HC Deb 10 February 1857 vol 144 cc472-4

said that he had given notice of a Resolution— That whereas the Act of Parliament (18th Vict., c. 20) contains a proviso which by its technical construction would inflict in a time of Peace a second year of full War Income Tax upon the loyal but heavily burdened subjects of Her Majesty, this House is of opinion that the provisions of the said Act should cease and determine from the 6th day of April next"— That he had done so in vindication of his position as chairman of the Anti-Income Tax Association, but expressed his sense of the disadvantage under which he laboured of having to address the House after the eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and the reply of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He hoped, however, that the House would extend its indulgence while he made a short statement explanatory of the policy he intended to pursue. He would not weary the House with a long statement, but prayed its kind consideration, while he reminded them of the fact that since the prorogation of Parliament an unparalleled agitation had taken place in opposition to the continuance of the war tax after April next. That agitation was taken up by the Association over which he presided, had been supported both in metropolitan boroughs and large provincial towns, and resolutions condemnatory of the continuance of the war tax had in almost every case been agreed to. At the late meeting at Exeter Hall he had felt it his duty, when addressing a large assembly of taxpayers, to make a specific statement, and in the absence of any statement on the part of the Government as to their intention to abandon the war tax, he pledged himself to that assembly to place on the books of the House such a Resolution as would elicit a definite statement from Ministers on this subject. He had listened with attention to the Royal Speech, but he had sought in vain for any reference to this most interesting subject, for he must say that he never read or heard an address containing less information than that Speech. He had no intention to go into an elaborate statement of the finances of the country in connection with the subject, for the Press had done ample justice to this great movement. [The Speaker inquired whether the hon. Gentleman intended to conclude with a Motion as otherwise he was out of order in continuing his observations?] Major Reed said that then he would conclude with his Motion, but as he had observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come forward and stated his intention of bringing in his Budget on Friday next, he should not press his Motion to a division in the belief that the right hon. Baronet would satisfy the just expectations of the country by his forthcoming financial statement. He could not but be rejoiced to find that such an intention existed, but in reference to that Gentleman, he would call the attention of the House to a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Education at Hertford, in which he expressed his opinion that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had never supposed that the full tax could be continued another year, and that the clamour raised was most unnecessary, He (Major Reed), however, considered that the agitation had been attended with good results; for in the first place, it had had the effect of bringing on the Budget much sooner than usual; and he thought the ultimate result would be, that this abominable war tax would be abolished. He thought it would be but courtesy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to grant him the grace he desired, and he (Major Reed) should, therefore, withdraw his Motion, on the condition that, if the right hon. Gentleman did not announce his intention of reducing the income tax by the additional war tax, he should be at liberty to re-introduce it.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.