§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he wished to know what would be the effect of the Bill on the salaries of the collectors of the income tax? There was one officer in the City of London who received not less a sum than £6,700 a year; others received £500 and upwards. He understood the intention was to secure £500 a year to those persons. He apprehended the effect of the Bill would be greatly to increase the expenditure in the shape of salaries.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he did not understand the meaning of one of the clauses of the Bill. It appeared to him to guarantee to those who might not recive as much as £500 a year out of the poundage a sum which should make up that amount. But what he wished to ask was, whether the same amount would be so guaranteed when the reduction of the income tax should take place?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had not with him a list of the salaries paid to the different collectors, but, according to the best of his recollection, the salary of the collector to whom reference had been made, at present amounted to between £6,000 and £7,000. The effect of the Bill would be to reduce his salary to about £3,000, out of which sum he would have to pay certain expenses. Although he must allow that that would be a considerable salary, yet he did not think it would be an excessive one. It was not intended by the Bill to increase the salary of any person now engaged in the collection of this branch of the revenue. The provision more particularly referred to was introduced in order to prevent a vast increase of salary; but if the effect of reducing the poundage to 1d. should be to lower the salaries below £500 of those who now received a higher sum, it was certainly intended that the amount of £500 at least should be secured to those parties. In point of fact, the object of the clause was rather to prevent a reduction of salary below a certain amount than to increase it beyond that amount. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) as to what would be the amount of the salaries of the collectors when a reduction of the income tax should take place, he confessed that his hon. Friend looked so far 1029 into futurity that he could hardly answer him. At the present moment the question was not one of any practical importance. But should the provision, as now drawn, not have the effect of placing the salaries of the officers on a proper scale, it would, of course, be his duty to consider whether it would not be necessary at some future time to introduce a provision to meet the exigency of the case, and prevent any undue increase of the salaries.
§ MR. MACKINNON
said, that having paid some attention to the land-tax as an impost, he must say that, in his opinion, such a tax ought not to exist, as being levied by the Government, but that a considerable benefit would arise to the country and to private individuals if a general redemption of the land-tax were to take place under the authority of Parliament. It appeared that in April 1798, Mr. Pitt, when much straitened for money, proposed that the tax should be redeemed. The proposition was not sanctioned at the time by the House of Commons, but in the present day such a measure would, he thought, be both beneficial to the country and satisfactory to individuals. Now, he would ask what was the present state of the case? The land-tax produced a revenue of about £1,400,000 out of which £33,000 was deducted for collection. If sold, say at twenty-four years' purchase, the income tax, at 1s. 4d. in the pound, would be saved. If the proprietors were allowed the preference for the first six months, and after that period the public were allowed to purchase, many benefits would arise, and he could not see any loss or any inconvenience to either the Government or the public. A reduction of £24,000,000 might be made in the national debt if the tax was redeemed, and secure investment for trustees of settled property would be laid open to the public. At the present season of the year, and at the close of the Session, it was scarcely necessary to enter into the subject, but he hoped that early next Session the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would allow the appointment of a Committee of the House to enter into a full consideration of it.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, it was his opinion that the Bill had been brought in for the purpose of giving relief to persons in Scotland who were at present charged with the payment of the land-tax; and he thought that similar relief ought to be extended to Ireland, especially as the poor 1030 rates were exclusively borne by the occupiers of land in that country.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman laboured under a mistake. The effect of the Bill was not to impose a tax on the landlords, nor was the relief it afforded exclusively given to the landholders of Scotland, but the same privileges would be enjoyed by the landholders of Ireland.
§ Bill read 3°, and passed.