§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, he rose to move, by way of Amendment, that it is not expedient to remit taxation to such an extent that the annual produce of the remitted taxes shall exceed the estimated surplus revenue in the Budget for the current financial year. He asked the indulgence of the House in consideration of the importance of the subject. The misgivings he had heard expressed in many quarters in reference to the financial statement of the Government had induced him to make a careful scrutiny of that statement, and the examination had convinced him there were elements in the Budget that required mature consideration before the House could assent to it. The right hon. Gentleman stated the income of the past year at £70,043,000, and the ordinary expenditure at £69,800,000; the expenditure for the Chinese operations was £3,043,000, leaving a deficiency of £2,558,000. That deficiency was met by the withdrawal of Exchequer balances, £1,300,000; by the appropriation of returned advances, £628,000; and by the issue of Exchequer bonds, £630,000. But passing from consideration of the year just concluded 1380 to the year now current, the estimate of the ordinary revenue was £71,073,000, and a sum from the Chinese indemnity of £750,000, making a total of £71,823,000. The total expenditure was estimated at £68,900,000, with an estimated expenditure on account of the Chinese expedition of £1,000,000, leaving an estimated surplus of £1,923,000. He wished especially to call attention to the mode in which £750,000 of the Chinese indemnity had been dealt with. He was not going to question the right of the Government to include that sum within the expectations for the financial year just begun, but he would take the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, on that head. He thought, however, that it was not accordant with notions of safe commercial finance, after having made an adventure, to treat the anticipation of the result as a fact, and while calculating income to leave out of view the expense incurred, which ought to be balanced against the profit of the venture. He submitted that the entry of £750,000 as Chinese indemnity ought to have been carried to the account of the Chinese expedition to relieve the debt that had been incurred, and replace part of the balances drawn on account of it. Neither of these steps bad the Government taken. In this matter the most convenient and useful tests of the soundness of what they had done on a large scale was to try it by what could reasonably—and unreasonably—be done by an individual in his private capacity. It was perfectly easy to find an instance of this mode of dealing with receipts and expenditure. One had occurred recently; a young gentleman operated largely on the turf, and had extensive dealings at Tattersall's and Newmarket. He lived freely, spent freely, had some winnings and lost perhaps more; but his principle was whenever he lost to charge his estate with his losses, and whenever he won to carry all his winnings to income. Acting in this way he was never in a deficiency. Now, opposed to this, what was the course of a prudent manufacturer who, having built a mill with borrowed money and insured it, was unfortunate enough to have it burnt down? What would he do on the receipt of his insurance money? Carry it to income? No! He would either rebuild the mill or discharge his debt. That was the ordinary, the prudent, and the necessary course of commercial dealing, and the same course ought 1381 to be pursued as regarded the country at large. He (Mr. Hubbard) submitted, therefore, that that sum of £750,000, the China item, ought net to have been carried to the credit side of the account. The balance, then, instead of being £1,923,000, would really be £1,173,000. He would, however, assume that there was a surplus balance of £1,923,000. How did the right hon. Gentleman propose to deal with it? After having told them the sum he had to dispose of, he stated the way in which he was going to dispose of it. In the first place, to the general satisfaction of the House, he told them he was going to propose a 9d. income tax, instead of 10d. Besides giving up about £1,100,000 of the income tax, he 'proposed also to give up £1,300,000 by a remission of the paper duty. Now, these two remissions together would amount to £2,400,000, and in listening to his right hon. Friend he could not help wondering, regard bring had to Cocker, how £2,400,000 could bonded acted from £1,923,000. The course pursued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer reminded him of some of those tricks which he had seen in his youth, in which a conjuror surprised the spectators by producing from a small cup a quantity of flowers, feathers, and a few live pigeons. But the right hon. Gentleman, with more frankness than the conjuror, challenged his hearers to follow him behind the scones and see how those marvellous feats he proposed were to be performed. He (Mr. Hubbard) accepted the right hon. Gentleman's invitation, and would go with him behind the scenes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to remit the penny off the income tax, but such remission would only take effect for three quarters of the present financial year; therefore he would have at his disposal one quarter of this year's income tax at the rate of 10d. in the pound. The loss, then, from the three quarters of the year's income tax would he £850,000. Then the remission of the paper duty was not to come into operation until the 1st of October. He now came to the point on which he wished to challenge the attention of the House. Was it a wise and a safe policy for the Finance Minister to propose so large a remission of taxation, and to justify the remission, not by the actual surplus at his command, hut to measure that surplus against a distant period of (he financial year, within which he proposed to confine his measures of remission? Such a 1382 course would he a most dangerous precedent. Imagine a Chancellor of the Exchequer representing one of these northern counties which are one great hive of industry, and to whoso constituents the repeal of the sugar duties would be most acceptable, and that he made this proposal. The sugar duty yields £6,000,000. I expect a surplus of £1,500,000; the remission of the duty I defer for nine months, a quarter only of the remission will come within the financial year, and my accounts will balance. With regard to such a mode of making remissions, it had, as he humbly submitted, a most injurious effect upon the future interests of the country, and hardly came within the province of those propositions which the right hon. Gentleman challenged the House to discuss. He was struck with one portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. After enlarging upon the prosperity of the country in the last year, he commented upon the increase in our imports in these terms—I do not suppose that any Gentleman hero will deplore that as a calamity, and insist that as it has been paid for in gold it must impoverish and not enrich the country. I shall presume you have faith enough in free trade to believe that an increase in our exports must have been accompanied by an increase in our imports.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
What I said was that an increase of imports must be followed by an increase in our exports.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, he must apologize for having misplaced the words of the right hon. Gentleman. The very words of the right hon. Gentleman, namely, "that an increase of imports must he followed by an increase of exports, involved a doctrine that could not be supported by facts." Taking a country like England, in which the productive power was immense, undoubtedly it did not, perhaps, export more than it imported. An excess in our imports taking one year with another really might represent the profits of our exports. To the ordinary course of trade, however, there might arise exceptional circumstances, of which the year 1847 was a remarkable instance. In that year this country and more particularly Ireland suffered very severely from a scarcity. The amount of our imports of foreign grain consequently was in excess of the ordinary amount by £20,000,000. Those imports were paid for by gold to a largo extent, and also by erasing from our list of securities our 1383 claims on foreign industry and our mortgages on foreign states. In the present season we were again suffering from a remarkable scarcity and the destruction of a large quantity of grain. There had been again an unusual amount of importation and we had paid an excess of £21,000,000 on foreign grain. No one could doubt that £21,000,000 really expressed the loss the country had suffered from the destruction of the crops. The right hon. Gentleman had himself stated that the importation of corn last year amounted to £17,000,000, and in the present year to £38,000,000. Another point referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the increased import of wine, which was not, however, spoken of in similarly jubilant terms by any of those engaged in the trade. One of the most eminent wine houses in the city, in answer to his inquiries respecting the character and result of the very large importation of foreign wine, said—The general character of the additional imports in the last twelve months has been of a decidedly inferior description. A large quantity of low French wine was imported last year, and, being unfit for home consumption here, has entailed considerable loss upon shippers and importers. Largo importations of low sherry from Spain and imitation sherry from Hamburg have been made, and these appear to have been substituted for Cape wines, the importation of which has very much diminished. The wines from Hamburg have principally competed with Cape, and forced the prices of the latter down, causing a very heavy loss on stocks in bond here, and stopping further shipments.From another quarter he was informed that the wine so described, instead of going into consumption, for which it was utterly unfit, was really still in the docks. There were thus two alternatives; either this wine must be consumed and ruin the constitutions of the men who drank it, or it must remain in the docks, where it would ruin those who imported it. So far, therefore, from the wine experiment being successful, upwards of £2,000,000 had been sacrificed by the import of unsuitable wine. £2,500,000 might be added for the excess of imports of cheese, eggs, and butter over last year, which would bring up the imports in excess of last year to between £24,000,000 and £25,000,000. Omitting the imports of cheese, butter, and eggs, the excess of corn and wine imports would amount to over £22,000,000, which would express the loss sustained by the British capitalist and the British fanner last year. With respect to the Revenue of last year the extra duty on corn amounted to 1384 £866,000, the deficit anticipated was £800,000, but the real loss was only £493,000, so that 307,000 accrued to the revenue in excess of what was anticipated. These two sums together brought up the extra revenue to £1,173,000. Yesterday morning a paper was circulated which bore upon it the most intelligible marks of the pressure of the income tax during the last year. £10,900,000 was the sum which had been paid into the Exchequer from this source during the year, and £8,900,000 the sum, according to the paper, which would have been paid had not the right hon. Gentleman's extraordinary means been used; £2,000,000, therefore, represented the result of the alteration in the time and mode of collection. He had received various letters on this subject, and, though expecting to find that some pressure had been put on the taxpayers, he was surprised at the extent to which it had gone. Amongst many letters he had received on the subject was one from a person residing in the north of England. The writer stated that he had been served with a notice requiring him peremptorily to pay his income tax about three weeks before it was actually duo. That he had to borrow the money to meet this unusual demand, fearing that his goods would be seized for the amount. Enclosed in this letter was the notice of the tax collector, in which it was stated that he had received imperative orders from the Board of Inland Revenue to close his accounts forthwith, and that in order to prevent coercive measures, the tax (which it appeared was not really due at the time) should be paid before the 20th of March. He (Mr. Hubbard) himself resided in St. Margaret's, Westminster, and received a notice of a similar character from the collector of that parish dated the 12th March, requiring him to pay his income tax. He, therefore, paid the amount demanded, although it was not really duo at the time. Now, he should like to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of these £2,000,000 had been obtained by this extraordinary pressure. The right hon. Gentleman might say that hasty mode of collection was perfectly legal, and, strong in his own conscientiousness, he might steel himself against complaints of this sort; but he should like to know how long the system was to continue, and how long the taxpayers were to be subjected to that pressure to pay their taxes not only the moment they were due, but even before 1385 they were due. The opinions and principles which seemed to have guided the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the construction of the Budget appeared to him unsound and unsafe, and as in matters of this kind the best way was to bring them home to everybody's comprehension, he would illustrate by a case of every day life the course of the financial proposal. Mr. Bull is a gentleman who had inherited considerable ironworks in the north, who was a shareholder in some cotton mills, and proprietor of some woollen and linen manufactures, besides landed estates. His friends thought he was going a little too fast, and wished to point out to him where his extravagance would end. "Oh, no," he said, "I am going on all right. I certainly put no stint on my domestic expenses, but then you know under the new system and the Treaty with France my income is sure to come up to my expenditure. I have commenced a few little operations in France; my wife and daughters get beautiful silks and laces from a Paris milliner, and I have dropped Bass's ale and taken to claret, which I get from an eminent wine merchant at Bordeaux, and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer assures me is, properly speaking, the national beverage." "Well, then," his friends would ask, "Are all your bills met?" "Oh, if you put it in that way," Mr. Bull's reply would be, "Madame Palmyre, my wife's milliner, has not yet attained to a full knowledge of the principles of free trade, and she duns my wife and daughters confoundedly; and my wine merchant's bill comes due next week; but I am going to follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer's example, and, instead of giving my tenants to Midsummer to pay Lady Day's rent, I mean to make thorn pay on the nail, and for the future they shall pay quarterly. India certainly has not taken so many of my goods as I expected, nor in the disturbed state of the United States, have I liked to ship much there; while, in the matter of my ironworks, these foolish French will take nothing but pig iron, and will have nothing to do with the manufactured iron I prepared for them. However, I trust to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it will all come right in the end." Under such circumstances it would be no wonder if Mr. Bull very soon made his appearance in the Gazette. But his was the reasoning, and his was the position adopted by the Chancellor of the Exche- 1386 quer. The right hon. Gentleman was determined under all circumstances to balance his expenditure with his resources. They had a high authority on the other side of the House, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who stated the other night that it was a bad principle to make prospective Budgets, and laid down the principle that each year should stand on its own footing. The refusal to enter into the consideration of prospective Budgets was a sound and admirable doctrine, and he only wanted to mend it in one particular. If it were dangerous or injudicious to anticipate the charges and expenses of the country in a future year, let it be admitted that it was more dangerous and injudicious to anticipate the probable revenue and income in a future year. The Budget in its present form was a positive remission of taxation, to be met by a problematical increase of revenue. It was a principle not without precedent, hut it was a principle to which he hoped the House would not assent. The heir of a properly who had been extravagant satisfied his creditors by giving them post-obits, and in the course of nature those documents were matured and paid; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer offered only his own post-obits, which were to be matured, not by the operation of nature, but by the termination of his official life. Nothing could be more unfair to his successor than making positive and irrecoverable remissions, the burden of which would fall on future years. He, therefore, asked the House, by affirming his Resolution, to put a restraint on a system of extraordinary and extravagant finance which exceeded the limits of the year and plunged them into an unknown futurity. He frankly confessed that when he heard the paper dirty was proposed to be repealed he experienced feelings of relief. No one who wished well to his country could desire that there should remain latent in the minds of those who sat in either House of Parliament any sparks of resentment on account of a conflict as to the treatment of great interests to which all were hound to give an undivided support. He, therefore, felt relief, but he had too great confidence in the patriotism of Members on either side to believe that, for the sake of a hasty removal of a possible bone of contention, or too hasty recovery of a position of dignity which they might fancy they had forfeited, they would concur in giving to the fu- 1387 ture finances of the country a direction which was inconsistent with its safety and its success.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'it is not expedient to remit Taxation to such an extent, that the annual produce of the remitted Taxes shall exceed the estimated Surplus Revenue, in the Budget for the current financial year,' "instead thereof.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It is my intention to reply to the hon. Member in the briefest terms possible. I confess I have failed to discern any connection between a considerable portion of the speech of my hon. Friend and the Motion he has submitted to the House, so much so that it appears doubtful whether the speech does not really belong to some other occasion, and a question is raised whether the speech of my hon. Friend is made for his Motion, or whether the Motion is made for the speech. I shall, therefore, make no answer on the subject of the importation of cheese, butter, and eggs; and, I confess, I do not see the comparison between a certain system of finance and the young man who had a largo connection at New market and elsewhere, because the system, for which the hon. Member could find no better illustration, is a system established by law in this country, and by the universal practice of all Finance Ministers. With regard to the question of the income tax, and the touching letter which has been read by my hon. Friend, I regret that he did not think fit to adopt the usual course, and have laid what he believes to be a matter of complaint with respect to an administrative subject before the Executive Government, and thus given them an opportunity of examining into facts. The circulars to which he has referred are written, as he ought to know, by officers who are not under the control of the Executive Government. If he had given me the opportunity I would have ascertained the facts, and laid them before him. The only point with respect to the income tax which requires any notice from me is the charge of having impoverished the Revenue of the coming year by the extraordinary pressure which has been used in the collection of the tax. That I admit to be fair as an argument, but entirely untrue as a matter of fact. So far from the collection of the income tax outrunning the arrangements made last Session, it has 1388 lagged considerably behind. The consequence is that there is a material arrear on the third quarter, which will swell the amount to be collected in the ensuing year. The real sum and substance of my hon. Friend's speech is contained in what he stated—and which I do not deny—when he said, "You are repealing a tax the whole annual proceeds of which exceed the surplus which you show upon your Estimates of revenue and expenditure. The surplus which you show is £1,000,000, and the amount of the taxes remitted may be taken at nearly £2,400,000." That is the entire point of my hon. Friend's speech. The hon. Gentleman invites the House not to pursue such a course, and not to remit any taxes beyond the limits of the estimated surplus revenue of the year. But, in so doing, he invites us to reverse the principles upon which most of the important financial operations of this House during the past twenty years have been founded. It has been a common measure of the Legislature to repeal taxes of much greater extent; and, I will venture to say, in a manner far more venturesome than is proposed in the present year. I will give three different instances under three different Chancellors of the Exchequer. In 1848 the amount of estimated surplus was £113,000. In that year the House of Commons passed an Act—which, though contested on other grounds, was never contested on this ground—for the repeal of the duty upon sugar and molasses, and thus, with an estimated surplus of £113,000, it provided for the repeal of duty to the extent of £1,480,000. But that was not merely for that year and the next year, but it extended over seven years, bringing us down to 1854. In 1853 the amount of our surplus was £493,000. Yet, so large was that surplus considered, that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade assailed me with a Motion for the repeal of the advertisement duty, in which he was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks. At that time we were making considerable impositions and remissions of taxation—that is to say, of impositions £3,390,000, and of remissions £5,384,000. In that year, however, we had a surplus of only £493,000, which was reduced almost to nil by modifications introduced in the course of debate. Well, that course pursued by the House made the excess of remissions over and above the taxes it imposed amount to £2,345,000. 1389 And those remissions, likewise, extended over four years. Again, in 1857, ray right hon. Friend, now Secretary for the Home Department, had a surplus of £931,000; yet with that surplus he remitted taxation to the extent of £5,800,000, about £4,500,000 being the produce of the income tax for six months, and about £1,200,000 being the extent of the remission upon tea and coffee. In point of fact, therefore, the hon. Member for Buckingham is inviting the House to reverse and overturn what has been the common and consequently the necessary and legitimate principle involved in the adoption of extensive financial measures. The present year presents an even stronger case than 1848, 1853, and 1859. Our case stands thus:—We propose an ultimate remission in excess of the surplus to the extent of about £500,000. It is true that a portion of revenue will be surrendered for next year that is not surrendered for this, but it is equally true that a considerable portion of charge—I refer to the extra charge for China, which there is every moral certainty will terminate within the current financial year—extraordinary in its nature, and amounting to about £1,500,000, will, in all likelihood, not have to be included in the arrangements of next year. Under those circumstances, without further troubling the House, I invite it to place its negative upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
remarked, that he thought the hon. Member for Buckingham perfectly justified in the course be had taken for he, no doubt, had been as much surprised as he (Mr. Newdegate) had been to find that it had been the pleasure of the House to vote the income tax at two o'clock in the morning, when many hon. Members had left, not expecting that the question would at that late hour be decided. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not aware of the pressure which was being exercised with regard to the collection of the income tax, he was in a state of ignorance which did not extend to those who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House. He (Mr. Newdegate) had heard bitter complaints that the officers of inland revenue were in the habit of sending letters, if not actually commanding, at least inviting prepayment of the income tax—a request which commercial men had a hesitation in resisting lost their refusing to comply might reflect upon their credit. 1390 Representing as he did a commercial constituency, he was able to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the operation of that proceeding was most grievously felt in the commercial world. He (Mr. Newdegate) doubted whether the House was prepared to adopt the income and property tax as the basis of their financial system, although they voted that tax as having precedence. It seemed to him that this idea had produced in the House an extravagant disposition with respect to the remission of other taxes; for income tax was so odious an impost that when the House had voted it hon. Members felt a wish to remit some other tax—perhaps to make a little political capital, and in order to relieve themselves of the popular odium which they had incurred by assisting in the imposition of the income tax. It had been remarked by a leading journal, first impose an income tax, and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer might do anything. The House had soon of late years too much of one Chancellor of Exchequer bidding against Chancellor of Exchequer for popularity. He thought it a great mistake to treat this odious tax, forming so large a part and the basis of the taxation of the country, and that to the having done so virtually of late years was attributable more than to any other reason the unwholesome slate of our finances. Formerly the property and income tax was used only as a subsidy in case of war. It was used by Sir Robert Peel to meet a deficiency at a period of great commercial pressure and monetary difficulty induced by a disturbance of the balance of trade. After that the House was induced to admit of its use on the part of that great financier, in order that he might readjust the system of taxation; but he stated emphatically that it was to be used only for exceptional purposes, the exceptional purpose in that case being the readjustment of our Customs' duties. Then in 1848, under the plea that its continuance would enable us to meet the pressure caused by the Irish famine, it was again renewed. Since then it has been treated very much as the basis of our taxation, instead of as a subsidy and an occasional taxation. If the exigencies of the State required, it was a perfectly legitimate source of resort to make up a deficiency; but as the basis of our taxation it had more to do with inducing an unwholesome and gambling system of finance during the last twenty years than anything that could be named.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he would not enter on a discussion' of the principle which his hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham had laid down respecting the management of our finances. Those principles might be sound as they were undoubtedly important, but he thought his hon. Friend must feel that the object he had in view was of so grave a character, and would bring about such extensive alterations, that it could not be accepted by the House, except after a prolonged discussion, not only of the principle, but of the details of the question. For that reason he trusted that his hon. Friend would not ask the House to come to a decision on the question, which he had brought forward with great ability, and which had been attentively listened to by the House.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I rise for the purpose of proposing, on the part of the Government, that we should pass a Resolution to continue until the 1st of July, 1862, certain duties upon tea and sugar, together with other subsidiary articles, of the same class, as sugar. They are duties which have been called, popularly, but not correctly, "war duties," because, in point of fact, they were imposed in the year 1857, in a period of peace, a considerable time after the Russian war had ceased. In 1853, when it was my duty to make a proposal upon the subject of the tea duties, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) observed that I ought not to do so without making a preliminary statement. I comply on this occasion with the wish which he then expressed; but another reason leads me to the same conclusion. Circumstances have changed considerably since last Monday fortnight. We then made a proposal which we deemed one of conciliation, but it has been received as a proposal of controversy and war. We thought we were offering the olive branch and it has been treated as if we had been throwing down the glove. If it be so, I am able to say, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, that we do not decline the challenge. We have no reason to complain and do not complain of the discussions that have already taken place. We have the satisfaction of recollecting that fur three days the most 1392 minute and searching as well as sweeping criticisms were applied to the estimated balance-sheet of the year, all founded on the principle that there was no reason to believe that we had a surplus of income over expenditure, and that at the termination of the debate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks rose in his place, and at once and unceremoniously dismissed all the arguments upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman observed in language of perfect truth and good sense, that the wise course for the House was to adopt the figures as laid before them by the Government. I may now, perhaps, be permitted to offer an apology to the House for a course on my part which is not altogether usual. It was observed in the course of the recent debate by the right hon. Gentleman, and I think with general truth, that it is not desirable to bring any of the permanent civil servants of the Crown before the House, and that the Minister ought to take the entire responsibility of the Estimates. My apology is, that after I had seen a course pursued—a course which has no parallel in the recollection of any one here, after the Estimates had been subjected to the most excessive scrutiny and criticism, I thought I had no choice except what in homely phrase is called to make a clean breast of the whole matter, and tell the House, point by point, by what process the estimated figures had been arrived at. I did that, however, only under great pressure. The course I took was criticised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, and it was with extreme surprise I recollected that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, without any pressure whatever, and upon only a casual doubt let fall by our deceased friend Mr. Wilson, with regard to the Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman immediately fell back on the heads of the Revenue Department. The right hon. Gentleman sought that shelter, after a slight attack of barely five minutes, to which I was driven by a three nights' debate. The right hon. Gentleman said—I, of course, am in no respect disposed to shrink from taking upon myself the responsibility of having framed the Estimates which I have laid before the Committee. Upon the contrary, I, to the fullest extent, accept and embrace them; and I add that I have been empowered to state, on the authority of those gentlemen upon whose knowledge and experience 1, and every gentleman who holds the position which I have the honour to occupy, must place the utmost dependence, that there is not a figure which I have submitted to the Com- 1393 mittee which has not their fullest sanction."—[3 Hansard, cxlii, 1329.]
§ MR. DISRAELI
I beg to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Estimates referred to were not Estimates prepared by the Government of which I was a Member, but those which we accepted from our predecessors. Technically, the right hon. Gentleman is justified in his statement; but it certainly makes a great difference that we were called upon to accept the Estimates of our predecessors. At the same time, I do not mean to justify the course which I then followed.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I cannot admit that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman makes the smallest difference. The Estimates which the Government of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) accepted from their predecessors were Estimates not of revenue, but of expenditure. However, I will terminate this part of the controversy. The right hon. Gentleman has said in a manly way that the circumstance in question did not justify the course he pursued, and that is enough for me. By all means, then, let us go on with the discussion if there is still opposition to our proposals. The more these subjects are discussed the better they will be understood. If it were not for one very inconvenient monosyllable I should be disposed to quote the exclamation of Macbeth, to which I can only refer, which begins with "Lay on Macduff," and ends by expressing a very uncivil wish in regard to whoever first "cries Hold, enough!"
We have before us on the present occasion two questions. We have to consider the absolute merits of the only contested part of the Resolution I am submitting to the House—I mean of the tea duties; and, likewise, to balance the reduction of these duties against the remission of the paper duty. I confess it is with interest, and not altogether without recreation, that I see the claims of the tea duty to remission in such good odour on the other side of the House. The condition of the poor man has found its way to the hearts of a very large number of highly respected gentlemen who sit opposite; but the claims of the tea duty to remission were not always thus favourably viewed. On a former occasion, when the Government of the Earl of Aberdeen proposed the reduction of the tea duty, what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire on behalf of the party whom then, 1394 as now, he led? The right hon. Gentleman did not say that the proposal was so obviously advantageous that it at once commanded assent. No; he called on me to show cause for the reduction of the tea duty, and disclaimed the responsibility of that reduction simply on its merits. On the 30th of May, 1853, the right hon. Gentleman said in Committee—The Committee must recollect that when a proposition was made by the late Government to deal with the tea duties we purposely combined with it an article of British growth with which tea was supposed to enter into competition—You are now called upon immensely to reduce the duty on a foreign article, without reducing the excessive duty which is paid on an article of home growth."—[3 Hansard, cxxvii. 827.]Because we did not propose to reduce that excessive duty on an article of home growth which amounted to 20 or 25 per cent on the price of beer at a time when the duty on tea was 200 per cent. the right hon. Gentleman as leader of his party disclaimed that policy, and insisted that the tea duty ought not to be remitted unless at the same time we sacrificed £2,000,000 on malt. That was the position taken by the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the tea duty at that particular time. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. B. Osborne) said wittily the other evening that I had wrapped up my penny in paper; and it might be said that the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary to wrap up his tea in malt. As to the merits of the tea duty we think much more favourably of the reduction of that impost than the right hon. Gentleman does. We think that its reduction under favourable circumstances would not require an apology, and that it would be highly beneficial to the population of the country. But in present circumstances we have to consider it with regard to the extravagant claims which have been made for it in certain quarters. I endeavoured to show on a former night what would be the effect upon the surplus and upon the consumer, and likewise this, which has not been contested, and I know cannot be confuted, that the reduction of mere revenue duties for the benefit of the consumer has not been the first, but the last of the great objects of commercial reform for the last twenty years; and that although good in itself it is and has been recognized by statesmen and legislators during that period to be less good than those great measures which have been adopted by the House for the abolition of 1395 protection and for the liberation of trade from its fetters. Since then a new fact has come to our knowledge. There is an Amendment, and several petitions have been presented to-night on the other side of the House, some of them amidst expressions of great satisfaction, but I did not hear whether any of those petitions were in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall). Was the petition from Liverpool in favour of the Amendment?
§ MR. HORSFALL
The Liverpool petition was against the repeal of the paper duty; and prayed that any surplus might be appropriated to the diminution of the tea and sugar duties, or to the reduction of the income tax. I also presented a similar petition from Warrington.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
My question was simply intended in courtesy to the hon. Gentleman, and to discover whether the petition was in favour of his Amendment. If it had been, I admit that that would have been so far an argument in favour of the Amendment which I am about to criticise; but I understand from the substance of the petition that it was against the plan of the Government, and not in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. ["Oh, oh!"] We shall sec. I must confess that it is curious to observe the circumstances under which this Amendment is proposed. Some hon. Gentlemen who presented petitions to-night observed that they had been signed very numerously and largely in the course of a few hours. Why within a few hours? That is a very singular circumstance. For nearly three weeks the proposals of the Government have been before the country, and it is only within the last few hours that the spontaneous feelings of certain communities have been expressed in these petitions. It took fifteen days to consider what course should be pursued, but when a decision was at last arrived at no time was lost, for steps were immediately taken through the proper channels to procure that entirely spontaneous expression of public opinion of which we have witnessed the results to-night. And for what do these petitions ask? For the reduction, many of them, of the tea and sugar duties. Again, the very fallacy which we have had occasion to expose, as if it was possible that the tea and sugar duties should be reduced, the fact being that there is available less than half the money which the subscribers of these pe- 1396 titions have been led to suppose is at our command. I really do not think that the hon. Gentleman has found time to consider the grammatical force and effect of his own Amendment. I do not know whether he is aware what is the legal construction of that Amendment; and I am very glad that I have an opportunity of speaking before him; because, before he proposes this Amendment, I should advise him to amend it. I am calling the hon. Gentleman's attention to a matter which I hope he will consider before he rises. It is an established principle of construction, that every financial or taxing Act must he construed in favour of the tax-payer. I know what is the meaning and intention of the hon. Gentleman, but I am now referring to what is the effect of his Amendment, as illustrating the manner in which it has been framed. He lays upon tea a tax of 1s. 5d. per pound until the 30th of September; his words, until the 1st of October, mean up to that date; and he provides for a tax of 1s. per pound after the 1st of October. But under the operation of the Amendment as it stands all those Gentlemen who had accumulated stocks of tea, waiting for the reduction of duty, would, on the 1st of October, have the privilege and advantage of entering it free of any duty whatever. I do not ask the hon. Gentleman whether that is his intention; but I trust that he will alter the language of his Amendment, with a view to avoid such a catastrophe. "Until the 1st of October" means, in the language of taxing Acts, until the expiration of the 30th of September, and "afterwards" means after the 1st of October—that is to say from the 2nd of October. I admit that is nothing but a verbal criticism; but I want to call the attention of the Committee to the effect of the proposal which is now made. I think it is quite fair to do so, considering the circumstances under which the Amendment has been framed and ushered into existence, with most authoritative notices from two Gentlemen who upon matters of finance may be said to be almost of equal authority with the party opposite—I mean the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli) who sits on that side of the House, and my right hot). Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) who sits on this side. First, what would be the effect of this Amendment upon the surplus? We have heard a great deal about the neutrality of the surplus, although the right hon. Gentleman 1397 the Member for Bucks dissents from that opinion. Much, however, has been said questioning the amount of the surplus as stated by me; and my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Hubbard) has laid down a doctrine, and has supported it by his vote, although he did not go to a division, according to which I take it for granted that he docs not intend to go to the extent of the remission contemplated either by the Government or by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall). I ventured the other night to say that I deprecated the exchange of responsibility between the Government and the Opposition, and that I very much doubted whether the Opposition, taking upon themselves the custody of the public purse, would come to good. How does that matter stand? We propose the repeal of the paper duty from the 1st of October. That will reduce the surplus by £665,000, and will leave an estimated surplus of £408,000. The moment that I saw the Motion of the hon. Gentleman I took the best means in my power to obtain an estimate of what would be its effect. My belief is that that estimate was given without any knowledge of the reason why it was asked for. At any rate, the result was this, that the loss upon tea which would result from the adoption of the Amend meat of the hon. Gentleman and the provident stewards of British finance with whom he co-operates would within the financial year be, not £665,000, but £950,000. Thus he takes away £285,000 from the modest, and, as some have said, the unsafe surplus which I have proposed to retain, and leaves me with only £123,000. That is the upshot, so far, of a three nights' debate. At last the trumpet has sounded; at last the troops are marshalled; all the preliminaries turned upon showing that the surplus was not to be relied upon, and now that we have come to action the proposal is to take away £300,000 from the little surplus of which hon. Gentlemen opposite previously denied the existence. That is the effect of this Amendment upon the surplus; but we have not done there. It was no merely captious question which I put when I asked the hon. Member if the community of Liverpool had petitioned in favour of the Amendment. I venture to say they have not. I defy the hon. Member to produce a petition from a commercial community asking for a reduction of the tea duty to take effect on the 1st of next October. Has the hon. 1398 Member paid the slightest attention to the course of financial legislation for the last twenty years? Whether he has or has not, as he has made this most extraordinary proposal with the support and concurrence of a large party in this House, I must ask the attention of the Committee to that subject. Now, Sir, it is one among the elementary and cardinal principles of dealing with Customs' duties which have been established alike by reason and by experience that the first effect of any reductions which you propose should never be postponed. In the year 1842, when first such operations were legislatively carried into effect on a great scale, we had not the advantage of the experience which we now possess, and, in consequence, the Government of Sir Robert Peel made a double mistake. The legislation of that year occupied, as was natural, a long period in its discussion. We were many weeks carrying the tariff through this House, and the arrangement unfortunately made was this—first, that all the reductions of Customs' duties should be postponed while the House was debating them, and should not take effect until the Act authorizing them had received the Royal Assent; and, secondly, that the reduction of the duty on timber should be postponed until the 10th of October. I will show the Committee what was the effect of postponing those reductions. Unfortunately, it is not possible to show the effect with regard to all the miscellaneous articles, but I will take one of the most important—that of coffee. The reduction of the duty on coffee from amounts varying from 6d. to 1s. 3d. per lb. to amounts varying from 4d. to 8d. per lb. did not take effect until the 9th of July. The consumption during the year 1842 up to the 9th of July amounted to 10,645,000lb,; up to the same period in the previous year it amounted to 13,823,000lb.; so that there was a reduction of about 30 per cent upon the consumption of coffee up to the 9th of July caused by our unwisely postponing the taking effect of the reduction. After the 9th of July there was, it is true, an increase of consumption. From the 9th of July to the end of 1841 the consumption amounting to 14,597,000lb.; during the same period of 1842 it reached 17,922,000lb., so that there was an increase of 3,325,000lb. That is to say, although we had made a great reduction in the duty, so paralyzed was the trade by its postponement that with the exception 1399 of 100,000lb. or so, the augmentation consequent upon that reduction of duty only brought up the aggregate consumption to the amount of the previous year; and we lost our revenue without being able to say that we had added to the comforts of the people. I tell the hon. Gentleman boldly that in bringing forward the reduction of the tea duty, to take effect on the 10th of October, he does not represent the opinion of Liverpool or any other commercial community. I go now from coffee to a more conspicuous article, that distinctly tests the question, because the postponement is very nearly to the same date. Let us see what was the effect of postponing the reduction of the duty on timber in 1842 till the 10th of October. As before, I make the comparison with the corresponding period of the previous year. In 1841, before the 10th of October, we consumed 554,000 loads of timber. I confine myself to loads, because owing to the changes which took place, it is impossible to institute a comparison with regard to deals. We unhappily postponed our reduction in 1842 till the 10th of October. What was the consumption down to October, 1842? 173,000 loads. That was a diminution of 70 per cent on the whole consumption. It did not rally afterwards. The result for the year was this—in 1841 we consumed 741,000 loads; in 1842 we consumed 523,000 loads, and the result of our postponement was that we lost £377,000 of revenue, and effected a decrease in the consumption of the year of 221,000 loads. There might, indeed, be found some apology, for such a state of things at that time. We had not the experience of these extensive changes; but I must confess when after this I saw the hon. Member proposing deliberately, as the organ and champion of a great party in this House, that we should postpone the remission of the tea duty till the 10th of October, I was surprised indeed. Perhaps, I may be told these remissions are frequently postponed, and that, consequently, these inconveniences are incurred. I am quite aware of that. I know it is impossible altogether to avoid it; but then I must say that in all cases of reduction of duty since 1842 we have invariably taken care to give effect at once if we could to the entire reduction, if not to as much of it as possible. I will show you the effect of postponement in the remission of the duty on tea—how inconvenient in restricting consumption and causing paralysis to trade which the hon. 1400 Member represents. In 1852–3 the duties on tea were reduced in the month of May. The usual monthly consumption was 4,400,000lb. In March and April, two months before the reduction took effect, the consumption instead of being 4,400,000lb., was 2,650,000lb. In 1853–4 there was a further fall in the duty, and that is more strictly analogous to this case, because the fall had been foreseen for a considerable time before. At that period the usual monthly consumption was 4,750,000lb. The reduction took place on the 5th of April. In January, February, and March the whole consumption was 8,000,000lb., instead of 12,000,000lb. That is under 2,700,000lb. per month, instead of 4,750,000lb. In 1857–8 there was a third example of the same kind—a reduction was made on the 5th of April. The usual monthly consumption was 6,460,000lb. The consumption in January, February, and March, instead of 6,460,000lb., was 3,200,000lb.—one-half of the ordinary consumption; and that paralysis of trade for three months is the measure which the hon. Gentleman, with powerful backing, brings forward as against the proposition of the Government in the interest of trade.
I have spoken of the effect on the surplus and of the effect on trade which these postponements produce. I will now show how much these reductions affect the consumer. What is to become of the consumer in the course of these operations? Now, I do not hesitate to say, as far as experience goes, that a reduction of the duty on tea would have a very beneficial operation; yet do not imagine that the effect of it is likely, as a general rule, till after a long period to reach the consumer in any proportion to the loss sustained by the revenue. Now, I challenge an answer to this view of the case, and the figures I am about to give for in the interests of the poor man it is important they should be considered. Twice the duty on tea in this country has been reduced. It was reduced by my right hon. Friend now the Home Secretary, in 1857, and when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1853. In 1857 it was reduced from 1s. 9d. to 1s. 5d. per lb., so that the revenue lost 4d. on every pound. How much of that 4d. did the consumer get? The long price of tea—that is, the price in bond, with the duty added, in 1856, before the reduction of duty, was 2s. 11¾d.; in 1857 it was 2s. 11d. per lb. The revenue lost 4d. per lb.; the consumer gained three farthings 1401 per lb. That was the average established by the inspection of commercial documents of that period. But, then, it may be said that was a period of warlike operations in China. Then, let us go to a period when there were no warlike operations in China. I go to 1853. In 1853 the duty was reduced from 2s. 3¼d. to 1s. 10d. There was a loss to the revenue of 4½d. per lb. The price was reduced from 3s. 2½d., which it had been in 1852, to what in 1853? Why to 3s. 2½d. Fourpence farthing was lost to the revenue, and nothing was received by the consumer in that first year. If, instead of comparing it with that single year, we make one comparison with a period of five years—that is, from 1848 till 1852—the whole being years of peace, the difference is really very immaterial. The average price for these five years was 3s. 3⅜d., and the gain to the consumer was 1⅛d. per lb. So that, as far as experience goes, what these figures show is that you may expect that about one-fourth of the duty which you remit will find its way into the pocket of the consumer, and anything over and above that which you may expect is not experience but speculation founded on assumptions respecting the prospects of trade and production in future. Such is the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman as far as regards its effects upon revenue, upon trade, and upon the consumer. I must say, I think, considering the time that was taken to prepare this Amendment, something less vulnerable might have been produced. I believe it is a law of nature that the nobility of animals is generally in proportion to the length of gestation by which they are produced. I am sorry to say if that be the law of nature the very reverse appears to be the fact in the case of Parliamentary gestation.
I come now to another question—the relative merits of the tea and paper duties in regard to the remission of taxation. I have spoken of the extravagant and inflated expectations which have been raised of the advantages to the consumer from a reduction of the duty on tea. At the same time I admit that it is desirable that reduction should take place when it can he made without detriment to the Exchequer, and so that the consumer may derive the full benefit; but we have now to deal with another state of the question. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman is brought forward in opposition to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, and I 1402 must beg the Committee to consider those two proposals together. I must recall to the recollection of the Committee that the repeal of the paper duty was proposed last year, at a period when an extensive armed expedition had been sent to China, the bearer of certain terms from Her Majesty's Government, and when we had provided for the cost of that armed expedition no less a sum than £2,500,000. We had remaining a very small surplus revenue—much about the same as the surplus revenue with which the hon. Member for Liverpool proposes to deal so recklessly on the present occasion. When the second reading of the Bill was proposed, if I recollect right, certainly long before the third reading, the condition of affairs in China had changed, and with that the financial prospects of the country. Her Majesty's Government persevered with the Bill for the Repeal of the Paper Duty—not because they thought is was a proposal which they would, under the altered circumstances of that season, have been justified in making for the first time, but because they thought the implied pledge given by this House to all the interests concerned in the terms of the Vote on the second reading was a pledge that ought to be redeemed, even if it should cause inconvenience to the Government. But what course did we then take, and what appeal did we make to the House? Did we attempt to override the judgment of this House? A hope was expressed the other night that nothing would be done which might deprive the House of its usual and most precious privilege of advising the Government gently, in the form of an adverse vote as to the choice of the taxes for remission. What in the world, I ask, is the meaning of singling out this particular privilege from the rest? No doubt the House of Commons has a perfect right to deal as it pleases with every proposal of the Government; hut if it is intended to be insinuated that it is customary for Governments to give all their force and influence in favour of the adoption of a specific financial measure, and then to acquiesce in the substitution of other measures in their stead, then I trust that those who are learned in the Parliamentary history of our lifetime will he kind enough to supply us with a few precedents. For myself, I do recollect that when an effort was made in 1852 to overthrow the proposal of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire for the imposition of a house- 1403 tax, the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues said that the House might, if it thought fit, pursue that course, but the Government would look upon it as a vote of want of confidence. That, however, is a matter upon which I do not wish to enter, for it is no business of mine, further than to say that I am not at all aware of these occasions to which reference is made, when there has been the substitution of one tax for another in the teeth of the Government, and after it has been allowed to commit itself with all its strength and authority to a particular proposal. It so happens that was certainly not the case last year, because when we proposed the repeal of the paper duty we placed it in comparison with the repeal of the duty on tea. The hon. Member for Somersetshire (Sir William Miles) is weary, and has left the House. I wish he were here, for he would bear me out when I say that last year our statement was that if the House of Commons, on a deliberate review of all the circumstances, thought that tea had a superior claim to consideration to paper, then, although we might differ from it, we were ready to accept its decision. Therefore we did not attempt to override the judgment of the people's representatives, or seek to rob them of their most cherished privilege, if such, indeed, it be. But we felt that this House, before it committed itself to the repeal of the paper duty, should have another alternative presented to it; and, by the way, where was then this great anxiety to give the poor man this immense benefit? Why, we challenged, we invited, we almost proposed, that if there was this strong feeling as to the direct bearing on the masses of the tea duties, some one should constitute himself its organ, and afford the House the opportunity of expressing its sentiment. Well, was our suggestion taken? On the contrary, as long as the House was uncommitted, all such proposals were carefully withheld, and the second reading of the bill to repeal the paper duties was carried by a majority of 53. But what is the case now? By voting the second reading of that Bill the House of Commons affirmed the remission of this tax, thereby conveying to the country what you may or may not call a pledge, but at any rate the knowledge of a fact which, in the repeal of seventy millions of taxes since the Peace of 1815, has never once been overlooked or infringed—namely, that one deliberate vote of this House for the abolition of a 1404 tax was conclusive for its abolition. And it is now, after the House of Commons has done that—after it was permitted to do it without any offering to challenge the opinion of the Government by raising the question of the paper duty in contrast with the tea duty—it is after all this, and after the circumstances of last year, which, at least, it is a moderate statement to say do not weaken the case as far as the honour of this House is concerned, that the hon. Member for Liverpool, in the interest of commerce, comes forward with this strange proposal. We hear cheers raised when some petition is presented, and it seems to be said that there is no general desire for the repeal of the paper duties. That is one great objection. Another is that the abolition of those duties is not what is called "recuperative." I must confess that I do not know exactly where that word came from. I should like very much to enter my protest against it as I go along. At all events, if I employ it, I do so only for the sake of convenience. But these two principles are laid down in the name of hon. Gentlemen opposite—for I presume the bulk of them intend to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool into the same lobby. The first principle is, "Do not repeal the duty altogether, because it is not recuperative;" and the second is, "Do not repeal a duty unless its repeal is called for by a petition." That is the elevated doctrine which is recommended to us from the other side! We demagogues who sit here, say, the business of the House of Commons is to repeal that duty the repeal of which will prove most beneficial to the country. But hon. Gentlemen opposite, with whom high political maxims are greatly in vogue, and ancient recollections much cherished, tell us that if some one or two dozens or scores of petitions come upon us they supply a conclusive argument which is to govern the choice of the House and the Government in the remission of taxation, I think the name of Sir Robert Peel commands some respect on the other side of this House—at any rate, with a considerable proportion of hon. Gentlemen. With some of them I know it commands a warm—indeed, an affectionate respect, and I believe it carries some weight and authority even with all. Now, in 1845, Sir Robert Peel, when proposing the entire repeal of an Excise Duty which could not be reimposed, said—There has been no clamour raised for the reduction of this duty. I am not quite sure whether 1405 or not greater popularity might not have been obtained by proposing a reduction of the duty on some other articles than the one I am about to name; but I am satisfied that it is the duty of the Executive Government to take those articles which, whether there has been any clamour for a reduction of duty on them or not, are articles in respect of which any duty at all is open to the greatest objection."—[3 Hansard, lxxvii. 485.]That, Sir, was the opinion of Sir Robert Pool at the period when a Conservative Government was denounced as an "organized hypocrisy." How the Conservative Governments of a still later day should be described I do not pretend to say. But Sir Robert Peel went on to another point, and dealt with the frivolous, and, I must add, innovating and new-fangled objection which we now hear from the other side—for the objections which come from that quarter are really the most new-fangled. Sir Robert Peel, speaking of the total abolition of duties, not being recuperative, said—Let the House remember that the principle on which we have gone, and gone advisedly, is the absolute repeal of taxation in many cases. We do not diminish a tax on glass, for instance, keeping on one quarter or one-half of it; we do not lower the duty on auctions, on cotton, wool, or on articles of smaller imputation; but we propose the absolute repeal, expecting from the increased consumption of other taxed articles an equivalent improvement in the revenue."—[3 Hansard, lxxvii. 495–6.]And it has become the fashion of late years, but only of late years—Virtutem incolumem odimus,Sublatam ex oculis quæ rimus invidi.It has become the fashion in certain quarters to bestow laudations on the measures of Sir Robert Peel, and to say that his Budgets were, forsooth, the incarnation of political wisdom! I trust that the two passages I have just read may be some apology and justification, the one for consulting our own understandings, and not allowing them to be overruled by the addition of signatures to a petition in respect to the choice of taxes for remission, and the other for contending that the absolute repeal of Excise duties, so far from being a wasteful, is one of the wisest and most provident measures that can be adopted.
Let me, now, briefly compare the operation of the two rival proposals before us. I assume—now that the hon. Member for Liverpool leaves nothing of that modest surplus which we were told a fortnight ago was not sufficient, except the small balance of £123,000 in the Treasury, for the protection of which I am obliged to invoke 1406 the sympathy of the House against his marauding attempts. I assume, what, indeed, is not the truth, that he is only going to take as much revenue from the country in the current year as our plans will take. Of course, when I say that his Amendment will cause a sacrifice to the Exchequer of £950,000, over and above all the injury to the trade through stagnation, I ought to mention that that sum is not calculated as the gross loss, but it makes a fair allowance for the probable recovery of the revenue when the tea duty is reduced. Let us suppose that these two measures, the one the reduction of a Customs' duty, the other the repeal of an Excise duty, involve an equal amount of money, and that the benefit to the consumer is equal in both cases. That hypothesis I make for the sake of argument, and for that only; because I have shown from past experience that the remissions on tea have not reached the consumer in the first instance. I believe that down to this very hour the full measure of relief has not reached him, and that none at all hardly over reaches him in the first year. But now as to the paper duty. The duty on foreign paper being upon the same footing as our Excise duty, the foreign article will come in freely, so that competition will bring home every farthing to the consumer except the minute and trifling matter as to the charge for certain books of a very high class, published at certain prices, as, for example, Lord Macaulay's History, the cost of which may not be appreciably reduced by the repeal of the tax on the raw material. I will take it, therefore, that the consumer—the collective community—will be richer by the million you remit on either of these two duties, and that he will have that sum to spend in other ways. Let us next consider the stimulus that would be given to production in each of the two cases. The increase of trade in an article like tea may, no doubt, when the tax is reduced, ultimately set in motion as much labour as the repeal of an Excise duty. But hon. Gentlemen opposite are the friends of the foreigner. It is foreign labour that will, in the first instance, be set in motion by the remission of the tea duty. That measure may add two or three million lbs. to your yearly consumption of tea. Two or three British ships may be employed in bringing the increased quantity of that article to this country; but, undoubtedly, the first labour you will set in motion is that of the China- 1407 men, who I am sure ought to be much obliged to the hon. Member for Liverpool. On the other hand, the labour our proposal will set in motion from the first is undeniably British labour, rural labour; and we believe, if you do not, that this labour will be accompanied by a demand for agricultural products in fibrous articles which are not now available. It is certainly rather a hard case that when hon. Gentlemen on this side were engaged in abolishing differential duties they were advertised and decried as the friends of the foreigner, while the moment they find themselves able to become the friends of the Englishman, such is the spirit of controversy among hon. Gentlemen opposite that they immediately abandon their old ground, and make a demand the first effect of which clearly is to give a stimulus to foreign, not British industry. But let me point out what is the speciality of this case. The addition to British labour involved in the remission of Excise duties is enormous. It was shown by a Return which was quoted by an hon. Friend of mine in this House some time ago how great is the number of families who at present find employment in trades in connection with which those duties have been abolished. The figures to which he called our attention do not, however, exhibit all the advantages to the working classes by which that abolition has been attended. You do not merely find work for 5,000 or 6,000 additional families by taking off the Excise duty on soap, glass, and other articles, but by withdrawing that number from the labour market you increase the wages of those who remain behind. Depend it upon these things are sufficiently well understood by the people of England, who cannot fail to perceive that we adhere to the well-tried principles of the last twenty years, and who, therefore, will, I am sure, be disposed to place greater faith in our efforts for the liberation of trade than in the recently adopted benevolence of those who sit on the benches opposite.
I now come to what I regarded as the peculiar vice of Excise duties, and more than any of the Excise duty on paper. Their injurious effects are not confined simply to trades which exist, and it is in that respect I may be allowed to observe that hon. Members on the other side of the House seem to me to have missed the point of this case; for the duty on paper is, I contend, not only a burden on trades which do exist, but it prevents other trades from 1408 springing into life. In order to illustrate that proposition, I may be permitted to call for a moment the attention of the Committee to an article which I hold in my hand, and specimens of which I dare say more than one hon. Member has seen. This is a specimen of a bitumenized pipe, and these pipes are made of paper, covered over with pitch. They are said to be only one-fifth the weight of iron, and—that is, of course, apart from the Excise—only one-half the price, while they are not more than about one-quarter the price of lead. They will, I may also state, bear much greater pressure than iron or lead pipes are ever subjected to for the purpose of being tested, and, therefore, a pressure infinitely greater than iron or lead pipes, ordinarily speaking, undergo. Their great superiority, however, to similar articles composed of a different material consists in the fact that they are entirely impervious to the evil effects of weather or chemical action. There are, I may further observe, some very exalted establishments which I could name where these pipes are at the present moment in the course of being adopted, with the view, I believe, mainly to sanitary purposes. That being so, the House will, perhaps, be kind enough to listen to me while I give them a brief history of this invention as illustrating the injurious operation of the Excise duty on paper. My information on the subject I derived from the manager of a company which was formed to carry on the trade in these articles, who has addressed to me a letter which contains all the particulars I have just mentioned, and which I shall be happy, if any hon. Gentleman is desirous that I should do so, to lay on the table of the House. Well, I learn from this gentleman that the invention is about four years old; that at the commencement of that period a patent for it was taken out in France; that a few months after a similar patent was taken out in England, but that for three years it remained, owing to the incubus of the paper duty, entirely useless in this country. Now, let me for a moment pause and ask the Committee to weigh well what it is to prohibit the growth of a trade by the operation of Excise duties. In those cases in which it becomes necessary that a certain amount of revenue should be raised in order to meet the exigencies of the public service, every other consideration must, of course, give way to that which is an imperative demand. But bear in mind that, when by means of 1409 a duty you prohibit your fellow-countrymen from applying their capital to trade, you are precluding them from doing that which would be likely to be most beneficial to themselves and to the public. I now go back to the history of the articles of which I have just been speaking. For a period of three years you practically forbade their manufacture here, while all that time the trade was flourishing in France; but, to show you the truth of what has been said about the abundance of the raw material at homo, I may state that even now, under the pressure of the duty, paper of a coarse description for exportation is cheaper in England than anywhere else, and that while these pipes could not be manufactured here, on account of your Excise laws, a branch company was established in Australia under whose direction they were made of paper procured from this country. Well, having been in abeyance for the time I have mentioned, the trade among us began about twelve months ago to show some signs of animation. Why? Because some enterprising men—men such as those who have made England what she is—placing reliance on a vote of this House by which the paper duty had been condemned—a reliance which under similar circumstances had never before been known to be misplaced—formed a company with the view of prosecuting this particular manufacture. What was the result? The duty on these pipes amounts to 25 per cent. They are articles of low price. The tax on paper, instead of being remitted, was continued for another year; and the effect of this alteration in our financial scheme was that the amount which was being done in the trade—it had been commenced very soon after the proposals of the Government were first made—dwindled down to one-tenth. Nay, more, it could not be continued at that level, and its promoters, in consequence of the disastrous position in which they found themselves, made application to the Treasury, requesting that they would remit the duty—that is to say, charge it in the first instance, but afterwards remit it when it was proved that the materials used had been applied to other purposes than the manufacture of paper. The Treasury, after communicating with the Board of Inland Revenue, granted this virtual drawback; but the precedent thus set up is, in my opinion, one of a most doubtful and dangerous character. By what rule are we to determine what kind of fibrous material it shall be on which we 1410 shall levy the duty, and what the description of the article on which we shall take it on ourselves to remit it? You who are for retaining the tax force into our hands arbitrary powers entirely foreign to the genius of this country and odious to Englishmen. In many instances we have been obliged to refuse similar applications for the remission of the duty, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks were now as anxious for its repeal as he seemed to be under circumstances which he characterized as more propitious, and thought proper to ask the Committee to censure the conduct pursued by the Government in those cases in which exceptions from the tax were granted, we should have no other resource than to throw ourselves on the mercy of Parliament, seeing that we must, owing to the state of the law, admit that we cannot, in dealing with these applications, be guided by any distinct principle. We have, as I said, remitted the duty in the particular case to which I just alluded, but we at the same time know that much soreness and heartburning exists among other trades, who consider that they have an equally good claim upon our attention, but whose requests for a similiar boon we felt bound to refuse. But how do we stand now with respect to the manufacture of these pipes? We have gone to the length of our tether and our position is this, that not only will the Exchequer not derive a shilling from this source, but we shall be obliged to keep up a staff of officers whose duty it will be to enter the mills in the early stage of the process, and follow it up not until the duty is paid, but until the material used is no longer in a condition applicable to the manufacture of paper. So much for the advantages which the Government derives from the present state of things. But what is the position in which the trade itself is placed? Its promoters assure me that inasmuch as it is absolutely necessary for them to have recourse to these materials while it is necessary for the purposes of the Excise that the material employed shall undergo a particular process, so as to render it unfit to be used as paper, a burden equivalent to about 25 per cent of the duty is still imposed upon them by the operation of this restriction. It is further alleged that if the duty were repealed the cost of the raw material, owing to the immense supply of it in this country, would be reduced about 25 per cent; so that a heavy burden rests, and must con- 1411 tinue to rest, on this trade as long as the present duty is maintained. I trust, therefore, that the Committee will take within the scope of its view, in dealing with this question, that Excise duties are grievous and burdensome, not only as far as existing trades are concerned, but that they practically prohibit a large number of other trades from springing into existence.
I now come to ask the hon. Member for Liverpool having arranged his troops for the conflict, who is going to support his Amendment? Reviewing the debate which has taken place, this seems to me a question for interesting speculation. I see opposite to me the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Ball), and I recollect that when the duty on tea was 2s. per lb., he contended that it should not be touched unless due regard were paid to the claims of malt, which competed with it for a remission of duty. If he is going to vote, especially after his speech showing the grievous hardship of the malt duty—if he is going to vote in favour of a reduction of the tea duty, I can only say it is a proof of the exigency of the circumstances in which he finds himself placed and an instance of fidelity to party. There are other Gentlemen whose votes I wait for with some curiosity. There is my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir Bulwer Lytton), and my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). They have made for themselves high and distinguished positions upon this question; they have taken prominent parts far in advance of all Parliaments and Governments. They have been members of an association; they have attended meetings; they have delivered speeches in which they have turned the whole question inside out. I want to see. in what manner they can at all support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Liverpool. But whatever they may do, there are some Gentlemen who sit upon the opposite side of the House, as also upon this side, who cannot support the proposition of the hon. Member. Indeed, I only know of one Gentleman on this side who objects to the financial propositions of the Government. It is impossible for my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) to support the Amendment. That right hon. Gentleman told us in an eloquent speech last Monday that for fourteen days he had been diligently consulting the figures of the Budget and he could not find the least evidence of a surplus. For fourteen days, like some 1412 Newton, he has been studying the problem, and, finding no surplus, I want to know whether he is going to give his support to the hon. Member for Liverpool? If he is it will be wholly inexplicable, for that will not exactly be an instance of fidelity to party. There is another hon. Gentleman, the Member for Inverness (Mr. Baillie) who has expressed anxiety for the repeal of the paper duty, and, when my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade taunted him with a disposition to prefer a repeal of the tea duties upon this occasion, he started up, rejecting the imputation of inconsistency, and said, "Oh, no, I do not believe in a surplus." If he docs not believe in a surplus he cannot vote with the hon. Member for Liverpool Then there is my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) and everything that falls from him is received, not only by me but by the House with universal and unvarying respect. He declared in the most clear manner—not that there is not a surplus; he admitted that—but that the repeal of a penny of the income tax is as much as we can afford, and that to do away with £670,000 of paper duty was too much to add to the penny taken off the income tax. Well, if £665,000 is too much to add to the penny taken off the income tax, I apprehend my hon. Friend will agree with me that it requires no great arithmetical calculation to show that to take off £950,000 for the tea duties would be too much to give up. These are questions of some interest, the solution of which I await with some curiosity. But I do not remain in doubt on this—that the spirit in which this proposal was made by the Government, when they did their best, when they did all that in them lay to remove out of the way this subject of contention between the two Houses, and met the wishes which the Opposition expressed last year by the mouth of one of its best and most respected of its Members upon this point—that these things will have their effect on this House. They may not have their effect while a party cheer rings through the House, but when we come to a division we shall see that there are men sitting opposite who will show by their votes that they appreciate the endeavours of the Government to make finance once again a question of reason and of justice, I do not know who will support the Amendment, but I know who will not. I will venture to say that the majority of this House will not support it. After some 1413 considerable experience in this House in matters of finance, and some experience under circumstances that might he called critical, I say, in conclusion, with unhesitating confidence, that never with a more certain expectation of the issue did I submit a proposition to the House than I do now in asking them to accompany the Government to give effect to its proposals, which are based upon the principles which have regulated our legislation for the last twenty years; upon the principles which have been productive of such enormous benefits, and which have added almost as much to the authority and fame of the British House of Commons as it has contributed to the strength, the security, and the happiness of the people.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Duties and Drawbacks of Customs now charged and allowed on the articles undermentioned shall continue to be levied, charged, and allowed on and after the 1st July, 1801, until the 1st July, 1862, on Importation into Great Britain and Ireland, or on Exportation therefrom to foreign parts, or on removal to the Isle of Man for consumption therein, namely—
- Sugar, as denominated in the Tariff.
- Sugar cane juice.
- Almonds, paste of.
- Cherries, dried.
- Comfits, dry.
- Ginger, preserved.
- Alums, preserved in Sugar.Succades, including all fruits and vegetables preserved in Sugar not otherwise enumerated.
§ MR. HORSFALL
There are, Sir, in this House hon. Gentlemen who will do me the justice to remember that when a short time ago I took the liberty of offering a few observations on the general principles of the Budget I took occasion to express the deep regret with which. I took exception to any portion of the financial statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I felt that regret from the personal regard and respect which I have hitherto, at least, felt towards him. I felt that regret from the great respect which in common, I think I may say, with the whole House, I feel for the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government. I should have rejoiced if the Amendment of which I have given notice had been submitted by my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon, because, however much hon. Gentlemen 1414 opposite may differ from the conclusions at which he may arrive, I am sure that they will agree—that whenever my hon. Friend addresses the House he is entitled to its respect and attention. Before I proceed to deal with the Resolution before the House, I must make one or two remarks in reference to observations personally addressed to myself by the light hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I will endeavour to answer him in a frank and candid manner, and not in the tone which he has been pleased to adopt towards me. The right hon. Gentleman asked me how many of the petitions which I presented were in support of the Amendment of which I have given notice, and at the same lime he made a contemptuous allusion to those petitions as if they were not "spontaneous" petitions. I can only say for myself that I have never written one line to any individual, or invited a petition in any form or shape on this subject. As to the substance of these petitions—I have presented three this evening, and the main one from Liverpool was, as I stated, in opposition to the repeal of the paper duty, but in favour of applying any surplus to the reduction of the tea or the sugar duties, or of the income tax, as the House in its wisdom might see fit. The other petition from Liverpool was from the East India and China Association, and it was specific—in asking for reduction of the duty on tea to 1s. per lb. The other petition put into my hands was from 900 of the inhabitants of Warrington—a large number for so small a place—praying the House not to repeal the paper duty so long as the oppressive duties upon tea and sugar still remained. I hope I have satisfied the light hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the validity of the petitions which I have had the honour to present. I will now proceed to notice the question at issue, and the question my Amendment gives rise to is simply this—"Will the House in July next reimpose 1s. 5d. duty on tea to enable it to remove the duty on paper, or will it reimpose the 1s. duty on tea, retaining the duty on paper?" I think I have put the question fairly before the House. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has told us that there is no war duty upon tea, and I shall notice that in a very few moments. Before doing so, however, I should like to call the attention of the House to the objections with which I am met on the threshold by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that the 1415 House is pledged by the proceedings of last year to repeal the duty upon paper. I should like to ask the Committee if there is no other pledge which has been given—if no antecedent pledge has been given by the House as to the tea and sugar duties—and given, not be a bare majority of nine, hut by the unanimous assent of the House? And I will not ask the Committee to take my representation of that, hut I will read to them the Resolution adopted by the House on the 31st of May, 1853—Resolved, that in lieu of the duties of Customs now chargeable on tea imported into the United Kingdom, the following duties shall be charged:—To 5th April, 1854, 1s. 10d.; 1855, 1s. 6d., 1856, 1s. 3d.; after, 1s.The House thus unanimously resolved in the year 1853, that on and after the 5th of April, 1856, the duty on tea should be reduced to 1s. per lb. But what followed? Shortly afterwards the Minister of the Crown came down, appealed to the patriotism of the House and of the country, and asked for supplies to carry on the war in which we became engaged; and the House, with a generosity which has since been but ill requited, immediately assented to a proposal for increasing the income tax and the duties on tea and sugar. But did the House, acting upon the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, give no pledge upon that occasion? The right hon. Gentleman now says that these duties are improperly called war duties; but who is it that first called them by that name? I find that the following Resolution was unanimously adopted by the House on the 3rd of March, 1855:—That the further decline of the several duties of Customs made payable on tea from and after the 5th of April, 1855, as provided by the Act 10 & 17 of Vict., c. 106, shall be suspended until the 5th day of April which shall first happen after the end of twelve months from the date of a definite treaty of peace, on which day the said duty shall be reduced to 1s. 3d. per lb, and on the 5th day of April in the year following to 1s. per lb; and that in the interval, in lieu of the said duties provided by the said Act, there shall continue to be charged the duty of 1s. 6d. per lb.That, Sir, was the unanimous Resolution of this House with respect to these war duties. by which it was pledged long before it gave any pledge on the subject of the paper duties. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is at variance upon this point with some of his own colleagues, for I find that when, on the 21st of Juno, 1858, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade proposed his Resolution to the ef- 1416 feet, that when a fitting time arrived the Excise duty on paper ought to be abolished, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said—The House would recollect that last year the then Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that the income tax should be kept up at 7d. in the pound, and that instead of 1s. 3d., the duty on tea should be 1s. 5d., and that there should be a. proportionate increase in the duty on sugar. This year they had allowed the income tax to fall from 7d. to 5d. in the pound, but they had kept up the duty on tea at 1s. 5d., and also retained the proportionate increase in the duty on sugar. It was, therefore, almost a matter of good faith, when next there was a reduction in taxation, that the duties on tea and sugar should be reduced, which were, in fact, war duties; and there could be no greater claim for reduction in taxation than in those articles of consumption which entered so largely into the comforts of the people."—[3 Hansard, cli. 133.]This is no new question. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to speak as if the cry for a diminution of the tea duties was one that is now raised for the first time. I recollect that some fifteen or sixteen years ago a great excitement prevailed throughout the country upon the subject of those duties. Large meetings were held, particularly in Manchester, where they were presided over by the mayor. At that time the reduction of the duty to 1s. per pound was contended for, and some importance was then attached to the matter by the hon. Members for Manchester. A circular was issued from that place, in which the duty on tea was spoken of as exorbitant, disproportionate, unjust, impolitic, and injurious, and in which the following sentence was printed in conspicuous type:—Experience has proved that low duties produce larger revenues.On the flysheet of the circular was an invitation to attend a meeting signed by, among other persons, Thomas Bazley, Chairman of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce; and J. A. Turner, Chairman of the Manchester Commercial Association. Under these circumstances I cannot help expressing a hope that I shall upon this occasion receive the cordial support of both the hon. Members for Manchester. Up to that time our merchants engaged in the trade with China had been placed in a most disadvantageous position; and a Committee of this House, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland was a most active member, after having inquired into the nature of our commercial relations with that country, reported that—They think themselves warranted in recommending to the House a considerable reduction in 1417 the duty on tea at the earliest period which in its wisdom it may see fit, as most desirable in itself, with a view to the comforts and the social habits of the people, as involving but a temporary loss to the revenue, and as essential to the extension of our trade with China; nay, even to its maintenance at the point which it has already reached.The Committee then proceed to contrast the duty on tea with the duties on coffee and cocoa, and point out that while the duty on tea was maintained at a high rate, the duty on coffee had been reduced from 1s. to 4d. per pound, and the reduction had been attended with an increased consumption of 500 per cent; and that the duty on cocoa had been reduced from 1s. to 2d. per pound, followed by an increased consumption of 1,000 per cent. These are facts which may convince the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the effect which reduced duties have in increasing the revenue. The Report of that Committee has been entirely confirmed by the fourth Report of the Commissioners of Customs issued last year. It is there stated that in the year 1848, when the duty stood at 2s. 2¼d. per pound, the quantity of tea entered for home consumption in the United Kingdom was 48,734,789lbs., which brought in a revenue of £5,329,992, and in the year 1859, when the duty stood at 1s. 5d. per lb., the quantity of tea entered was 76,362,008lbs., which brought in a revenue of £5,408,924. While entering into these details, I must express my regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not the courtesy to remain in the House to listen to any statements I might have to make, after the very pointed and somewhat personal observations which he addressed to me. If he bad been here I should have answered the taunt he has flung out with regard to my being the representative of a commercial community. I will now only say upon that subject that I feel proud of representing nearly 500,000 people, and a town the value of the exports from which exceeds the value of the exports from all the rest of the United Kingdom, including the port of London. But I shall proceed to notice, in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the observations which he made with respect to the effect my proposal would have on the revenue of the country. I estimate the consumption of tea for the present year at 77,000,000lbs.; and the removal of 5d. per pound of the duty would create an apparent loss to the Exchequer of £1,641,000. But if we allow an increase of one-third in the consumption we should obtain from that source an addi- 1418 tional sum of £547,000; and the total net loss to the revenue would then amount to £1,100,000 for the year. On this calculation the loss upon the year, if the duty were not reduced until the 1st of July, would be £825,000; if it were not reduced until the 1st of October the loss would be £550,000; and if it were not reduced until the 1st of January next the loss would be £275,009. But if it be considered that one-third is too much to allow for increased consumption, I will then take the increase at one-fourth, which would bring in an additional sum of £410,000; and then the whole loss for the year would be £1,230,000, or about £300,000 per quarter: so that if the duty were reduced from the 1st of July the loss would be £900,000; from the 1st of October it would be £600,000; and from the 1st of January it would be £300,000. Now the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer reckons his surplus at £1,923,000. The reduction of the income tax to 9d. involves a loss of £850,000, which would reduce the surplus to £1,073,000 and with this latter sum we should have an ample margin for the reduction of the tea duties to 1s. per lb. from the 1st of October at all events. Another gentleman who is very well informed upon these points, does not go quite to the extent of the statement I have just made. He states that the annual increase in the consumption of tea under a 1s. duty, may with perfect safety be estimated at 4,000,000lb., which will cause an annual increase in the consumption of sugar of 16,000,000lb. The increase of revenue, therefore, would be £300,000 per annum; namely—on 4,000,000lb. of tea, at 1s., £200,000, and on 16,000,000lb. of sugar at 1½d., £100,000; so that in the course of about live years we should make good the £1,600,000 sacrificed by the reduction of the tea duty to 1s. But in all probability the increase of consumption would go on at such a ratio that the loss would be made up in three or four years; and there are those who would be prepared under the proposed change to farm out the revenue under an engagement to pay into the Exchequer in four years the total amount winch is now raised by the duty of 1s. 5d. A very important subject for consideration with regard to this question is the relative effect of high and of low duties on the consumption of tea. I find that in the year 1840, when an addition of 5 per cent or 1¼d. per lb. was made to the duty, the consumption decreased by 1419 2,874,659lb. From 1840 to 1851 the duty stood at 2s. 2¼d., and the average annual increase throughout that period was 1,543,000lb. But during the next four years, when the duly was reduced from 2s. 2¼d. to 1s. 10d., 1s. 9d., and 1s. 6d., the average annual increase of consumption was 1,851,000lb; and during the last four years, when the duty was reduced to 1s. 5d., the average annual increase of consumption was double, or 3,400,000lb. I must add that as far as I am competent to form an opinion upon such a point I am led to believe that that increase would be doubled during the next five years if the duty were reduced to 1s. Since I placed my notice upon the paper I have received communications from many people both rich and poor; some of those communications I have not yet had time to read; but I was particularly struck by one of them which came from Birmingham; and I hope the hon. Member for that town will now allow me to direct his attention to the statement of one of his constituents. The writer addressed me as follows:—I cannot omit the duty to tender to you the expression of my sincere thanks for your determination to move the lowering of the tea duty instead of the paper duty being taken off. I am a middle-class man with a large family; use 9lb. of sugar, near 1lb. of tea, ½lb. of coffee weekly. I need not tell you what a boon the 2½d. war tax per lb. off tea would be, and especially if sugar were lowered. Now it is clear all the tax to be remitted by your noble Resolution for Thursday's debate will come direct into my own family's comfort. The repeal of the duty on paper would not add one fraction to my comfort, nor would it save me as much in a year, as would your proposition save me the first week it came into operation if curried, as I trust in God it will, by the good sense of the Commons of England.The writer of that communication does not wish his name to be known, as he is a Government employe; but I have no objection to show it to the hon. Member for Birmingham, if he should have any doubt of its authenticity. I believe that if the inhabitants of every largo town in the kingdom were polled, it would be found that nine out of every ten of them, or even as many as 99 out of every 100, would rather have a reduction of the tea duty than a repeal of the duty upon paper. It may be thought that I am anxious to make out a very strong case against the latter proposal. But I am not disposed to do anything of the kind. I have, both in public and in private, advocated a repeal of the paper duty during the last twelve or fifteen years. I believe that that measure 1420 is only a question of time, it is a question of justice to the payers of other taxes, who are still subject to the extraordinary charges that were imposed upon them in a time of war, and who have the first claim on the favourable consideration of this House and the first mortgage on the finances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a mortgage which he is bound, I think, as an honest man to redeem. The right hon. Gentleman upbraided some hon. Members on this side of the House for their presumption in entertaining different views upon this subject from those which they held some years ago. It is not my intention to attempt to defend gentlemen who are perfectly competent to defend themselves; but I cannot refrain from saying that I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the last man in the House who ought to have brought forward such accusations. I promised to confine myself to the proposition before the Committee; and I have endeavoured to do so. I have submitted the proposition whether it is desirable to repeal the paper duty, and so to create a permanent loss to the public Exchequer, or to diminish the duty on tea, and thus pass a measure which I think I have shown will lead to a recovery of revenue in the course of five, if not of three or four years. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may take exception to the wording of the Amendment as it stands on the Paper, and he is very ready to object to small details of that kind; but I am quite prepared so to alter the Amendment that it may not be liable to any such objection. I invite the Committee to assent to the proposal I am now submitting to their consideration, not only as an act of justice to the working classes of the country, but with a view to extend our commerce, and to place the national revenue on a more safe and satisfactory footing. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
In line 7, to leave out the word 'Tea,' and at the end of the Resolution to add the words 'Tea, until the 1st October, 1861; and on and after the 1st October, 1s. per lb.'
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he had expected that the hon. Member for Liverpool would have put a stronger case before the House. No doubt, the hon. Member had made out a certain case for the reduction of the tea duty; it was perfectly true that a sort of arrangement was once entered into, by which the duty 1421 was to have been diminished to a lower amount than that at which it at present stood. But there were other taxes that had a stronger claim than the tea duty. Not only had there been a tacit agreement entered into with the country by an abstract Resolution fur the repeal of the paper duty, but last year a Bill passed the House repealing it; that constituted a still stronger claim for the repeal of that duty than any tacit agreement. It was impossible to mistake the object of this long discussion. It was hoped that "something might turn up," and that the Government might be found to have committed some error. But it had committed no error. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the part of the Government had answered in a strightforward manner the vague questions that had been put to him; and at last it had been announced, to the astonishment of every one, that a party fight was to be made on the question how the surplus was to be disposed of. The paramount consideration which induced him to vote for the repeal of the paper duties was that last year the House of Commons by a large majority consented to pass the second reading of a Bill to effect this object, resolving that they would pay an additional penny of income tax as the price of the repeal, while at a later period of the Session, in the face of an increased expenditure, they passed the third reading of the Bill. That Bill was rejected by the House of Lords, and the tax was now levied upon the authority of a body which had never had, and ought not to have, the control of the taxation of the country. The rejection of the measure last year furnished ground for a quarrel between the two branches of the Legislature which might have been dangerous to the Constitution. The House of Commons, however, displayed the greatest moderation; even hon. Gentleman opposite assumed no triumphant tone and said, "This act of the House of Lords is an exceptional one, justified only by exceptional circumstances, and not to be drawn into a precedent;" and by this moderation on both sides of the House the breach was avoided. Still, however, the question was not set at rest. The paper duty remained, and at any moment the dispute might be revived. What was to prevent another abstract Resolution being brought forward in this House? If such a Resolution were carried, and a Bill were sent up founded on it, there would be a collision between 1422 the two Houses? Now, by passing the Budget, not only would the possibility of such a collision be at an end, but the only sign by which last year's dispute could be remembered would be swept away. It would be no longer in the power of any demagogue—sincere and earnest though he might he mistaken—to say that this duty, pressing severely on a branch of industry, was retained by the sole authority of the House of Lords. The Budget, as proposed, would effect all trace of disagreement. Surely the House could do no wiser thing, seeing that it could be done without injury to the finances of the country, than thus to get rid of the vexed question. But the Government were invited to accent this Amendment in a friendly spirit. He thought, however, that when they had twice deliberately proposed, and when the House had twice as deliberately agreed to repeal the paper duty—looking also at the important constitutional question involved—the Government could not accept such an Amendment. If they did accept it they knew what would be their position. The Earl of Derby in a speech of great ability had announced it on the previous night. The noble Viscount was to remain at the head of the Government, but was not to choose his colleagues. He was to abandon his Chancellor of the Exchequer, once the ornament of the Conservative party, but now too dangerous an opponent to be allowed to continue in the Ministry. The noble Viscount might bring in his measures, but was not to pass them, nor was he to resign. The noble Viscount's task, according to this new theory, was principally to defeat the measures brought in by the hon. Gentleman who sat behind him, and this he was to do by the help of his new friends, the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sat opposite to him. He would ask whether any more degrading and insulting proposition could be made to the noble Viscount? He was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night that there was to be no faltering on the part of the Government in carrying out their financial scheme, and he trusted that the Committee would hear from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, before the debate closed, that he was determined, at all risks and hazards, to support his Chancellor of the Exchequer, whatever the result might be. He trusted they would also hear from his noble Friend that if the proposal of the Government to 1423 repeal the paper duty should be defeated by a hostile majority, he would not be deterred by the prospect of a good opposition hustings cry, which appeared to have given the Earl of Derby so much pleasure, from appealing to the country on behalf of the financial proposals of the Government. Something had been said of the political aspect of the Budget, and it had been objected to it that it had obtained the favourable opinion of the hon. Member for Birmingham and his friends. Now, the House had seen hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they were in office, bidding pretty high for the support of that hon. Member. He did not entirely agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, either on the subject of Parliamentary Reform or the national defences; but there was one subject on which the hon. Gentleman and his friends had never been much at variance with public opinion, and that was on our commercial legislation and on commercial subjects. He could not, therefore, agree that if the Budget met the approval of the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) that was any reason why it should not pass, but rather the reverse. For these reasons he must beg the noble Viscount at the head of the Government to press without flinching his financial propositions upon the House, and, if its decision were unfavourable, to appeal to the country against that verdict.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he had no intention of following the noble Marquess into the contest between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, but would confine himself to the humbler and more practical contest before the Committee between tea and paper. As an Irish Member he begged permission to discuss the Amendment mainly with reference to Irish interests. His hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), in calling attention on a previous night to the influence of the Budget upon Ireland, told the House that the paper trade of Ireland was declining, and the hon. Member for Birmingham, for the same reason, called upon Irish Members to support the Budget. But, on referring to the ordinary records of the trade of the country, he found that so far from the Irish trade being in an enfeebled and embarrassing condition it was a flourishing trade. He would first remind the Committee that Ireland had declined during the last twenty years in her population, wealth, land under tillage, and fisheries. The investments in savings banks had diminished, and the population was at 1424 that moment several millions less than it was twenty years ago. But one interest was successful and increasing, and that was the paper trade. In 1840 the quantity of paper manufactured in Ireland was 3,500,000lb. Year by year the production increased. In 1844 the quantity had increased to 4,500,000lb.; in 1818 to 5,500,000lb.; in 1852, 7,373,000lb.; in 1856 to 7,864,000lb. In 1859 the amount bad reached 8,292,000lb., while last year it was no less than 9,000,000lbs. His hon. Friend had, no doubt unintentionally, misled the House by stating what was exactly opposed to the truth. His hon. Friend had also asserted that in consequence of the embarrassing action of the Legislature last year the paper trade of the United Kingdom had increased only 6,000,000lb., whereas the increase on the previous year was 25,000,000lb. But the fact was that during the last twenty years the average increase was somewhat under the increase of last year—namely, 6,000,000lb. The largest sum paid into the Excise in any one year on Irish paper was paid last year, being £55,349 in 1860 against £50,894 in 1859. The noble Marquess who had preceded him had entirely avoided the question of cheap tea, and be was not surprised at it. Of all parts of the kingdom Ireland would benefit most from the remission of the tea duties. The margin for tea consumption was greater in Ireland than in any part of the kingdom. In England the average consumption of tea was 40oz. per head; in Scotland 35oz.; in Ireland only 23oz. In the Channel Islands, where no duty was levied on tea, the consumption was 56oz. per head. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) had dwelt upon the probable gain to the revenue if the Amendment were carried. Now, he had been informed by Irish tea dealers that the consumption in Ireland would show an increase of 75 per cent in two years if 5d. per lb. were taken off the duty. That would increase the revenue on tea from Ireland alone to the amount of £350,000 per annum. There was in Ireland a growing desire for tea, and with it, he was happy to say, a diminished consumption of spirituous liquors. Twenty years ago the consumption of tea in Ireland was only 4,000,000lb.; now, although the population had greatly diminished, the consumption of tea had increased to 10,000,000lb. Mr. White, of Hull, an eminent tea merchant, was asked before the Committee of 1847 whether, if 1425 the duty were reduced to 1s. a pound, his impression was that the consumption of tea would increase 100 per cent within five years? and his answer was "Yes." The duty on tea was then 2s. 2d. In discussing the question they ought not to forget that they had recently made a commercial treaty with China in which we had insisted on our manufactured goods being admitted into that country at a duty of 5 per cent. The average value of tea was 1s. 3d. a pound, and on that they charged 1s. 5d. duty, so that they imposed over 100 per cent on the chief produce of the Chinese, while they compelled them to take our manufactured goods with a duty of 5 per cent only. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) seemed surprised that this, the Conservative, side of the House, should take such an interest in securing cheap tea for the people. But, in fact, the present Amendment was the natural sequence of former Conservative action and of consistent Conservative policy. Mr. M'Culloch, in his Commercial Dictionary said—The duty on tea was the only very objectionable one in the amended tariff bequeathed to the country by Sir Robert Peel, and he had merely deferred to a more convenient opportunity his determination to place it on a more reasonable and equitable footing. He did not, unhappily, live to effect this object, but it has been effected by others. The reduction! of the tea duties formed a striking feature in the Budget proposed by Mr. Disraeli; and after the rejection of the latter, the project was introduced into the Budget of Mr. Gladstone, and was passed.The credit of originating the reduction of the duty on tea, therefore, belonged to the Conservatives, and it was natural that that side of the House should be anxious to carry out a commercial reform which they had originated. The House had heard a great deal about the popularity of the repeal of the paper duty, but he would adduce a piece of evidence which, to his mind, proved that there was no strong, popular feeling in its favour. When corn law repeal was agitated the hon. Member for Rochdale and the hon. Member for Birmingham argued that the Anti-Corn Law League must be a popular body, because the funds at its command were always in a flourishing state. Now, when the funds of an association were in a flourishing condition it might fairly be urged that the cause which it advocated was popular; and, on the oilier hand, when the funds of an associations were in a crippled and embarrassed condition, as was the 1426 case with the Association for the Repeal of the Paper Duty, the fair inference was that it was not popular. He was in favour of the repeal of the paper duty when the proper time came. He was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Association for the Repeal of the Paper Duty, and when the war duties had been taken off tea and sugar, and the income tax greatly reduced, if not altogether removed, he hoped the repeal of the paper duty would be proceeded with. He found that in 1855 the receipts of the Association for the Repeal of the Paper Duty were £476 12s. 8d., and the expenditure £714 9s. 11d., showing a deficiency of £237 17s. 3d. Next year the receipts were still loss; the year following 1858 they were still small, and the deficiency again large. In 1853 the debts of the Birmingham branch of the association were £17 11s. 6d. A strong whip was made in 1858, and twenty gentlemen subscribed £20 each towards relieving the association generally of its difficulties, but these twenty gentlemen, he found, were in the main papermakers. In Birmingham, where the association should be popular, there were only three subscribers, and he did not find the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham among them. In London there was subscribed £142 only, and among the subscribers he observed the name of the right hon. T. Milner Gibson for £50. From Manchester the sum received was £53, and from all other parts of the country the subscriptions amounted to £44, being less than the solitary subscription of one Cabinet Minister. There was not a single subscription from Ireland. The people of that country would rather have the duty off tea than paper; and he hoped that the well known opinion of the Irish people on the subject, and, generally speaking, the anti-Irish character of the present Budget would be enough to induce the Irish Members generally to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Liverpool.
said, the issue before the House was—what reduction of duties would, on the whole, most benefit the people. The right hon. Member for Stroud told the House that the remission now under consideration would amount to about £4,500 per day, and if he had carried the calculation further he might have told them that that would amount to about 1–7th of a farthing per person; but his belief was that by the encouragement of the employment of labour, and the development of industry, the power of consumption and the 1427 wages of the working classes might be increased much more than by any mere reduction of duty on tea. This question was of great interest to his constituents, who had to undergo a severe competition with the manufacturers of Germany. It had lately become the practice among the manufacturers of Nottingham to pack up stockings in pasteboard boxes, which cost about twice as much here as in Germany. A dozen of stockings of the value of 3s. or 4s. was put in a box which hero cost 4d., but in Germany only 2d. One manufacturer told him that these boxes cost him £3,500 a year, and another that he paid in paper duty alone in that way £300 a year. This difference, of course, owing to the competition, could not be charged to the American consumer, but must be taken from the profits of the manufacturer or the wages of the workman, or be divided between them. He had lately received a deputation from Nottingham, consisting of the chairman and secretary of the Trades' Union, who would naturally be acquainted with the sentiments of their fellow-workmen, and on asking them what they thought of the Budget, they said that at first they did not care much about it; but further reflection had shown them that it would be greatly to their interests. One of those men made the cards for the Jacquard looms, and though a drawback was allowed on the pasteboard, yet he could not open a single packet until the exciseman had inspected it, to weigh it and see that it was properly marked. The delay which this caused repetedly lost him a day's work, and kept a machine and a number of men idle. These were impediments which ought to be removed. The moral recommendations of the repeal of the paper duty were equally forcible with the material recommendations. Of late years he had noticed that a great improvement had taken place in the tone of the discussions between masters and men, which he attributed entirely to the spread of knowledge. The same might be said of the proceedings at public meetings, which were much more orderly than in former times. It was no use now-a-days to attempt to drown a man's arguments by riotous clamour, for if they were reported they would be read and would produce their effect. He had been much struck, too, by the moderate tone of the evidence which had been given before a recent Commission issued to inquire into the expediency of extending the Factory Act to lace manufacturers, both 1428 by masters and workmen. Men knew that their evidence would be read by their neighbours, they spoke, therefore, under a greater sense of responsibility and the Reports were not filled with such exaggerated statements as in former times. He considered that the people would gain much more by the removal of the paper duty than they would by the remission of a portion of the Excise duty on tea; but even if the balance of advantage was not so decidedly favourable to that removal there were other circumstances which would make him give his vote in favour of the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When he entered Parliament the people were not taxed without their own consent, expressed through their representatives, and the consent of the Crown. Now, there was no question whatever that they were taxed contrary to the wishes of the House of Commons and the expressed desire of the Crown. He conceived that they were placed in a most painful and humiliating position; and one motive he should have in supporting the proposal of the Government would be that it tended to rescue them from the embarrassing situation in which they stood.
§ VISCOUNT HOLMESDALE
said, he thought the noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal side of the House were open to the charge of inconsistency with reference to their speeches on the financial propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. During the debate on the question for going into Committee the Opposition were taunted by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. B. Osborne) and other hon. Gentlemen, supporters of the Government, with not having moved any Amendment; but now that his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool had submitted a definite question to the Committee the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) expressed his surprise that such a course should have been taken. The Opposition had endeavoured to meet the wishes of the Liberal side of the House, and had, he must say, met with a very ungrateful return. The conduct of the Liberals on this occasion reminded him of that individual on the other side of the Channel who trailed his coat after him, and asked, would no one oblige him by stepping on the tail of it? Still more unreasonable was the taunt which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thrown out as to the newborn zeal of the Opposition side of the House in the cause of the 1429 poor man. He (Viscount Holmesdale) denied that he was actuated in the vote he was about to give by a party spirit or by party consideration. He should give his vote in favour of the Amendment because he sincerely believed that the great working mass of the country, the majority of the population, would be infinitely more benefited by a partial remission of the duty on tea than by the remission of what used to be called one of the "faxes on knowledge," but what in the course of the debate was spoken of simply as "the paper duty." The noble Marquess had alluded to the proposition of the Government as a flag of truce sent to the other House, but he (Viscount Holmesdale) was afraid, that in reference to what had occurred in "another place" last year, there was peace on his lips, but there was war in his heart. He could not agree with those who thought that the noble Lords who sat in the other House of Parliament should wish to see the records of certain of their proceedings of last year obliterated. On the contrary, he was of opinion that these noble Lords had reason to be proud of the foresight they had shown and of the way in which they had acted. The Committee had been told by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that the paper duty pressed heavily on the manufacturers. On what manufacturers? He had among his constituents several paper manufacturers. One of them, whoso letter was similar to the communications which he had received from others, said that this duty question was of secondary importance—"in fact, of no importance at all,"—but that it was the foreign export duty on foreign rags which tended to depress the trade. The paper manufacturers could not forget that last year, when a certain treaty was being negotiated, there had been a chance of doing away with that export duty under which they were now left to groan. The unsettled state of the duty question was, no doubt, a matter of importance to the trade; but so that it was settled in one way or the other, the continuance or non-continuance of the duty was not a matter of much importance to their interests. Well, then, if the duty did not press on the paper manufacturers, whom did it press on? Would its removal benefit the poorer classes to any appreciable extent? Was it reasonable to suppose that the remission of the duty on paper in which articles of consumption were wrapped up would cause a reduction in the price of those articles? He did not 1430 think it would. They had heard a great deal about the educational advantages of the repeal of the paper duty; but they had it stated in a pamphlet written by an eminent publisher, that the difference which the duty made in a shilling book was only a halfpenny. It was not clear that that halfpenny would go into the pocket of the purchaser; hut even supposing that it would the advantage to the working classes would not be very great. One set of school hooks pretty nearly did for all a man's children; but the article of tea was one of daily consumption, and the duty on it might prevent a man from sending his children to school at all. Some hon. Gentleman might argue that the money saved by the reduction of the tea duty would not find its way into the pockets of the consumer; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not use that argument. That right hon. Gentleman, when advocating the reduction of the wine duties, enlarged upon the advantage which that reduction would bring to the consumer, and surely there could be no difference in that respect between wine and tea? The saving by the remission of the paper duty would be far more likely to go into the pockets of the proprietors of cheap periodicals than into those of the working classes. Moreover, as to cheap publications, he had seen in public-houses in the country cheap publications which were ill calculated to improve the poor man, even if they were printed on better paper. Indeed it was satisfactory to know that the paper on which such publications were printed rendered it very difficult for any one to read them. It had been announced that as soon as the paper duty came off there would be published once a week a divorce gazette. Did the right hon. Gentleman think it would be to the advantage of the working classes to have all the cases of Sir Cresswell Cresswell's court laid before them? Another paper was to be published giving in detail all the cases in the police courts. Would that benefit the people? A far greater benefit would be conferred on the people by even a remission of only a penny on tea than by the removel of the whole of the paper duty. Mens sana in corpore sano was all very well, but the corpus sanum was the first consideration of the working man. He felt that his vote, representing as he did no small constituency, was not to be trifled with or lightly given for party purposes. He had done his best to arrive at 1431 a solution of the question; and he could say, in all sincerity, after obtaining all the information within his power, and after listening attentively to the speeches on both sides of the House, he believed that he should best be doing his duty to his constituents by voting, as he intended to vote, for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Liverpool.
§ MR. NORRIS
said, the question had been fairly raised whether the abolition of the paper duty or a reduction on tea and sugar would most benefit the working man by increasing his comforts. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) had quoted the case of a Government employé at Birmingham, who stated that he consumed half a pound of tea per week. The saving on that amount, if the reduction of duty really reached him, would be just 2½d. per week, or probably not a halfpenny per head to his family. But two grocers in the borough which he (Mr. Norris) represented had informed him that the poor people in the neighbouring villages who bought their weekly supplies at their shops never purchased more than two ounces of tea. The remission of 5d. on the lb. would give a saving of a halfpenny and half a farthing for each family. The appreciable advantage per head could not, therefore, be represented by any current coin of the realm. As to the argument of an increase of consumption consequent upon this reduction of duty, what little increase took place would be among the poorer classes. Therefore, he did not regard the calculations of the hon. Member for Liverpool, that there would be a material increase of consumption, and consequent augmentation of revenue. The repeal of the paper duty would not only confer a benefit upon the producers of the literature of the country, but would largely benefit the working classes. Large quantities of wrapping paper were used in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, and the other great hives of industry. Paper cost from £25 to £40 and £45 per ton, and a lace and stocking manufacturer in Nottingham had to pay £3,500 for paper, and compete with a manufacturer in Germany, where there was no duty, who could obtain the same quantity of paper for half that sum. Years ago the House had decided that the paper tax was one that ought not to be imposed, because it was calculated to interfere with the moral and spiritual welfare of the people. The Bibles issued from the 1432 Oxford press were not subject to duty, and if the paper tax had been levied upon the Bibles which had been issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society, which amounted to 39,315,226 copies, the duty would have amounted to the enormous sum of £709,526. Upon books which had been published of a kindred character to the Bible, illustrating its doctrines, the tax amounted to about 10 per cent. Then there was the duty on the four or five millions of tracts issued by the Religious Tract Society, and four or five hundred publications of the Wesley an Society, and other works to inculcate good principles among the working classes—all of which paid this heavy duty. By abolishing the duty on paper the House would do more, he firmly believed, to improve the condition of the poor man than they could possibly do by remitting a halfpenny and half a farthing on his tea. Having once gone into a humble dwelling in a village in Berkshire, he noticed upon the walls some pieces of stained paper, most extraordinarily diversified in pattern and size; and, on interrogating the woman to whom the house belonged, he ascertained that at the paper mill where she and her husband worked hundreds of tons of old paper were ground up, but these paperhangings being unfit for use, they were allowed by the overseer to take them home. The isolated fact might appear of no importance, but he saw a great moral in it in connection with the oppressive operation of the tax on stained paper. The Amendment on which they were called to vote that night was not one expressive of sympathy with those whose precarious incomes were subject to an oppessive income tax; it was not proposed in the interests of those who paid fire or life insurance, or who sustained the burden of the hop duty; neither was he able to perceive that the interests of the poor were in any way promoted by it. The true interest concerned in the proposal of the hon. Member for Liverpool had been avowed in the speech of the Earl of Derby, who declared that it was easy for men like himself, who had attained to to the highest honours within the reach of a public man, to wait their time calmly and patiently; but true virtue was shown by those young and laudable ambitions, panting for opportunities of distinguishing themselves, and exhibiting the great qualities of their party, who yet practised restraint at the bidding of their leader. The true issue raised was, whether the aspirations 1433 of those young statesmen should be realized, and he believed they would be disappointed. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would abide manfully by his Budget, and that Her Majesty's Ministers would stand by the right hon. Gentleman; and be confidently predicted that an abundant majority of the nation would, if it were necessary, confirm the policy of the Government.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he should not attempt to answer the arguments of the hon. Member who had just sat down, because, following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of almost every hon. Member who had spoken from the Ministerial side of the House, he had taken a wholly false view of the question really at issue. The hon. Member argued the question as if the country were in possession of a certain surplus, and as if a choice bad merely to be made in reference to the remission of one of two taxes standing on an equal footing. He wholly denied the truth of that position; he denied that his right hon. Friend was in possession of a surplus. He did not question, and he never bad questioned, the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—though his right hon. Friend told him a few evenings since that he was "playing upon words" when he pointed out the real state of the case. He asserted that on the figures, as they had been put forward from the Treasury bench, there did not exist any surplus, but that a surplus had to be made. The question asked of the House was not "which of two taxes will you remit?" but "will you put on one tax in order that you may remit another?" For this statement, which he made unhesitatingly, he should refer, if authority were required, to the statement of his right hon. Friend in 1857, under circumstances parallel to those which now existed. The war duties on tea then existed at the rate of 1s. 9d. in the pound, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day—the right hon. Baronet the present Home Secretary—proposed to make what he called a reduction to 1s. 7d. when by law they should have fallen to 1s. 3d. But his right hon. Friend took a very different view of the change which was suggested. He said—You would have imagined that this innocent and harmless Budget of his was going to remit, not to impose, taxes on ten and sugar…. But the case stands thus—The war tax on tea will fall on the 5th of April next from 1s. 9d. to 1434 1s. 3d. per lb. My right hon. Friend proposes to raise it again to 1s. 7d., and then he takes credit for 2d. of remission. This is his process. He says he remits 2d., I say he imposes 4d. He intends to introduce Resolutions enabling him to levy on the 6th of April a duty which by law would not be leviable. That I call an increase of taxation."—[3 Hansard, cxliv. 1014.]What was the House now asked to do? According to the principle laid down by his right hon. Friend, to add 2d. to the duty legally leviable on tea, and this, not to cover the necessary demands of the year, but to make up an excess over those demands in order that a certain other duty might be taken off. The case ought to be understood by the country. It was not a question between two existing and analogous duties, as for instance, the paper duty on the one hand and the fire insurance duty on the other; in such a case the arguments of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would have been admissible, but that was not the question. The question was would the House reimpose a duty levied originally for war purposes on an article of general consumption, and kept on after that war had ceased, in order that other taxes might now be remitted? He was prepared to argue the matter on more than one ground. In the first place, he would argue it on the ground of general policy; next, on the ground of good faith—and in connection with that branch of the subject he would consider the narrower question which had been raised affecting the honour of the House of Commons; and, lastly, he would deal with the narrowest point of all, but in his opinion the most important, the financial ground on which the proposal was advocated.
In dealing with the question of general policy, his right hon. Friend had made some statements which very much astonished him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that in adopting the Resolution of the hon. Member for Liverpool, they were going against the policy laid down by Sir Robert Peel and other great financial and commercial reformers; and at the expense of endangering the revenue and of paralyzing trade they were about to confer a boon, which was in reality no boon, upon the consumers of ten, because—it was alleged—they would not obtain the benefit of the reduction. He proposed to meet his right hon. Friend on every one of these grounds. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer asserted that the reduction of duties for the benefit of the consumer had never 1435 been the first, but the last of the great measures of Reform adopted by statesmen during the last twenty years, he was by no means sure that the statement was accurate when contrasted with the acts of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors, or even with his own. He would not quote against him expressions which he had himself used in former years. He would not even refer to the reduction of the wine duties last year, though he was prepared to show that these measures of last Session stood on all fours with the proposed reduction of the tea duties. He was not at that moment about to challenge his right hon. Friend with any inconsistencies either of speech or action; but he would quote against him an authority whose weight his right hon. Friend very justly extolled—that of the late Sir Robert Peel. There were two occasions on which Sir Robert Peel made great reductions in the Customs' duties, and on which, in memorable speeches delivered in that House, he laid down the principles on which those reductions ought to be pursued. In 1842 he certainly did not consider it a matter of primary importance to reduce the duties pressing upon article, of general consumption; but in that year he was encountering a falling revenue which it was necessary quickly to replace, and he had to deal with a commercial system greatly crippled by most unjust and unwise restrictions. But what was the argument of Sir Robert Peel in 1845, when the income tax, which he had imposed in 1842 for a particular purpose, had done its work, and when he was able either to take off that tax or to continue it for the general benefit of the country? Sir Robert Peel said that, having a considerable surplus to dispose of—In the first place you have to consider the claims which may be urged in favour of a reduction of taxation on account of the heaviness with which certain imposts press on articles of general consumption."—[3 Hansard, lxxvii. 472–3.]What Sir Robert Peel placed first in 1845 his right hon. Friend placed last in 1861. But it was not alone for the benefit of the general consumer that he urged the reduction of the tea duty. Looking at the question in the broadest way, he maintained that the reduction would promote the general interests of the trade, commerce, and manufactures of the country. His right hon. Friend had made a statement which had astonished him greatly, coming from such a quarter. It was probably meant as a taunt to hon. Members on the 1436 Opposition side, but he could tell his right hon. Friend that the lessons of the last twenty years had not been so entirely lost upon hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House as he seemed to suppose. Individually at least he (Sir Stafford Northcote) did not need to learn them. His right hon. Friend said that in reducing the tea duty they might, perhaps, benefit trade, but that in the first instance it was the foreigner, the China grower, whom they were benefiting. That was a doctrine which might have emanated from his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk or any other of those who held consistently the old Protectionist views, but it sounded very strangely when it came from his right hon. Friend. No doubt the Chinese grower would benefit by the reduction of the duty on the great staple of his exports, but the benefit would not stop there. He surely did not need to remind his right hon. Friend of the great free trade principle which he enunciated the other evening, and which he said be took it for granted even Protectionists were now ready to acknowledge—that our exports depended on our imports. Hon. Members on that side of the House wished to encourage the importation of tea by the reduction of the duty, not because they had any particular affection for the Chinese producer, but because they knew that imports must be paid for in exports, and that an increased consumption of tea in this country would be followed by an increased demand for the cottons, and calicoes of Manchester, the hardwares of Birmingham and other manufactured goods, to find fresh markets for which was of the utmost importance in the present critical condition of the trade of the country. Their policy was dictated, therefore, by a regard to the true policy and the best interests of the country considered on the largest and widest scale, not by a regard to what his right hon. Friend called—although he did not admit the justice of the appellation—the narrow and limited interest of the tea drinkers of the country. His right hon. Friend said, and said truly, that the policy of that (the Opposition) side of the House had throughout been tolerably consistent. He said, what was not quite true, that the policy of the great commercial reformers had been to relieve articles that were used in trade and commerce rather than articles of general consumption. But he stated what was perfectly true, that the policy of hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House had 1437 always boon to reduce the duties on articles of general consumption when it was in their power to do so. That was true in the case of the article under consideration—tea. Who was the first to propose the reduction of the duty on tea? Why, his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli). When the Government of the Earl of Aberdeen came into office in the following year they were obliged to own that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman had met so completely the wishes of the country that they bad no alternative but to follow bis example. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) was prepared to adhere to this policy, and to lay down the proposition that they were bound to consider whether in benefiting trade and manufactures they were also conferring a real and general benefit on the consumer of the necessaries of life. He would be quite ready to take issue on the question whether any remission of taxation which they could afford should be given to the manufacturers or to the working classes. Whose turn was it now? They had been conferring many boons on traders and manufacturers for some time past; but what had they been doing for the general consumer? Remember the history of the tea duty. At one time the House agreed to reduce the duty to 1s. per lb., but a great crisis came, a war intervened, and its fall was arrested. The war drew to an end, and an opportunity arrived for reducing the duty, but the arrest of the fall was continued till 1860, when the war duty was certainly to terminate. Last year it ought to have been lowered, but instead of doing so the Government asked for its renewal for the sake of certain great commercial reforms—for the sake of a treaty with France—for the sake of measures which were intended to benefit the trade and commerce of the country—measures which he (Sir Stafford Northcote) honestly believed would tend to the prosperity of the country; but which, at all events, were directed to servo in the first instance the interests of the manufacturer rather than of the working classes. Now, again, they had an opportunity of relieving the consumers from the burden which had so long and heavily pressed upon them, and again they were asked to disappoint the just expectations of the public for the benefit of the manufacturers, who had already had more than their share of favour and consideration. It was "for only one year more" they were told. Now, he 1438 would ask those hon. Gentlemen who were interested in the reduction of those duties, and there were many of them he knew on the benches opposite—what they considered was the meaning of that plea of one year more? Other duties had been renewed for a certain period, the income tax had been renewed for a limited period, in order that certain commercial reforms might be obtained. Those reforms had been obtained; the full period of the continuance of the tax had elapsed; but notwithstanding that, what, he asked, had become of the income tax? So it would be with regard to the duties on tea and sugar. If they did not get the tea duty reduced now they would have very little chance of getting it reduced at any future time. Next year there would be the fire insurance duty, the hop duty, or some other tax claiming remission, and the reduction of the tea duty would be continually postponed, again and again, until they had accomplished every reform which the fertile brain of the Chancellor of the Exchequer could suggest. If they agreed to renew it this year, their compliance would be established as a precedent against its reduction in future years. And in that point of view he wished to make an appeal to those interests the duties on which the Amendment did not propose to touch. The delay in the reduction of the tea duties would postpone still further the reduction of the duties on those articles in which they were more immediately interested. The tea duties would be kept on because they only pressed on those who had no influence in the House—only on the general consumers of the country. Last year they were to have had a Reform Bill, which would have admitted that class of the community to the suffrage; but now that hope had vanished—they were excluded from the suffrage, and if they complained too loudly, through the only channel that was left open to them they were told that that fact was an argument against them. The manufacturers were represented in the House by men of their own class, whose position and whose natural powers would always command a hearing; the working classes, the consumers at large, could only petition, and when they did so they were told their petitions were forged. His right hon. Friend said it was all very well to talk of conferring a benefit on the consumers, but the fact was that the benefit would never reach the consumers—that it would be all intercepted by the trader. All he (Sir 1439 Stafford Northcote) could say was that of all extraordinary doctrines that was the most extraordinary. He should not have been surprised if he had heard it from the lips of some antiquated Protectionist; hut it was doubly extraordinary when he heard it from his right hon. Friend, from whom he had been accustomed to hear doctrines so very different. But his right hon. Friend undertook to prove his point, and he quoted two instances—the first in 1857, and the second in 1853. Now, he did not know whether it struck other Members as it had done him, but he confessed it did appear to him extraordinary that his right hon. Friend should have taken the earlier example after the later. The reason for that, however, was not long in appearing. In 1857, said the right hon. Gentleman, you reduced the duty, but the price did not fall. At this there was a slight movement on those (the Opposition) benches, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer added, "Perhaps that may be explained—there was a war with China." He cheered that observation, and his right hon. Friend continued, "That is your answer, but what will you say of 1853?" In that year you reduced the duty from 2s. 3d. per lb. to 1s. 10d., but the consumer got no benefit, and he quoted the price current. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) could not quote the price current, although he believed that as to that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was about right; but he would quote what his right hon. Friend said on introducing his Budget on the 6th of March, 1854, with reference to the effect of the reduction of the tea duties. His right hon. Friend then said—With respect to the tea duties, I hope the Committee, notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances which have occurred, and the state of disturbance which has been prolonged in China—I hope, I say, the Committee does not repent of the largo and liberal measure which it adopted last year upon this subject. Last year the House of Commons gave assent to an immediate reduction of the tea duty, amounting to 4½d. in the pound. The amount of relief afforded to the consumer by that reduction has been not less than £950,000 in the year. I estimated, however, that from the nature of the consumption, and the elasticity which it was expected the article would show, the whole loss to the revenue against the relief of £950,000 would be a sum of £366,000. Now, I think the Committee will see that it is a satisfactory result that the loss to the revenue is no greater than that which at the time I estimated it to be. I took it at £366,000; the loss which I have now to state is £375,000. The Committee must bear in mind that an actual increase has taken place within the last two years in the low price of teas, which I shall be quite 1440 safe in putting at not less than from 4d. to 5d. per lb. It is, perhaps, more; so that, in fact, the whole of what we have given away in duty has been absorbed by the augmentation in the increased cost of the article. But do not let us suppose that upon that account the repeal of the duty has been useless to the consumer. On the contrary, I venture to say that there never was a time at which it was more important that you should have remitted the duty. What we are suffering from is, not an abstraction of the duty from the Exchequer, to be enjoyed by the trader who comes between the producer and consumer, but from a real scarcity of supply, owing to the state of affairs in China. But the effect of your remission of duty was this, that it drew to England, as compared with other countries, a much larger proportion of tea than we should otherwise have had. And if it be true, as it undoubtedly is, that the public must now pay very nearly the same price for their tea as they did two years ago, still, if you had not remitted the duty the public would not only have had to pay that price and the whole amount of duty besides, but very considerably more."—[3 Hansard, cxxxi. 361–2.]He had been met in the lobby since the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech that evening by many Gentlemen, who asked him what he said to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, and he now replied that that was his answer.
Let him now say a word upon what he deemed to be a most important question for the Committee to consider. They had to take into consideration not only general policy but good faith. They had most distinctly pledged themselves to the working classes of the country and to the consumers that they would reduce these duties at the earliest opportunity after the close of the war. What had been the changes in the tea duty? In the year 1853 it was 2s. 3d. per pound, and an arrangement was then made by which it should fall by four steps to 1s., which point it was to reach in 1856. In 1853 it fell to 1s. 10d., and in 1854 to 1s. 6d., in pursuance of the law. In 1855 it was to have fallen to 1s. 3d., but in consequence of the war the House was obliged to interfere and raise it to 1s. 9d. At that point it remained while the war lasted. When the war was at an end the House reduced the duty to 1s. 5d., and provided that it should continue at that rate until 1860, when it should fall to is. That promise, which ought to have been fulfilled last year, was put off for the sake of the French Treaty, for the sake of reducing the wine duties, and of other arrangements which were then adopted. It was put off for a year, and a year only. The year had now expired, and they were asked to put it off again. They had heard 1441 a great deal about the pledge which had been given by the House in 1858 that it would take off the paper duty, but in that very debate the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that—It was almost a matter of good faith that when next there was a reduction of taxation the duties on tea and sugar should be reduced.That was the expectation which they had held out to the working classes of this country, whom they had continually disappointed, and whom they would have to disappoint over and over again unless they took that opportunity of enforcing its fulfilment. He had heard one argument used which had very much astonished him. He had heard it said that it was a question of honour—that the honour of that House was engaged in the repeal of the paper duty before anything else was undertaken. He ventured to ask what was the nature of this honour which it seemed they were to prefer to good policy and good faith. His idea of honour was that it was the perfection of justice—that it was a feeling which prompted men to keep pledges which they had given, even though it might entail loss and mortification on themselves. He could not help thinking that the honour which led some Members of that House to set aside all other considerations, and postpone them to wiping out an insult which they imagined they had received from another branch of the Legislature, which induced them to persevere in a course which was wrong rather than acknowledge the error of which they had been convicted, was the honour of the duellist, and not true honour. How absurd was the course which these Gentlemen were taking! Did they think that, if they did last year submit to an affront from the House of Lords, they could wipe it out by now passing a Bill for the repeal of the paper duty? The House of Lords rejected the repeal of the paper duty last year not on account of any love which they had for that duty beyond any other, but because they thought that sufficient provision had not been made for the wants of the financial year. That was the rebuke which the Government and its friends received. It was a very severe rebuke and a very just rebuke. It was a just rebuke, as was proved by the fact that the country had sympathized, not with the Government or the House of Commons, but with the House of Lords, and that, when challenged, the Ministry, with its overwhelming majority, did not accept the challenge, but submitted to the 1442 decision of the House of Lords. What they did last year was conceived in a wise and prudent spirit, because when they found that they had committed an error, they submitted to the rebuke which they received. He could have understood, though he could not have approved, the adoption of a different line of conduct. He could have understood their saying last year, "We will not submit to this rejection; we will send back the Bill to the House of Lords again and again; we will suspend all public business until it is passed, and will assert our right to be wrong if we please;" but what he could not understand was the course which was now proposed. They proposed to wipe out the memory of defeat, not by allowing the matter to rest, but by reviving a controversy in which they had the worst, and in which they deserved to have the worst, and by reviving it in a form which would bring to the memory of the country the records of their mistakes, and which could not set them right in the eyes of the country, nor, he would venture to say, in their own. They could not reverse the decision of the House of Lords. They might take the paltry vengeance of erasing the name of the field upon which the battle was fought, but the fact would remain that the House of Lords had for once sent back a Budget which was hastily conceived and rejected—a financial scheme which was not sufficient to provide for the wants of the country. They might do away with the paper duty—for do not let them think that the House of Lords would again refuse to consent to its repeal—but the battle had been fought, and they could not reverse the decision. It was only a question whether they would with a good grace take the matter as it stood and forbear the revival of this controversy, or whether they would oppose to the wise and magnanimous conduct of the House of Lords—(Cries of "Oh, oh!" and cheers, which prevented the completion of the sentence.) Did hon. Members mean to say that the conduct of the House of Lords was not wise, was not magnanimous? Then, let them explain their conduct of last Session. He repeated that the conduct of the House of Lords was wise, that it was magnanimous; and there were papers upon their table which proved the truth of his assertion. Let them look at the balance-sheet of income and expenditure, and add to the deficiency the loss which would have been occasioned by the repeal of the paper duty; let them consult public opinion upon the 1443 subject, and then tell him on what grounds they last year consented to submit to this rebuff, and what were the grounds upon which they were this year going out of petty pique to revive a question which neither honour nor interest called upon them to raise.
Descending from these higher grounds, he would come now to the narrower, but, perhaps, even more important question, that of finance. Some surprise had been expressed that those who had challenged the existence of a surplus were prepared to vote for a remission which must come out of that surplus. He utterly denied that in any true sense of the word there was a surplus at the present moment, but he had never ventured to question the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor had he ever said that if the taxes proposed by the right hon. Gentleman were put on, supposing the expenditure not to exceed the Estimate, there would not be a surplus to the amount claimed. He admitted that he had questioned one item, and one item only, in the estimate of revenue. He had questioned the Chinese indemnity, estimated at £750,000, and he confessed he was not thoroughly satisfied with the explanation which had been given upon that point. At the same time he knew well that no man in the responsible position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would venture to include in his estimate of expected receipts a sum which he believed he had no chance of getting; and, therefore, confessing that he was not entirely satisfied, he was not prepared to dispute the estimate of revenue. Nor had he ever said one word against the estimated expenditure for the current year. All he had said on that point—and his criticism remained unanswered—was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had left out of view an item of expenditure which must be defrayed either in the present year or next year—namely, about three quarters of a million of unexpended balances on the Vote of Credit for China. But he had no doubt, since the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said so, that the right hon. Gentleman had laid before the House an accurate statement of the expenditure which he expected to incur in the present year; and, therefore, he admitted that, if Parliament gave him the taxes he asked for, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have a surplus. He consequently felt it to be quite unnecessary, in announcing his intention to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member 1444 for Liverpool, to retrac anything he had said on the question of surplus, because his remarks had not only not been answered, but no attempt had been made to answer them. He had called attention to the unsatisfactory result of the financial measures of last year. No answer had been given to his observations upon that point. He had also called attention to the heavy calls which were likely to be made upon the country next year, and had referred particularly to the million of Exchequer bonds which would then fall due. Upon that point the Chancellor of the Exchequer had simply given the House to understand that he did not mean to condescend to the baseness of repayment. After the statements which the right hon. Gentleman had made on his official responsibility—statements to which he still solemnly adhered—it would be improper and even indecent for Members of the Opposition to dispute the existence of a surplus. The real question, therefore, came to be, what duties ought to be selected for remission? Upon that question he had no hesitation in saying that the true financial policy would be rather to reduce the tea duty than to abolish the Excise duty on paper. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told the House, on authority which, of course, could not be questioned, but with a lamentable absence of detail, that the Motion of the hon. Member for Liverpool, if agreed to, would entail upon the revenue a loss of no less a sum than £950,000. He was bound to accept that statement, but he was utterly unable to make it out. He could not, of course, presume to compare the information he possessed on the subject with that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in 1859 he held a subordinate position in the Government of the Earl of Derby, one which brought him into connection with financial matters, and he assisted in the preparation of the Budget for that year. It was necessary for him to consider the effect of the fall which was to take place in the tea and sugar duties in 1860. Acting upon the best information he could obtain, he calculated that the fall in the tea and sugar duties, according to the consumption of that time, would cause a loss of about £2,000,000. In 1860 his calculations were strikingly confirmed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who stated when he brought forward his Budget that the reduction of the tea and sugar duties would produce a loss of £2,100,000. His 1445 own figures were arrived at as follows:—The total number of pounds of tea consumed in the country was multiplied by 5, 5d. being the amount of the fall, and from the product one-third was deducted on account of expected increase of consumption. Some might think the deduction too large, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he reduced the wine duties last year, estimated the recovery at 35 per cent. Lest, however, the case of the wine duties might be considered an unfair one he would take that of tea. Taking the tea consumed last year at 77,000,000 lbs., a reduction of 5d. would give a relief of £1,641,000 per annum, or a gross loss for six months of £820,000, making no allowance for increase of consumption. He could not understand how the Chancellor of the Exchequer had converted that £820,000 into £950,000. Perhaps it was owing to the calculation he had made of the effects likely to be produced upon the trade by a prospective reduction of duties. What, however, were the actual facts as regarded tea? In 1853 the right hon. Gentleman reduced the duty on tea from 2s. 2d. to 1s. 10d., and he estimated the relief to the consumers at £950,000. But the loss to the revenue was only £375,000, and in the same proportion a relief of £820,000 to the consumers would cause a loss of only £313,000 to the revenue. He admitted that these were rough and vague calculations; but he might say, at all events, that the circumstances under which the hon. Member for Liverpool proposed a reduction in the present year were not less favourable than those which existed when the Chancellor of the Exchequer effected his reduction in 1853. But his right hon. Friend said these reductions would paralyze trade and inflict a heavy loss on the revenue because they were prospective. He did not understand the meaning of that argument. There had been like reductions of Customs which had been prospective. Last year there was the prospective reduction of the wine duties. And even with respect to the paper duty, they proposed to take off that duty, not immediately, but from the 1st of October next. The right hon. Gentleman had been challenged by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Moffatt) as to the revenue he would receive from paper between this and October. It was said the trade would be paralyzed in the interval if the duty was not to fall until then, and that was precisely the argument the right hon. Gentleman used with regard to tea. Trade 1446 would be paralyzed because there was going to be a fall in duty. Was not that the case with paper as well as tea? One thing, however, he might safely say—that the duty on tea, whether it was to fall in October or not, would not affect the people's purchasing powers; they would go on drinking and buying tea till October, as they had done hitherto, Then, as to the effect on the consumer, that depended very much on the stock of tea in the country and in warehouse. What was the present condition of the tea trade? It was very remarkable. They were told there were some articles of which the consumption was stationary, such as tea, sugar, and tobacco. He had looked into the facts and he found that the imports of tea had not been stationary. They were largely increasing; but the consumption of tea was stationary. The imports of tea in the first three months of 1859 were 8,000,000lb.; in the corresponding period of 1860 nearly 11,000,000lb., and 'in 1861 they were nearly 17,000,000lb. But in the same years the entries for consumption were as nearly as possible stationary; or rather in the last year they had decreased. The entries in the first three months of 1859, 1860, and 1861, respectively were 8,700,000lb., 8,800,000lb., and 8,400,000lb. There was a large import and a stationary consumption. What was the effect on the stock in warehouse? It was larger than it had ever been—it was 78,000,000lb., against 71,000,000lb. in 1860. But it was said we ought not to reduce prospectively. He admitted there were some cases in which prospective reductions were bad; but there were other cases in which prospective reductions were necessary in order to enable the consumer to get the benefit, and tea was one of them. They had always dealt with tea by prospective falls at long intervals, and why? Not for the sake of revenue, but that the consumer might get the benefit of the reduction. He would venture to give the Committee a little political economy. One great object in the reduction of duty was that whatever the revenue lost the consumer should gain. They had to encounter, on the one hand, the danger that, if they reduced by driblets, the retailer, not the consumer, would benefit; on the other hand, there was the danger, if they reduced by a large amount and so stimulated the demand while the supply was not increased to meet the demand, the producer would gain the benefit. To apply this to the present case 1447 —if ever there was a favourable moment for a large reduction in the duty on tea, it was then. He might adduce many considerations, all converging to the same end. What was the quantity of tea actually available for consumption? What was the state of the market from which they were going to draw their supply? The markets of China had just been thrown open to them in a manner they could not have expected. Who were the principal customers of China besides ourselves? The United States. And what was their condition? Was the trade between the United States and China likely to be developed in the present condition of affairs? Now was the time to step in and take advantage of the development of the trade of China, to avail ourselves of this great new market while the outlets in America and the Levant were in jeopardy. If they properly took advantage of this opportunity, a great advantage would be conferred on Manchester, Birmingham, and the other great seats of manufacture. They might talk of the Commercial Treaty with Fiance and the reduction of duty on wine; the commercial treaty, as he had never hesitated to admit, was a good thing—the reduction of the duty on wine was a good thing, but give him the reduction of the duties on tea and an increase in the trade to China for the special benefit of manufactures.
There were other matters he might have brought forward, hut he felt he had trespassed enough upon the Committee. He had ventured to treat the question as one of general policy, of good faith and honour, and on the narrower grounds of finance. Something had been said of the reduction of recuperative duties. In this view the tea duty was a safe one to reduce. The tea duty in the course of a few years would replace itself. He was afraid he could not say so much for the paper duty. They all knew the old fable of the traveller who had a cheese given him which he might eat down to the lowest point so long as he left a bit to grow from; but one day a hungry friend came in and ate it all up; nothing was left to grow from, and so he lost his cheese altogether. It was said that the repeal of one Excise duty had a beneficial effect on another; yes, but they must leave other articles to tax. He was quite ready to take off the paper duty at the proper time, but not on the plea that the Excise revenue possessed that elasticity which would enable it to recover. The recovery of the Excise arose, not from 1448 elasticity, but from an increase of duties. The Revenue derived from Excise duties had increased from 1849 to the present period some two or three millions a year, but it was because there had been an increased duty on spirits. In the year 1849 the spirit duty realized £5,700,000, in the year 1860 it realized £9,700,000. That increase explained the increase in the Excise. But to what was it due? Not to elasticity, not to an increased consumption. On the contrary, the consumption of spirits had diminished. The quantity of spirits manufactured in 1849 amounted to 23,000,000, and last year to 22,000,000 gallons. The increase was occasioned by the increase of duty; but they could not go on adding to the spirit duties, which were admitted to have reached their maximum; if, therefore, they desired a progressive revenue they must make their reductions in what were called recuperative duties. Looking at the demands they had to meet, it was safer to remit part of the duty on tea than to destroy the entire duty on paper. He did not, however, admit that the question then to be argued lay between tea and paper. The question was—Should they or should they not renew those war duties which for so many reasons ought to be remitted? He appealed, on the grounds he had stated, to hon. Gentlemen below the gangway—he appealed to Manchester and Liverpool, to the trading and commercial interests of the country, to help them in taking off the duties on tea. He said nothing against the repeal of the duties on paper. If they thought that repeal of such importance, let them by all means effect it; only let them not do it in this way. The real point was—would they put on one duty in order to take off another? It was quite possible that it might even be worth while to put on a new tax with a view to relieve paper; all he said was, that tea was not the article which should be taxed for such a purpose. They had an ingenious Chancellor of the Exchequer, fertile in expedients; if he longed to slay that giant, the paper duty, let him choose some other weapon from his armoury for slaying it, rather than the war tax on tea. The poor were now appealing to them for relief. ("Oh, oh!") He observed that any reference to the great consuming classes coming from his side of the House was received by hon. Gentlemen opposite with something like a sneer. Would hon. Gentlemen be kind enough to ask themselves how the question appeared in the eyes of 1449 the country? Hon. Gentlemen were discussing the subject of the paper duties with intense eagerness, because they thought their own honour was concerned. They had got into a quarrel—a very one-sided quarrel, let him tell them—with the House of Lords relative to what occurred last year. He for one was prepared to protest against the position which hon. Gentlemen assumed. He stood there as one of those independent Members who had never committed themselves to the policy of hon. Gentlemen last year, and to whom if they had only listened they might have escaped the reproach to which the majority had exposed themselves, because on the very question of the repeal of the paper duties he and others had submitted that that measure was an unwise one on the very ground afterwards taken by the other House. An argumentum ad hominem might, however, be addressed to him and those who agreed with him, and their pride in the great assembly of which they formed part might be appealed to, and, perhaps, appealed to in some respect not in vain. But let him ask hon. Gentlemen opposite what was the feeling of their constituents? Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi. They were quarrelling among themselves, and it was the people who suffered. Because of the pledges they had unwisely given, they were refusing the manufacturers a new outlet for their trade, and withholding from the whole community, on grounds personal to themselves, the boon now sought at their hands. That was a position entirely untenable. He confidently appealed, then, to hon. Gentlemen to go with him on that question of the tea duties; and they might afterwards consider whether they could make any arrangement in respect to the paper duties. He did not love the paper duties. ("Oh!") Well, he repeated that he did not love those duties. He admitted that there was great force in the objections which were stated to them. But they were now arguing quite another and a wholly preliminary question; and he, therefore, now called upon them—laying aside all prejudices, all false notions of honour—to support the Resolution of the hon. Member for Liverpool.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
Sir, there are real questions and also merely verbal questions, even in financial debates; and I think the hon. Gentleman who has last spoken began by giving a specimen of a mode of reasoning founded on a merely verbal distinction. Financial debates 1450 usually have a definite practical issue. The long debate we have lately had on the Motion that the Speaker leave the chair had, I thought, produced at least one practical result—namely, an universal agreement that we have a large surplus to dispose of. In the course of the debate opinion fluctuated on that point in a remarkable manner. At first hon. Gentlemen seemed to question the existence of any surplus whatever; indeed, they were rather inclined to maintain that there was a large deficiency. But as the discussion advanced, the equilibrium was gradually established, and at last we had a clear and full admission from the right hon. Member for Bucks that there was a surplus, and that the calculations of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, must be accepted as the foundation of our debates. Sir, I should have thought that that admission would have facilitated our further discussion of this subject. That, however, was not at all the view of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He began by alleging that there was no surplus, because my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, called on us to renew the taxes that are about to expire or have already lapsed. He says that because there are certain taxes which have only a temporary currency, and because there are Resolutions on the table asking us to continue them, therefore your surplus is purely ideal. Well, Sir, the position of my right hon. Friend was clear. He said, "I assume that the whole of the existing taxation is retained;" and that is, no doubt, the view the country is willing to take in the present state of our finance. "Upon that hypothesis," my right hon. Friend added, "We shall have a surplus of £2,000,000. Then the question arises—how are we to deal with that surplus? I propose to remit 1d. of the income tax, and repeal the paper duty." That statement, perfectly distinct and consistent, is not destroyed by the argument of the hon. Gentleman that the surplus is created by the continuance of existing taxes, because the retention of those taxes is the very basis of my right hon. Friend's calculations. I think we may, therefore, at once discard all the cobweb logic of the hon. Gentleman. I do not mean to speak disrespectfully of the hon. Gentleman's argument. I only wish to say that all his logic as to the non-existence of a surplus was as unsubstantial as the material to which I have referred. We may start, then, from 1451 the assumption that we have £2,000,000 to dispose of. The first and most obvious mode of dealing with that sum in our present financial state is, perhaps, to apply it to the redemption of debt. During the late war we made a considerable addition to our national debt; and perhaps some might think that any surplus we may possess should be used for its liquidation. In the first place, be it observed, that it does so happen that no temporary debt—no Exchequer bonds, fall due during the present financial year. But let me call attention to the encouragement which a Chancellor of the Exchequer has received in the existing state of public affairs to pay public debt. After the war one series of Exchequer bonds was discharged when it became due. But when the right hon. Member for Bucks succeeded to office the first thing he did was to postpone the liquidation of £2,000,000 of Exchequer bonds then payable. He might with great facility have made arrangements for the discharge of that debt, but he deliberately postponed the payment of those bonds, the House, as far as I remember, very willingly and without a division agreeing to his proposal. More than that, he brought in a Bill to repeal the Sinking Fund, which had been created by Act of Parliament during the war by a charge on the Consolidated Fund. By those two measures, to which the House made little or no resistance, the right hon. Gentleman opposite laid down in a very significant manner the policy of not discharging debt even when the expenditure was much less than that of the present year, and when the Naval and Military Estimates had not reached their present height. But my right hon. Friend is accused of having created a debt by diminishing the balances in the Exchequer. Now what, I would ask, was the nature of the operation which in that respect he performed? The charge sounds to uninitiated ears as if some frightful dereliction of duty had been committed by the diminution of the balances to the extent of a million and a half. The proceeding, however, as I understand it, is simply this; that in March, 1860, the balances in the Exchequer were £8,000,000, and that in the course of the year they were reduced by the amount which I have just mentioned, and that last March, shortly before the payment of the dividends, they stood at £6,500,000. Well, there is nothing culpable in such a transaction. The Chan- 1452 cellor of the Exchequer is required only to keep the balances at such an amount as will in all reasonable probability render unnecessary the issue of deficiency bills; and as a matter of fact, whatever diminution may have been made in those balances, it did not reach a point at which any inconvenience has been occasioned to the public, or which would lead to the inference that any advantage would have arisen from the circumstance that the balances had been kept at a higher level. That question being disposed of, we come to the issue most prominently raised in this discussion—the existence of a surplus of £2,000,000 being admitted, in what manner ought it to be applied to the reduction of taxation? For my own part, I am one of those who laboured under the impression that enough had been said in the contest between direct and indirect taxation, The Government are, however, accused of showing undue favour to the latter, while they are said to be disposed to place unreasonable burdens on the people under the operation of the former. Now, would it not, let me ask, be under these circumstances the more consistent course for hon. Gentlemen opposite to pursue, rather to propose a further reduction of the income tax than to press for a diminution of indirect taxation? To proceed in that way would, it appears to me, be to act far more in accordance with their policy and principles, as well as the charges which they have brought against the Government than can, under present circumstances, be said to be the case. For myself, I confess that I am by no means disposed to join in that declamation which is so often indulged in in opposition to the income tax. I do not look on that tax as an odious impost, as it has so frequently been designated, while, upon the other hand, I am prepared to admit that it would be desirable it should be reduced to the amount—7d. in the pound—at which it was originally fixed by Sir Robert Peel. My conviction is, that levied to that extent—seeing that a large revenue must be raised—the tax would be willingly paid by the great bulk of the people; but if you get considerably above that amount objections are very naturally made to the pressure which is thus put on the community. Now if hon. Gentlemen opposite, when the Resolution imposing a 9d. income tax was proposed, had moved that it be reduced below that amount, they would, I think, be acting in accordance with their prin- 1453 ciples and policy, and would be enabled to lay before the Committee arguments far more consistent with those they have been in the habit of advancing on the subject of taxation than those which they submit to us when they come forward with—as far, at all events, as they are concerned—a new-fangled proposition for the reduction of the duties on tea. They have, however, allowed the income tax Resolution to pass with little or no objection, and the question for consideration is now narrowed to the point whether we shall reduce the tea duties by 5d. in the pound or repeal the duty on paper. One of the main arguments used against the choice made by the Government in dealing with this point is that the Budget is of a political and not of a financial character. But are political considerations, I would ask, to be altogether omitted in framing a financial scheme? Is the Budget to be the only great subject proposed by the Government for the sanction of the House in which the state of public opinion and the position of political parties are not to be regarded? Is it credible that, after the events which took place last Session, after the decision at which the House of Commons then arrived, and after the various apprehensions which were expressed as to a collision being imminent between two great branches of the Legislature—the part in connection with this subject should be effaced from our minds, and that we should proceed as if none of the occurrences to which I am referring had ever had existence? Let me suppose that a change of Government had since been brought about, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks again occupied the position of leader of this House. Should we not, I should like to know, hear from him, if he were to bring forward a Budget under these circumstances, nothing on the subject of the paper duties? Does be think it would be possible for him to silence the voice of the public and of Parliament on this great question? The solemn decision which has been arrived at with respect to the repeal of the paper duties and public expectation alike forbid the adoption of such a course. We, in laying before you the financial proposals for the year, had to look to the events of last Session; we had to consider whether, if we declined to deal with the duty on paper, and proceeded to remit some other branch of indirect taxation instead, we should not be leaving this impost in a precarious position, liable 1454 to be annihilated at any moment by a vote of this House. That being so, the decision at which the Government arrived was, I maintain, in accordance with sound policy, and a discreet and farsighted view of the interests of the country; nor am I by any means to admit with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the conclusion to which we felt bound to come in this matter, was in the slightest degree dictated by petty pique. It was, on the contrary, the expression of our deliberate judgment formed on the merits of the question at issue. I now come to deal with the comparative claims of tea and paper to this remission of taxation which we are in a position to grant. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, in dealing with that point, went into great detail, and dwelt with much statistical elaboration on the obvious fact that if you reduce the Customs' duties on an article which is largely consumed, the probability is the consumption of that article will greatly increase in a brief period. That, so far as it goes, is, no doubt, a fair argument in favour of the reduction of the duty on tea; but it must also be borne in mind that the reduction which we have it in our power to make is only a small one, and that £1,000,000 devoted to the purpose which the hon. Member advocates would, though it is a considerable amount in the Imperial revenue, afford no very sensible relief to the class whom he seeks to benefit. With regard to the abolition of the paper duty, on the other hand, there is this argument to be advanced—that you by that means get rid altogether of an Excise duty, that you abolish inspection, and give facilities for the future growth of an important branch of manufacture. The considerations to which I have just adverted in reference to both these taxes are, of course, of a rival character, but under all the circumstances of the case I hope the House will not object to ratify the decision in the matter at which the Government have arrived. The hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote), I may add, dwelt very much on what he termed the breach of faith in relation to the reduction of the duty on tea; but this, I confess, seems to me to be a line of argument which it would be well to resort to as little as possible, the wide application, which it must be looked upon as having, being taken into account, inasmuch as I believe there is scarcely any one important duty in respect of which breach of faith might not with some degree of justice 1455 be urged. As to the tea duty, the matter stands thus:—During the war it was 1s. 9d. per lb., and it was afterwards reduced to 1s. 5d. This is a lower rate than prevailed at any former time, and let those who are zealous advocates for a reduction of the tea duties bear that fact in mind. After the war, when I had the honour of filling the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, I proposed to reduce the tea duties to 1s. 5d., but my right hon. Friend who sits near me proposed upon that occasion to reduce them to 1s. 3d. Upon that question a division took place, and a considerable majority decided to maintain the duty at 1s. 5d. That decision, as it seems to me, entirely settled the question as to a breach of faith. That decision was come to after the war was concluded, when the House was in full possession of all the facts relating to this question, and yet it decided to maintain the duty at 1s. 5d. Therefore, I conceive it is perfectly open to the present Government, without any breach of faith to the House to propose, at least for the present, to maintain the tea duty at 1s. 5d. As to the pressure of this tax a material fact to guide us is a reference to our consumption. I am not at this hour going to trouble the House with many figures, but I will read what was the consumption in each of three years;—In 1853 the consumption was 58,860,000lb.; in 1856 the consumption was 63,295,000lb.; and in 1860 it was 76,809,000lb. Therefore, it is clear that, however desirable it might be, if our financial condition would allow it, to reduce the duty upon tea, which is undoubtedly a high one, at the rate proposed, yet, nevertheless, the present duty is quite consistent with a great increase of consumption. For these reasons I trust the House will not listen to the arguments of hon. Members which are directed against the Budget of my right hon. Friend. It is a Budget framed upon sound economical, and just political principles. It proposes to raise a large and almost unheard-of revenue for the wants of the country, and as to those Gentlemen who attempt to alarm us with prospects of encroachment upon our forbearance in consequence of the dangers which may arise from the state of foreign relations, I would venture to remark that our estimates are full estimates, considering that they are framed in a time of peace, and that all reasonable precautions in the nature of defence have been provided for out of the expenditure, after deducting which there remains the surplus computed by my 1456 right hon. Friend. It seems to me, whether looking at the question of expenditure or the question of receipts, that the calculations laid before this Committee have been fully justified, and I trust their votes will sanction the proposals of my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I could have been quite content to leave the merits of this question to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote). Never since I have had the honour of a seat in this House have I heard a question more completely and more fairly put before the House, supported by ampler knowledge, illustrated in a happier manner, and recommended for our consideration by reasoning more irresistible. But I understand that, in order to conclude the debate, which I suppose we all desire, it may not be inconvenient that I should avail myself of the opportunity of offering some observations upon what has passed to-night upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, and, therefore, I will venture for a brief space to claim the attention of the Committee. Sir, I think the debate of this evening could not be otherwise but interesting, even had it not been for the revelation on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the spirit in which the policy was conceived by the Government, and in which the financial scheme originated. We understand to-night, from the highest authority, that it was a spirit of conciliation. Now, Sir, although we are always opponents and always critics, yet I believe there is no one in this House who does more ample justice to the great qualities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer than myself. But still, however varied his abilities, however exuberant his resources, I confess I have always thought that conciliation was not his province. I think tonight that what he has said and what he has done has completely fulfilled that suspicion on my part, for a more startling, although I admit a more amusing, performance I never recollect to have taken place in this House. If any Free-trader who had been at a former time a Member of this Assembly could come back here to his old seat, he would be somewhat astonished and perplexed by the dogmas enunciated and the opinions enforced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But what is more admirable in the right hon. Gentleman than anything else is the tre- 1457 mendous courage with which he will support any opinion which may suit the position in which he at the moment finds himself. The right hon. Gentleman to night is one of the strictest Protectionists that ever raised his voice within these walls. He will not listen for a moment to the proposition that by reducing a high duty we may at all benefit the consumer. He is startled at such heresy, and denounces it with indignant invectives. He lays down the very principle as an axiom which for so many years he has been strenuously opposing. He not only lays down as a principle that a reduction of duty will not benefit the consumer. ("No!") If the right hon. Gentleman did not lay down that principle, I am totally unaware upon what his argument is based, for that was the foundation of every conclusion which he recommended to our acceptance. He dilated on the paralysis of trade, he showed us that this reduction of indirect taxation would injuriously affect the revenue. Every argument that has been offered in old days, but not with the same force, and with more moderate calculations has been reproduced by him to-night with a bitterness of conviction, as if he had suddenly reverted to those old original opinions, which once upon this side of the House he advocated with so much ability and apparent conviction. I ask the Committee with confidence—Has not the right hon. Gentleman been met fairly upon every one of these points? Is it necessary to convince hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, that reducing a duty does really benefit the consumer? There may be some professors of "cobweb logic" who may still cling to that ancient opinion, but it can scarcely he necessary to dilate upon its fallacy. But every other point which the right hon. Gentleman has urged has been met by my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford, and has been by him completely refuted in argument and in fact. My hon. Friend has shown, from the results of former changes under similar circumstances, not only as to other articles, but also as to this particular article of tea itself, what has been obtained. He has reminded the Committee that if your consumption is stagnant, necessarily, and in a great degree, from the amount of your duty—when we hear so much from the right hon. Gentleman of the paralysis of trade, may we not speak rather of a paralysis of consumption? 1458 The right hon. Gentleman seemed perfectly astonished that we should suddenly and unexpectedly express these opinions as to the article of tea, and it appears to him that this is the first time in Parliamentary experience that tea has been regarded as an article of great consumption and one of great interest to the community. The right hon. Gentleman met this view of the case as some startling novelty for the first time introduced to the consideration of the House. That was not the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman in former and very recent days. The right hon. Gentleman did not then maintain the opinion that the price of articles of great consumption, and especially of tea, did not affect the interests of the consumer. Very recently the right hon. Gentleman laid it down as a first principle, not only in fiscal practice, but in political science, that the reduction of the impost on tea was a measure for the first considetion of statesmen. Hon. Members must recollect the strong, violent, I will say passionate language in which the right hon. Gentleman addressed the House on that occasion. He was not then Chancellor of the Exchequer. Another Gentleman, now the colleague of the right hon. Gentleman, then filled that office, and in what tones did the right hon. Gentleman open upon the Budget of the present Secretary of State for the Home Department, especially in reference to the question of tea? The right hon. Gentleman said that this was a question which concerned a million hearths, and that if the first imposts taken off the industry of the country were not the duties on tea and sugar, it should not be kept secret from the people. Such a deed, the right hon. Gentleman declared, should not be done in the dark, for he would rise in the House and let the people know who were the statesmen, and what was the policy, which entailed upon them such grievances. This is only a feeble recollection of the forcible language which the right hon. Gentleman used in 1857. I remember with some complacency the occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman made that declaration, for he then condescended, as on more than one occasion he had done, to support a Motion on the finances of the country which I myself introduced to the consideration of the House. We were not fortunate enough, even with our combined efforts, to disturb the present Prime Minister on that occasion; but on that occasion, as I hope I 1459 generally do, I did not wish to provoke a fruitless contest; and, after once fairly appealing to the House, I declined any further struggle—not so the right hon. Gentleman, however. He reproached me for no longer standing by him in his chivalry, determined to carry on the contest without my humble assistance and the assistance of my too indulgent Friends around me. The right hon. Gentleman, confident in those great powers we all recognize—feeling that he was an army in himself, continued the war, and brought the subject under the consideration of the House, insisting that the duty on tea should be reduced. He rolled his thunder bolts at the head of the present Secretary for the Home Department, and I confess I am astonished, after what the right hon. Gentleman went through when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he still survives and still sits now in the same peaceful Olympus in which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer occupies a place. When the right hon. Gentleman, confident in his own powers, and without the support of any party, either before or behind him, brought forward the case of the impost on tea, and asked the House to abolish the war duty, the brilliancy of his language and illustrations, and the inexorable and irresistible logic—not cobweb logic—with which he enforced his views perfectly astonished us. I could not, when I listened to him, help saying that, much as I admired his efforts a fortnight before, when we combined and were beaten by a majority of eighty, if he had spoken like that the other night the majority might have been greatly diminished. I never quote Hansard for mere taunts, but as an illustration of history, perhaps the House will on this occasion listen to the words used only four years ago by the right hon. Gentleman, when every statement the most exaggerated, and every phrase the most plausible, were employed to induce the House of Commons to abolish the war duty on tea. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion concluded his speech in the following manner:—I am deeply convinced that the rigid maintenance of the pledges given, even by the Parliament which raised these taxes during the war, is of the utmost importance in itself—of the utmost importance with a view to the increase of the comforts of the people—of the utmost importance to the satisfaction, contentment, and loyalty of the people; and, speaking of these proposals as precedents, I do not hesitate to add, of the utmost importance to the stability of the political institutions of the country; because I think that, in a country where the representatives of 1460 the people are elected, not by the entire mass of the population, but only by those who are generally above the level of the labouring classes, it is most important, if you intend to have tranquillity and contentment, that the labouring classes of the people should see that their interests are fairly, justly, and liberally cared for by Parliament, and that there is in that body no disposition to respect unduly and unequally the interests and convenience of those classes who possess the franchise. If I were an agitator for extended and organic reform in the Parliamentary representation of the people, I should not desire a better case than to go forth among those upon whom I sought to act and say to them,—' See, here is a fair test of the effects of a limited representation.'"—[3 Hansard, cxliv. 1990–91.]This repeal of the tea duties is according to the right hon. Gentleman a matter of high political importance, and the refusal now to take off the war duty on tea may be an irresistible ground to—I will not say the colleague—but at least the coadjutor of the right hon. Gentleman—I mean the hon. Member for Birmingham—on which to raise his agitation in the next autumnal recess. The right hon. Gentleman added—Here is a case in which Parliament had in its bands, provided by law, ample means of defraying the expenditure of the country. A movement was got up among the classes who possessed the franchise for a reduction of taxation. They did not, as they ought to have done, look first to what would be the expenditure of the country and govern themselves as to taxation accordingly; but they at once determined, with a dissolution in prospect, that, whatever might be the expenditure, the wishes of the enfranchised classes should be met; and to meet these wishes they not undid, but began to undo, the beneficial work of former years and of former Parliaments, and added to the burdens which were leviable by law upon the tea and sugar of the people."—[3 Hansard cxliv. 1991.]Yet the right hon. Gentleman has told us to-night that virtually the amount of the duty on tea is a matter of no importance whatever; not of importance socially; certainly, not politically, for that is out of the question; and not even fiscally. What is the use, therefore, of taking the duty off tea? But only four years ago, when, we may believe, the right hon. Gentleman spoke with feeling not less deep and sincere than that with which he has spoken to-night, when we had considered the question no less elaborately, and with thought no less profound, he was surprised that any part of this House should refuse to take off the war duty on tea, and intimated that such an act of impolicy in the Parliament of England might be chosen—and successfully chosen—as the ground of an agitation against the institutions of the 1461 country! This, then, is my answer to the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman has tonight, with singular indiscretion of manner and so unexpectedly at the commencement of the debate, delivered opinions on this subject utterly at variance with all the policy he has of late years promoted and enforced. What can have happened in the interval since the right hon. Gentleman made the elaborate statement with which he opened this debate to change the restrained and courteous conduct which has characterized the right hon. Gentleman throughout this prolonged, but not unnecessarily prolonged, discussion? What can have happened since Tuesday evening? I was not aware at first of any extraordinary circumstance that could have sent down the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in such a paroxysm of emotion to open the debate in a manner so precipitate and so remarkable; or induce him to give up all the opinions he has so sedulously and for so long a period professed. He suddenly comes down to the House, and rushes to the table, to declare that the amount of duty on an article of general consumption cannot affect the consumer; that the reduction of the duly on tea will greatly endanger the revenue, though we have authentic evidence before us that the diminution of the revenue will be only temporary, and that the attempt to reduce the burdens of the people in this way will cause a paralysis of the trade of the country. Nothing very remarkable happened in this House on Wednesday morning; the Government was only beaten once or twice, but that it is used to. That has happened during the whole Session, and more especially on ecclesiastical subjects, on which we hope that the right hon. Gentleman still sympathizes with us. How the evening of Wednesday was spent by some of us it is unnecessary to say, but the right hon. Gentleman appeared to make some mysterious allusion to the hours we spent in a manner that to those who were present were entirely satisfactory. But why the right hon. Gentleman came forward at the last moment to defeat this Motion, by enforcing a policy that reverses all the opinions of former days, and arguing, or I will not say arguing, for he would not condescend to argue against "cobweb logic,"—that he leaves to the right hon. Baronet—but denouncing with scorn and almost hatred all the opinions he has hitherto professed on this subject, will remain a mystery, unless it is explained by 1462 the noble Lord, who will probably enlighten us. The opinions the right hon. Gentleman has stated to-night have been completely met by the hon. Member for Liverpool and by the hon. Member for Stamford. Whether we take the effect of the tax on the consumption, the distribution of the amount of taxation to be remitted, or the effect of that remission on the revenue, every statement of the right hon. Gentleman has been entirely destroyed and refuted; and more especially with regard to the point that is most important in the consideration of this subject—the effect on the revenue and the demand on the surplus. My hon. Friend the Member for Stamford—who spoke with the modesty that distinguishes him—has information at his command on this subject in no respect inferior to that possessed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My hon. Friend has formed his opinions on information as authentic as any that can be placed before a public man, on which the House may implicitly trust. The conclusions my hon. Friend offers us appear, from my experience in 1852 and 1858, when my attention was necessarily directed to this subject, to be as sound as any that were ever recommended to this House; while the conclusion at which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arrived is one that no arguments or details ever placed before me could authenticate or authorize.
I will now only say one word to the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which he has reproached us for what he intimates are our new policy and principles in upholding the expediency of reducing the duty on tea. I am not aware that it is now on this side of the House, either as a policy or a principle, though the right hon. Gentleman says it is a new-fangled policy as far as we are concerned. Considering that we were the first party that proposed the reduction of the duty on tea, and that the amount of the duty should finally be 1s. per lb., I think there is a great want of judgment in the right hon. Gentleman choosing that as the ground for reproaching us. Eight years ago we recommended the House to adopt this policy; and why did we recommend it? Because we felt among other reasons it would contribute to the comfort of the labouring classes and the great mass of the community. And I may be permitted to say that hon. Gentlemen opposite have no right to arrogate to themselves a claim to be considered the 1463 peculiar friends of the working classes. Be the principle on which they are founded right or wrong, all the laws that have been passed by Parliament in the last twenty years, to alleviate the labour of the people, and to recognize their claim to a portion of their time, to be devoted to their general improvement—all those laws were resisted by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. And though I do not want now to go into any controversy about these statutes, I may say they have been eminently useful, have produced none of the evils predicted from them, and are now received with approval and confidence by the great body of the nation; and I think it is rather unwise for hon. Gentlemen opposite to assume on all occasions that they have a monopoly of consideration for the working classes, when, on all these subjects of deepest interest to those classes, they have been, consistently and invariably, in the wrong. When, in 1852, we recommended the reduction of the tea duty, we had in view also the opening of new markets, and stimulating demand in the old. What are our circumstances at present in reference to this subject? If the extreme East was so long ago an object of interest to us, what are China and Japan now? Our trade with them is a much more important consideration than bickerings with the other House of Parliament, if such bickerings have ever existed; and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has spoken of that dispute, as if the House of Commons was defeated and treated with contempt by the other House. Had it been so I should not have been silent on a question of privilege. The fact is the other House of Parliament did that which the law and the Constitution authorized them in doing. But is it the Government who talk of a collision with the other House—the Government who passed Resolutions vindicating the exercise of the privilege by the other House? And, of all Ministers ought the Chanceller of the Exchequer to treat it as an historical fact that the House of Lords have invaded our privileges? What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself do late last Session? He brought forward a second Budget, and proposed the paper duties as part of his Ways and Means. How inconsistent for a Minister of Finance to propose as part of his Ways and Means a law which, according to his theory, really was repealed! I discard that, then, as matter of consideration, because it is covered with cobwebs. It is not for our honour to admi- 1464 it for a moment; and nothing to me is so surprising as that those who affect to be the great champions of our privileges, who will not easily bear a stain upon our honour, should be always going about saying that we have been insulted, treated with contempt, and outraged. I deny it. If we had been treated in that way there is spirit enough in the House of Commons to have properly vindicated their privileges and resented any abuse of them. The House of Commons did not resent the conduct of the House of Lords and vindicate their privileges, because, after grave and calm consideration, they found that the House of Lords had not invaded them; and I have no fear myself that the House of Lords ever will invade the privileges of the House of Commons. In conclusion, I say that we are not, in deciding this question, to take into account those petty considerations. If there be, as we admit, a surplus revenue—if a remission of taxation is to be made, and is to be distributed for the relief of the people—it is the first duty of the Committee to consider what are the best means and what is the best way in which the distribution shall take place, and by which it shall be carried into effect. Will you open new markets? Will you sustain a trade and important branches of commerce? Will you give a new impulse at this moment to a channel which, above all others, ought to be encouraged and supported? Or will you, for some private end, for some comparatively petty causes, which are still to a great extent obscure, which it has been difficult to analyze in the course of this debate, but which all acknowledge to be comparatively of a limited and personal character, will you forego this great and legitimate opportunity of supporting and stimulating the commerce of the country? That is the question on which we are going to divide, and whatever may be the immediate decision, I am sure that the principles involved in the question before us will sink deep into the hearts of the people, and will not be forgotten at the moment when they are called upon to deliberate and decide upon the conduct of their representatives.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Those who have been in the habit of attending to the course of debates and discussions in this House must have observed from time to time that when a great party find themselves defeated in argument they naturally have recourse to personalities. They select for their attack some leading member of 1465 the party by whom in argument they have been defeated, and they endeavour to retrieve themselves by an attack upon him, acting upon the well-known principle in law, "where there is no defence vituperate the counsel of the plaintiff." That, Sir, is the course which this debate has taken. After long discussion upon the various details of the different proposals that have been submitted, we have this night been favoured by the pouring forth of invective from the right hon. Gentleman opposite upon my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, Sir, I am sure my right hon. Friend, if no other consolation were afforded to him, would have derived it from one incident in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, for in the midst of his most fiery invective the kindly feeling of his heart showed itself, and when he was accusing my right hon. Friend of every misdeed which a public man could commit, his tongue was involuntarily false to the line of argument which he was taking, and he could not help calling him his right hon. Friend. I say that that divests the duel between the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend of anything like a personal character. But we come hack now to the real merits of the case. The question is simple, and is brought to a single issue. A surplus is admitted. The hon. Baronet, who spoke this evening with great ability and in great detail (Sir Stafford Northcote), said that there was no existing surplus. Well, we all know there can be no existing surplus at the beginning of the year, and as part of the taxes that are to produce a surplus are to be re-enacted, it is a truism to say that that surplus will not exist unless the taxes which are to create it are re-enacted. But a surplus is admitted to be the result of the arrangements which my right hon. Friend proposes. Well, then, the question, and a very fair one for Parliament to consider, is how a portion of that surplus shall be applied—that is to say, by what remission of taxation part of the surplus shall be converted into a relief to the community. As to the remission of a portion of the income tax, that is disposed of. Then the question resolves itself simply into this,—shall we remit a portion of the existing duties on tea, or shall we abolish the Excise duty on paper? Let us first consider the arguments in favour of the remission of the duty on tea. If that duty were a very high one, higher than bad ever before existed, imposed in a time of war, and con- 1466 tinuing now at a rate to which it was raised during and for the purposes of the war, I admit there would be a very strong argument in favour of reduction. But that is not the state of things. The duty now is lower, I believe, than it ever was at any former period. The duty imposed during the war has been taken off since the war ended. It is now 1s. 5d., and it is, therefore, a misnomer and a fallacy to talk of repealing the war duty upon tea. In the first place, then, you cannot argue that the duty now existing is a duty higher than, or as high as, it ever was before. That argument must fail. You might say that the price is very high; but those who compare the price of tea now with what it was in former years must know that it has fallen immensely, and that the price to the consumer is far lower than it was at former periods. Then have the duty and the price together diminished consumption? My right hon. Friend (Sir George Lewis) has shown you this evening that the consumption between 1853 and the present year has risen immensely, from 50 millions to 70 millions, and you cannot, therefore, say that the present state of things limits oppressively the consumption of the people. But then, it might be said, "Your supplies are likely to fail, and as your supply diminishes, your demand remaining the same, or the consumption at home increasing, the price will naturally rise." But the hon. Baronet has answered and removed that objection, because be has reminded you that the Treaty with China and with Japan have opened large additional markets for the supply of tea, and if that be the case, your supply increasing, it is quite clear that the tendency will be either to lower the price with the same existing duty, or to place a larger quantity at the command of the consumer without any additional cost. Although I admit, then, that if we had nothing to consider save this tax alone, it would be desirable, when it was practicable, to lower the duty upon tea as well as upon any other article of general consumption among the lower classes, yet I say that, upon the grounds which I have stated, there is no such case of urgency in regard to tea as should lead you to select that in preference to any other tax, if that tax has peculiar claims to priority of choice. It has been said that my right hon. Friend has asserted that the diminution of duty would never find its way to the consumer in a reduction of price. But my right hon. Friend never said anything of the 1467 kind. What he said was that, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, a considerable time must elapse before that benefit would be reaped by the consumer. My right hon. Friend must not be supposed to be so little conversant with principles that he is so familiar with as to imagine that a diminution of duty does not in the long run, sooner or later, produce a benefit to the consumer. That is a truism upon which I need not dwell. I come now to the reasons why we prefer the remission of the duty on paper. I will first take the merits of the case. It is admitted that an Excise duty is a bad impost from its essential nature, that it interferes with the manufacture to which it applies, that it renders the manufacture more expensive, that it prevents improvement, and prevents other inventions connected with that manufacture from coming into operation. My right hon. Friend stated tonight one example. He showed you a pipe made of paper and covered with some other material, very useful for many purposes, and which, had not the Treasury decided that it was not paper, would have been prevented from being brought into use. I know in my own experience another instance. In the valley in which I live a very ingenious man three or four years ago established a mill for making, not paper, but parchment, to be made out of animal substances. This process was calculated to supersede the ordinary parchment for binding books, for printing, and a variety of purposes; but that manufacture was stopped. It was determined in a court of law that this parchment, being made in the same manner as paper, was liable to the same duty and subject to the same regulations. There was a very ingenious and useful invention stifled in its birth by the application of the Excise duty. No doubt there are many similar instances of which we are ignorant, but these examples are a sufficient proof of the inconvenience of these Excise duties, and of the desirableness of getting rid of them if it is consistent with your financial position. Therefore, taking the intrinsic merit of the Excise duty on paper, it stands in preference for a repeal if the remission can be made without financial inconvenience. But this is not the first time a proposal to reduce the paper duty has been made in Parliament. Individuals are often reminded of the opinions they expressed at a former period, perhaps under very different circumstances. Some of 1468 those quotations, for example, which have been read from the speeches of my right hon. Friend had no application to the present state of things. But if individuals are to look back and remember what they have said or thought, this House has also a character for consistency to uphold, and ought also to look back to see what it has said and done in former times. Well, there has been a Resolution of this House, there have been Bills voted and passed by this House, decreeing the abolition of this duty as soon as circumstances admitted of its repeal. And if hon. Members are individually to regard their consistency, the consistency of the House as an aggregate body ought also to be regarded. We now, therefore, call on the House to redeem the pledges and fulfil the intentions that it has more than once deliberately expressed. Last year a great deal of irritation existed, not only in this House, but out of doors—not by a technical violation of the privileges of this House, for I ventured to submit to this House a Resolution admitting that technically the House of Lords bad a right to reject the whole of any financia proposal that might be sent to them, although we disputed their right to alter or amend any of its separate parts; but it was a difference of opinion between the two Houses on a matter of great national policy. No one can deny that. It was a difference of opinion, too, in matters on which this House has always expressed the utmost jealousy of its peculiar privileges, and it was a difference of opinion that I venture to think it is very desirable to put an end to by getting rid of the matter to which it referred. We are told, and, no doubt, truly told, that the House of Lords acted on the belief and conviction that there was not a surplus sufficient to justify them in agreeing to so large a sacrifice of revenue. But we are assured that this objection does not exist this year, and that the opposition then offered to the repeal of the paper duty will not be repeated when that Bill again comes before the other House. Well, Sir, I accept with the greatest satisfaction that statement. I believe it will turn out to be true. But I say, let us take the House of Lords while it is in that mood; let us avail ourselves of this golden opportunity of getting rid by mutual consent of that which was last year a source of dissension and difference, and which in a future year may lead to further differences between the two Houses of Parlia- 1469 ment. When the hon. Baronet says he sees no political advantage in agreeing to that which we propose, I think he takes a very shortsighted view of the matter. There is nothing I should so much deprecate as a permanent and established difference between the two Houses on a material point of this kind. I think it would be most unfortunate if that difference should arise on a matter which we in this House think is within our exclusive and peculiar jurisdiction, but which the other House as an independent and co-ordinate branch of the Legislature consider themselves entitled to have a distinct opinion upon. Therefore, on every ground—on the ground that the tea duties are not pressing seriously on the lower classes of the community—that they are lower now than they ever have been, and that the price of the commodity is coniderably less than in former years—seeing that, on the other hand, we have an opportunity of settling with goodwill, and with the assent and consent of the other House of Parliament, a question of difference which, if left unsettled, may produce at some other time the same irritation which existed last year—I say, upon every commercial, financial, and political consideration, the proposal we make is entitled to the preference; and I cannot believe that the decision of the House will be other than an approval of the course proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question put, "That the word 'Tea' stand part of the proposed Resolution."
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 299; Noes 281: Majority 18.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acton, Sir J. D.||Beamish, F. B.|
|Adam, W. P.||Beaumont, W. B.|
|Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F.||Beaumont, S. A.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Bellew, B. M.|
|Alcock, T.||Berkeley, hon. H. F.|
|Angerstein, W.||Berkeley, Col. F. W. F.|
|Anson, hon. Captain||Bethell, Sir R.|
|Antrobus, E.||Biddulph, Col.|
|Arnott, Sir J.||Biggs, J.|
|Atherton, Sir W.||Black, A.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Blencowe, J. G.|
|Bagwell, J.||Bonham-Carter, J.|
|Baines, E.||Botfield, B.|
|Baring, H. B.||Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Bouverie, hon. P. P.|
|Baring, T. G.||Brady, J.|
|Barnes, T.||Bright, J.|
|Bass, M. T.||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Bristow, A. R.|
|Bazley, T.||Brown, J.|
|Beale, S.||Browne, Lord J. T.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Buchanan, W.||Gavin, Major|
|Buckley, Gen.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Buller, J. W.||Gifford, Earl of|
|Butler, Sir A. W.||Gilpin, C.|
|Bury, Visct.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Butler, C. S.||Glyn, G. G.|
|Butt, I.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Buxton, C.||Goldsmid, Sir F. H.|
|Caird, J.||Gordon, C. W.|
|Calcutt, F. M. N.||Cower, hon. F. L.|
|Calthorpe, hn. F. H. W. G.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Greenwood, J.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Gregson, S.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Cavendish, hon. W.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Gurdon, B.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Gurney, J. H.|
|Churchill, Lord A. S.||Gurney, S.|
|Clay, J.||Hadfield, G.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Hanbury, R.|
|Clifford, Col.||Handley, J.|
|Clive, G.||Hankey, T.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Collier, R. P.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Coningham, W.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Hayter, rt. hn. Sir W. G.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Crossley, F.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Dalglish, R.||Henley, Lord|
|Davey, R.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Davie, Col. F.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Holland, E.|
|Dent, J. D.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Hutt, rt. hon. W.|
|Divett, E.||Ingham, R.|
|Dodson, J. G.||Jackson, W.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Kershaw, J.|
|Dunbar, Sir W.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dundas, F.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Kingscote, Col.|
|Dunne, M.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Dutton, hon. R. H.||Langston, J. H.|
|Elcho, Lord||Langton, W. H. G.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Lawson, W.|
|Ellice, E.||Layard, A. H.|
|Enfield, Visct.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Ennis, J.||Lee, W.|
|Esmonde, J.||Levinge, Sir R.|
|Evans, T. W.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.|
|Ewart, W.||Lewis, H.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|Ewing, H. E. C.||Locke, J.|
|Fenwick, H.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Fermoy, Lord||M'Cann, J.|
|Finlay, A. S.||M'Cormick, W.|
|Foley, J. H.||Mackie, J.|
|Foley, H. W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Forster, C.||M'Mahon, P.|
|Forster, W. E.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Foster, W. O.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Forteseue, hon. F. D.||Marjoribanks, D. C.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Marsh, M. H.|
|Freeland, H. W.||Marshall, W.|
|Martin, P. W.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Martin, J.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Matheson, Sir J.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Mellor, J.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Merry, J.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Mildmay. H. F.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Miller, W.||Sidney, T.|
|Mills, T.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Smith, J. B.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Smith, M. T.|
|Moffatt, G.||Smith, A.|
|Monson, hon. W. J.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.|
|Norris, J. T.||Stacpoole, W.|
|North, F.||Staniland, M.|
|O'Brien, P.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|O'Connell, Capt. D.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Steel, J.|
|Onslow, G.||Stuart, Col.|
|Osborne, R. B.||Sykes, Col. W. H.|
|Owen, Sir H. O.||Thompson, H. S.|
|Packe, G. H.||Thornhill, W. P.|
|Padmore, R.||Tite, W.|
|Paget, C.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Tomline, G.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Traill, G.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Turner, J. A.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Tynte, Col. K.|
|Pease, H.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Peel, rt. hon. F.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Peto, Sir S. M.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Pilkington, J.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Pinney, Col.||Vyner, R. A.|
|Pollard-Urquhart, W.||Waldron, L.|
|Ponsonby, hon. A.||Walter, J.|
|Portman, hn. W. H. B.||Warner, E.|
|Pritchard, J.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Proby, Lord||Wemyss, J. H. E.|
|Puller. C. W. G.||Western, S.|
|Raynham, Visct.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Ricardo, O.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Rich, H.||Whitbread, S.|
|Richardson, J.||White, Col.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||White, J.|
|Robertson, D.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Wilcox, B. M'Ghie|
|Rothschild, Baron L. de||Williams, W.|
|Rothschild, Baron M. de||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Roupell, W.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Woods, H.|
|Russell, H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Russell, A.||Wyld, J.|
|Russell, Sir W.||Wyvill, M.|
|St. Aubyn, J.|
|Salomons, Mr. Ald.||TELLERS.|
|Scholefield, W.||Brand, hon. W. B. W.|
|Scott, Sir W.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.|
|Scrope, G. P.|
|Seymour, Sir M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Bathurst, A. A.|
|Adeane, H. J.||Bathurst, F. H.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Beach, W. W. B.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bective, Earl of|
|Astell, J. H.||Beecroft, G. S.|
|Bailey, C.||Bentinck, G. W. P.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Bentinck, G. C.|
|Ball, E.||Benyon, R.|
|Baring, A. H.||Bernard, T. T.|
|Baring, T.||Blake, J.|
|Barttelot, Major||Bond, J. W. M'G.|
|Bovill, W.||Greene, J.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Grey, de W. Visct.|
|Boyd, J.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Grogan, Sir E.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Haliburton, T. C.|
|Brooks, R.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bunbury, Capt. W. B.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hamilton, Maj.|
|Cairns, Sir H. M'C.||Hamilton, Visct.|
|Cartwright, Col.||Hanbury, hon. Capt.|
|Cave, S.||Hardy, G.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Hardy, J.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Hartopp, E. B.|
|Clive, hon. G. W.||Hassard, M.|
|Close, M. C.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hennessy, J. P.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Henniker, Lord|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Herbert, rt. hon. H. A.|
|Coke, hon. Col.||Heygate, Sir F. W.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Heygate, W. U.|
|Cole, hon. J. L.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Collins, T.||Hill, hon. R. C.|
|Conolly, T.||Hodgson, R.|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Hollord, R. S.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Holmesdale, Visct.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hood, Sir A. A.|
|Cross, R. A.||Hope, G. W.|
|Cubitt, G.||Hopwood, J. T.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hornby, W. H.|
|Damer, S. D.||Horslall, T. B.|
|Dawson, R. P.||Hotham, Lord|
|Deedes, W.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Dickson, Col.||Howes, E.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Humberston, P. S.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E. D.||Hume, W. W. F.|
|Du Cane, C.||Hunt, G. W.|
|Buncombe, hon. W. E.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Dunne, Col.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Jervis, Captain|
|East, Sir J. B.||Johnstone, hon. H. B.|
|Edwards, Major||Johnstone, J. J. H.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Jolliffe, rt. hon. Sir W. G. H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Jolliffe, H. H.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Jones, D.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D.||Kelly, Sir FitzRoy|
|Estcourt, rt. hn. T. H. S.||Kendall, N.|
|Farquhar, Sir M.||Kennard, R. W.|
|Farrer, J.||Kerrison, Sir E. C.|
|Fellowes, E.||King, J. K.|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Knatchbull, W. F.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Knight, F. W.|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Knightley, R.|
|Fordo, Col.||Knox, Col.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Knox, hon. Maj. S.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Lacon, Sir E.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Leader, N. P.|
|French, Col.||Leeke, Sir H.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Lefroy, A.|
|Galway, Visct.||Legh, W. J.|
|Gard, R. S.||Leighton, Sir B.|
|Garnett, W. J.||Lennox, Lord G. G.|
|George, J.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Getty, S. G.||Lever, J. O.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Lindsay, hon. Gen.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Long, R. P.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Longfield, R.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Graham, Lord W.||Lovaine, Lord|
|Gray, Capt.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Greaves, E.||Lyall, G.|
|Lygon, hon. F.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Macaulay, K.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Macdonogh, F.||Sibthorp. Maj.|
|MacEvoy, E.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Malcolm, J. W.||Smith, M.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Smith, A.|
|Maxwell, hon. Col.||Smith, S. G.|
|Miles, Sir W.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Miller, T. J.||Somerset, Col.|
|Mills, A.||Somes, J.|
|Mitford, W. T.||Spooner, R.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Montagu, Lord R.||Stanhope, Lord|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Stanley, Lord|
|Mordaunt, Sir C.||Stirling, W.|
|Morgan, O.||Steuart, A.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||Stewart, Sir M. R. S.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Stuart, Lieut. Col. W.|
|Mundy, W.||Stracey. Sir H.|
|Mare, D.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Murray, W.||Sturt, N.|
|Naas, Lord||Sullivan, M.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Nicol, W.||Talbot, hon. W. C.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Thynne, Lord E.|
|North, Col.||Thynne, Lord H.|
|Northcote, Sir S. H.||Tollemache, J.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Torrens, R.|
|Packe, C. W.||Tottenham, C.|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.||Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Palk, Sir L.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Palmer, R. W.||Upton, hon. Gen.|
|Papillon, P. O.||Valletort, Visct.|
|Parker, Maj. W.||Vance, J.|
|Patten, Col. W.||Vandeleur, Col.|
|Paull, H.||Vansittart, W.|
|Peacocke, G. M. W.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Peel, rt. hon. G.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Walker, J. R.|
|Pevensey, Visct.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Philipps, J. H.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Phillips, G. L.||Watlington, J. W. P.|
|Pigott, Serjeant||Way, A. E.|
|Potts, G.||Welby, W. E.|
|Powell, W. T. R.||Whiteside, rt. hon. J.|
|Powys, P. L.||Williams, Col.|
|Pugh, D.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Quinn, P.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Ramsden, Sir J. W.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Redmond, J. E.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wynn, Col.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Rogers, J. J.||Wynne, C. G.|
|Rolt, J.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Rowley, hon. R. T.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Russell, F. W.|
|Sclater-Booth, G.||Taylor, Col.|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Whitmore, H.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
What we propose to do with regard to the progress of business is not to take those Resolutions which there may be a disposition to discuss, but to proceed with those which are unopposed. (Cries of "No.") Of course, if there is a disposition to discuss them all, we will not proceed now.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I think it will be 1474 most inconvenient to proceed with any business at once under the circumstances. Of course, when a Minister is supported by a triumphant majority, I can conceive that it would be very vexatious to offer any opposition to the progress of business, and I should be the last man to counsel it; but, considering what has taken place—that a Resolution of this great importance has really been carried by a very small majority—as it is in its 'teens' it can hardly be called a majority at all—it would be better, both for Her Majesty's Ministers and this side also, that we should have time to reflect on what has taken place.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
We have not the least objection to allow hon. Gentlemen opposite time to reflect on what has taken place, and we will, therefore, proceed with the Resolutions on Monday.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.
§ House adjourned at half-after One o'clock.