§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved that the House do resolve itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he would take that 1190 opportunity of calling attention to a very serious subject in connection with the collection of the income tax which had been brought under the notice of the House by a petition from the inhabitants of one of the largest parishes in the metropolis. The matter did not interest them merely, but the whole country—for similar proceedings might occur in any parish in the country. The management of the income tax in the parish of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, was under Commissioners appointed by the Crown; and a surveyor was also appointed by the Crown. The petitioners stated further that a conspiracy had been entered into between the surveyor and the collectors to defraud the inhabitants and the Government. The nature of the conspiracy was that, the collector should deliver to the inhabitants notes of charge, while the surveyor should make a return of charge to the Commissioner very much less than that which ought to be made on the inhabitants in respect of their income; and that the charge so entered on the roll, having been approved by the Commissioners, then a note should be delivered demanding a higher rate from the taxpayers. Thus a difference being established between the roll delivered in to the Commissioners on the one hand, and the claim made upon the inhabitants on the other, there would be a sum which, if they could collect it, would be put into their own pockets without accounting to the Crown. In pursuance of that system the inhabitants received the usual note, stating that they had been assessed at a certain sum, while the surveyor made the roll bear a much smaller amount. The larger sum was demanded from and paid by the inhabitants, the smaller one being accounted for to the Crown, and the balance was divided between the collector and the surveyor, and appropriated by them to their own advantage. That was a most extraordinary mode of collecting the income tax, and showed that a door was open to the perpetration of fraud in any part of the kingdom, if the duties of the Commissioners, the surveyor, and the collectors might be discharged as they had been in the parish of St. Leonard's, which had presented its complaint. When these malpractices were discovered the serveyor absconded, but it did not appear that any effective measures were taken either by the local Commissioners, or by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, to follow him, and he had hitherto entirely escaped. One of the collectors, 1191 however, among the rest was seized, taken before a magistrate, and prosecuted. He had been subsequently indicted for obtaining money under false pretences, by demanding from an inhabitant a sum which he was not entitled to demand according to the roll of assessment. That indictment was tried in the usual way at the Central Criminal Court; but in so serious a case, involving an extensive system of fraud upon the public revenue, adequate steps were not taken by the Government to carry on the prosecution in an efficient manner. The case was not entrusted, as it ought to have been, to any counsel of the standing and experience necessary for conducting it; and the result was that on a technical point the collector was acquitted. No one else had been punished; no proper course had been pursued for probing these frauds to the bottom; and the inhabitants of the parish had been brought to the conclusion that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue were really desirous of throwing a veil over these unpleasant transactions, and, in short, wished to hush them up. Any such proceeding must be detrimental to the public interest; for it was obviously of the highest importance that if surveyors and collectors of taxes were guilty of these delinquencies they ought to be punished to the uttermost. That, then, was the complaint deliberately made by the inhabitants of the parish of St. Leonard's under their common seal. He had communicated their petition to Her Majesty's Government, who had had an opportunity of making inquiries into its accuracy; and he was very anxious to hear what measures had been adopted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to examine into these frauds and prosecute their perpetrators with effect. Had those Commissioners taken steps to prevent the recurrence of these delinquencies? For it seemed plainly in the power of any surveyor and collector, combining together in the manner he had described, to take advantage of the reluctance of the income tax payer to undergo the vexation and exposure of his affairs incidental to an appeal against surcharge, and thus to put into their own pockets the excess over the sums returned in the assessment roll furnished to the Government. Under these circumstances he had felt it incumbent on him to bring under the notice of the House what appeared to be a neglect of duty on the part of the Government authorities.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I am sure no person could 1192 think of finding fault with the hon. Member for drawing the attention of the House to a subject of this nature. There are, if I understand him, two points of view in which he is disposed to consider it; but to one of them I do not attach great importance, because I am not aware that there is any evidence to lead us to suppose that any grievance has been suffered by the inhabitants of this parish. They have undoubtedly been subjected by certain officers to an assessment higher than the amounts paid over in respect of their incomes to the Government. But it does not appear that they have been assessed above the sums legally due from them, or that they have suffered any loss in this particular case any more than the rest of the community. I am far from complaining of their petition. On the contrary, I think it important that the inhabitants of every district in the kingdom should take an interest in the collection of the revenue of the country; and therefore, I hold that their conduct in this respect is laudable. But there is no reason to suppose they have been overcharged. Indeed, whatever may be the grievances incidental to the collection of the income tax, I do not think over-assessment is one of them. But the hon. Gentleman points out the great loss sustained by the public treasury from the frauds of those engaged in collection. It is certainly to be regretted that the public revenue has suffered that loss, but the hon. Gentleman is wrong in supposing that all the persons guilty of these frauds were appointed by the Government. The surveyor is certainly one of these persons, and was an officer appointed by the Government. But the collector, whom I take to have borne a much more important part in this matter, and another individual, who may be called an under clerk, were both of them the officers of the local authorities. This question is of great importance, inasmuch as it directs the attention of the House to the way in which the public revenue is occasionally jeopardized, perhaps from the want of that control over the collectors of the Queen's taxes which the Government might possess if those collectors were in their apppointment. The hon. Gentleman rather seems to charge the authorities of Somerset House with indifference, or even opposition, to the due collection of the revenue, and with a desire to hush up cases of this kind. This is the first time I have ever heard any insinuation of want of zeal thrown out against those gentlemen in the discharge of their 1193 very arduous duties; and I do not think there is any colourable ground for complaining of them in this instance. The surveyor has absconded, and it has been found impossible to lay hands on him. That is a misfortune that may happen without implying any lack of energy or vigilance on their part. The prosecution against the collector failed, and failed, as the hon. Gentleman says, on a technical point; but there is not the slightest reason for attributing that failure to any blameable conduct of the Revenue Department. They felt it their duty to take the highest legal opinion as to the means available for doing justice in this case; and the unfortunate result is not duo to any want of prudence or diligence shown by the Board. It is my intention at a later—but I hope not a very late—period of the Session, to propose to Parliament a Bill which may have the effect of giving satisfaction to a feeling which appears to prevail to some extent in the country—namely, that the collection of these taxes should be brought, at least in certain cases, under the direct control and responsibility of the Government. At present the control possessed by the Government is very imperfect, their responsibility being imperfect in the same proportion. I shall not, however, forestall that subject. I only mention it to show that we shall have an opportunity of discussing it and the other important topics which this petition raises.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
observed that he was glad to hear the announcement just made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The petitioners might not have suffered any special grievance in this case; but the payers of taxes had a direct interest in the honesty of the collectors, and in the prosecution of any defaulter by the Government, because there were instances in which, owing to such frauds, persons had been called upon to pay their assessed taxes over again. He rejoiced that there was a prospect of an early remedy for these serious irregularities.
§ MR. SLANEY
said, he had heard many statements made in that House about the injustice and impolicy of the income tax; but he was convinced, after a most careful inquiry of the whole question that upon every ground of fairness, policy, and justice, that tax ought to be continued. At the same time he thought it ought to be so levied as to press equally on all classes. He contended that the poor man who in- 1194 dulged himself at the close of his day's work with a glass of spirits and water, or a pipe of tobacco, contributed by doing so a larger proportion of his earnings to the revenue than the more opulent classes did. The same remark applied to the case of tea and sugar, cocoa, and other colonial and foreign articles of produce. The revenue derived from these indirect sources of consumption amounted in the aggregate to £36,000,000, and of this sum a much larger amount was contributed by persons of £150 a year and less, in proportion to their incomes, than the wealthier classes of the country. This fact should, in his opinion, reconcile the rich merchants and landowners to a somewhat higher rate of income tax, in order to relieve those who could so ill afford it, and who could only pay it by denying themselves the few luxuries, and even some of the necessaries, they enjoyed.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee.
§ Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he should put the Resolution relating to the income tax into the hands of the hon. Gentleman in the Chair, without any lengthened explanation, because, in point of fact, in the various discussions on the Budget and the Commercial Treaty almost all the general topics which bore on the subject had been considerably dealt with. The exact state of the case was, that according to the calculations he made on the 10th of February, which be believed were the safest possible at that period, the anticipated revenue, in case of the House should vote all the regular charges, and should vote the income tax, as expressed in the Resolution he held in his hand, would leave a probable surplus of £400,000. A reduction of the tax proposed in that Resolution would result in a deficiency of probably the same amount. He should be most happy to give any explanation on the subject in answer to any observations that might fall from Members of the Committee, but he must decline at that moment to enter into a discussion of the general question.
Motion made, and Question proposed,—"That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,
There shall be charged, collected, and paid, for one year, commencing on the 6th day of April, 1860, for and in respect of all property, profits, and gains, charged or chargeable under the Act
passed in the 16th and 17th years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter 34, for granting to Her Majesty duties on profits arising from property, professions, trades, and offices, either by assessment, contract of composition, or otherwise, the following rates and duties, that is to say: Upon any assessment on the annual value or amount of any property, profits, or gains (except property, profits, and gains chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act), the rate or Duty of Ten Pence for every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of all such property, profits, and gains respectively; and for and in respect of the occupation of lands, tenements, hereditaments, and heritages chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act, the rate or duty of Five Pence in England, and of Three Pence Halfpenny in Scotland and Ireland respectively, for every Twenty Shillings of the annual value thereof.
§ LORD WILLIAM GRAHAM
said, that the proposition to limit the operation of this tax to one year was a mere delusion. He would remind the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman had said in his financial statement that the only way in which the income tax could be affected was by the reduction of our military and naval expenditure; but could any one suppose that, under existing circumstances, such a reduction would take place? Looking at the unsettled state of Europe, and to the consequences which might be expected to result from an attempted or accomplished act of spoliation and aggrandizement, no one could help arriving at the conclusion that henceforth our only security for peace would be in the maintenance of an armed watchfulness and continued state of military and naval preparation. So long as that expenditure was necessitated the income tax must be kept at 10d. It was therefore a mere delusion, and an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the people to endeavour to persuade them that the income tax would only last a year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, in his anxiety to carry his Budget, was quite willing to throw the responsibility of continuing the tax upon some future minister. The right hon. Gentleman had thrown away a large amount of money derived from indirect taxation, and it must be quite obvious that no further reduction could be in ado except by impairing our strength. It had been stated that the estimate for the military expenditure was not quite sufficient for this year, and also that the Government had not taken money enough to pay for the Chinese expedition, but that the Chancellor of the Exchequer trusted to some clever arrangement and ingenious mystification—to some hocus pocus arrangement between the Indian Treasury and the 1196 Downing Street Exchequer to provide for the deficiency. After it was all over the right hon. Gentleman would come down to the House and say he had made a mistake, and that the expenditure had exceeded the income, but as the money was all actually spent it was necessary that they should make it good. The present measure was not a wise and well-considered measure, after the example of the late Sir Robert Peel, who looked to the interests of futurity, but a mere patching up of the present revenue at the expense of the future. The right hon. Gentleman used formerly to sit on Conservative benches, and act on Conservative principle, but certainly this was not a Conservative measure. On the contrary, it was a proceeding quite in harmony with the rash and imprudent conduct of the ministry with respect to the whole of their financial arrangements. He could no see how it was possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to hold out any well-founded hope that the income tax would not be required next year; but if he had he trusted he would explain the grounds of it to the Committee.
§ MR. P. W. MARTIN
said, that he did not see any reason why the naval and military expenditure should necessarily remain at their present high figure—namely, £10,000,000 more than in 1857, when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power and when he could not but suppose that, I according to their view, the public service was efficiently provided for. He looked upon this extra £10,000,000 as so much capital invested, and which had become necessary in order to place our navy and our army upon an efficient footing as compared with the military forces of other powers, which had of late years, been making great exertions in that direction. But it was not to be supposed that we should be going on every year increasing the number of our steam war-ships, or adding to the stock of Armstrong guns and Enfield rifles. Next year, or the year after, the House must look this subject of the military expenditure of the country in the face, and decide the limit to which it should, under ordinary circumstances, extend; and whether they had ships enough, and weapons enough of a proper description, £20,000,000 a year would not be sufficient to cover all the charges of our army and navy. The income tax was in all respects objectionable. It was inquistorial and unfair between one man and another, and of which, after the repeated pledges 1197 that had been given, the country was heartily weary. He agreed to it on the present occasion, regarding it as, in effect, a war tax, and limited in its duration, according to the present intentions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the present year, and to be reduced or totally abolished next year. It might seem absurd to some hon. Gentleman that he should expect this, but they must remember that the £10,000,000 increase in the military estimates since 1858 exactly represented the whole of the tenpenny income tax, and if he was right in supposing that that £10,000,000 might be regarded as so much invested capital, and not as a permanent charge, there was no reason why next year or the year after the tax should not be abolished, unless, indeed, it was the pleasure of the House to make it a part of the permanent system of taxation. He now supported the income tax as a war tax, because they virtually had war Estimates; but he reserved to himself a full right to oppose it in a future year.
§ MR. GARNETT
said, he was not sanguine enongh to suppose that this tax would be abolished next year, and he had therefore given notice of his intention to move an Amendment, which it would be his duty at some future stage to bring under the notice of the House. As that Amendment stood upon the paper, it proposed to extend the 7d. rate which was to be allowed for incomes under £150 a year to all incomes under £500; but since giving notice of it he had come to the conclusion that considering the large amount of revenue the adoption of that proposal would sacrifice, it ought not to apply to incomes of above £300. His object was to relieve as many persons as possible, with the least loss to the revenue. It appeared that, according to a Return laid before Parliament last year, No. 119, taking schedule D, the number of persons paving on incomes between £150 and £200 was 41,031; from £200 to £300, 33,611; but if they exceeded this amount, and came to incomes between £300 and £400, there was a great and sudden drop in the number of individuals paying on them. The immediate decrease in the number, by the return, was 50 per cent, the number of persons possessing incomes between £300 and £400 being 15,524; whilst of incomes between £400 and £500 there were only 7,528. In Schedule E the diversity of incomes was even more remarkable. By extending the 1198 exemption he asked for, to incomes of £300, the revenue would lose £231,720 under these two Schedules. With the surplus the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated on, he would ask him whether he could not afford to make this exemption. Probably he would say he could not; but he had hoped that he would have even extended it to incomes of £200. For, in 1853, when he was holding out a hope of the income tax ceasing, the right hon. Gentleman himself extended the tax to incomes of £100. Sir Robert Peel fixed the charge on incomes of £150, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid it on the lower income, alleging the advantages the payers had derived from the remission of duties on articles of indirect taxation. His chief object in proposing the exemption was to decrease the pressure of the tax on persons of moderate means and precarious incomes.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he wished to warn the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Martin) that there was no chance of the income tax being reduced or ceasing. The House must not fancy for a moment that the expenditure for the navy would be a shilling less next year than in the present one. They might even make up their minds that it would be more expensive. In 1857 the navy had got to a very low state. The right hen. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) had put it on a bettor footing. But we had been obliged to build an entire new navy. It was a wooden navy, and they had obtained some very fine ships. But what guarantee had they that this navy would be permanent? He had no notion that it would be so. Then they had to provide new guns for the whole navy; they would have to expend enormous sums in Armstrong's and Whitworth's guns. The sums charged this year would not give guns to more than one or two ships. France had six new iron frigates; the English Government was building two. If some arrangement could be made by which France would stand as she was as to ships, and England stand fast also, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer might hold out some hopes of the income tax ceasing next year. But England was compelled to build ships faster than the Emperor; England had more colonies, and it was impossible she could remain with only the same naval force as France and be in a state of safety. Then they had been told by the Secretary of the Admiralty that France had the means of 1199 manning a fleet—that England had not; that was a serious question for the House of Commons to consider. New establishments in which to build iron ships would be required, and new docks for them afterwards. What hope could the Chancellor of the Exchequer have of reducing the income tax? If the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) had followed up his own views, and, when negotiating the French Treaty, made an arrangement that each country should only possess a certain number of ships of war, then both might be relieved from an immense expenditure, and they might have some hope of the income tax ceasing. But he believed the expenditure of the navy would be £14,000,000 or £15,000,000 in the next year. Then against the iron ships of war it was proposed to place iron forts all along the coast; there was a model of one in the Tea-room of the House, and if forts like it were to be built all round the country they would cost £12,000,000. A vote of £850,000 had been taken for the Chinese war; it was ridiculous to suppose that the war would be put an end to for that sum. They were sending 20,000 men and a large fleet to China; could they expect that £850,000 would do it? It was useless to think that the income tax would be reduced. They might make up their minds on having to pay 1s. in the pound next year. Europe was in a most unsatisfactory state; no one could tell to what lengths the Emperor of the French might go; he believed he meant mischief, and England must maintain a strong army and navy.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he could not help regretting that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had departed from the understanding that before discussing the income tax they should have made some greater progress in the Estimates, in conformity with the rule generally laid down of voting supply before they came to discuss Ways and Means. It was not only a good rule in general, but there were particular reasons this year why it should not have been departed from. The House would then have proceeded to discuss the Ways and Means with minute information of what the expenditure would be. They were making a considerable change in the financial system, and it was important to know whether the Government could rely on the small surplus estimated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The only Vote yet taken on account of 1200 the Army and Navy was that agreed to a few evenings since, a Vote on account of the Chinese war, amounting to £850,000; but even that Vote was not for the year 1860–61, but for an excess in the year 1859–60. That Vote was taken late at night, and the explanations which were then afforded had not proved satisfactory to his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) and others. That a discrepancy existed between the statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the Secretary for War was evident, for in bringing forward the Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated that the amount of excess in relation to the Chinese expedition, which would have to be provided for in the Army and Navy Estimates for the year 1859–60, would be £1,170,000, whereas a Vote for £850,000 was all that had been taken. There was great difficulty in dealing with calculations of this description, and from his own experience at the Treasury he would say that Estimates coming from the War Office ought to be looked at with great caution. Parties there, if they had money enough for the purposes of the moment, were very much disposed to say that all was right, and to overlook claims which were outstanding. On one occasion the authorities at the War Office, he knew, had been extremely reluctant to admit that there was any deficiency at all, and yet it turned out that there was a deficiency of not less than a million. He should, therefore, rejoice if the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary to the Treasury could give an assurance that they had looked into the accounts and had satisfied themselves that the excess to be provided for was in reality not more than £850,000. Any additional payments, whether to the Governor General of India or otherwise, would most seriously affect the surplus on which his right hon. Friend had counted. He wished also to know whether there was any truth in the statement that a large sum was to be raised by way of loan for the purpose of fortifying the country. If such were not the case, an assurance to that effect ought to be given; but if it were intended that a sum of anything like £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 should be raised, it was very desirable that the House should know how this was to be accomplished, and what was the amount of interest which it would be requisite to pay. Otherwise, if such a measure were in contemplation, it would render necessary a 1201 Supplementary Budget later in the year, a course which was always inconvenient to the House, as well as distasteful to the country. His right hon. Friend had indulged in one anticipation of a more agreeable character, to the effect that in the present year there would be a diminution of about £325,000 in the Civil Estimates. If this were really a diminution, it would be very important as laying the foundation of judicious retrenchment; but, on the other hand, if these were mere unexpended balances which were applied in payment of certain Votes, the diminution spoken of was only apparent. The House would doubtless feel that it was justified in being a little critical, owing to the peculiar character of the Budget which his right hon. Friend had introduced. He would not accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of any intention to "make things pleasant," as it was called; but he had certainly brought forward the Budget in such a way that the burdens which the country would have to bear did not at first sight appear in full force, and their extent could not he appreciated without looking very closely into the matter. They were not only called on to throw away sources of revenue, but the wants of the present year were made good by the employment of what might be called revenue, but which was in effect a forestalling of capital. £1,400,000 were taken up in this way on the malt and hop credits, and an additional million of Exchequer bonds were postponed or renewed. The income tax likewise was a burden of which the weight had not been fully estimated. It was regarded as a tax at the rate of 10d. in the pound levied in the usual way, but the severity of the impost was increased by the fact that they were about to pay the amount for three-fourths of the year in the same period in which one-half was ordinarily levied. Under the old system, if a 5d. income tax were imposed, there would be a balance of £2,400,000 at the commencement of the next financial year; by doubling the rate to 10d., therefore, the balance ought in like proportion to be £4,800,000; but the fact was, that in 1861–2 the sum remaining to be received would be only£2,150,000—so that an income tax virtually amounting to 15d. in the pound was drawn this year from the pockets of the people. If this sum had been professedly and avowedly laid on, not only would there have been a larger sum in hand, and a smaller deficit to be encountered next year, but the people would have 1202 known the full weight of the burden which was to be laid upon them. As regarded the mode of its collection, the class which would suffer more severely than any other would be the tenant farmers, for whose benefit it had been stated this Budget was especially brought forward; because, not only would they have to pay their own income tax, but they would have to pay that of their landlords a quarter of a year earlier than usual. The right hon. Gentleman had given the House some very interesting statistics with regard to the increase of wealth in the country, more particularly that of the landed interest as represented in Schedules A and B, Since then the noble Lord the Member for Herefordshire (Lord W. Graham), and others had called attention to some of the fallacies, as they deemed them, in the calculation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This, at all events, was clear,—that the produce of taxation had increased in much greater proportion under the Schedules A and B than under any of the others, for it appeared that while the produce of taxation under Schedule D had only grown 9 per cent, that under Schedule A had grown 11, and that under Schedule B 19 per cent. The large increase in the local expenditure which had taken place likewise fell on these very classes, who, by the change in the system of taxation, were now called on to support much greater burdens than in former years. It should be remembered that a very large proportion of English capital went out of the country and found remunerative employment abroad, thereby freeing itself from the scope of taxation. This was a result of free trade, and to the same end there was every reason to believe that the recent Treaty with France would largely contribute. Under the new system there would be a great temptation to English capitalists to invest their capital in French manufactories, because they would have the command both of the French and of the English markets free of duty; whereas, if they invested in English manufactories, though they would still have command of the English markets, they would have to pay a duty of 30 per cent before their goods could be admitted to the French market. How far that would operate and on what class of manufactures he could not say, but he had no doubt that it would tell to a considerable extent, and his opinion was shared by men of practical experience. Of course, English capitalists were entitled to invest their capital wher- 1203 ever they pleased, but it was clear that if English capital went out of the country to any great extent our direct taxation would fall with increased seventy upon the capital invested in land, which could not leave the country. There was another consideration, and one of a very painful character. In 1853 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in comparing the pressure of the income tax upon Schedules A and B and Schedule D, pointed out that there were instances in which considerable frauds were committed by those who had to assess themselves under Schedule D. That statement was perfectly correct, and it so happened that, as a Member of a Commission appointed by the late Government, it fell to his lot to look into cases which had given him an insight into the way in which those self-assessments were carried on. Two years ago he was employed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Durham in investigating the claims of persons connected with the Ecclesiastical Courts for compensation in consequence of the abolition of their offices. Those claims were generally preferred with great fairness, and were substantiated by the production of books and accounts; but when he came to compare some of them with the returns which the claimants had made to the income tax he was astonished by the most painful disclosures. One gentleman, who stood very high in the profession to which he belonged, had paid income tax for some years on an average income of £3,000; but it was proved satisfactorily that his actual income had been double that amount, and in one year it had been £9,000. That gentleman, before he applied to the Treasury, paid to the Income-tax Commissioners arrears to the amount of £609, in order to enable himself to come into court. A very respectable firm proved that in five years they had made £31,432, but the amount they had returned to the income tax in the same period was no more than £8,800. In another case a gentleman claiming between £3,000 and £4,000 a year, and who was proved to have made more than £2,000 by his profession, had assessed himself for one year at £200 per annum. Afterwards his return rose to £1,161, and when questioned he stated that he had fixed upon that amount because he thought an odd figure would look better than a round sum. No doubt these were exceptional cases, but it was obvious that very considerable frauds were committed, and that the higher the in- 1204 come tax was raised the greater would be the temptation to persons who assessed themselves under Schedule D. This, at all events, was a matter which the Committee ought to consider before they resolved to retain the income tax as a permanent impost. But they were told that relief was to come in the shape of a reduction of expenditure. He was afraid that those who used that language were labouring under a delusion. Nobody who had listened to the speeches of the Secretary for War and the Secretary to the Admiralty, in introducing their estimates for the year, could believe that we had arrived at the limit of expenditure with regard either to the navy or to the army. There had been a large expenditure on the Armstrong gun, but it turned out that the Whitworth was better, and must be had, and perhaps in another year there would be something better than that. They were told that the introduction of improvements in naval warfare rendered a change necessary in our system of defence, by the substitution of screws for paddles, then gun-boats, then floating batteries, and then iron-cased frigates; and who could tell with all these new and great inventions cropping up, where the limit could be assigned, or what new improvements and inventions would not have to be taken advantage of? Then it was said the strength of our navy must bear a certain proportion to the strength of the navies of France and Russia. It would, therefore, be impossible to stop in the career of expense. On the other hand, could we even be sure, after what had been stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, that we had reached the limit of sacrifice in respect of the casting away of sources of revenue? It was clear that next year we should have to take off, at least, the war duties on tea and sugar—very possibly more; and, therefore, even though our expenditure might, to some extent, be reduced, we could by no means reckon upon the maintenance of our present income. But it was said that we should soon have a Reformed Parliament—a Parliament of an economical character—which would put an end to aristocratic extravagance. Upon what was the expectation grounded that the working classes, if they were really to have a predominant voice in the Legislature, would be more economical than the middle classes? The working classes had happily much improved in condition, through the whole 1205 period during which our financial and commercial reforms and our great increase of expenditure had been going on. They had derived great benefit from the increase of our expenditure, coupled with the reduction of indirect taxation; and though it was true, as stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that expenditure had advanced more rapidly than wealth, it was equally true that wealth had advanced in a much greater ratio than population; and the effect of this was a rise of wages. The effect of our recent expenditure on the army and navy, had been to take a larger proportion of the labouring classes away from the industry of the country, to employ them as soldiers and sailors, and thus to increase the price of labour. In 1841–2 we raised only 164,000 men for the military services, while the population was 27,000,000; but in 1860–1 we were raising 301,000, exclusive of the Militia and reserve, while the population was 30,000,000. In 1841–2 the per centage of armed men in the population was 6 in 1,000; in 1860–1 it was 10 in 1,000. The population since that period had increased only 11 per cent, while the Army and Navy had increased 34 per cent. That was one way in which the expenditure on military services had raised wages and benefited the population. No doubt the bounty offered to seamen entering the Royal Navy, had had the effect of raising the wages of merchant seamen; and whenever men were withdrawn by active recruiting from the manufacturing or agricultural districts, the effect must be to create a scarcity of labour, and thus to raise the rate of wages. In a volume of miscellaneous statistics lately issued by the Government, there was a table of the comparative rate of wages in Manchester (prepared by Mr. D. Chadwick), and the neighbourhood for the last ten years, from which it would be seen that the wages in the cotton and silk trades, and in the mechanical trades, had considerably increased within that period—some of them to the extent of nearly 45 per cent. The comforts of the labouring classes, therefore, were increased in every way, They had higher wages, shorter hours of labour, and provisions at a reduced price. Was it reasonable, therefore, to suppose that a Parliament elected by them, would be particularly anxious to keep down expenditure, by some parts of which they, to a certain extent, greatly benefited? What he was more afraid of was, that such a 1206 Parliament, leaving expenditure where it was, or even calling for more, would be inclined to throw the burden more and more on the upper classes, and on realized property, which could not escape from it. That danger was aggravated by the practice of voting the income tax from year to year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had himself objected to this practice in 1857, and expressed his opinion that it marked the transition from a solid and steady system, to a vacillating and merely provisional system of finance. He was ns anxious as any one to maintain the credit of the country, and, as the House had agreed to throw away certain sources of revenue, and as there seemed no present prospect of cutting down expenditure, he was ready to vote the income tax at the rate asked for by the Government; but he hoped this would be the last time the House would be called on to vote it for one year only; a form which had the effect of disguising from the country the full extent of the sacrifices which it was called on to make.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, he had received an unusual number of letters from his constituents on the subject of the income tax. They did not so much object to the tax itself as to the mode in which it was levied. If it were to be continued there should be a thorough and sifting inquiry into the mode of its assessment. He was aware that difficulties beset the question, but if they could not have perfect justice let them have rough justice. He should propose three gradations of incomes—those arising from fixed property, those arising from trades in which capital was largely employed, and those obtained from employments where no capital whatever was employed. The latter source of income was of all others the least to be depended on; few professional men attained to a large income till the close of their career, and at their deaths little was left for their families. Before another year he hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House would look to the question carefully and fully. The Budget had been described as a peculiar one. No doubt it was so; but he believed that no measure of the kind had ever been presented that was so acceptable to the country. Several persons had individual complaints; but there was a universal approval of the measure as a whole. The hon. Baronet (Sir S. Northcote), had spoken of the Chancellor of the Exchequer throwing away sources of income. He (Sir M. 1207 Peto) did not agree with him in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer simply followed in the steps of his predecessor. He had done that which would enable the country to bear taxation to a larger degree than ever. He had only thrown away such sources of revenue as had bound the energies of industry. Then the hon. Baronet had expressed a fear that unfixed capital would leave this country. There was no fear of that, and as to the idea that it would be invested in foreign manufactories, the English manufactories paid too well to allow such a notion possible. There was no disposition on the part of capitalists to invest in foreign countries. An auctioneer had told him the other day that those who generally bought landed estates were men who had realized large incomes in trade and manufactures, chiefly those from Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Scotland, and as to the position of the tenant farmers referred to by the hon. Baronet he believed that no class in the country lived so comfortably as the tenant farmers, or supported their families at so little expense. But the Budget could only be contemplated as a whole, and, so considering it, he had determined not only to accept it, but to vote for the full amount of the income tax; but he felt he should not be doing justice to his constituents if he did not warn the Government that in a future year he should expect, before it was reimposed, a full and fair investigation would be entered into for the purpose of devising a more equitable mode of levying the tax.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that there were two questions that he was anxious to submit to the Committee, namely, first, whether the Committee had before it sufficient grounds for the expenditure upon which they were about to enter, namely, £70,100,000; and, secondly, assuming that such an income must be raised, whether a tenpenny income tax was the proper mode of providing the funds. The Committee should bear in mind that that was not a time of war, or any great crisis, requiring the imposition of an income tax, or rather an addition being made to an existing income tax, but the alleged necessity for this addition arose from a deficit which had been artificially and intentionally created by Her Majesty's Government. He had not thought it right in any way to oppose the arrangements of Her Majesty's Government as 1208 far as the repeal they proposed of various taxes was concerned, because when the Government, backed by the revenue officers determined on repealing a tax it was useless for that House to resist. But notwithstanding all that had been said he had his own opinion that, with respect to some of those taxes, revenue had been thrown away. Were they not, he would ask, throwing away revenue on the higher classes of wines and brandies? Were not the taxes on those commodities taxes on a sort of monopoly? And yet they were all to be thrown away, but the prices would not be reduced, and the difference would only go into the pockets of the producers. Nor did he think it politic to concentrate all the revenue upon a few articles. He also objected to throwing away the paper duty. It was certainly to some extent productive of inconvenience, but it was a growing revenue, and knowing this it was unwise in a moment of peace, when there was a positive deficit, to abolish a paper duty. But passing these matters over, he would put it to Her Majesty's Government whether, having repealed all these taxes, they were not bound to find a fair and just equivalent? A more unjust and unfair equivalent than the inquisitorial income tax could not be found. What was the conduct of the Whig party in 1842? What did the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) do when Sir Robert Peel first introduced the income tax? At that time Sir Robert Peel had some justification for the tax, because there had been a chronic deficiency for five years of £10,000,000. But the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) said he would resist the Resolution and the Report, and he would fight the Bill at every stage. And the noble Lord has kept his word, for the House was detained in Committee many days, and there were two or three divisions. Upon one occasion the noble Lord himself moved an Amendment which concluded in words of this description, that it was a tax inquisitorial in its nature and unequal in its pressure, one which had always been considered as a reserve by the nation in time of war, and one which was not then justified by any necessity. In that Motion the noble Lord was supported by the whole Whig party, who lavished, and most justly, every invective on the tax, and there never had been a battle better contested than the resistance then offered to that unequal tax in a time of peace. But he thought the House should have a little more information as to the 1209 real extent of the expenditure for which provision was required to be made. It was assumed to be £70,100,000; but what ground had the Committee for that but the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? They had only passed one money Vote as yet; they had not even passed one money Vote for the army; they had not taken the ordinary course of considering whether they could make any reduction. He could not, certainly, as far as he was concerned, concur in all the observations that had been made in favour of entering into a race of expense in our dockyards with France or with any neighbouring country. On the contrary, he contended that the evidence on the table of the House showed that they ought to look another way; for that evidence showed that the dockyards had been scenes of great extravagance. He did not grudge a single ship nor a single man that was found to be necessary; but he did most heartily condemn the system of expenditure in the dockyards which the report of the Committee appointed by the Executive itself had established as having been pursued. That Report proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the expenditure in the Royal dockyards, as compared with the expenditure in private yards, was as three to one, and that in the building of ships of the same kind, the difference between the various dockyards themselves amounted to 40 per cent. For instance, a certain class of ship at Woolwich cost £10,000; at Sheerness, £9,000; and at Chatham, £6,000. Therefore, he contended that before imposing an extra income tax the House should inquire into the manner in which the expenditure had been carried on in their departments. They had already had Committees to investigate the question, and these Committees had proved that those departments were not under proper control, that the expenditure was often left to subordinates, while an audit of a most feeble character, and scarcely of any—if of any—use at all, was the only check upon their proceedings. He should like to know, indeed, what effort the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made to cheek this expenditure? If the right hon. Gentleman would only show half the energy in that direction that he exhibited in adding to the taxes his exertions would result in some good. All that he (Sir H. Willoughby) had said of the navy would apply with equal force to the army. It was clear that in every department of the army great and 1210 grievous expenditure was incurred. With regard to the Civil Service Estimates the only effort made in the way of economy was the appointment of a Committee, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford, with the view of reducing the expenditure, and even that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not supported. He contended that it was the duty of the Government to do something to obviate this extreme income tax, and he was quite sure that the portion of the tax to which his Motion referred might be accounted for. There was another point, and that was in reference to the collection of the revenue. In the account given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the cost of collection the amount for this year was £4,700,000; and it was difficult to understand why it should be now so much, when last year it was only £4,300,000. He believed that under this head considerable reduction might be made. Then, again, let them look at the cost of useless Commissions, and at the enormous compensations which the country was called upon to pay. There was nothing so alarming as to hoar a speech of an Attorney General going to improve the law; for it was quite sure to end in a charge upon the public of some £20,000 a year, and they were fortunate if they got off at such a price. It made him tremble at any proposal for the amendment in the law. He contended that it was the duty of an honest Government revising the Estimates to see if they could not first reduce the income tax. Another thing struck him as curious—the extent to which our income was usually understated. The policy of Chancellors of the Exchequer in their financial statements for the last five or six years seemed to be to understate the income. In the year 1856–7 the public income was understated to the amount of £700,000; in 1857–8 to nearly £1,500,000; and in 1858–9, speaking of the Estimates given at the beginning of the year, and the results as they came out when the financial year was concluded, there was an understatement to the extent of £2,300,000. In the year 1859–60, the year just concluded, he found there was an under-estimate to the extent of £1,118,000. Under these circumstances, he must respectfully infer that the income for 1860–61, for which year the ordinary income was estimated at £60,700,000, was understated; and, therefore, he made his proposal for a reduction of the income tax without the slightest fear or flinching. But 1211 he should not do justice to his case if he did not rest it on another ground; that this tax was so thoroughly unjust, iniquitous, and odious, that those who tried to impose it were called upon to make out their case. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his remarkable Budget speech had stated the income for the last twenty-seven years. He said that in 1842 the expenditure was £68,500,000, of which £13,000,000 was local; it the next epoch it got up to £71,000,000, and in 1859 to £87,000,000, of which £17,000.000 was local. Let the Committee ask this question—upon whom did the great sum of local taxation rest? and they would find that it rested almost entirely upon those who held houses and land, the persons who were taxed under Schedule A. Now, was it fair or just that they should, whilst under no great pressure, and as a sort of luxury, fling to the winds £1,500,000 of paper duty, to which, whatever might be its in-conveniencies, every person in the community contributed, and cast the burden on the particular class which paid income tax. It appeared to him that it was impossible to do so with any appearance of justice. He was disinclined to trespass on their attention at greater length, when he thought his case was so clear and unanswerable, and he should, therefore, conclude by putting before them his Amendment that in the income tax Resolution the word "ten" should be left out, and the word "nine" inserted.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
This debate has been so discursive that it is less difficult to say what questions connected with income and expenditure, or the circumstances of the country, have not, than what have been introduced. There are some few points however, and those were urged against the proposition of the Government, on which I wish to say a few words. The noble Lord who commenced the discussion complained that it was a delusion to ask for a vote of income tax for only one year. It would have been a delusion on the part of the Government to ask for the income tax for one year if they had asked it with the profession that they saw their way to a likelihood of its abolition at the close of the year. But they make no such profession. On the contrary, the reason why it was asked only for one year was very clearly and fully stated, in order that they might by so doing preserve to Parliament the fullest control over the expenditure of the 1212 country; and it is quite obvious that, if they had asked for it at 10d. this year, and at a declining rate for subsequent years, without sufficient warrant, they would have given countenance to the notion that they saw their way to its extinction; whereas, if they had asked for it at 10d. for a term of years, the answer would have been justly made, "You are not entitled in time of peace to request Parliament to vote for so high a rate except you are quite certain it is necessary." It may be error of policy or not, but as no expectation has been held out no delusion can take place. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Martin) has certainly given utterance to a very sanguine expectation, for he says he votes for the income tax this year with the expectation of its ceasing altogether next year; and, on the other hand, the gallant Admiral who represents a metropolitan district (Sir C. Napier) has pretty effectually corrected whatever of excess there was in that too sanguine expectation, by the view which he takes of the finances of the country, according to which, if his very confident prophecy be fulfilled, apart from the contingency of wars, there must be successive additions every year of several millions to the Navy Estimates; and each year we are told in stronger terms that the provision is totally insufficient for the ordinary and necessary service of the country. I do not think I am bound to accede to either of those extreme views—not to that of my hon. Friend, still less to the extravagant view, as it seems to me, of the gallant Admiral, because the gallant Admiral does not take into account that there are limits to the patience and power of the people to bear taxation, and seems to think that the sole end for which the race of man was created was to provide these huge, gigantic, and never-ending armaments. I think our duty plain, in a state of considerable uncertainty as to the future, to take that course which will least interfere with the free judgment and action of Parliament, and will best preserve its control over the expenditure. It is not to create difficulties for the future that we ask for the income tax for a year only, but on the definite principle that we think that the power of Parliament to apply itself to the reduction of expenditure, if such a reduction be possible, should be preserved full and unimpaired. My hon. Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir S. Northcote) made a very discursive and ingenious speech, and he has represented in very 1213 lugubrious accents the state of things to which we are tending. According to him we shall find on all sides increasing demands and uncomfortable prospects, and the only thing which I miss in his speech is the only thing which would be useful in these speeches—namely, the recognition of the primary but constantly forgotten truth, that taxation and expenditure must go together, and that efforts ought to be made, where they can be made, to reduce the expenditure of the country. If I had heard as much as a word in his speech which showed that he thought the reduction of expenditure was an object worthy a moment's consideration, I should say it was a useful contribution to our debates. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down lays the blame on me. He says it is the fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the expenditure is not reduced. I must say, that if there be a charge which my worst enemy cannot make against me, it is the not having laboured for a reduction of expenditure. He accused me also of not supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Wise); but the reason why I objected to it was, that it would have led to the institution of a general Committee, which I thought would prove a delusion. I told the hon. Member then, and I have told him since, that if he was able to conduct such an inquiry, every aid which could be given to him should be freely given. My hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Sir M. Peto) wishes to know whether I admit that the mode of levying and assessing the income tax is a fair case for inquiry by this House? I have not the least hesitation to answer that it is. I should consider, however, it the grossest breach of duty if I pretended the possession of any means by which a reconstruction could be safely and satisfactorily effected. But I do not presume to say that others may not be more fortunate. I think they are entitled to ask that it should be again the subject of Parliamentary inquiry, and, if such be the desire of the House, there will not be the slightest opposition on the part of the Government. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Garnett) referred to a notice for the partial exemption of incomes under a certain amount. It is not possible to make any modification of that kind, in the tax for the present year without causing a serious defalcation of revenue, and I do not think in the condition in which we now stand, inasmuch as every reduc- 1214 tion on one class will require an augmentation on another, that it is convenient or expedient to enter upon a consideration of that proposal. But I frankly own that it is my opinion, especially if it is found impracticable to adopt any plan of general reconstruction, that the House should consider in a future year (should the income tax continue at a high rate in time of peace), of some extension, in some form or other, of a mode of mitigation or partial relief to the lower class of incomes. There is no doubt that the subject is one of great difficulty, because on the one side it is a severe tax, as it affects the lowest class; on the other hand, we touch on very delicate ground indeed when we enter largely on the question of mitigation. But the principle of mitigation has been applied in former years, and at a former period up to a higher point than the point to which we now extend it, because in the time of Mr. Pitt, the principle of mitigation went up to £200 a year. Therefore, I consider it quite open within safe and moderate limits to apply the principle of mitigation. The hon. Baronet (Sir H. Willoughby) asks on what grounds we think the expenditure of £70,100,000 is necessary. Well, I may put the same question to the hon. Baronet. No doubt, if I could make over to him the regulation of the year's expenditure, he would contrive so to handle it as to bring it within bounds. But he has seen the view and temper of the House; he knows that the House has passed the most important Votes of the Military and Naval Estimates—the number of men in the two services—those being the votes on which the general scale of expenditure depends; and he must have seen that the House of Commons, so far from showing any disposition to make reductions in those estimates, seems to wish to push on the Government in its expenditure. In the Miscellaneous Estimates we ourselves propose considerable reductions. I will not attempt now to give a more particular explanation of them than I have already endeavoured to state in general terms to the House; but what ground is there to suppose that by means of any number of Dockyard Committees or Commissions a great saving can be effected in the expenditure of the coming year under this head? In my opinion, he must be a very sanguine man if he expects any such saving. I say again that it is upon the tone and temper of the people that reductions depend. It is public opinion and the 1215 national sentiment which in the main determine our scale of expenditure; it is not by instruments like those suggested by the hon. Baronet, which are subordinate and secondary, that any great or early economy will be effected. There is no ground, then, to suppose that my statement of the expenditure necessary for the service of the year is an extravagant one. On the contrary, the prevailing tone of the discussion to-night is that our financial provision is altogether insufficient, and that our actual expenditure will be much more than £70,100,000. The gallant Officer opposite (General Peel) complains that our provision for the expedition to China, which may or may not have to carry on war, is by no means large enough. Well, then, if that be so, it is at any rate a good argument with which to answer the hon. Baronet, who thinks it is too large. Then the hon. Baronet says that the revenue is systematically understated, by which he means underestimated, though the two things are totally different. Now let the Committee see how this stands. It is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is so recognized by them all, to be bound in his estimates of revenue mainly by the authorities of the permanent civil service. It is his duty to lay before the House estimates in the realization of which he feels a reasonable confidence, and, subject to the condition of their being safe estimates, they are to come as nearly as possible up to the probable revenue. That is the principle upon which such estimates are made. But then the hon. Baronet says they are underestimates. Well, it is very true that when you have a flourishing state of trade, when you have employment very active, when you are blessed with a good harvest, there is a tendency in the national revenue to exceed the expenditure, but it has always been a sound and recognized principle of statesmanship in this country to call on Parliament to provide some amount of surplus revenue in order that by a steady process, though by slow degrees, we may work for a reduction of our debt. Does the hon. Baronet adhere to that principle? Because, if so, I must tell him that I could not go beyond my estimate of revenue except upon grounds merely speculative, and upon assumptions, not of average circumstances, to which we are bound to look, but of the most favourable circumstances possible. If, therefore, the Committee accedes to his Amendment on such 1216 grounds it will be a departure from all safe and prudent principles of finance in making the provision necessary for the service of the year. Then he complains that I am asking for an extravagant sum for the revenue departments. That is an error. The sum taken last year under this head was £4,740,000, not £4,300,000; and he ought to remember that although in some portion of the revenue collection it is possible to proceed steadily in the way of reduction, as regards the most costly of the revenue departments—namely, the Post Office, where an enormous service has to be maintained in order to realize the revenue at all—the expenditure is an expansive one. Then, again, will the cost of our law reforms justify the hon. Baronet's Motion? The Attorney General's proposal will in the first instance throw a possible charge of £20,000 upon the Consolidated Fund. If the hon. Baronet thinks the Chancellor of the Exchequer admits such charges as these as matters of course without inquiry or examination, let him take the trouble to ask my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, and he will find that in this case there has been pretty full examination. Has the plan proposed been received with disfavour? On the contrary, it is regarded as one worthy the distinguished powers of the man by whom it has been framed, and this possible charge upon the Consolidated Fund is a just and necessary portion of the plan. Take it at its worst. Suppose we have to defray this £20,000 a year. Does that afford any reason why the hon. Baronet should cut away £800,000 or £900,000 of revenue, and should leave the Exchequer with an absolute deficit! I am by no means prepared to admit that the charge imposed by the Bankruptcy Bill is an extravagant one. My hon. and learned Friend convinced me that at the present moment the enormous cost to which suitors in bankruptcy are subjected is driving business out of the court, and that consequently while the suitors suffer great hardships the country would probably soon be obliged to assume a very heavy charge if the present state of things were allowed to continue. He has likewise shown the high probability that by a timely and judicious reform of the Bankruptcy Court you will bring back such an amount of the business now transacted outside as will entirely meet the estimated charge. I submit, then, that the hon. Baronet has advanced no valid reasons why the Committee should accede to his Amend- 1217 ment. It amounts to this—that whereas I have proposed to proceed with the very low surplus of about £400,000, he proposes, instead to leave us with a deficiency of about the same amount, upon the speculative ground that possible reductions may be effected in the public expenditure during the year. But the hon. Baronet regrets the sacrifices of revenue we have made, and says—"Why throw away £1,500,000 on the paper duties?" Now, the right hon. Baronet has spoken with less than his usual accuracy on this point. [Sir H. WILLOUGHBY: I quoted a Return.] In the first place, he quoted a Return which showed a gross income from the paper duties of only £1,400,000; and next, he should have remembered that this includes the drawbacks which will have to be paid on paper exported, the expense of collecting the revenue, £50,000 or £60,000, which is about the amount of duty on paper used in the public service, so that the deductions to be made from this £1,400,000 are very considerable. At the same time it is, I admit, a large revenue, and the House has determined to part with it by a large majority. I do not intend to enter upon the question now. I put it to the candour of the Committee whether our having parted with that revenue is any reason at all for not making adequate provision for the service of the year? That is the question which is now before the Committee, and I tell you that that provision cannot be made without the income tax on the scale on which we propose it. I grant that, in our anxiety not to make the proposal too heavy, under the circumstances of the year, we have thought it allowable to apply to the service of the year sums derived from the malt and hop credits. That is a matter you may discuss and impugn. You may, perhaps, censure the Government in that respect; but it is at least a proof of our desire not to bear too hardly or suddenly on the taxpayers of the country. I put it to the Committee that the provision proposed to be made in the Resolution now on the table is absolutely necessary in order to enable us to go with credit through the service of the year, which, including among other matters a very costly military expedition to China, is involved in a degree of uncertainty as to the precise amount which is very unusual in a time of peace. One word as to the service in China. The Committee must be aware that it is absolutely impossible in the nature of things for the Government 1218 to propose certain estimates with regard to the cost of the expedition. It may be an expedition without any operations of war, or it may lead to a war which may continue throughout the year; and the difficulty is to form an estimate not more than sufficient for the first, and, at the same time, fully sufficient for the second contingency. We have endeavoured to form the best estimate of that service in our power, and have made provision for it on a scale which is exceedingly large as compared with the scale on which any military expedition has heretofore been provided, because the change in the Government of India has thrown on the Government of this country at once a great deal of the expenses which used to be borne, in the first instance, by the East India Company, and which only in subsequent years came to be accounted for by the Treasury. The sum we shall have expended on account of China in the present year, together with the sums we propose to vote for the next year, is not less than £2,500,000; and it is also to be remembered that a very considerable charge was borne by us before both on account of troops and ships for the service in China. That is a very large sum; but, considering the possibility of there being no war, I do not think we should have been justified in asking for a larger amount. Here we have again to apologise, not for asking too much, but for not asking a larger sum. I have only to repeat, I do not think the proposal of the hon. Baronet consistent either with the principles of prudent finance, or with the expectations entertained in regard to the present year.
§ MR. VANSITTART
confessed that, placing reliance upon the repeated assurances given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at former periods, he, in common with the public, generally, looked for the reduction if not the total remission of the income tax this year; instead of which it had been doubled. For his own part, he protested against the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman in laying his hands upon and appropriating moneys hitherto applied to certain purposes, and absorbing them into the expenditure of the current year. Neither could he approve the rashness which had led him, instead of providing for the liquidation of the actual deficit of £7,300,000, to create a fresh deficit of nearly £4,000,000, in order to conciliate certain gentlemen connected with the Manchester school, He maintained, moreover, 1219 that the country and the public had an undoubted right to the £2,100,000 a year, which would fall in in a few days by the terminable Long Annuities. How gracefully the right hon. Gentleman might have distributed that amount—one-half towards the reduction of the income tax, and one-half towards the reduction of the war duties on tea and sugar. By that arrangement he would not only have afforded very great relief to a vast number of his suffering countrymen who experienced the greatest difficulty in realizing a precarious income of £100 a year, but he would have enabled the poorer classes to obtain the necessaries of life at a much cheaper rate. But, instead of doing that, in his anxiety to remove duties on luxuries which the rich had no objection to pay, he was obliged to retain a heavy tax on the poor man's beer and tea; and, by his scheme of taxation, generally, he had sown the seeds of a discontent which before long would find utterance in a cry that would resound from one end of the country to the other.
§ SIR FRANCIS BARING
wished to say, in a word, that he should vote with the hon. Baronet, because he believed the income tax to be one of the worst taxes ever imposed on the people, and because he did not think the reduction of the other taxes worth an increase of so objectionable an impost.
Motion made, and Question put,—"That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
There shall be charged, collected, and paid, for one year, commencing on the 6th day of April, 1860, for and in respect of all property, profits, and gains, charged or chargeable under the Act passed in the 16th and 17th years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter 34, for granting to Her Majesty duties on profits arising from property, professions, trades, and offices, either by assessment, contract of composition, or otherwise, the following rates and duties, that is to say: Upon any assessment on the annual value or amount of any property, profits, or gains (except property, profits, and gains chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act), the rate or Duty of Nine Pence for every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of all such proporty, profits, and gains respectively.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 187: Majority 55.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Beecroft, G. S.|
|Baring, A. H.||Bentinck, G. W. P.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Bernard, hon. Col.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Bond, J. W. M'G.|
|Bective, Earl of||Bovill, W.|
|Bowyer, G.||Longfield, R.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Lovaine, Lord|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Lygon, hon. F.|
|Brooks, R.||Miller, T. J.|
|Bruce, Major C.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Butler, C. S.||Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|Cave, S.||Morris, D.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Close, M. C.||Mundy, W.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Naas, Lord|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Newport, Visct.|
|Cole, hon. H.||North, Col.|
|Collins, T.||Onslow, G.|
|Cubitt, G.||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Curzon, Visct.||Papillon, P. O.|
|Damer, S. D.||Patten, Col. W.|
|Deedes, W.||Paull, H.|
|Dickson, Col.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Du Cane, C.||Pigott, F.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Potts, G.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Dunne, Col.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Edwards, Major||Rolt, J.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Farquhar, Sir M.||Seymer, H. Ker|
|Farrer, J.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Fellowes, E.||Sibthorp, Major|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Smith, Montagu|
|Gard, R. S.||Smith, Abel|
|Gavin, Major||Smyth, Col.|
|George, J.||Somerset, Col.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Spooner, R.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Greenall, G.||Stirling, W.|
|Greene, J.||Steuart, A.|
|Gray, Captain||Stuart, Major W.|
|Griffith, C. D.||Stracey, Sir H.|
|Grogan, Sir E.||Sullivan, M.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Hardy, G.||Taylor, Col.|
|Hassard, M.||Thynne, Lord E.|
|Hennessy, J. P.||Thynne, Lord H.|
|Heygate, Sir F. W.||Tomline, G.|
|Holmesdale, Visct.||Torrens, R.|
|Hopwood, J. T.||Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Upton, hon. Gen.|
|Howes, E.||Vance, J.|
|Hunt, G. W.||Vandeleur, Col.|
|Johnstone, hon. H. B.||Vernon, L. V.|
|Jolliffe, rt. hon. Sir W. G. H.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Kendall, N.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Watlington, J. W. P.|
|Knight, F. W.||Whiteside, rt. hon. J.|
|Knox, Col.||Whitmore, H.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Wise, J. A.|
|Lanigan, J.||Wyld, J.|
|Leeke, Sir H.||Wynn, Col.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||TELLERS.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Alcock, T.||Bagwell, J.|
|Andover, Visct.||Baines, E.|
|Angerstein, W.||Baring, T. G.|
|Antrobus, E.||Baxter, W. E.|
|Atherton, Sir W.||Bazley, T.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Beale, S.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Bardcastle, J. A.|
|Black, A.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Blackburn, P.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Blencowe, J. G.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Botfield, B.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Bouverie, hon. P. P.||Howard, Lord Edward|
|Bright, J.||Humberston, P. S.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Hutt, rt. hon. W.|
|Brown, J.||Ingham, R.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||James, E.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Buchanan, W.||Johnstone, J. J. H.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R.||Kershaw, J.|
|Buller, J. W.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Buxton, C.||Kingscote, Col.|
|Caird, J.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Laing, S.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Langston, J. H.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Langton, W. H. G.|
|Cavendish, hon. W.||Lawson, W.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Lennox, Lord H. G|
|Clay, J.||Locke, Joseph|
|Clifford, C. C.||Locke, John|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Clive, G.||Mackie, J.|
|Colebrook, Sir T. E.||Mackinnon, Wm. Alex. (Lymington)|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Martin, P. W.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Martin, J.|
|Crook, J.||Miller, W.|
|Crossley, F.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Dalglish, R.||Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.|
|Davey, R.||Monson, hon. W. J.|
|Davie, Col. F.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Deasy, rt. hon. R.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Norris, J. T.|
|Dodson, J. G.||North, F.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Padmore, R.|
|Dundas, F.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Dunkellin, Lord||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Euston, Earl of||Pease, H.|
|Evans, T. W.||Peel, rt. hon. F.|
|Ewart, W.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Pilkington, J.|
|Ewing, H. E. C.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Fenwick, H.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Pritchard, J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Proby, Lord|
|Finlay, A. S.||Puller, C. W. G.|
|Foley, J. H.||Raynham, Visct.|
|Forster, C.||Ricardo, O.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Ridley, G.|
|Freeland, H. W.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|French, Col.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Rothschild, Baron L. de|
|Garnett, W. J.||Roupell, W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Gifford, Earl of||Russell, H.|
|Gilpin, C.||Russell, A.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Salomons, Mr. Ald.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Salt, Titus|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Scholefield, W.|
|Hadfield, G.||Seymour, Sir M.|
|Hanbury, R.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Hankey, T.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Walter, J.|
|Smith, J. B.||Warre, J. A.|
|Smith, M. T.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Smith, Augustus||Western, S.|
|Smith, Sir F.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Stafford, Marquess of||Whitbread, S.|
|Steel, J.||White, Col.|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Stuart, Col.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Taylor, H.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Thompson, H. S.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Tollemache, hon. F. J.||Woods, H.|
|Turner, J. A.|
|Verney, Sir H.||TELLERS.|
|Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.||Brand, hon. H.|
|Waldron, L.||Dunbar, Sir W.|
§ MR. W. E. DUNCOMBE
said, that not having had an opportunity of addressing the House on the question, he felt it to be his duty, even at that late hour to intrude for a few minutes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had altogether failed in showing any adequate reason for changing the whole course of policy which he adopted in the year 1853. He had listened attentively to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman, but he had found that no one single reason had been given why he came down to Parliament with this extraordinary demand upon the indulgence of the House. The right hon. Gentleman told the House in 1853 that he proposed the duty on the succession of real property as a means of enabling him to abolish the income tax in the year 1860. He had enjoyed all the advantage of the succession duty, yet he had now asked for an income tax into the bargain. The right hon. Gentleman ought, at all events, to reduce the income tax to the peace fate of 7d. in the pound, instead of laying on what he would call a war 3d. A strong feeling existed among all classes in the country that this was an ambitious Budget; nay, more, that it was an unjust one. The right hon. Gentleman might have reduced the duties on tea and sugar, instead of which he had given the people cheap wine and cheap brandy, which they did not care about. It had been said that the Budget was to conciliate France, and she had shown her appreciation of that by annexing Savoy. He looked with apprehension to the measures of the Government, believing them not only calculated to entail financial difficulties at home, but distrust, want of confidence, and loss of influence throughout Europe.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that he proposed to proceed 1223 with, the Resolution relative to contract notes.
2. Motion made, and Question proposed,—"That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
Provided the restrictions on dealings in the Public Funds contained in the Act of the seventh year of King George the Second shall be repealed, for and upon every note, memorandum, or writing, commonly called a Contract Note, or by whatever name the same may be designated, whereby any contract or agreement is made or evidenced, for or relating to the sale or purchase of any Government or other Public Stocks, Funds, or Securities, or any stocks, funds, or securities, or share or shares of or in any joint stock or other public Company, to the amount or value of £20 or upwards, there shall be charged the Stamp Duty of One Penny.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, that the Resolution was one upon which he wished to make some remarks, and as it would likely give rise to discussion, he should move "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he must appeal to the hon. Member not to persist in his Motion. The business of the evening had not been begun till nine o'clock, and it was necessary that the Bill to" be founded on the Resolution should be passed before Easter, otherwise a considerable amount of revenue would be lost. This could not be done unless the Resolution received the sanction of the Committee that night.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had no right to appeal to that side, as the Government had allowed the House to be counted out on Tuesday, though the Reform Bill stood on the paper.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he did not consider himself responsible for the difficulties in which the Government might have involved themselves, and must persist with the Motion for reporting progress. He had some observations to make which would occupy some time.
§ In reply to SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY,
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the intention of the Resolution was to include time bargains; to do that it would be necessary that time bargains should be legalized; and with that view he proposed to repeal the Act commonly known as Sir John Barnard's Act.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that it was for the public convenience that they should be allowed to proceed with the business before them. The present was only a preliminary stage, and the hon. Member 1224 might make his observations either then or at a future stage. The House on Tuesday was not counted out on the Reform Bill, for there were notices before it which would have occupied the whole evening.
§ In answer to Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE,
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the contract notes in this Resolution had been withdrawn as regarded sales of produce, and the only difference that existed in opinion was on the subject of dock warrants, which those interested thought ought to be limited to a penny. He, however, thought they should remain as they were in the act, but the matter could be discussed at a future stage.
§ MR. BANKS STANHOPE
said, he would not vote for reporting progress if the right hon. Gentleman said the question was purely one of revenue; but, if the object was merely to enable them to go on with their Reform Bill on Monday, he would vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Norfolk.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that great inconvenience would be the result if the Act of which the Resolution would be the basis was not passed before Easter. His proposal had no reference to the business fixed for Monday, for he proposed to fix the adjourned discussion on the Reform Bill for Friday, and to take the wine licences on Monday.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he wished to ask if he rightly understood, that in consequence of fixing the discussion on the wine duties for Monday, the adjourned debate on the Reform Bill was to be postponed till Friday next?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the Report on the income tax would be brought up at half-past four on Monday, when it might be fully discussed, and in order to have Monday evening for the discussion of the financial questions, the adjourned debate on the second reading of the Reform Bill would not be taken till Friday next.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
then moved,That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—For and upon any warrant or document, commonly called a Dock Warrant, or any other writing or document, by whatever name the same shall be designated, which shall evidence the title of any person therein named, or his assigns, or the holder thereof, to the property in any goods, 1225 wares, or merchandise lying in any dock or ware-house, or upon any wharf, such writing or document being signed or certified by or on behalf of the company or person in whose custody such goods, wares, or merchandise may be, there shall be charged the Stamp Duty of Three Pence.
§ MR. HANKEY
said, he had presided at a large meeting of persons in London connected with the colonial and various other interests, who concurred in thinking that if the proposed tax on dock warrants was not reduced to a penny it would be exceedingly onerous. There was a large portion of the trade of London on which dock warrants were not taken at all, and the tax could be constantly evaded. Dock warrants were taken out for the purpose chiefly of enabling parties to borrow money upon them; they were valuable documents, and he did not object to see a tax imposed upon them; but so high a tax as 3d. would be evaded. He should move an Amendment that the tax be one penny instead of threepence.
Motion made, and Question proposed,—"That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
For and upon any warrant or document commonly called a Dock Warrant, or any other writing or document, by whatever name the same shall be designated, which shall evidence the title of any person therein named, or his assigns, or the holder thereof, to the property in any goods, wares, or merchandise lying in any dock or warehouse, or upon any wharf, such writing or document being signed or certified by or on behalf of the company or person in whose custody such goods, wares, or merchandise may be, there shall be charged the Stamp Duty of One Penny.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he did not pretend to say that any charge, whether it was threepence or a penny, on dock warrants was a good thing in itself; but he might remind his hon. Friend (Mr. Hankey) that immense sacrifices of revenue had just been made for the general benefit of trade with the general concurrence of the House, but upon the understanding that trade should bear in another shape a portion of the burden which that change would render necessary. He was therefore of opinion that the charge was a most legitimate one, and, contrasting dock warrants, which were a symbol of value on which money could be 1226 raised, with delivery orders, maintained that a charge of three pence on the former was not higher, their average value being taken into account, than of a penny on the latter.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, there certainly existed a difference of the description stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer between a delivery order and a dock warrant; and in consequence of that difference he was prepared, in conformity with the views be had heard expressed upon that subject in the City, to vote against the Amendment.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he proposed to insert, after the words "value of Forty Shillings and upwards," the words "lying in any dock or warehouse, or upon any wharf."
§ MR. MITCHELL
asked if the Resolution applied to the whole system of inland transfer, and how—it being proposed to exempt all goods under the value of 40s.—their value was to be ascertained?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he proposed in the Bill to insert a provision to the effect that goods should not be delivered without the stamp duty, unless the order bore on the face of it that either seller or purchaser valued the goods above 40s. There would be no difficulty in working this provision. There would only require to be a general indication of value. It would be impossible to exempt inland transfers in the Resolutions, but practically a Resolution of this kind would limit itself by reference to the mode in which business was carried on; because delivery on sale or transfer of property out of a warehouse or wharf was not usual, unless in ports in connection with seagoing trade.
§ In reply to Mr. HANKEY,
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
stated that the Resolution would not apply to the delivery order of a person desiring to obtain his own property out of the docks.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, there should be no distinction in such a case. The Resolution would apply.
§ Resolution agreed to.1227
4. Resolved, That towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
For and upon any writing or document commonly called a Delivery Order, or by whatever name the same shall be designated, entitling or intended to entitle any person therein named, or his assigns, or the holder thereof, to the delivery of any goods, wares, or merchandise of the value of' Forty Shillings or upwards, lying in any dock, or warehouse, or upon any wharf, upon the sale or transfer of the property therein there shall be charged the Stamp Duty of One Penny.
§ On the Resolution with reference to Bills of Exchange and Bank Checks.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
stated that he meant the Resolution to apply to all checks paid over the counter, though made payable to the drawer. But in the Bill he intended to exempt letters or orders between bankers and their customers.
§ Resolution agreed to.
5. Resolved, "That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,
For and upon every Bill of Exchange, Draft, or Order for the payment of money exceeding £4,000, now chargeable with the Stamp Duty of £2 5s., there shall be charged for every £1,000 or part of the £1,000 of the money thereby made payable the Stamp Duty of Ten Shillings.
And in the case of any Bill of Exchange drawn in a set of three or more for the payment of money exceeding £4,000, where every Bill of the set is now chargeable with the Stamp Duty of 15s. there shall be charged for and upon every Bill of the set for every £1,000 or part of £1,000 of the money thereby made payable the Stamp Duty of Three Shillings and Four Pence.
And Bills of Exchange, Drafts or Orders, drawn or endorsed out of the United Kingdom for the payment of money on demand, shall be charged with the same Stamp Duties as Bills of Exchange for the payment of money otherwise than on demand, according to the amount thereby made payable respectively.
And all Bills, Drafts, or Orders for the payment of any sum of money, though not made payable to the bearer or to order, and whether delivered to the payee or not; and all writings or documents entitling or intended to entitle to the payment of any sum of money any person whatever, whether named or designated therein or not, or whether delivered to him or not, shall respectively be deemed to be Bills, Drafts, or Orders for the payment of money chargeable with Stamp Duty as if the same had been made payable to bearer or to order.
6. Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
For and upon every Certified Copy or Extract of or from any Register of Births or Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths, or Burials, there shall be charged the Stamp Duty of One Penny.
7. Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
For and upon every note, instrument, or
writing requesting or authorizing the purser or other officer of any mining company conducted on the Cost Book system, to enter in the Cost Book any transfer of any share or shares, or part of a share, in any mine, or any notice to such purser or officer of any such transfer as aforesaid, there shall be charged and paid the Stamp Duty of Six Pence.
8. Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
Money secured on heritable property in Scotland, and money secured by Scotch Bonds in favour of heirs and assignees, excluding executors, shall be held and interpreted to be moveable property, and shall be included in any inventory to be exhibited and recorded in any Commissary Court in Scotland of the estate and effects of any person deceased entitled thereto, and in England and Ireland respectively shall be deemed to be estate and effects for or in respect whereof any probate of will or letters of administration shall be granted; and every such inventory, probate, and letters of administration shall be chargeable with Stamp Duty in respect of such moveable property.
§ On the Resolution with reference to Stamps on Agreements,
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he must protest against this proposition, on the ground of the inconvenience of imposing a duty upon small transactions.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, this measure was one of relief; and as a proof of the spirit in which it had been received, he must state that though the Resolution had been on the paper for the last six weeks, he had received no remonstrance in regard to it. It was a reduction from a high charge to a low charge, for the double purpose of narrowing exemptions, and of increasing the revenue by imposing a lower duty. It was suggested that adhesive stamps should be used, but there were some good reasons against them. The Commissioners of Inland Revenue had an objection to adhesive stamps; but he would consider, before bringing up the Report, whether the suggestion, which he considered a good one, could not be adopted.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, there would be no relief, unless the penalty which was imposed before an agreement which was not stamped could be read in evidence, was lowered.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ The remaining Resolutions were then agreed to.
9. Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,
The respective Stamp Duties now chargeable upon any Agreement, or any Minute or Memorandum of an Agreement, made in England or Ireland under hand only, or made in Scotland without any Clause of Registration, and not otherwise charged nor expressly exempted from all Stamp Duty, where the matter thereof shall be of the value of £20 or upwards, whether the same shall be only evidence of a contract, or obligatory upon the parties from its being a written instrument, together with every schedule, receipt, or other matter put or endorsed thereon, or annexed thereto, shall cease; and in lieu thereof there shall be charged for and upon every such Agreement, Minute, or Memorandum as aforesaid, where the matter thereof shall be of the value of forty shillings or upwards, the Stamp Duty of Six Pence.
And where the same shall contain 2160 words, then for every entire quantity of 1080 words contained therein over and above the first 1080 words, a further progressive Duty of Six Pence.
Provided always, That where divers letters shall be offered in evidence to prove any Agreement between the parties who shall have written such letters, it shall be sufficient if any of such letters shall be stamped with a Duty of One Shilling.
10. Resolved, That, towards raising the supply granted to Her Majesty,
Every Agreement for a lease or tack of any lands, tenements, hereditaments, or heritable subjects, for any term not exceeding seven years, and every Agreement, Minute, or Memorandum of Agreement, containing the terms and conditions on which any lands, tenements, hereditaments, or heritable subjects are let, held, or occupied for any such term as aforesaid, shall be chargeable with the Stamp Duty payable on a lease or tack for the term, rent, consideration, and conditions mentioned in such Agreement, Minute, or Memorandum.
And any lease or tack of the same lands, tenements, hereditaments, or heritable subjects, afterwards made in pursuance of, and conformably to, any such Agreement, Minute, or Memorandum, which shall have actually paid the Duty payable on such lease or tack as aforesaid, shall not be chargeable with any higher Stamp Duty than 2s. 6d. exclusive of Progressive Duty.
11. Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
The Stamp Duties payable by Law upon Probates of Wills and Letters of Administration, with a Will annexed in England and Ireland, and upon Inventories in Scotland, shall be levied and paid in respect of all the personal or moveable estate and effects which any person hereafter dying shall have disposed of by Will under any authority enabling such person to dispose of the same as he or she shall think fit.
12. Resolved, that, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty,—
For and upon every Declaration in lieu or in the nature of an affidavit, in any case where, if the same were an affidavit, it would be chargeable with any Stamp Duty, there shall be charged the same Duty as would be chargeable on such affidavit.
§ House adjourned at Two o'clock till Monday next.