§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. FREWEN
, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, that his object was to afford facilities for the formation of more convenient divisions for the assessment and collection of the land and assessed taxes. At present these divisions were regulated by the boundaries of counties, and the consequence was, that persons living near the edge of two counties were often put to great inconvenience by being taken, when prosecuting appeals, to attend the sittings of the commissioners of the county in which they lived, although they were much nearer the place at which the meetings of land tax commissioners were held in the adjoining county. He thought the land tax divisions 65 should follow those of the poor law unions. In order to enable such arrangements to be made as would tend to public convenience, he proposed to give the local commissioners, with the assent of the Lords of the Treasury, power to transfer any parish from one land tax division to another, without reference to the counties in which they were respectively situate for the purpose of hearing and disposing of such appeals.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That the Bill be now read a second time."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the districts in which the land tax was collected were, like the land tax itself, of considerable antiquity. Each county was divided into hundreds, in which the several Commissioners presided for the collection of the tax. It was competent for the general Commissioners of the county to recommend the transfer of any parish from one division to the other, and if the Lords of the Treasury and the Board of Inland Revenue approved of such transfer, it could be effected. He was not aware that any extensive inconvenience existed at present. There was, however, a great objection to give such a power as the hon. Member proposed because the rateable amount of the land tax differed very much in every county. The tax, too, was sometimes not assessed equally over the whole county. He did not, therefore, feel justified in assenting to the second reading. At the same time, if it were shown distinctly that the present law in any material part was defective, he would undertake on the part of the Government to introduce a measure by which it would be improved. As to giving the power proposed to the Lords of the Treasury, it should be observed that they were necessarily deficient in local information; and their opinions would therefore be influenced by persons placed in a subordinate position. The Bill, in fact, proposed to increase the size of one district at the expense of another.
§ Mr. SPOONER
said, it would be found that there were many places from which people would have to travel some ten or twelve miles before they could reach the place of meeting of the Commissioners, and that that was an evil which ought to be remedied. He apprehended under present circumstances that there would be a great increase of appeals, in that case it would be a hardship on a man, especially where he was overcharged only a trifle, but which 66 trifle might be of importance to him, to be put to the expense of travelling that distance to establish his appeal. He saw no reason why the Commissioners might not represent an inconvenience, where it did exist, to the Treasury, or why the Treasury should not have the power to act upon the recommendation. He hoped, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not oppose the second reading of the Bill.
§ Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 125: Majority 90.
§ Ordered, That the Bill be read a second time upon this day six months.