HC Deb 30 April 1855 vol 137 cc1976-8

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.

Clause 1.


said, he wished to move, in page 2, line 6, after "respectively," to insert— If such annual value or amount shall reach or exceed 150l., and an additional rate and duty of 1½d. for every 20s. of the annual value or amount of all such property, profits, and gains respectively, if such annual value or amount shall reach or exceed 100l. and not reach 150l." The object of his Amendment was to preserve the same ratio in the increase of the tax as had been made in the tax itself as levied upon incomes exceeding 100l. a year and those exceeding 150l. a year. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to add 2d. indiscriminately to the tax laid upon both descriptions of income; but to do so was to tax the income below 150l. a year at a higher rate than the income exceeding that sum, because an addition of 2d. upon 10d. was an increase of 20 per cent, while to add the same sum to 14d. was under 14½ per cent. What he proposed, therefore, was that, upon incomes below 150l. a year, and greater than 100l., the increase should be 1½d. instead of 2d., as the class of persons possessing the smaller income was precisely that class who could least afford to pay increased taxes. The argument might be used that, to accede to his proposal would involve a loss of revenue, but the loss would be but small; and, even if it were not, no fear of loss could justify what was unjust. It might also be said, that the pence would be more easy of collection; but he could not understand how that could be the case. Since he had placed the present Motion on the paper, he had received letters upon the subject from a large number of persons, all of whom concurred in requesting him to press it to a division.


said, he should have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment. He had always opposed the income tax as an innovation, just as he had opposed the establishment of Crystal Palaces, and he was ready to support any mitigation of that impost, in whatever shape it might be proposed. The object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to raise money by this Bill; but he only wished that every Member who sat on the Treasury benches was subjected to double or treble income tax. Those Gentlemen got their money for doing nothing, and called upon the country to pay the taxes. He would always oppose the income tax as long as he had a seat in that House.


said, it was quite true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment had stated, that the adoption of his proposal would produce only a slight diminution of the revenue, but it would also be a matter of very slight consideration so far as the taxpayers themselves were concerned, for upon an income of 150l. a year the difference would only be 6s. per annum, which could hardly be felt by any class of the community. He did not wish to pledge the House against the principle of discrimination with respect to the duty to be levied upon incomes of different amounts, but he thought the splitting of a penny would give considerable additional trouble to the department charged with the collection of this tax. He thought some inconvenience might be occasioned by the application of the hon. and learned Gentleman's scale to Schedule B—the farmer's schedule—for in some cases in England the tax to be levied would be 5¾d., and in the case of Irish and Scotch farmers, 35/6d. The hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward his Amendment as a matter in which persons of small incomes felt great interest, and as he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) considered it might be thought a somewhat harsh proceeding if he were to oppose the proposition, he would accede to its adoption.


said, he wished to know if the principle of the Amendment which the right hon. Baronet had just sanctioned in respect to incomes between 100l. and 150l. a year, was to be applied to the assessment of the income tax on the farmers of England and Scotland?


said, that the income of the English farmer was assessed at half his rental, and the income of the Scotch farmer at one-third. On this income so assessed the tax was levied. In those cases where the percentage in the rental came under 150l. and down to 100l., the principle of the Amendment would apply, and the farmer would thus have all the benefit which was to be obtained from the Amendment referred to. It was not necessary to make any alteration for that purpose in the Bill now in Committee.


said, he wished to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a case of great inequality connected with the manner in which the income tax was assessed in Scotland as compared with England. In England, the landed proprietor was assessed on the net annual value of his property, after deducting rates and taxes. In Scotland the assessment was made on the gross income. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the matter, with a view to the amendment of such a state of things.


said, that the law upon the subject was perfectly similar in England and Scotland. In England, if the landlord was charged with any rate, such as sewers and improvement rates, he was not entitled to deduct their amount from his income tax assessment. The law in Scotland was similar, but it happened in Scotland that certain rates, which in England were usually paid by the tenant, fell upon the landlord. That was, however, a matter of arrangement between the landlord and tenant; but with respect to the law, he would repeat there was no difference between England and Scotland.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.