looking at the proof by which it was sustained, because an assertion from him was entitled to implicit credit; but he thought the assertion would have stood better without the proofs than with them —because, irrespective of the hon. Member's assent, it certainly did not seem to him that the Motion was of such a character as to demonstrate to the minds of the Committee that there was no disposition to evade the question. He was, at any rate, sure that this Motion had not the concurrence of a noble Earl in another place; for he remembered that in 1833, when, after prolonged Parliamentary discussion upon the great question of negro emancipation, and the discussion was ended, an arrangement was made, and a Bill brought in and read a second time, when the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) made a Motion very similar to this, namely, that in lieu of going into Committee on the Bill, a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire how far it was practicable to cultivate the West Indies by free labour. The hon. Member for Montrose was followed on that occasion by the Earl of Derby (then Lord Stanley), who administered to him such a reply as it was not in his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) power to give to the hon. and gallant Colonel; but which if it were in his power to administer, he was sure it would prove a great discouragement to the hon. and gallant Member. He certainly thought that this Motion was an extremely unfortunate one, both in respect to its form, and to the time at which it was made. In the first place, it was interposed as an absolute bar to any further progress with this Bill, by an Amendment to the Motion that the Speaker should leave the Chair. Now, what was this Bill? It was something more than a Bill to impose an income tax upon Ireland. It was a Bill for repairing an existing deficiency of 5,000,000l. in the finances of the country, and to provide for the service of the country, being so far quite irrespective of Ireland. The way to place the question of 517 Ireland on a fair Parliamentary basis would have been either to make a separate Motion on the subject, or to have moved to exempt Ireland in Committee—instead of making a proposition, which, if carried, would suspend the whole financial arrangements of the empire until the Select Committee had reported upon the financial balance between England and Ireland. There would have been far more propriety in such a Motion if it had been the first step taken in this matter; but certainly if such a Motion had been made, it should have been done at a far earlier period. Why was the question of equal taxation between the two countries revived now, after the question had been debated for nights together, and after divisions had been taken upon it, in which the sense of the House had been unequivocally expressed? ["No, no!"] No! Why, on the main Motion the debates had chiefly turned upon the case of Ireland; the question of applying the tax to Ireland was separately discussed and decided; and, having been separately decided, and the competency of the House to decide upon it having been thus admitted, the hon. and gallant Gentleman now came down, at a very much later stage, and asked the House for a Select Committee of inquiry to inquire into its merits. That appeared to him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) a bad Parliamentary ground upon which to stand, and one of a very inconvenient character as respected the order and consistency of their proceedings in that House. With regard to this Committee, he had not, in taking these objections, the slightest disposition to avoid or escape from the merits of the question itself. He admired the judgment of his noble Friend (Lord C. Hamilton), who had said he would not go fully into the figures; he admired the judgment of the hon. and gallant Colonel—the judgment and skill of men who gave an historical character to their speeches, and who having gone back to the particular epoch of the Union, leaped over everything which had occurred between that period and the present time. They had spoken as if the 7th article of the Act of Union were a new discovery, but he did not hear one syllable of reference to the proceedings which had taken place since the Union upon the 7th article. It was a very inconvenient topic. It was rather remarkable that the proceedings relating to this Act of Union, which had occurred in the interval, should have been allowed to drop entirely out of sight. They had been told it was a very hard case that Ireland 518 should pay 4,000,000l., or, as one hon. Gentleman said, 5,000,000l. towards the general revenue of the empire. That was said to be a very hard case, and Ireland, it was added, would have been much better off if her financial concerns had been kept entirely separate from those of the United Kingdom. ["Hear, hear!"from the Opposition benches.] She would? Well, he was glad now to have got a perfectly distinct statement. There was a fair challenge to him, and he accepted it. Hon. Gentlemen said, then, that it would have been better for Ireland—that she would have been at far less cost than she was at present—if, instead of having her finances consolidated with those of England, she had been allowed to continue upon her own ground. [An Hon. MEMBER: If the debts had not been consolidated.] Well, the House should see how that stood. A Committee had sat upon this subject at an early date, and when they reported that the debts and the finances of the two countries should be consolidated, with what view did they make that report? Did they make that report in the sense of imposing a burden upon Ireland for the relief of England, or of imposing a burden upon England for the relief of Ireland? They imposed a heavy burden upon England for the relief of Ireland; and that statement rested upon figures which were upon the table of that House. They had been told it was a great hardship that Ireland, paying 4,000,000l. or 5,000,000l. a year, should pay anything more into the national Exchequer. Why, in 1815, just before this subject was examined, and before the debt of Ireland was consolidated with the debt of this country, the annual charge of debt upon Ireland, irrespective of one farthing of charges for military or civil government —the more charge of the Irish debt was 5,900,000l. This, he repeated, was the simple charge of her debt; and, having paid this sum of 5,900,000l., expenses of a civil and military character had still to be met. Such was the state of things which was put an end to by the Act of Union; and yet after that it was that the hon. and gallant Colonel moved for a Committee to inquire whether Ireland was not taxed unjustly for the sake of England. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen did not seem to think this demonstrative enough. They appeared to believe that the payment by the Irish nation of nearly 6,000,000l. besides all charges of government, before the Act of Union, was an ample proof 519 that to expect them to pay more than 4,000,000l or 5,000,000l. now was a gross injustice; that was to say, Ireland should be called upon now to contribute to the annual payment upon her debt, and to the expenses of her government together—a great deal less than she had been before paying, or rather than she had been bound to pay, for debt alone; and that, they thought, was no demonstration at all that there was no hardship in their case. Well, then, there was another return upon the table of this House. It was moved for by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Macgregor) in 1849, and in this return they would see the revenue and the expenditure of Ireland in every year from 1817 to 1848. Now let the House observe that the charge was that Ireland was burdened with taxation to a greater extent than would have been the case had she borne her own expenditure by the oppressive majority of English and Scotch voices—by something even approaching to physical force on then part, according to the hon. Member for Donegal. The expenditure on account of Ireland in 1817, including civil and military charges, was 10,241,000l. while the total payments into the Irish Exchequer, as against that expenditure, was 4,384,000l. so that the amount provided from the British Exchequer to make good the deficiency was 5,856,000l. in that single year. This was one of the proofs which the hon. and gallant Colonel wanted a Committee to show whether Ireland was now going to be unjustly burdened. He would not weary the House by giving all the figures of this return; but there was a column showing the payments made by the Exchequer from 1817 to 1848; and the very lowest payment made in any one year for Irish expenditure and Irish debt out of the British Exchequer—that was to say, to make up the deficiency of Irish revenue and Irish debt and expenditure, was 1,977,000l.; but, generally speaking, it was from 5,000,000l. to 6,000,000l. during the early part of the period, and from 2,000,000l. to 3,000,000l. during the latter part. If this was the case, no Committee was wanted to inquire whether Ireland was paying more than her fair proportion of taxation. The figures he had quoted showed that Ireland did not at any period pay the charges inherited by her from the separate arrangement with respect to her debt, together with the charges for civil government which were applicable to her; and that, he believed moreover, was without charging Ireland 520 with any portion of the large branch of colonial expenditure, which was supposed to be entirely borne by the British Exchequer. As far as he could hear, the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne) had not adverted to the terms of the Act of Union, nor to the fact that it contemplated or provided for the principle of consolidated finances and equal taxation; and that that principle was to become applicable when the debt of Ireland had reached a certain proportion—that of two to five—to the debt of England. The debt of Ireland did reach that proportion of the debt of England; it reached a much higher proportion than the debt of England at the end of the war, and that was precisely the case which was provided for by the 7th Article of the Act of Union. The debt of Ireland reached an annual charge of nearly 6,000,000l. a year, when the annual charge of the English debt was by no means in that proportion; and then Committees of this House sat, and recommended the abolition of the separate systems of each country and the consolidation of both into one establishment. On the 19th of June, 1815, a Committee of this House reported that, on the whole, with a view to the equal advantage of all parts of the empire, and of relieving Ireland from a burden which experience had proved to be too great, and at the same time with the hope of rendering her resources more productive—always, however, with reference to particular exemptions—it was expedient to consider the propriety of declaring that all future national expenditure should be defrayed indiscriminately by taxes raised from the same articles in each country; and so on. Whether these facts appeared material to the hon. and gallant Colonel, he did not know; but he thought his noble Friend (Lord C. Hamilton) must be convinced that the Act of Union had been strictly and punctually carried into execution, and not for the oppression but for the relief of Ireland from burdens too great for her to bear, and to make the comparative power and resources of England available in order to meet those burdens; and that in this way large sums of money, in no year less than 2,000,000l., and varying from that to 6,000,000l., had been annually paid out of the British Exchequer for the purpose of meeting charges created by expenditure on account of Ireland, which would have continued due, and which would have had to be borne by Ireland if she had continued separate from England. 521 He ventured to hope after this that the House would consider there was no occasion for a Committee of Inquiry into a matter which was as clear as daylight at this moment. But then, forsooth, free trade had made a great part in this discussion, as if it had been a great sacrifice made by Ireland for the benefit of England; as if nobody in Ireland had gained by free trade, and as if nobody in England had lost by it. From some of the arguments employed, the fall of prices might have been supposed to be confined to Ireland; but was it the fact that there had been no fall in the price of agricultural produce in England? Why, speaking generally, considering that Ireland was a country in which oats were the principal cereal produce, while in England wheat was the principal crop, he might ask with confidence in which country would the permanent effect on prices of free trade and foreign competition be most serious? Certainly on the country which produced the wheat crops. Then the House was told of the destruction of Irish manufactures. Now, he would put it to hon. Members whether anything was gained by the use of hyperbole in the debates of the House of Commons? The hon. and gallant Colonel said that Irish manufactures were destroyed: now, he thought that Belfast was in Ireland, and he was under the impression that the manufactures of Belfast were not in a retrograde condition, but were rather advancing—some people, indeed, were audacious enough to say that the manufactures of Belfast were advancing almost faster than those of any other part of the United Kingdom; yet speeches of the kind to which he was now replying were pointed with doleful ditties on the destruction of Irish manufactures. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen that Government were hound to be not only just but considerate in all proceedings with reference to Ireland. The injustice of this peculiar proposition was shown in the first place by throwing overboard altogether the consideration of the consolidated annuities. A few apologetic words were always used, and it was said they should cot take them into account; but he thought they should keep the consolidated annuities in the account. Of course, if in a matter of figures all the items on one side were struck out, you might come to any result you desired. But he objected to this plan of striking out all the items on the other side of the account. This, however, was not a mere matter of 522 account, and the great fallacy lay in so considering it. It should be recollected that Ireland consisted of classes and provinces; and they must separate carefully one from the other if they wanted to ascertain the right and justice of this proceeding. It was true that this financial arrangement would lay a burden upon Ireland; but it would also give relief to Ireland. It would give relief to those who wanted relief, and put a burden on those who could bear a burden. It was said that this was a measure to make the rich parts of Ireland pay the debts of the poor parts; but that was an inversion of the truth. The rich parts had been excused from paying their own debts from their connexion with the poor parts, and that connexion had prevented a much earlier application of the income tax to them. With respect to Leinster and Ulster, there was no cause at all for objecting on the ground of poverty to the imposition of the income tax. When they spoke of the cruelty of extending the income tax to Ireland, because it was a poor country; and when they said Ireland was a poor country, what did they mean? They meant that money was scarce in Ireland; it followed that a man with 150l. a year in Ireland was richer than a man with 150l. a year in England. If they were going to lay a tax upon every man's income in Ireland, irrespective of the amount, that might be objectionable; but the incomes on which it would be laid belonged to men who were richer than the men who paid a corresponding tax in England. The strictest demands of justice required the extension of the income tax to Ireland, and the justice of the tax must be universally acknowledged. The fact of a country being poor was no argument prima facie against the application of the tax when that tax did not attach to the class that were poor in that country, but only attached to a class which, being defined by a certain amount of income, were actually richer as regarded the enjoyment of the necessaries and comforts of life than the corresponding class who paid the tax in England. But let them look at the case as regarded the consolidated annuities in the poorer parts of Ireland, and see if the change was a matter of indifference. On looking to the figures, they might, on the first view, think it was a matter of indifference. If they took the province of Munster, they would find that the income tax on real and rateable property would amount to about 85,000l., or 87,000l., or 523 88,000l. a year; and that the relief from the consolidated annuities would be 90,000l. a year, or about equal. That might be their first conclusion; but that conclusion would be fallacious to the last degree. Who paid the consolidated annuities? The landlord and the tenant. Who would pay the income tax? The landlord and the mortgagee. They proposed to take off the consolidated annuities, and to put on the income tax; the gross amount of the income tax would be about the same as the amount of the consolidated annuities; about half would be paid by the landlord still, but the mortgagee would pay the other half instead of the tenant farmer. Did they think the people of England would consent to abandon the consolidated annuities, and at the same time forego the income tax? As practical men, they were bound to make the welfare of Ireland their prominent consideration; and did they think it was possible to induce the Parliament of the United Kingdom to give up the consolidated annuities and not impose the income tax upon Ireland? If they did, he could not admit their conclusion, though he could admire their sanguine temperament. If they should succeed in getting rid of the income tax, they would not succeed in getting the repeal of the consolidated annuities. He would address himself to his noble Friend opposite (Lord C. Hamilton), though he was not immediately interested in the impoverished parts of Ireland, and ask him if he would endeavour to maintain that state of things by which 85,000l or 95,000l. was raised in Munster, one-half being paid by the landlord, and one-half by the impoverished tenant, instead of supporting a proposition by which 85,000l. a year would be obtained from Munster, one-half being paid by the landlord, and one-half by the mortgagee. The burden was now placed on a large class of persons who were ill able to pay it, and they proposed to shift the incidence of the burden from that class, and put it on the possessors of property who were equally able to bear it with the corresponding class in England; and, in fact, more able to bear it, for the reason he had mentioned, namely, that Ireland was a poor country, and the command of a given income meant more wealth and luxury in a poor country than in a rich one. Would they endeavour perseveringly to maintain a state of things by which the heavy burden of the consolidated annuities must remain on the shoulders of the poor, in- 524 stead of putting the burden on the shoulders of the rich, who were as able to bear it, and better able to bear it, than the English? He had not heard the case of the relative positions of the wealthy and poor portions of Ireland more forcibly explained by any man than by an hon. and learned Gentleman who did honour to his country, the Member for Ennis (Mr. J. D. Fitzgerald), in the speech he had made oh the subject. With respect to the spirit duties, he would really say no more on that subject than to protest against reckoning the imposition of an additional duty upon spirits as if it were something to be brought to account between Ireland and England. He denied that it was to be set down as a burden inflicted upon Ireland, for if Ireland with a population of 5,000,000 or 7,000,000, felt aggrieved by paying 190,000l. on spirits, he did not know what they were to say of poor Scotland, which was relieved from no consolidated annuities at all, though they were going to ask 270,000l. from 3,000,000 of people; yet, with the exception of the natural reclamations of parties whose trade was interested, there had not been a voice in or out of the House raised to complain that they were going to levy this 270,000l in Scotland without giving them anything by way of compensation. Sometimes they had heard of "the rights of man;" but he denied that it was amongst "the rights of man" that an Irishman should be allowed to intoxicate himself for 2s. 4d. a gallon, where the Englishman could not do it. When they levied 7s. 10d. on the Englishman, would they be justified in the face of England if they did not levy the proposed increase in Ireland. He protested against putting down the levying of this 190,000l. as a wrong inflicted upon Ireland; it was utterly unreasonable to take any such view of the case; and he confessed it appeared to him that there were sufficient reasons why the Committee should not accede to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
hoped, though he was perfectly unconnected with the representation of Ireland, that he might venture to intrude for a few moments upon the attention of the House. In the first place, then, the right hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat, had taken objection to the form of proceeding adopted by his hon. and gallant Friend, on the ground that if his Motion were accepted by the House, the progress of public business 525 must necessarily be very much impeded thereby. Now, though he (Sir J. Pakington) was not prepared to say that in moving for a Committee his hon. and gallant Friend had hit upon the most advisable course; he did not mean to censure the proceeding he had adopted—he did not mean to say that it would be better to have waited for the Committee on the Bill, and then move for it—still he, for one, was certainly determined to give his vote for any proposal brought forward by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, which had for its object to declare that the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer bore hardly and unfairly upon Ireland. Nor could he perceive that the mode of procedure suggested by the hon. Member for Portarlington would be attended with the serious inconvenience which the Chancellor of the Exchequer contemplated; because he (Sir J. Pakington) imagined that in the event of the success of the Motion the only consequence entailed upon the right hon. Gentleman would be that he would have to except Ireland from the operation of the Bill, only until the Committee had made its report. Now what inconvenience could accrue to the public service from such a course being adopted? Well, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in rather a sneering tone, had said that the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord C. Hamilton), as well as his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portarlington had manifested exceeding judgment and discretion in avoiding all figures and details. Perhaps he (Sir J. Pakington) in return might venture to compliment the right hon. Gentleman upon having evinced the same description of sound judgment in having passed over all reference to the clear and able speech delivered on this subject the other evening by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring). He (Sir J. Pakington) had not as yet heard any reference to that speech, nor had any attempt been made to answer the view that right hon. Gentleman had put forward in reference to the Irish portion of the Budget; and he felt bound to come forward, as one wholly unconnected with Ireland, and having no motive to take part in this discussion except a desire to free the House from the suspicion of presuming upon Irish weakness. Having no other motive than that, he could not refrain from repeating his strong opinion that the great defect in the Budget of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer was its want of im- 526 partiality—its disregard of equal justice to the different classes in the country. But how had the right hon. Gentleman met that charge? Why, he said Ireland was to be relieved from the pressure of the consolidated annuities. Now, he (Sir J. Pakington) could not accept such an answer; for it seemed to him to be a very serious mistake upon the part of the Government to put those consolidated annuities into the same category with the regular taxation of the country. Why, what was the origin of these annuities? Did they not, for the most part, result from the awful affliction which it had pleased Providence to visit that country with, and in some degree also from the debt contracted under the Irish poor-law for the building of workhouses, but which had no connexion whatever with the regular taxation to which Ireland was subjected? Now, the right hon. "Gentleman had spoken of Ireland as being divided into two parties—the rich and the poor. He (Sir J. Pakington) was one of those who served upon the Committee which sat, some two or three years ago, to consider the bearing of the Irish poor-law; and before that Committee was produced a shaded map, one portion of it coloured with white, representing the wealthy districts of the north, while it gradually darkened as the southern and western counties were approached. Well, he believed that the relief which the right hon. Gentleman was going to extend to those distressed counties, afforded no adequate reason for imposing, not only the income tax, but such a vast additional burden of taxation upon the white counties of Ulster and Leinster. He (Sir J. Pakington) maintained, that from the moment that the report of the House of Lords had gone forth, the fate of the consolidated annuities had been virtually decided upon, for it would be thereafter clearly impossible to enforce payment of the whole. With regard, however, to that portion of the annuities connected with the Irish workhouses, he could see no reason whatever why that loan should be remitted; and it seemed to him that by the plan proposed, the right hon. Gentleman was gratuitously throwing away a considerable portion of a debt justly due from Ireland to England. Now, what had been the argument of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood) when he was taunted, with considerable force and justice in December, with being a party now to the imposition of these burdens upon Ireland? He (Sir J. Pakington) had heard that right hon. Gen- 527 tleman state that Ireland was unable to bear an income tax; nay, he went much further: his expressions were, in December last, that Ireland could bear no additional taxation at all. But the right hon. Gentleman turned round on the present occasion, and proclaimed that the remission of the consolidated annuities was a complete equivalent for all those new taxes. Well, if that were so, he must declare it seemed to him to be rather an Irish equivalent—for you abandon 240,000l. a year in order to impose instead not less than 460,000l. under the income tax, under the spirit duties 198,000l., and under the tax upon successions—of which, perhaps, it was difficult to form a correct estimate, but which, nevertheless, had been computed by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), as likely to realise no less than 300,000l. a year, though the estimate of the Government made it only amount to 60,000l. a year. Was that to be termed an equivalent for the remission of 240,000l. a year? He would wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman, whom he was sorry to see absent—as, indeed, was often the case when his measures were under discussion—what the late Sir Robert Peel, whose follower the right hon. Gentleman professed to be, had said when it was expected that he would make Ireland share in the impost of an income tax. He declared that he would not extend the tax to Ireland because he had no machinery to collect it; and next, because he intended to impose an equivalent for it in the shape of additional stamp and spirit duties. And he would recall to the attention of the House that that was the course adopted by Sir Robert Peel before Ireland had been visited by that dreadful affliction to which he had alluded. He was asked, why should not Belfast pay an income tax? It might be perfectly fair to impose such a tax upon Belfast; but, then, Belfast was not all Ireland. He did not believe that a country could go through the ordeal which had befallen Ireland of late years without the marks of that suffering being left behind, and its means and resources being crippled. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) had demonstrated, with all the ability and might of his high financial character, the bearing of the Budget, both at the present time as well as prospectively, up to 1860, upon Ireland; and the result shown was, that while England would be immediately relieved to the extent of 1,040,000l., there would be a balance against Ireland of 413,000l.; and, 528 looking onwards to 1860, supposing the whole of the present plan to be carried out, there would be a further remission of taxation in favour of England of 6,715,000l., while the amount remitted to Ireland would only be 47,000l. He believed, then, that these figures fully bore out the conclusion which he had advanced, that the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman bore a great deal too hard upon the people of Ireland; and, on that ground, the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend should receive his cordial support.
§ MR. F. SCULLY
said, that when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Pakington) and his Friends were in office, there were vague promises thrown out by their organs in the press, and by electioneering agents, that if they were kept in office, those consolidated annuities would be remitted; but they heard from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer that no hon. Member was to leave the House with the impression that the then Government were necessarily about to adopt the Report of the House of Lords. In fact, a considerable sum, 121,000l., had been collected last year on account of those consolidated annuities, under the management of the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged; and if the late Government had remained in office, they would be then discussing the application of the income tax, without obtaining the remission of the consolidated annuities. He (Mr. F. Scully) was by no means pleased to witness the extension of the income tax to Ireland, for he regarded it as a tax necessarily most obnoxious in itself; but, then, it was utterly impossible to ignore the fact, that, sooner or later, the tax must be extended to Ireland; and, the truth was, the late Government was the first Government that proposed its extension to Ireland. He believed, however, that the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend presented on the face of it the strongest grounds of justice; for one of the principal arguments ever put forward by the advocates of the repeal of the Union, was the unequal manner in which Ireland had been taxed since the Union; and it was, therefore, quite cheering to hear such speeches as those of the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone, and that of other hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had that night exhibited a spirit worthy of the most prominent repealers. He did not agree in the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that by the consolidation of the revenues of England and Ireland the latter had been a 529 gainer; for though, in consequence of the Report of a Committee, the amount of interest paid for debt was diminished on Ireland, the question remained on whose account had that been originally contracted? He (Mr. F. Scully) believed the debt had been unjustly and unfairly increased, and that Ireland should not pay the interest of 5,000,000l. or 6,000,000l. a year, because the debt was not fairly incurred. The rateable property in England was valued at 67,000,000l. per annum, and she paid for poor-law purposes about 6,000,000l. annually. Ireland was valued at 11,000,000l., and she paid for the same object no less than 2,000,000l., being 4s. in the pound, as compared with a poundage of only 1s. 10d. in England. Now that the Government were forcing the income tax upon Ireland, the people of that country would have a right to demand the same just and fair consideration of relief from taxation which was given to the case of England. The people of Ireland would have a stronger case than ever to ask for equal justice, inasmuch as they could not then be met with the reply with which their demands had been heretofore treated —namely, that being exempted from the same amount of taxation as England had to bear, they had no grounds for such application. If the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington were not carried, an inquiry into the relative abilities of each country to bear taxation must take place sooner or later. The land of Ireland had already to bear a heavy load of taxation. In addition to the poor-rates and county rates, it had another rate recently put upon it, arising from the Medical Charities Bill recently passed. To meet the exigencies of that Act, there was 100,000l raised from the land in the course of last year, and in the next year the amount would be considerably greater. About 140,000l. would be also required for pauper lunatic asylums. The country was further burdened with the expense of criminal prosecutions and various other matters which ought properly to be placed upon the Consolidated Fund. The opinions of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir P. Baring) had been much adverted to. That right hon. Gentleman said, that the consolidated annuities which were to be remitted amounted to a much smaller annual sum than the income tax which was to be imposed. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot that the one would have lasted for forty years, while the other 530 only lasted for seven. The right hon. Baronet further said, that in the year 1860 the taxes remitted to England would amount to 6,715,000l., while the taxes remitted to Ireland, at the same period, would only amount to 47,000l. But, in making this calculation, the right hon. Baronet had fallen into the curious mistake of calculating the income tax as to be remitted in England in 1860, and to be continued in Ireland. How the right hon. Baronet should have made such a palpable mistake he could not conceive, and still less how he should have been followed in it by so many of the Irish Members. It was quite plain that if the income tax were remitted in Ireland, Ireland would be a great gainer; if it were not remitted in Ireland, it would be continued in England; and, he believed, it was generally admitted that if the income tax were to be continued in England, it should also be continued in Ireland. He thought it would be fairer and juster, seeing that the extension of this tax to Ireland was inevitable, after the late triumphant majority, to bring forward the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington in the shape of a substantive Motion. It was his belief, that, if such a course were taken, and if the Report of the Committee stated that Ireland was unfairly taxed, the impost would be repealed in the following year. If the proposition were an abstract one, a great number of Members would vote in favour of it who were now deterred from doing so by reason of its being considered a factious movement made for the purpose of obstructing the progress of the income tax generally. He confessed he disliked a factious opposition to any Government, and in the present instance he looked upon this movement as a fruitless opposition, which would only end in a miserable defeat; whereas if the hon. and gallant Member took a different course, he would stand a fair chance of attaining his object.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
wished to repudiate for himself and for his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portarlington (Col. Dunne) the notion that this Resolution partook in any way of a factious character. He believed that there was a strong and almost unanimous feeling in Ireland in favour of it. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech—which for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to make was, he thought, one of the jauntiest he had ever heard—said that the justice of the tax was generally felt and acknowledged in Ire- 531 land. Now, if that were the case, such a feeling ought to have manifested itself in those parts of Ireland where the consolidated annuities were particularly oppressive, and where the income tax would be scarcely felt. But what was the fact? Why, it was from those portions of Ireland in particular, where the consolidated annuities pressed heaviest, and the income tax would be felt the lightest, that petitions and remonstrances against the proposed tax were poured into that House. All the counties in the south and west of Ireland had pronounced against the impost. The attempt to gull the people of Ireland into an approval of this tax by saying that the present proposition was a good bargain, because they would have to pay 460,000l. instead of the 260,000l., to which they were at present liable, was worse than a financial juggle—it was, if he might say so in Parliamentary language, an Exchequer swindle. The trick was so stale, the juggle so plain, and the real object so unconcealed, he could only express his wonder at any man representing an Irish constituency being gulled by it. Something had been said about the intentions of the late Government with regard to the consolidated annuities; but he must say, that having listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the impression made upon his mind by that statement certainly was, that, though not at the moment, yet it was the intention of the late Government to deal with that question. Nay, he would go further, and say that he understood distinct notice of that intention to have been given. The hon. Member for Tipperary had had the courage to say that Lord Derby's Government was pledged to remove these annuities by their newspaper organs, and their electioneering agents in Ireland. He never understood that that was so; but he certainly never imagined that Lord Derby's Government was pledged to the same extent as the present Government was pledged, not to extend the income tax to Ireland; for, he must say, that his own mind was greatly influenced to oppose the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks by having been told, on authority, as he understood, that if the new Government came into power, they would not impose the income tax upon Ireland. Having, then, voted against the Budget of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who merely asked for the modest sum of 60,000l., he felt, 532 himself much more fully justified in opposing a Budget which demanded the immoderate sum of 460,000l. from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in endeavouring to reply to the arguments that were used against his proposition, omitted to give any answer to the observations made by the late Sir Robert Peel, when dealing with the same subject in 1842. Sir Robert Peel, in 1842, refused to impose the income tax upon Ireland, on the ground that she was unable to bear an additional burden of taxation. And what was the condition of Ireland in 1842? The poor-rate then was only 280,000l., while, notwithstanding that pauperism had been diminished by death and emigration, the amount now was nearly 900,000l.; in 1851 it amounted to 1,200,000l. The hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless), in opposing the proposition of the late Government, said it was the last straw that broke the back of the camel; but now, when not a straw, but an enormous load, was sought to be imposed, the only resistance was a sham Motion, to be asked to support which might almost be looked upon as a personal insult. But let them come back to the real question before the House. Was Ireland able to bear any additional taxation? Property in Ireland had changed hands within the last few years to the value of 9,000,000l.; and there were about 9,000,000l. or 10,000,000l. more of property in the Encumbered Estates Court. He asked whether they thought that that was an indication of prosperity in the country? It was no doubt beneficial to change one class of landlords for another in Ireland; but those landlords were not only ruined, but most of their creditors were also great sufferers. That was the state of Ireland, and that was the time that it was proposed to impose a million of taxation upon the country. It was true that, one way or another, half a million was to be remitted; but if an entire million were to be imposed, the balance against Ireland would necessarily be half a million still. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite, who represented Irish constituencies, had said that the Irish Members of his (Mr. Maguire's) side of the House were not the farmers' friends. He would tell those hon. Gentlemen that, although on his side of the House they had no repentant exterminators in their ranks, he recognised among those with whom he associated the undoubted champions of the farmers, and the consistent 533 advocates of their interests. He, and those with whom he acted, looked upon the assertion that the annuities were to last for forty-years as a humbug and a delusion. He would remind the House of a passage in the Report of the Lords' Committee on this subject, in which they said they felt it to be their duty to submit to the House the propriety, in equity as well as in policy, of abandoning this claim. He would ask if that recommendation was deserving a laugh or a shrug? For himself, he conceived that the taking half a million of money out of the country must influence all classes of the Irish community. The famine had made fearful havoc in every family in Ireland. There was not a single family in that part of the kingdom which had not felt its influence, including as well the landlord as the middleman, the shopkeeper as the professional man. Nay, more, many a family was now supported by the industry of a solitary member of it, who formerly depended on the exertions of two at least, if not more of its members. The scheme of the Government would cripple the resources of the trading orders, without doing any good to the working classes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had alluded to the operation of the free-trade system in Ireland. He (Mr. Maguire), for one, did not object to free trade in Ireland; he believed the whole system of Ireland was based on rottenness, of which one of the props was Protection; but he would ask, did any man believe that the introduction of foreign food into that country had not lowered the price of the produce of the farmers, who had had to struggle against famine and all its consequences? Every one knew that landed property in Ireland, as well as in England, had been reduced in value by the introduction of free trade, as well to the landlord as to the tenant farmer. The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had asked the Irish Members a question with regard to the repeal of the Union. Now he (Mr. Maguire) was no new convert to the doctrine of repeal; and if he were not hitherto strongly impressed with the necessity of Ireland minding her own affairs, and keeping her resources under her own control, he thought his opinion would have been greatly influenced by the flippant — he would call it the heartless—speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night. The right hon. Gentleman asked the Irish Members, were they so sanguine—sanguine was the word—foolish the meaning—as to be- 534 lieve that they would be able to wipe off the consolidated annuities, and not have to bear an income tax in their stead? In his (Mr. Maguire's) judgment, the right hon. Gentleman was doing as much to violate the spirit of the Act of Union as any man he had ever heard speak in that House. He (Mr. Maguire) contended that the people of Ireland had a right to have the consolidated annuities remitted. They contributed 5,000,000l. a year and more to the Exchequer, and on that ground alone, if on no other, they had a claim to that remission. The imposition, therefore, of this tax on Ireland was in itself a violation of the spirit of the Union; and to impose it at a time when that part of the kingdom was still reeling from the effects of the late famine was an outrage and a cruelty. He contended, then, that there was nothing factious in hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House supporting the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington (Colonel Dunne). The Chancellor of the Exchequer had alluded to the subject of spirits; and the manner of his allusion to the people of Ireland did not appear to him (Mr. Maguire) to be very creditable to the goad taste of the right hon. Gentleman. The fact was, that the people of Ireland had set an example of temperance to the people of England. But, be that as it might, they did not oppose the additional duty on spirits on the ground that it would make the drinking of spirits a more costly luxury, but on simply moral grounds—the same grounds, indeed, which induced the late Sir Robert Peel to reduce the duty—because it would have the inevitable tendency of encouraging smuggling, and degrading the fine and invaluable police force of Ireland to the position of common gaugers. What the distillers of Ireland who met a few days ago in Dublin did, was not to condemn by their resolution the increase of 8d. a gallon duty, but certain arbitrary restrictions which placed the whole trade at the mercy of an irresponsible board; and they earnestly asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to carry that part of his Budget into effect. They did not ask him not to increase the duty by 8d., but, for the sake of the trade, not to expose them to new risks and new liabilities and restrictions under the operation of his Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington with the use of a figure of hyperbole. But did the right hon. Gentleman know nothing of the history of Ire- 535 land for the last fifty or sixty years? Did he suppose the withdrawal of its Legislature was no injury to the country? If the withdrawal of that Legislature had taken four millions of annual rental out of Ireland, was it any wonder that the trade and manufactures of that country should languish? For his own part, he wished to God that all men of all political creeds in Ireland would come to this conclusion— that there was no salvation for the true interests of that country but her entire freedom from the hands of all Chancellors of the Exchequer. [Laughter.] He meant English Chancellors of the Exchequer. He wished hon. Gentlemen to consider that the supporters of the Motion now under discussion were not indulging in a factious opposition to the Government. He, for one, utterly disclaimed any such intention; but he felt it to be an imperative duty to resist the Budget by all the fair and legitimate means in his power. And he thought he could not better address himself to the calm consideration of Englishmen than by saying, "In God's name, if we are fit to bear a burden, put it upon us; but do not jump to a conclusion rashly: do, in the first place, look into the condition of the country, and see if she be really in a fit state to bear it." He asked the House to submit that case to an impartial Committee, although he was bound to say that it was rather hard to find such a Committee.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, it was something so extraordinary to hear the farmers of England spoken of in anything like terms of kindness, that he could not refrain from expressing his gratitude to the hon. Member who last addressed the House, for the manner in which he had been pleased to refer to a class, the relation of whose sufferings had been too often received in that House with ridicule. He would also express his own sympathy with the people of Ireland, whom this Budget menaced with so much injury. The question was, whether or not the income tax was to be imposed on Ireland. Let the House look at the present condition of Ireland—she came before them reeling in her weakness; she came in all the despondency of a body who, if he might use the expression, had risen from her tomb, and she came with her grave clothes scarcely shaken off. And what was that House doing? Ought they not to administer restoratives; ought they not to endeavour to recruit her exhausted energies? But instead of that they were weakening and purging her. She came 536 asking for bread, and they gave her a stone. Ireland had recently been visited with the plague of famine, and she was now about to be devoured with the plague of locusts.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 194; Noes 61: Majority 133.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee; Mr. Bouverie in the Chair.
complained of the machinery by which the income tax was proposed to be assessed and collected. He might safely say that the trading classes had dealt tenderly with the Budget. In the first place, they had accepted the income tax with all its inequalities, and for a much longer period than the most sanguine statesman could have anticipated, though they had suffered much from its inquisitorial character, its intricate machinery, and its injustice towards the various classes of the community. He thought, therefore, they had a right to expect that some alteration would have been made in the Bill so as to remove the subordinate grievance of which they complained connected with the assessment and collection of the tax; and he could not but think that the trading classes had much reason to complain that not a single clause of the Bill, as it came before the House, even attempted to improve the machinery by which the tax was to be imposed. The main objections to the working of the tax ranged themselves under two heads: the first relating to the want of confidence generally felt in the income-tax commissioners; and the second, to the large discretionary powers vested in their hands. With respect to the first of these points, the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) had recently suggested that recourse should be had to the system adopted in America—namely, that the commissioners should be elected by the taxpayers of the previous year; but while there was no doubt that such an arrangement would be preferable to the present one, it would still leave the main defect of this part of the tax untouched, inasmuch as the tribunal before which the taxpayer would be expected to disclose his affairs, would consist of his neighbours. But whatever difference of opinion might exist as to the mode in which the commissioners should be appointed, he thought it most desirable that they should strictly define the limits 537 of their discretion, and that, where it was necessary to exercise any discretionary power at all, that power should be vested in the hands of responsible and independent parties. When he spoke of the discretionary powers vested in the present commissioners, he referred especially to their power of deciding as to the deductions allowable for bad debts, and the wear and tear of machinery. He was not asking for a general reduction of the direct receipts of the tax; he only wished that some general rule should be laid down for the guidance of the commissioners in making necessary deductions, and that what was law in Middlesex, should be declared to be law also in Yorkshire and Lancashire. At present the commissioners were left to their own discretion, and the consequence was that the practice varied in different parts of the country. With respect to the deductions for bad debts, he would venture to suggest that all bad debts should be deducted from the nominal profits of the creditor in the year in which the bankruptcy of the debtor was declared, while all subsequent dividends should be accounted for by the taxpayer in the years in which he received them. A similar plan might be adopted with regard to the wear and tear of machinery. At present a different percentage was allowed in different districts. He would recommend that a certain fixed and distinct percentage should be deducted for the wear and tear of machinery, and that the commissioners should not be permitted to make deductions according to their own discretion. He believed, however, that the great desideratum felt by the trading classes in this matter was the want of some general court of appeal, which might exercise jurisdiction over the whole kingdom, and command universal confidence by the regularity of the principles actuating its decisions. There were two grievances with which the right hon. Gentleman might grapple: in the first place, he might lay down a certain rule for cases which were now decided by the arbitrary judgment of the commissioners; and, in the second place, he might establish some court of appeal from the decisions of the commissioners which would be regarded with confidence. Another point demanding to be dealt with was with regard to the expense now incurred in those cases where the attempt was made to prove the income under 150l. a year; and, of course, the grievance would be extended with the extension of 538 the area of the tax to incomes of 100l. per annum. He quite agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was no reason why annuities of 100l. a year should escape; and he also thought the right hon. Gentleman quite right in his wish not to touch wages; but he certainly thought that the classes of artisans who earned at the rate of two guineas a week would come within the tax; and that as affected them the tax would break down, inasmuch as they were men who earned their money and spent it weekly, and who, when the collector made his half-yearly call for his 2l. 1s. 8d., would meet that official with the intimation that they had saved no money. He would not waste the time of the House by moving an Amendment, but he called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider these points, predicting that if he remedied such defects in the tax he would gain his confessed object, in rendering that impost a permanent and valuable resource in time of emergency and war, and that for himself he would lay in a store of popularity which might stand him in good stead when public matters ceased to wear their present aspect of indifference and peace.
§ Upon Clause 1 (Grant of Duties),
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON moved the omission of the words "United Kingdom," for the purpose of substituting "Great Britain."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the Amendment raised again the question which they had been discussing all night, and inquired whether the noble Lord seriously meant to renew that debate?
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he had put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening, but had received no answer. It was known that Sir Robert Peel declined in 1842 and 1845 to extend the income tax to Ireland. Now, if Sir Robert Peel were right in 1845 in declining to extend the income tax to Ireland, he (Lord C. Hamilton) wished the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would inform the Committee what progressive alterations had taken place since that period to prove the capability of the country to bear the great additional taxation now proposed? The right hon. Gentleman must remember that Sir Robert Peel backed his own convictions by citing the names of Pitt, Fox, Sidmouth, and Grenville, who all concurred in exempting Ireland. He must also remember that until now he had advocated a 539 similar exemption: when therefore he departed from such high authorities, and changed his own convictions, he should state his reasons for so doing. He could hardly allege that the misery produced by famine and pestilence, and the diminution of the population by two millions, in themselves constituted a reason for increased taxation. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was a sound discretion sometimes in avoiding figures. In 1815 it was stated that the taxation of Ireland had greatly increased in proportion to that of England. Was that for Irish purposes? No, it was the enormous increase of the Irish debt for British purposes. It was the tremendous expense of the war. The Irish debt had increased fourfold; the English debt only twofold—the former from 28,000,000l. to 112,000,000l., the latter from 440,000,000l. to 700,000,000l. Who were the warm supporters of the Government scheme? The Manchester party; and they ascribed these wars to the aggressive spirit of England, not to the bellicose propensities of Ireland. It was the result of the great continental struggles carried on by England for the sake of her commercial and maritime superiority. The right hon. Gentleman had carefully evaded all these facts and figures, nor had he at all gone into the consideration which had induced the Irish nation to assent to the Union. In 1822 Lord Lansdowne, in adverting to the financial condition of Ireland, said it was a specimen of the futility of endeavours to place more taxation on a country than she could boar, and complained that the increase of Irish taxation had been so excessive as to destroy revenue. There had been, he said, an endeavour to raise 3,370,000l. of increased taxation, whereas it had produced a diminution of 533,000l. So the late Lord Sydenham had made a similar statement, and represented the treatment of Ireland as a case which ought to bring shame on the memory of its authors. The right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to show how the circumstances of Ireland now justified the imposition of the income tax, in opposition to those authorities and to the testimony of Sir Robert Peel. The right hon. Gentleman had relied on the old story of the remission of the consolidated annuities. But the right hon. Gentleman knew well he never could have got the whole of those annuities, after the reports and evidence on that subject printed by the other House of Parliament: giving 540 him credit, however, for the whole, the remission was not half the amount of the income tax. Would the right hon. Gentleman, with all his skill in ciphers, show that this was a benefit to Ireland? Then, as to the spirit duty, how could the Irish people be materially benefited? Had not the experience of 1842 shown what would be the results of that measure? Had the right hon. Gentleman attempted to answer all those arguments, it would not have been necessary to readvert to them. The right hon. Gentleman was bound to defend his financial proposition, but had failed to do so. The position of Ireland was exceptional, and the taxation to be imposed would most probably be permanent. If there was to be a permanent tax riveted on the country under pretence of a temporary tax, the condition of the country ought to be investigated, and some endeavour made to vindicate the policy proposed. It was only the right hon. Gentleman's evasion of all these topics which had created the necessity for noticing them again, at a late period of the evening, when the House was far more full than when they had first been brought forward. There was a derangement of the balance of taxation between the two countries, which had been arranged at the time of the Union as the basis of their financial positions: the terms then agreed upon were that the two countries were to unite as to future expenses, on a strict measure of relative ability. He would not go into the figures. The right hon. Gentleman proposed a new scheme affecting the fiscal relations between the two countries. The total amount of remissions to England, after deducting the 250,000l. of additional income tax was 1,200,000l., and the amount of increase of taxation, applicable exclusively to Ireland, was 658,000l., which, after deducting the 200,000l. remission of consolidated annuities, left an increase of taxation to Ireland of 458,000l.; thus granting large remissions to England, whilst imposing new and heavy burdens on Ireland. How could the right hon. Gentleman justify this disproportion? How could he give his advocacy to a proposition now which he had united in opposing a few years ago?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, in his opinion the noble Lord was pursuing a rather unusual course. The time of the House had been occupied until nearly eleven o'clock in discussing the question of the imposition of the income tax upon Ireland. It had been his (the Chan- 541 cellor of the Exchequer's) duty to make a large demand on the patience of the House in the course of that debate, and the noble Lord had made a pretty liberal demand upon it also. He had endeavoured to give the best possible answer to the arguments of the noble Lord, who now got up and said the answer was so bad that he insisted upon making another Motion, in order to see if he could get a better answer. He had no doubt the noble Lord had stated demonstrative arguments, which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had entirely failed to meet; but the noble Lord did not see how the House had perceived the total failure of that answer, and had given him the full benefit of that failure in the division which had taken place. The question really was, whether they were now to start again exactly at the same point as that at which they started at the commencement of the discussion. He meant no disrespect to the noble Lord, but did not think it would be respectful to the Committee if, having already expressed his sentiments, he were to start again and detain the Committee by a discussion to which it evidently was not disposed to listen. If the noble Lord wished to enter into the question in a formal debate, he would meet him in the best way he could. At present the question before the Committee was, not whether Sir Robert Peel was right or wrong in 1845—the question was not what was right in 1843, but what was right in 1853. He contended that it was right to impose the income tax on Ireland in 1853, and it was for the other side to show that it was not right to do so: but that could not be done by going back to what occurred in 1845. If they went back to 1845, they might also go back to 1842, to the time of Lord Sydenham, and so on, till they reached the time of Mr. Pitt; but he did not think that sort of retrogressive Motion was likely to be serviceable in the settlement of this question.
rose with some indignation to repudiate the tone the right hon. Gentleman had assumed. The right hon. Gentleman had asked if he had consulted Lord Derby. He had not; but he had consulted the feelings of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had misrepresented his speech. He had expressly alluded to the topics the right hon. Gentleman had charged him with overlooking. He had argued that the Union could not be affected by matter subsequent. The right hon. Gentleman had presumed to 542 lecture and rebuke him. The tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was very offensive to the Irish Members. He knew the difference between reason and folly, and between direct and indirect conduct between a straightforward course, and one the reverse of sincere or straightforward. The right hon. Gentleman's speech had been a tissue of misrepresentations and sneers. The discourtesy of the right hon. Gentleman had been as remarkable as it was unsuited to the station he occupied. He thought that the treaty made at the Union, although bad for Ireland, ought to be kept by the English Parliament, and on these grounds he should support the Motion of the noble Lord.
§ MR. M. O'CONNELL
could see, from the tone which the discussion had taken, that the Irish landlords wanted to save themselves from the tax; but he, as a landholder, was determined to give it his support.
§ MR. ALCOCK
supported the extension of the tax to Ireland. England was exposed to many burdens from which Ireland was exempt. He cordially thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the course he had taken in submitting the present measure to the House.
§ MR. VANCE
wished to expose a fallacy which had been too frequently advanced. Prom the discouragement given to the commerce of Ireland, that amount of revenue from customs was not collected in that country which ought to be collected there. It had been overlooked that a considerable portion of the customs on articles consumed in Ireland was collected in London and Liverpool; and if the accounts in this respect were fairly gone into, he had no doubt they would show a difference of a million. The Irish people had no objection to pay the same customs and excise duties as England; but the rule had been to exempt that country from direct taxation, and he contended that the imposition of such taxation was contrary to the 7th Article of the Union. With respect to the consolidated annuities, the city which he represented (Dublin) would derive no benefit whatever from the remission. That city at one time owed 40,000l., but in the course of three years the whole amount had been paid, and he considered it most unfair to charge his constituents with the income tax on the ground that they would derive a compensation from the remission of the consolidated annuities. Every part of Iceland was opposed to the tax, not only as a 543 tax, but also on the ground of the inequality of its assessment.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
said, he would not trouble the Committee by dividing. His object had been to ascertain the ground on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had deviated from the principles laid down by Sir Robert Peel, of whom he was a supporter.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ MR. FREWEN
then moved an Amendment in the clause, to the effect that the duration of the tax be limited to two years. He protested against renewing the tax for seven years as too long a period for the House to tie up its own hands from dealing with the question. The House ought to renew it for a short period, and reserve to itself the power of continuing it from time to time.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 26, to leave out the words, "And during the further term of."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF the EXCHEQUER
said: Sir, the hon. Gentleman has raised a question of great importance, and one which is perfectly fair and convenient to be dealt with by the Committee—namely, whether we shall agree to continue the tax for a period of only two years, or for a more extended term. I only wish to remind the Committee that the main objects which the Government have in view in proposing the renewal of the income tax for a considerable time are these two. In the first place, to give stability to our system of finance; and, in the second place, to put the tax upon such a footing, and so regulate its provisions by a progressive descent of the rate as may bring it to a point in which it will probably be in the power of Parliament to part with it altogether, if so disposed. These are the two reasons which governed my Colleagues and myself in the proposition that we have made. The hon. Gentleman says, on the other hand, that we ought not to renew the tax for so long a time, and he would grant it for two years only. My objection to that is, that it would throw the question of the income tax into the same unsatisfactory position as it has now for several years stood—that it would fail to give to our financial system that stability which the propositions of the Government are likely to impart to it; and lastly, that it would not lay the least ground for, nor make the slightest progress towards a state of things in which it would be possible for Parliament to part with the tax. For these reasons I hope the Com- 544 mittee will reject the hon. Gentleman's Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 223; Noes 82: Majority 141.
§ Clause agreed to; as was also Clause 2.
§ Clause 3 (Duties payable in respect of subjects described in Schedules).
§ MR. MICHELL moved an Amendment, to leave out "property," and insert "profits;" and in line 13 to leave out "value," and insert "receipts." He wanted the Bill to be in accordance with the title. His object was that property should not pay the tax where it did not yield a profit. He stated that, eight years ago, he had bought two manors, from which he had never derived any profit; and the income tax on this property had been a positive confiscation. Last year he paid 62. 13s. 4d. on those manors. He was not certain that he would divide the Committee on this question, but he wished to call attention to the hardship inflicted by the Act as it stood. If a man bought an estate, and made no profit from it, the commissioners told him that he ought to have made a profit; and that was all the relief he could get.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that if this question were to be considered as a mere change in the phraseology of the Income Tax Bill, for the purpose of giving it greater clearness, he should think it was undoubtedly wise and safe to adhere to the established phraseology which had become intelligible, which had acquired a fixed and known construction, and under which the lax was actually levied. If, however, he understood the hon. Gentleman aright, he had in view a substantial object—he wished to change the form of the tax, by providing that in all cases under Schedule A deductions of every kind that could be shown to have been made, should be allowed to persons who were liable to pay under that head. He was sorry to say he could not meet the views of the hon. Gentleman. The House had already decided upon a proposal less wide than that of the hon. Gentleman—he meant the Resolution of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Palmer), which by no means went the length of the Motion submitted by the hon. Gentleman. Such a proposal would aggravate the inquisitorial character of the tax, and would add to whatever was offensive in its character to a degree greater in fact than 545 it would give relief by the mere diminution of its burden, while it would cripple' the tax by diminishing that burden, and would, moreover, open up a question already decided by the House.
§ MR. SPOONER
had understood the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Michell) to press for the levy of the tax upon the net annual value instead of the gross annual value upon which owners of property were called on to pay. In Clause 30 this provision was made in the case of all persons who held capitular and ecclesiastical property. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: That has always been so.] Yes, but why should one set of property-holders be allowed to deduct all their repairs, and not another?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that Clause 30 certainly related to repairs, but they were repairs of an entirely different character from the repairs of property; they were in respect of the liabilities of these bodies. There was no analogy whatever between the repairs which a rector was liable for in the chancel of his church, and those which a landlord or farmer made in order to enable a tenement to yield its rent. The two things were entirely distinct. They proposed to maintain the framework of the Act exactly as it was.
§ In answer to a remark from Mr. MICHELL,
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the 33rd clause, which referred to sea-walls, contained no new enactment. There must be exceptionable cases, and it was impossible to meet every particular case. It was better to adhere to certain phrases when they had acquired an established meaning, rather than run the risk of disturbing the whole framework of the Act.
§ MR. WALPOLE
thought the right hon. Gentleman had made an admission not quite consistent with his former statement on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman, in opening his Budget, stated that his great object was to keep this tax as a weapon to be used when a great emergency occurred. But now every modification suggested to render the tax more just was refused. If it was desired to retain the tax for some great emergency, it ought to be so adjusted as to make it fair and equitable on all parties, who might then consent to its renewal hereafter. If the tax expired in 1860, with all its present inequalities resting on it, the renewal of it on any great emergency would be opposed, not only by the landed interest, but 546 also by the trading interests, and by those who wished to make a distinction between fixed and contingent incomes. He feared the consequence would be, when any future Government asked for the reimposition of the tax, that they would be unable to do so at the moment when it might be most required. He did not wish to throw any impediment in the progress of the Bill, but he thought they ought now to place the tax on a more equitable footing, so that the country would at once accept it, in case of a renewal of it being necessary at some future period. He would move, therefore, instead of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bodmin, that the word "net" be inserted before the words "annual value."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 13, after the word "the," to insert the word "net."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
would simply observe that the principle on which they had proceeded in regard to the clauses of this Bill had been to introduce any mitigating provision, wherever it could be done without breaking up the framework and foundation of the tax. To this Amendment his right hon. Friend of course would not expect the Government to accede, for it was one which avowedly opened up the whole question of the adjustment of the schedules, relatively to each other. The right hon. Gentleman was friendly to allowances on the different schedules to different degrees, whilst Government thought the tax could be levied on that principle, and had endeavoured to provide for the alleviation of the financial burdens of different classes in another way.
§ MR. SPOONER
thought his hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin would find his purpose answered better by withdrawing his Amendment, and accepting that of his right hon. Friend.
§ Amendment of Mr. Michell withdrawn.
§ MR. W. S. KNOX
thought the Government should take time to consider this point, and would therefore move that the Chairman report progress.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, considering the state of public business, the great interests concerned in the speedy progress of this Bill, and also the fact that they were about to have two holidays, he thought it would be exceedingly inconvenient to leave off at this point.
SIR DENHAM NORREYS
thought it 547 scarcely fair to call upon the House to impose such a tax as this on Ireland, without allowing the representatives of that country a full opportunity of considering the Bill.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the Bill had been printed and in the hands of the Members for more than a week. The words used in this clause would hare no effect whatever on the mode of levying this tax in Ireland, which was provided for by special clauses, laying down in clear and distinct terms the test that was to be applicable.
§ MR. M. O'CONNELL
wished to call attention to the probable effect of Clause 17, as regarded the occupying tenant, which would materially aggravate the hardship of his position.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
hoped the hon. Gentleman who had moved to report progress would not insist on his proposition.
§ The Question that the words "United Kingdom" stand part of the clause, was then put, and agreed to.
§ Question put "That the word 'net' be there inserted,"
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 72; Noes 164: Majority 92.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The House resumed. Committee report progress.