§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved the second reading of this Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Rill be now read a second time."
§ MR. MACDONOGH
said, that if the projected measure involved no other consideration than that of a financial character, he would have preferred to leave its discussion to the eminent persons who adorn by their talents both sides of the House, to profit by their wisdom, and to record a silent vote upon the subject of their elaborate contention. But the question was, now, in great part;, leaving the region of finance, and it had entered upon a phase which rendered it the bounden 1966 duty of every man who had made constitutional law his study, not only to form but to enunciate his opinions upon the subject. It was desirable that the House should bear in mind a few facts. In the month of March, 1860, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a Bill "for the repeal of the duties of Excise on paper levied in the United Kingdom," pursuant to an order of the House, which was in the following terms:—"That leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal the Excise duty on paper." Following the usual and constitutional precedent, the right hon. Gentleman brought in a Bill, and called the attention of the House to its provisions. It was not a granting but a repealing Bill. The first section repealed all previous enactments and abolished the paper duty, with a single exception; the second provided that certain allowances should be made to traders; the third directed how these allowances were to be paid; the fourth referred to the certificates to be obtained from the proper officers; and the last provided penalties for the offence of forging those certificates. That Bill passed this House, was submitted to the other of branch of the Legislature, and having been fully debated and discussed was rejected. And now a similar Bill, identical in its provisions, with merely tin; alteration of the dates, was introduced into this House, and it was joined with and inseparably annexed to a Bill of Supply. The first question he asked was—had such a course its this ever been adopted before: There were in that House statesmen experienced in public business and in the practice of that House, lawyers of the highest eminence, and Gentlemen who at various seats of learning had, though not lawyers, acquired a knowledge of constitutional law, and he would appeal to the statesman, the lawyer, and the historian whether it had ever occurred in the annals of England that a measure rejected by the Lords had been annexed to a Bill of Supply, and had passed the Legislature in that compound form? If there was such an instance, of course it could be mentioned, but in no book of law—in no constitutional history which he had read was there to be found a trace of any such a proceeding. The next question was, had such an attempt ever been made, even though unsuccessfully? He found that such an attempt was made in the reign of Queen Anne. A Bill against occasional 1967 conformity had passed this House and was sent to the House of Lords, where it met the fate which it deserved, and was rejected. In a subsequent Session Mr. William Bromley moved for leave to reintroduce that measure, and to annex it to a Money Bill or Bill of Supply. What became of that measure? Smollett, in the second volume of his History of England, page 39—he should give the pages of all his references, and he trusted that hon. Members would take the trouble to look at them—Smollett stated that after a tedious and warm debate the Motion was rejected. In the Somers Tracts there was a reference to this transaction, in which the proceeding was condemned in the strongest terms, It is in these words—The House of Lords is an undoubted part of the Legislature. This House upon solemn debate before thought this Bill not fit to be passed, and if the Commons, notwithstanding that, could have forced them into passing this Bill by this method, they must never have pretended to reject any Bill any more. We see by a thousand instances that such a right once given up is never to be retrieved, and then the Lords had not only parted with the right of debate for ever, but they had by that broken the English Constitution and overthrown those fundamental rights of legislature by which this kingdom has been so long governed.It was a private Member who first tried to reintroduce a Bill which had been rejected by the House of Lords in connection with a Bill of Supply, but he lamented to say that the second attempt had been made by the Government of the country. Until he heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer he thought that the law and constitution of England with reference to the privileges of Parliament had been definitively settled. Lord Coke told us that the lex et consuetudo Parliamenti formed part of the unwritten law of England. The privileges of each House of Parliament, in regard of taxation, are defined and not to be transcended, and it is well settled that no new privilege can be created. Accordingly it was distinctly stated by the Lords, and admitted by the Commons, in the year 1704, that neither House of Parliament had any right to create for itself any privileges not warranted by the known laws and customs of Parliament, a fact which was mentioned in Mr. May's very able and intelligent work, in which by reference to the Journals of both Houses he had clearly established that proposition. If, then, such a matter had never occurred before—if in England some of the most 1968 valuable titles depended upon prescription—and if no new privilege could be created, they had to inquire how it came to pass that this proceeding was ventured on in the present instance. He apprehended that there was now no question as to the privileges of either House in relation to Money Bills. He would put the privileges of the House of Commons at the highest point. In that House Money Bills must originate, and by the other branch of the Legislature they could not be modified or altered; they must be accepted in integro, or rejected in toto. But his next proposition was that the annexing a measure distasteful to the House of Lords to a Money Bill or Bill of Supply was as great an invasion of their liberties and privileges as any interference by them in matters of Supply would be with the privileges of the Commons. In Hatsell's Parliamentary Precedents, page 221, it was stated that—Whenever this measure of tacking to a Bill of Supply is attempted by the House of Commons, with the intention of thereby compelling the Crown or the House of Lords to give their assent to a Bill which they would otherwise probably disapprove or reject, it is highly irregular, and is a breach of those Parliamentary rules and orders that have been established by long and uniform practice between the two Houses.With what infinitely greater force would this condemnation apply if the additional element were added that the measure was not only likely to be distasteful to the Lords, but had actually been rejected by that House. He need hardly state to the House that the idea of tacking originated in periods not remarkable for any superfluous veneration for the Constitution. It commenced, he believed, in the Long Parliament, which obtained from the King, by a variety of hypocritical pretences and promises and gifts of money, the passing of a Bill which gave the Members power of continuing their sittings as long as they thought fit. That very extraordinary provision was tacked to a Money Bill. What became of that? The House passed au Act making it treason to name the name of that Parliament. However, in 1678, in a speech delivered by Lord Chancellor Pinch by command of the King, in both Houses, the idea of "tacking" was referred to as a rather recent innovation. The recent instances then glanced at went far to prove that the present Bill was a case of tacking. It would probably be said on the other side that the Bill for the repeal of the Excise duties on paper was a species of supplement to, or part and parcel of the original 1969 plan; that it was intended to be an integral portion of the Budget, and was, therefore, not a case of tacking. Or it might be said that it was in pari materiâ, and therefore not a case of tacking. Now, the remarkable instances which he found in the records of Parliament, although not so strong as the present one, and where it might plausibly have been argued that they were in pari materiâ, were deemed cases of tacking. In the third volume of Grey's Delates, page 450, it was stated that a discussion arose on a proposition that a Bill for appropriating the Customs to the use of the navy, should be annexed to a Bill for raising the Supply to provide, equip, and maintain twenty ships. An appropriation clause for the purposes of the navy was accordingly sought to be annexed to the measure referred to. That was at a time when the doctrine of the constitution was not very fully understood; but one Member, Sir George Downing, argued the matter with singular ability, maintained that it was plainly a case of tacking and contrary to the spirit of the constitution, and he called for a division on the annexation. On that occasion the House carried the annexation; but the Bill was interrupted by a prorogation, and nothing came of it. In the fourth volume of Grey's Debates the same subject was resumed, the good doctrine of Downing having borne its fruits in the meanwhile, and the result was a condemnation of the proposal by a considerable majority. [The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: What was the date of that debate?] He had taken an abstract of the debate, and stated the substance, but could not exactly mention the date; he thought it was 1076. He hoped the House would perceive that he was dealing candidly, that it was a fair course towards the right hon. Gentleman to refer specifically to particular precedents, giving the book and page, and not concealing anything which might be injurious to his (Mr. Macdonogh's) case. In the 4th volume of Grey's Debates they would find the resumption of a similar question. He had, now, found the date. The discussion took place on the 5th of March, 1676, and the proposition for tacking the two Bills together was rejected by a vote of 175 to 124. The question then was that tonnage and poundage should be appropriated to the use of the navy by a clause in the Tax Bill. It was argued that that being a tack it ought not to be permitted, and the House decided in fa- 1970 vour of the principle for which he was contending. He now came to the period subsequent to 1688. He would not stay for a moment to comment on that case which had been censured in such eloquent and unmeasured terms by the distinguished Whig historian of modern times—he meant the case of the Duke of Ormond, who obtained vast tracts of land by the favour of the House of Commons of that day. That was a case of tacking which was universally condemned, such bad precedents being swept away by a long train of subsequent and concurring good precedents. If anybody thought of citing the Duke of Ormond's case he had better peruse the fifth volume of Lord Macaulay's History. There was a case of tacking in 1700, and accordingly in 1702 the question attracted the attention of the House of Lords, when the constitutional doctrine was asserted in such terms that no successful instance of tacking had ever since occurred. The Standing Order of the House of Lords, which had been enforced to this day, was then determined upon. That Standing Order appeared in the 17th volume of the Lords' Journals, and was—The annexation of any clause or clauses to a Bill of Aid or Supply, the matter of which is foreign to and different from the matter of the said Bill of Aid or Supply, is unparliamentary and tends to the destruction of the constitution of this Government.Nothing remained for him to prove but this, that the Bill rejected by the House of Lords last year, and which now came before that House a second time, was foreign to and different from the Bill of Aid and Supply. But the Standing Order and declaration that he had just quoted were signed by the most distinguished Whig nobles of the day, a long catalogue of whom was given in the Lords' Journals. That happened on the 9th December, 1702; and so unambiguously was the law of the subject settled, with the consent, as would be seen, of the House of Commons, that no successful controversy as to tacking had ever since arisen. A remarkable precedent occurred on the 30th of May, 1807, which he ventured to think established both the propositions for which he contended. On that occasion the Bill in that House was committed to the care of Mr. Hobhouse, Lord Henry Petty, and Mr. Vansittart. The case was referred to in Hatsell's Precedents, p. 220, in these words—On the 9th of January, 1807, the Lords laid aside the annual Malt Bill on account of a tack— 1971 namely, a clause to legalize certain Exchequer Bills charged upon the Malt and Pension Duties of last year, which Exchequer Bills had been signed by the auditor's trustee, acting for Lord Grenville. The Lords objected to this—first, because the whole clause was a tack; and, secondly, even if the Exchequer Bills charged upon the malt duty could be deemed so far in pari materiâ as not to be a tack, yet the Bills charged on the Pension Duty were entirely a different matter. In the House of Commons, upon reading again the Resolution reported from the Committee of Ways and Means on the 1st of January, a new Malt Bill was ordered in.Mark the effect of that precedent. It took place after the declaration and Standing Order of the Lords—after that bold and just appeal to the constitution of the country, acquiesced in by the Commons. What, then, did the Commons do? They respected and yielded to the law of the Constitution. The case would be found given at length in page 43, No. 68, of the Appendix to the Report of the Tax Bills Committee. The matter was before that House on the 1st of January, 1807, and before the Lords on the 7th of January, and on the 9th a Report was made to the House of Commons, setting forth what had occurred in the House of Lords. It stated that the original Malt Duty Bill having been brought in it was ordered to superadd clauses to legalize the debentures charged upon the malt duties, and then went on to state what had occurred in the Lords, whereupon the Commons made an entry upon their Journals, ordering that a new Bill be brought in, accommodated to the altered circumstances, and reciting a memorandum which, after stating that a Bill to continue certain malt duties had been sent up to the other House, wont on to say that the House had been informed that the same had been rejected by the House of Lords on account of its containing multifarious matters, and, therefore, the House of Commons permitted a new Bill to be brought in, but omitting some of the matters contained in the former Bill. He respectfully submitted to the judgment of the House that that case strongly illustrated his position, and no clearer precedent was needed. The other branch of the Legislature had a right to exercise its just functions, but it was prevented from doing so by the union of clauses dealing with debentures with the annual Malt Duty Bill. Passing over a variety of precedents to be found in Hatsell, with which he did not think it necessary to trouble the House, he came to the year 1811, when it was desired by the Chan- 1972 cellor of the Exchequer of that clay to repeal certain duties upon corn-wash. He sent up a Bill to the House of Lords, as was done last year—a proper and constitutional course. He did not bring in his Budget, knowing that the intended repeal affected the symmetry of his plans, and when the Bill was rejected by the Lords he immediately accommodated his Budget to the altered circumstances. The next illustration he would take was in 1860, upon the authority of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Last year the right hon. Gentleman thought it expedient to repeal the duties upon paper. The order of the House was that a Bill be brought in. The right hon. Gentleman did not then, à priori, think that to the clauses of that Bill should be added other clauses connected with other species of taxation, but the Bill was sent in its distinct shape to the House of Lords in order that that branch of the Legislature might concur in that most important sacrifice of a great and permanent revenue. That was a constitutional course. The House knew the result, but was not that a continuation of the stream of precedents? Was not that acting upon the case of 1807, to which Mr. Hobhouse, Lord Henry Petty, and Mr. Vansittart were parties, and adhering to the long established constitutional practice of Parliament? But in the amphibious Bill now submitted, the first three sections and the schedules related to the imposition of the income tax, and to the indirect taxation upon tea, sugar, and he believed upon chicory; but the rest of the Bill was a repeal Bill. He, therefore, designated that as an amphibious Bill. What was the meaning of a "tack?" A tack was the granting with a condition for a consideration—it was the annexation of matters foreign to and different from the primary objects of a Bill of Supply. The imposition of the income tax and the tea and sugar duties were primary subjects, and any clauses subservient to those primary objects would not be "tacks." For instance, if a Malt Bill were brought in and certain regulations as to collection were added they would not be foreign, but auxiliary to the primary object. Supposing, however, that this Bill should pass, and be submitted for the assent of the Sovereign, in what terms would the Sovereign signify assent? To a Bill exclusively of Supply Her Majesty would signify her acquiescence by thanking her good subjects and accepting their benevo- 1973 lence. To a Bill enacting new laws and repealing old ones, the Sovereign could say she so willed it, or she would advise herself concerning it. But what answer could she give to this double Bill? Let the House observe the structure of this Bill, which was as singular as the purpose it was intended to achieve. In Bills introducing new laws, after the preamble, it was enacted by the Queen, with the consent of the Lords and Commons, but in Bills of Supply, the language was "Her Majesty's faithful subjects grant and they beseech that it may be enacted, and be it enacted." The word "grant" governed the whole Bill. It was, however, impossible that the word grant could govern the whole of the Bill before them. And was it come to this, that a Commons grant was to repeal a law by their own power? The word grant had a plain meaning in the first three sections of the Bill, but the fourth section proceeded to repeal a law, and went on to enact that alter a certain day the Excise duty upon paper should cease and determine. That was not in accordance with the course of legislation or the practice of this limited monarchy. It might be argued that there were some precedents for transactions similar to the present. As to the precedents of tacking, he hoped they would not be appealed to in 1860. But it might be said that in 1801 and 1802 there were instances recorded in the Journals of the House of proceedings something like the present; but he insisted that they were arguments in favour of the doctrine for which he contended, and which was that they might introduce into a Bill everything which was subsidiary to or ancillary to the working out and realization of the particular objects, but they could not add to it matters which were wholly foreign to the primary object, and which had nothing at all to do with that primary object. In the 56th volume of the Journals of the House, on the 19th of February, 1801, he found a Resolution dealing with the subject of the duty on sugar, and deciding that the existing duty should cease, and that an additional duty should be imposed, and that a Bill or Bills should be brought in pursuance of that Resolution. What was the object of the measure? Its primary object was obviously to increase the duty on sugar; this was the object both of the Bill and the Resolution. But there being at the time an existing duty on sugar, smaller 1974 in amount than that which the Legislature was about to impose, the Act provided that on a given day the smaller duty should cease and determine, and the larger duty be imposed. The House, however, would bear in mind that the whole had reference to the same subject. But the measure of the 6th of April, 1802, would probably be the chief precedent grasped at in reference to this subject. He, therefore, entreated attention to the two precedents he had mentioned, that the House might see their force. Let them remember the period; the preliminaries of peace had been discussed in London in 1801, but the definitive treaty of peace was not signed at Amiens till the 6th of March, 1802, On the 6th of April, 1802, the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced the Budget to which he had referred. The income tax—a war tax, as he justly designated it—was to be repealed, as it was found to press vitally on the energies of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Addington, announced his intention to repeal the income tax and to make a large addition to the indirect taxation. The Resolutions embodying his plan were on the Journals of the House. These Resolutions were very various—some forty or forty-two in number. The first two stated the amount of money to be levied. The two following Resolutions abolished the income tax, except with respect to arrears. Then the residue of the Resolutions all related to the imposition of new and increased indirect taxation. Now, mark the course adopted by Parliament, and those who remembered the position of Mr. Addington would come to the opinion that he understood what were the constitutional views on the question. First, an order was made that a Bill should be introduced founded on the first two Resolutions. Then an order was made that a Bill or Bills should be introduced, founded on the subsequent Resolutions; and Gentlemen of the highest eminence for their knowledge of Parliamentary law were named to bring them in. What was the next step? These various Resolutions were subdivided into four several Bills, each referring to their proper subject. The income tax was repealed by a separate Bill, and he might remark that the paper duty was repealed last Session by a separate Bill; the Government was as constitutional in 1860 as it was in 1802. The other Bills referred to the increased taxation on windows, on inhabited houses, 1975 servants, and carriages. These duties were ejusdem generis, and were contained in one Bill. The fourth Bill related entirely to the increased indirect taxation; but the direct and indirect taxation were not jumbled together. Having read the titles of the four distinct Bills, Mr. Macdonogh continued:—To the fourth Bill some fiscal, and, he believed, Excise regulations were added, but these regulations were all subsidiary to the primary purpose of the Bill itself, which was to add to the indirect taxation. He would now ask the House if these four particular instances did not illustrate the doctrine for which he contended? Did the Government, at that time, introduce a repeal of the income tax into a Bill imposing a tax on windows and inhabited houses? No; they separated each Bill according to its subject matter. Could it be contended that when they were repealing a law of vital importance, involving vast and varied considerations, such a repeal was ever annexed to a Bill of Supply for the current year? To hasten to a conclusion, he would mention the points which he hoped he had established to the satisfaction of the House. And he assured the House, if he should be proved to have been wrong, no one would be more astonished than himself. The first proposition to which he invited contradiction, though he would not challenge it, was this; that no instance had ever occurred in which a Bill which had been rejected by the House of Lords had afterwards been introduced as part of a Bill of Supply for the current year, and passed. On a reference to the Journals of the House it must be admitted that no such event had ever occurred. Next he had shown that if one such attempt had been made before it was made unsuccessfully. If he was not right, this was equally capable of refutation. He had next contended that "tacking" other subjects to Bills of Supply had always been condemned by the spirit of the Constitution, and placed under ban by the written laws of Parliament. He respectfully submitted that he had established these propositions; and in doing so he hoped he had not wearied the House. And, in taking leave of the question, he would appeal—and he did so with all respect—to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would ask him to consider well before he proceeded with this measure; he had still a locus penitentiæ. He might still recede with honor. 1976 He had the power to disannex the objectionable clauses of the condemned Bill from the primary object of his measure—the repeal of part of the income tax. And he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that yielding to the spirit of the constitution would not derogate from his fame; it would rather add another rose to his chaplet. But, should he be unsuccessful with the right hon. Gentleman, he would appeal to a tribunal that seldom refused to do justice. He would appeal to the British House of Commons. He asked it to do what it did in 1676—certainly not one of the better periods of their history—to disannex these particular clauses from this Bill; and he fearlessly asked the Members of the House of Commons, was it in the present condition of affairs, when the New "World was exhibiting the evils connected with republicanism, and in the old world of Europe the political atmosphere might well be described as "the palpable obscure," that they ought to exhibit the spectacle of a divided Legislature? Why throw down this defiance to the House of Lords? Why seek to revive the quarrel of last year? What was the object? Intention here was of cardinal importance. The House must look not merely to the fact, but to the motive. Now, it was demonstrated that this annexation was for the sole purpose of coercing the House of Lords on the question of the paper duty. Not only was that a great constitutional question, fit to be discussed in that House, but its consequences were more extensive than met the eye at first view. Let him glance at only one. A large party existed in the country—let no one conceal it—which sought utterly to annihilate every vestige of indirect taxation, to abolish the Customs and Excise, and raise the entire revenue of the country by taxing realized property and income. If the present Bill were passed, and if the House of Lords should unhappily adopt it, what earthly power could in a certain state of things prevent the entire transfer of the public burdens from indirect to direct taxation? Suppose the case of war, or menace of war, and suppose a majority of this House—no matter how narrow a majority—were to vote that direct taxation should be the only means of supplying the wants of the community. Suppose thereupon that a Bill were passed imposing a property tax of 6s. or 7s. in the pound to defray our whole expenditure of £70,000,000, and that in another 1977 clause of the same Bill the repeal of all Customs and Excise duties were enacted—it would be a Bill of Supply, and what was the House of Lords to do in such a case? Their patriotism would be appealed to. If they did not pass the Bill the army would be unpaid, the navy in mutiny, the public creditor unsatisfied. The House of Commons would have taken from them their constitutional privilege. The House of Commons by insisting on this tack would have prevented the exercise of the House of Lords just legislative functions. He, therefore, asked the House to declare that such an attempt ought not to prevail, that it ought to be an axiomatic truth, requiring no demonstration, that the constitution of the country should not be' clandestinely altered, but that if it were to be altered such alteration should be made with the cordial assent of a united Legislature, and with the fully expressed opinion of a united people.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman is receiving the congratulations of his friends. I also congratulate him upon the able argument which he has just addressed to the House, and I am sure both sides of the House have listened to that argument with pleasure. Sir, I should not have risen to address you at this particular hour had it not been that I feared I should not be able to do so at a later period. The question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman appears to me of such importance that I cannot remain altogether silent, and I wish, therefore, to give to the House my opinion respecting it. Had the question of the second reading of this Bill assumed a wider range, I should have been quite content to leave the argument where it rests, after the full discussion which the Budget has already undergone. By that discussion we have cleared the ground. The surplus is now admitted. It is admitted also that the remission of taxation under present circumstances is desirable. The amount of the remission is not questioned, because the amount proposed on the opposite side of the House is really larger than that proposed by the Government; and the question as between tea and paper has been decided by a majority of the House. I, therefore, will not wander into these subjects—and, indeed, in my present state, I should not be able to do so—but I shall confine the few words which I mean to address to the House to the constitutional question which the hon. 1978 and learned Gentleman has raised. Before my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer avails himself of the locus penitentiæ which the hon. and learned Gentleman so generously offers him with regard to the mode of legislation, and before the House adopts the course substantially urged by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and objects to the form which this Bill has assumed on the second reading, embracing as it does both the remission of taxes and the imposition of taxes, I wish to say a few words upon the question here involved. In the last Session of Parliament I incurred the displeasure of several of my hon. Friends sitting below the gangway on account of the part I took in a Committee upstairs respecting the right of the Lords to reject the Paper Duty Abolition Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that the abolition of the paper duty is a measure of doubtful policy. He was not a Member of the House last Session, and he appears to forget that that Bill was fought in all its stages, and was sent up by a majority of this House, though not, perhaps, a very large majority, for the adoption of the House of Lords. Again, in the present Session that question was fully debated, a division was taken upon it in the course of the last ten days, and again this House deliberately preferred the repeal of the paper duty to any diminution in the duty on tea. I say this in passing. In the last Session, I repeat, it was my lot to differ from many among those with whom I sat respecting the right of the House of Lords to reject the Paper Duty Bill. In the Committee, the proceedings of which are before the House, it will appear that it was my misfortune to differ also from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and even with my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord John Russell), with whom I have so long acted, on great constitutional questions. I differed from them with great regret; but still, upon looking at the precedents impartially and carefully, my opinion was decided that the House of Lords, in rejecting the Paper Duty Bill, exercised a right inherent in them, and which cannot be denied. I said it was the exercise of a right on their part. At the same time, I always thought that their policy in the exercise of the right was doubtful, and it was, as it seemed to me, the exercise of an extreme right. The hon. and learned Gentleman has quoted pre- 1979 cedents, but I do not think that with all his research he can produce a precedent in which the House of Lords ever before rejected a Supply Bill on purely financial grounds, and I say that if the House of Lords were acting within their right last Session, still they were exercising an extraordinary right, unprecedented in our constitutional history. In maintaining that opinion, however, I am bound to add my conclusion respecting the course now adopted by the Government. I think that that course is sustained by usage. I think, under the circumstances of the case, it is right in policy, and I think that the House now ought to adopt on the second reading a union of the repeal of the paper duties with other financial measures, as proposed by the Government, in one Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, I think, that he will be astonished if an instance can be produced in which there is both the imposition of a tax and the repeal of a tax combined in one Bill.
§ MR. MACDONOGH
I said I should be astonished if an instance could be produced in which a Bill rejected by the Lords was reintroduced and passed in a Money Bill.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
My answer is that I do not believe an instance can be found since the Revolution in which on financial grounds alone the Lords have rejected a Bill repealing taxes sent up by the House of Commons. It is the very novelty of the course pursued by the Lords which leads me to the conclusion that the time has arrived when it is right for this House not to adopt a new course—as I contend the course adopted by the Lords last year was novel—but to revert to ancient practice, to be traced from the earliest times and followed up in an unbroken course almost to the present year. I will not go at length into the precedents; but still, as to the right of the House to combine in one Bill the larger part of the Budget of the year, and to combine in such Bill proposals partly for the imposition and partly for the remission of taxes, it is a practice which has obtained from the Revolution downwards, and which is sustained both by usage and by constitutional authority. I will just instance a case of multifarious taxation in the year 1787, consequent on the French Treaty. The Act is entitled "An Act for repealing certain duties of Customs and Excise, and for granting other duties in lieu of them;" it is a combina- 1980 tion of the repeal of duties and the granting of other duties in lieu thereof. There are schedules of sixty quarto pages, based on the Report of 2,537 Resolutions—the work of Mr. Pitt, recommended by Mr. Pitt, and carried by Mr. Pitt. A Motion was made in the House of Commons to divide the Bill, which was fully debated and rejected. In the House of Lords this very objection was taken, that their independence was invaded by this combination of such multifarious matters, and that argument against the Bill was resisted with the whole force of the Government. Mr. Pitt's measure was carried in the House of Commons by a large majority, and the House of Lords also after debate adopted the measure, which both enacted and repealed a variety of taxes. What was the course adopted at the time of the Union in 1800, again by the authority of Mr. Pitt? The hon. and learned Gentleman talks of "tacks;" but to the Act of Union were tacked—I do not use the expression in an invidious sense—two schedules of countervailing duties of 7½ pages. In combination with the enactment of the Union, countervailing duties of considerable extent and importance were thereby imposed. To come to a later period:—the hon. and learned Gentleman will find that in 1808—he has dwelt very much on the precedent of 1807—the 48 & 49 Geo. III., c. 2, was passed, and that is an Act continuing duties, repealing duties, and regranting duties—not merely a double enactment like that of this Session, but a triple enactment of continuation repeal and re-enactment all in one Bill. The duties continued are on malt, sugar, tobacco, snuff, and offices and pensions. It then goes on to repeal the duties of sixpence and one shilling respectively on offices and pensions; and then, after continuing and repealing it, regrants the duties of sixpence and one shilling respectively on certain offices and pensions for the service of the year 1808. That Act, be it observed, in strict accordance with the course now adopted, so various in its operations, was only for one year. It was continued from year to year annually until the year 1822—that is, for fourteen years this course was annually pursued year after year. Not once was it done, but fourteen times. In 1822 a most important change took place, to which I would call the special attention of the House. The large and most important duty on malt was then made perpetual, but from 1822 1981 to 1825 the duties on sugar, tobacco, snuff, foreign spirits, sweets, pensions, and personal estates, were annually renewed in one Bill. I wish the House to remark this, because it is by making perpetual large branches of the revenue, as it appears to mo, that we have lost a great Constitutional hold which we formerly possessed over the House of Lords, and, after our experience of last year, it appears to me that the time has now arrived when it is our duty to retrieve that position, which we ought never to have surrendered. In 1826 the duties on tobacco and snuff were transferred from the Excise to the Customs, and were made part of the permanent revenue of the country. From 1827 to 1834 the remaining duties on sugar, pensions, offices, and personal estates were annually renewed in one Act—as I have already pointed out was the case with the other duties. From 1834 to 1836 they were continued in separate Acts, but only for two years, and in 1836 the duties on pensions and offices were made perpetual. There remained, then, only the sugar duties, and from 1836 to 1846 the sugar duties alone were continued from year to year in one Bill. By an odd coincidence, on purely financial grounds, just before Sir Robert Peel left office in 1846, it had been decided by his Administration that, for the sake of those interested more immediately in the raising of sugar and to avoid the uncertainty of an annual change of duty, the duties on sugar should be made perpetual. That was the intention of the Government of Sir Robert Peel when he resigned office, and it became the duty of his successor, my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, who approved that intention, to carry it into effect. He proposed to make the sugar duties perpetual, and the House assented to his proposition. There is no more earnest guardian of the privileges of this House than my noble Friend, but it so happened that, with all his care and caution, the effect of not leaving one single annual duty of large amount at the disposal of the House of Commons was not at the moment quite foreseen by him. It was not overlooked by Sir Robert Peel. I speak advisedly, knowing what his wish and intention were, and though I have not had time to refer to the official record of what took place in this House at the time, yet, if I remember rightly, my Friend Mr. Goulburn, in his place, declared that, in his opinion, it 1982 would be necessary, if the sugar duties were made perpetual, that some large branch of the revenue, nearly if not quite equal in amount, should be annually voted. From that time to this no such precaution has been taken, and I ascribe to our weakened position with regard to the finances of the year the unprecedented step taken last year by the House of Lords, the effect of which has been to place the House of Commons at a disadvantage. I hope I evinced by my conduct last year anything but a desire to interfere with the full Constitutional rights of the House of Lords. I would earnestly deprecate any attack on that co-ordinate branch of Legislative authority. If I could believe that the course taken by the Government was advisedly taken for the purpose of seeking a quarrel with the House of Lords, if I could believe that it would have the practical effect of bringing about a collision with that House, or that its tendency moved in that direction, at all hazards I would refuse my support to it. But I believe in the honest and conscientious declaration of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, that it is with an earnest desire to avoid such a quarrel and to prevent such a collision that this course has been pursued, and in that sense I give it my support. My belief is that the course taken is most wise and most just. I have referred already to the proceedings of the Committee upstairs, and on this point will the House allow me to read the last two sentences of the draught Report presented to the Committee by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), who presided over our investigation with so much ability and such strict impartiality? Those two sentences run thus:As intimately connected with that practice, however, two circumstances which have materially weakened the power of this House over such matters as concern Supply and are incident thereto, may not improperly here be noticed. The one is, the constant tendency to perpetuate duties in general statutes for unlimited periods of time;"—The very point to which I have taken the liberty of calling attention—The other, the omission to keep hack a large amount of annual taxation until near the close of each Session. The constant tendency to perpetuate duties, no doubt, has been occasioned by the necessity of providing for the interest of the National Debt and other charges of a permanent character to which the nation is distinctly pledged; and the expediency of reserving a large amount of temporary taxation to be granted annually towards the close of the Session, was partly trench- 1983 ed upon in the year 1798, when the land tax was made perpetual; still further, in the year 1823, when the duties on malt were made perpetual; and it may be said to have been given up in the year 1846, when the duties on sugar were also made perpetual.Now, will the House allow me to ask their attention to the conclusion at which my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge deliberately arrived, and to which he invited the concurrence of the Committee?—It should, likewise, be remembered that the power of the House over matters of Supply and incident thereto, are necessarily much weakened by dealing with them separately in separate Bills, instead of uniting them as much as possible in one measure, so that they may constitute and form part of the financial arrangements to be made for the year.That was the conclusion to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge invited our concurrence. I entirely approve of that advice; but for reasons which I will now state to the House, by a very odd coincidence, I was the person who moved in that Committee the omission of these paragraphs. And why did I move their omission? Because I thought that the sole duty confided to us by the House was to search for precedents, and that it was our duty to present to the House indisputable facts and precedents which were incontrovertible. I thought that we ought not to accompany those precedents with any observations, because, if they were accompanied with observations, unanimity on the part of the Committee was highly improbable, and a Report based on divided opinions would not have anything like the weight which the unanimous Report which has been laid on the table has, and, I hope, will continue to have. But does the matter rest there? What was the Resolution moved by my noble Friend at the head of the Government? It was in strict conformity with the conclusions which I have read, and, if I mistake not, it was adopted unanimously by the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Macdonogh) was not then a Member, and I am afraid, if he had been, he would have dissented from it; but still he would have stood almost alone in his dissent. The House unanimously adopted this Resolution—Resolved,—That to guard for the future against an undue exercise of the power of the Lords, and to secure to the Commons their rightful control over taxation and Supply, this 1984 House has in its own hands the power so to impose and remit taxes and to frame Bills of Supply that the right of the Commons as to the matter, manner, measure, and time may be maintained inviolate.It is in order to maintain inviolate the right of the Commons as to the matter, measure, manner, and time that I cordially support the form of the Bill now introduced by the Government. What is the great distinction between the respective duties and powers of the Commons and the Lords? It was traced back by the Committee to the time of Henry IV., when what is called the Bill of Indemnity was passed; and there the great principle is laid down—a principle from which we ought never to depart—that the Commons have the right to grant, and that it is the duty of the Lords to assent. What is the form of a Supply Bill introduced in consonance with that principle, sanctioned by usage and adopted from the earliest times? I will read the form of this Bill which is the form of every Supply Bill since the Revolution—We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, towards raising the necessary Supplies to defray your Majesty's public expenses and making an addition to the public revenue, have freely and voluntarily resolved to give and grant unto your Majesty the several rates and duties hereinafter mentioned.The Commons exclusively give and grant, and having laid down as a fundamental principle their right to grant, and the fundamental principle, also, that it is for the Lords to assent, the Bill goes on—And do, therefore, most humbly beseech your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and by the authority of the same, as follows.What was stated by the managers in 1691, only three years after the Revolution, bears so well upon the subject that I cannot refrain from quoting it. The managers not only contend for the exclusive right of giving and granting, but they assign reasons—The Lords have many high privileges to recommend their Lordships to the favour of their Prince, and to support their figure in the Government.Bear in mind that this was only three year after the Revolution. The Lords have the exclusive right of judicature, 1985 and the power of judging in the last resort in all questions of attainder and treason. The managers proceed:—But the Commons have little besides this one of giving money and granting aids. This is their undoubted and inherent right, and, therefore, everything which intrenches on that the Commons may be allowed to be extremely jealous of.That is a sound principle. That, I say, is in exact accordance with the course now pursued by the Government. I do not say that the rights of the House of Commons were invaded last year by the House of Lords. I say they went to the extreme verge of their privilege, and now, in my humble judgment, the time has arrived to revert to ancient precedents and to have recourse to those ancient rights which our forefathers so jealously guarded, and of which we are the undoubted possessors. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke on the subject of a tack. I agree with him entirely that unless the addendum is in pari materia, and either imposes or remits taxes, it is an invasion of the privilege of the Lords. They have from the earliest periods resisted, and, I think, rightly resisted any such invasion of their independent action. Will the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin allow me to refer in passing to a passage from a speech which he made on a former occasion with regard to the Bill of 1700, when he invoked, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has again to-night invoked, the authority of Lord Macaulay as being on his side? I have read that remarkable passage, and I find there that Lord Macaulay has laid down the soundest ground with regard to the right of the Commons to grant—but that it is the limited power of the Lords either to take the whole or reject the whole. That is the limit of their power, and, though in the Bill of 1700, a provision was included in the nature of a tack, yet in those good times, so jealous were the Commons of the assertion of their rights, that they insisted on that Act being passed. Lord Macaulay has most graphically described what occurred, and the stops taken to enforce their rights. All the avenues of the House were closed. The Sergeant-at-Arms stood at the door with orders not to allow any Member to leave the House. The House called for a list of Privy Councillors to ascertain those who might counsel the King to veto that Act, and although, according to strict rule, it was not perfectly justifiable on account 1986 of the tack, that Act stands on the statute book, carried by our forefathers in pursuance of what they conceived to be the rightful privileges of this House. As to any invasion of the powers of the Lords, by uniting in one Bill both the imposition and remission of taxes, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) himself contended, and hon. Gentlemen exercised their right in consequence of that contention, that the best mode of discussing this Budget was to discuss it as a whole before the Speaker left the chair. Again, to-night they are exercising their undoubted privilege of discussing this Budget as a whole on the second reading of the Bill. There is no invasion whatever of the privilege of the Lords in so treating and discussing this measure. It is open to the Lords to reject the whole, or, if they think fit, they may alter a part of it; but, according to well-known, principle in Money Bills, altering a portion is equal to the rejection of the whole. The House of Lords cannot take out from the entire Bill a certain portion. They cannot refuse to remit, or refuse to reduce. The time, the manner, and the measure being in our hands, it is sent up for assent or rejection. We do not fetter the power of assenting or rejecting, but we do say they must not partly alter. I do not wish to enter on the invidious subject of the party character of the question; but I must say, if hon. Gentlemen opposite—strong in this House, stronger in the other House—think the time has arrived when confidence should be withdrawn from the Administration, I can conceive no more fair or legitimate opportunity for expressing that opinion than by a rejection of the Budget, cither by throwing out this Bill or altering it, which will have the same effect. But if that great party be not prepared to incur the responsibility of a course so decided, then I say, as good subjects, it behoves them to allow the executive Government to deal with the finances of the year on their responsibility in the manner which shall seem to them most just and expedient. I have heard from a high authority of a sort of hustings cry, promulgated at the Mansion House, "Down with the paper duty, and up with the tea duty." Now, I do not wish to raise an invidious hustings' cry; but if we are to have a hustings' cry—if that fatal issue should be joined, "Up with the House of Lords, and down with the House of Commons;" if that 1987 is to be the issue, I do not think that Gentlemen on this side need be afraid of going to their constituents on that cry, and I am very much mistaken if the power, authority, and ancient usage of the House of Commons would not be confirmed by a large majority of the nation.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the right hon. Gentleman having deprecated all party references on the subject matter in dispute, had ended his most effective speech by what he must say sounded like a party challenge. The right hon. Baronet saw in the distance the hustings of Carlisle, and had flaunted to the breeze the banner under which he elected to fight the coming political battle. Not content with displaying his own banner, the right hon. Gentleman condescended to give the Opposition his advice, which he (the noble Lord) did not think they would be willing to follow on the present occasion. If the Opposition wanted a fair party fight, let them (said the right hon. Gentleman) reject the Budget as a whole, and endeavour to dispossess her Majesty's Government of their seats on the Treasury Bench. But if, on the contrary, they were actuated by merely patriotic or financial considerations—if they only desired to weed the Budget of what they looked upon as objectionable, then the right hon. Baronet called upon them, in the name of their patriotism and their country, to withhold their hands and to submit to that which they believed to be unpatriotic and undesirable. Now that was advice which he (Lord John Manners) thought the party with whom he acted would not be disposed to follow, though coming from the high and venerated authoritity of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had not met the challenge thrown out by his hon. and learned Friend in his singularly able and moderate speech in a satisfactory manner. The challenge was to produce an instance in which the House of Commons had sent back to the House of Lords, annexed to a Bill of Supply, a Bill which the latter had rejected. The right hon. Gentleman answered that he could not mention any instance because he could not discover that the Lords had ever rejected such a Bill as that for the repeal of the paper duty last year. He wished in return to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he had ever heard of any Minister of the Crown sending up such a Bill when the financial affairs of the country were in such a condition? The right hon. Gentleman in effect said that, 1988 there being no precedent, the time had come when one should be made. The right hon. Gentleman, it was true, did not go very deeply into the political or financial circumstances which, in his opinion, justified the invention of a new precedent; but he gave the House to understand that his chief reason for such a proceeding was the laches of Parliamentary leaders since the Reform Act in not providing for the support of the privileges of the House of Commons, by retaining a sufficient hold over the taxation of the country. The right hon. Gentleman gave them a long and elaborate catalogue of the omissions and mistakes which had been made by those who had been in office during that period, and especially by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, the dire result of which had been to leave the House of Commons shorn of their legitimate power over the finances of the country. The right hon. Gentleman now asked them to invent a precedent in order to rectify the blunders of the distinguished men with whom he had served in office during the last quarter of a century. If it were true that in giving up the annual imposition of great masses of revenue they had forfeited any of the just power of the House of Commons, the proper course was to return to that ancient and more legitimate system, and not to seek a remedy for the evil in the establishment of a new precedent, derogatory to the rights and beneficial operation of the other branch of the Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to various precedents, and had quoted the opinion of Lord Macaulay. He had also assumed that from the earliest times there had been but one view of the rights of taxation as appertaining to the House of Commons, and that the Lords had never had a right to express an opinion on that subject. Great authorities, however, such as Mr. Hallam, who took a more dispassionate view of the question than Lord Macaulay, asserted that the very privileges of the House of Commons which were now taken for granted, originated in the fact that in early times the House of Commons granted the Supplies which were to be raised by taxation from the Commons, while the House of Lords granted the Supplies which were to be derived from their own order. He did not know whether the point had been touched upon in the course of the debate; but knowing the extreme impartiality of Hallam in considering those questions he 1989 thought it better to refer to his own words. In the third volume of his Constitutional History, p. 38, Hallam stated as follows:—In our earliest Parliamentary records the Lords and Commons, summoned in a great measure for the sake of relieving the king's necessities, appear to have made their several grants of Supply without mutual communication, and the latter generally in a higher proportion than the former….But in the 22nd year of that reign (Edward III.) the Commons alone granted three-fifteenths of their goods, in such a manner as to show beyond a doubt that the tax was to be levied solely upon themselves.…It is even said by the Court of King's Bench in a yearbook of Edward IV., that a grant of money by the Commons would be binding without assent of the Lords; meaning of course as to commoners only, though the position seems a little questionable even with the limitation. I have been almost led to suspect, by considering this remarkable exclusive privilege of originating grants of money to the Crown, as well as by the language of some passages in the rolls of Parliament relating to them, that no part of the direct taxes, the tenths or fifteenths of goods, were assessed upon the Lords spiritual and temporal, except where they are positively mentioned, which is frequently the case…The originating power as to taxation was thus indubitably placed in the House of Commons, nor did any controversy arise upon that ground. But they maintained also, that the Lords could not make any Amendment whatever in Pills sent up to them for imposing, directly or indirectly, a charge upon the people. There seems no proof that any difference between the two Houses on this score had arisen before the Restoration; and in the Convention Parliament the Lords made several alterations in undoubted Money Bills, to which the Commons did not object.…In April, 1761, however, the Lords having reduced the amount of an imposition on sugar, it was resolved by the other House 'that in all aids given to the King by the Commons, the rate or tax ought not to be altered by the Lords.' This brought on several conferences between the Houses, wherein the limits of the exclusive privilege claimed by the Commons were discussed with considerable ability, and less heat than in the disputes concerning judicature; but as I cannot help thinking with a decided advantage both as to precedent and constitutional analogy on the side of the Peers. If the Commons, as in early times, had merely granted their own money, it would be reasonable that their House should have, as it claimed to have, a fundamental right as to the matter, the measure, and the time. But that the Peers, subject to the same burdens as the rest of the community, and possessing no trifling proportion of the general wealth, should have no other alternative than to refuse a necessary supply to the revenue was an anomaly that could hardly rest on any solid ground. Precedents for establishing such a right were never, in point of fact, made out by the House of Commons.Such was the opinion of Mr. Hallam, whose impartiality and research gave it great weight. Without saying that in the present instance it was necessary to vindicate all the positions taken by Mr. Hallam, he 1990 held that it was impossible to admit the dicta of the right hon. Gentleman without great qualification and reserve.
On the second reading of the Budget Bill he trusted that he might he allowed to travel a little out of the record of constitutional precedents which had been set that evening. It used to he believed, that in determining the financial arrangements of the year, respect should be had to financial considerations, and financial considerations alone, and he was sure that that was the only satisfactory way in which they could be settled. Last year a Budget materially altering taxation was submitted to the House on grounds not purely, or even primarily, financial, but complicated with the politics of Europe and the requirements of a one-sided treaty with France. No just or fair consideration of the various topics involved in that Budget was permitted to either House. He had hoped that they would this year return to the healthier practice of former years, and be allowed to take a complete and extensive view of the various proposals contained in the financial scheme of the Government without reference to extraneous considerations. But he now learned from the right hon. Baronet, as he learned on a former occasion from the hon. and gallant Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne), that such was not to he their privilege, but that they must consider this Budget also upon political and, he might almost say, upon partizan grounds. He should, however, apply himself to the more legitimate view of the question; but in order to arrive at a satisfactory, or indeed, an intelligible conclusion upon that more legitimate view of the question it was necessary that they should arrive at some common language, and should, above all, understand what was meant by the words "deficit" and "surplus." Having listened to the two financial statements of last year and this, he was unable to make out what definite meaning the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself attached to those two words. That which last year was presented to the House in the gloomiest and most alarming colours as a deficit and a chasm was this year held up in the most attractive form as a surplus. The country, which last year was terrified by the prospect of a deficit of £10,000,000, was this year, upon almost the same figures, charmed with the promise of a surplus of £2,000,000. He could not reconcile such inconsistencies; and he confessed, therefore, that he came to the consideration of the financial aspect of 1991 the Budget with very great difficulty and labouring under a very great disadvantage. But assuming, as he was willing to do for the sake of argument, that the figures which were given held out a fair prospect of a surplus, and admitting that there would not be any of those demands on account of China or Wallachia, Syria, America, or the Rhine, which many persons of penetration and discernment anticipated—admitting that nothing which was likely occurred, and that everything which was improbable happened, in what position would the finances of the country be at the end of the year? The right hon. Gentleman claimed a surplus of rather more than £400,000. How was that arrived at, and what results would necessarily flow from it? The sum and substance simply told was—that in order to repeal the duty on paper which was not felt by the people the toiling millions of this country were to be called upon to pay an additional 5d. per lb. upon their tea, or that class which was removed only one degree from the poorest were to pay an additional penny in the pound upon their hard earned and precarious incomes. That was the result of the Budget admitting all the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be correct. Well, under what circumstances and with what recommendation was a Budget of this nature submitted to the favourable consideration of the House? They had been told, indeed, of pledges which had been given to and by that House. He wondered that the word "pledge" did not blister the eloquent tongue that applied or rather misapplied it. He knew of no pledge that at a time of especial difficulty when a surplus was only obtained by increasing the burdens of the people in another direction the paper duty should be repealed. The only pledge the House had ever given was that it was desirable to abolish the duty when a sufficient amount of surplus was obtained which could be made available for the remission. But there were other pledges from which no chicanery or subterfuge could escape, pledges that when the warlike necessity which originated them should be over other taxes should be repealed or diminished. Of this there could be no doubt whatever. But then what were the circumstances under which that improvident repeal of taxes was proposed. They had heard from the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown that in his opinion there was nothing in the aspect of foreign politics which should deter us from making that large and per- 1992 manent reduction in our financial resources. The noble Lord was chary of his reasons. Indeed, he gave none. He gave them his ipse dixit that in his opinion there was nothing in the present, or likely to he in the future, of America or Europe that should lead them to think the Budget was improvident in a financial point of view. Everything that fell from the noble Lord must be received by that House with respectful consideration; but he (Lord John Manners) must confess that he heard that guarded statement of the noble Lord with no little surprise. He could not understand how men endowed with the senses of sight and hearing could fail to see in the aspect of affairs abroad great ground for apprehension—great ground for nervous apprehension—as to what the future might bring forth. Let any man cast his eyes over the trade reports of a single day; let him see how in every great mart of English industry the reports were unfavourable and gloomy; how trade was said to languish in this market and to be lowering in another, and let him back up, if he could, using the best intelligence which God had given him, the sanguine anticipations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that nothing would occur in the course of the financial year which would diminish in any degree the estimated receipts from the Customs and Excise. He (Lord John Manners) for one could not participate in any such sanguine anticipation or expectation; and he did not think it the part of true wisdom to shut one's eyes and ears at "the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely."
But if the circumstances of the present did not fill them with great confidence as to the financial results of the Budget of 1861–2, he asked was the House of Commons justified in sacrificing permanently a great and increasing branch of the revenue without any reference whatever to future years and the contingencies that they might bring forth? He had heard it argued in the course of the present Session, and by high authority, too, that it was the duty of the House of Commons rigorously to shut its eyes to everything that did not apply to the four coiners of the Budget of the year. If such a doctrine was to be accepted, it must be preached, he thought, by those who had not listened as he had to the Budget of 1853. They then had a Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, seated securely in Downing Street, defied the limits of time and space; and sketched out illimitable Budgets for all time to 1993 come. The result of that dealing with the matter was not very satisfactory, or likely to encourage the prophet to similar vaticination for the future; but at any rate the then Chancellor of the Exchequer went into future contingencies, and he gave the House of Commons to understand what would be the result of his then financial proposal in years so distant as 1860. That day, however, they were told that they must refer exclusively to the year 1861–2, and not permit themselves to ramble even for a moment into the year 1862–3, which would be most materially and disadvantageously affected by the Budget of 1861–62. He for one could not consent to play fast and loose with the finances of the country in that blind manner; and he should invite the House to consider for a moment the broad and naked facts as they would be presented in 1862–3. The right hon. Gentleman had given the House the main figures of his Revenue for the ensuing year. He assumed that the events of the year would not be prejudicial to the finances; and, assuming that, and that the figures of the right hon. Gentleman were correct, the estimated Revenue for the year 1862–3 would be £71,823,000. That included an income tax bringing in £11,200,000; war duty on tea and sugar, £2,200,000; China money, £750,000; all terminating with the financial year, 1861–2:—altogether, £14,400,000. Deductingthat£14,000,000 from the £71,823,000 of estimated Revenue, there remained £57,423,000 as the permanent reliable Revenue of the year. Well, then, the right hon. Gentleman had given the House the estimated expenditure of the year. That was, in round numbers, £70,000,000. Deducting the permanent Revenue which would he at his disposal at the commencement of the year 1862–3, there would remain a deficit of, in round numbers, £12,000,000. Well, how was it likely that that deficit of £12,000,000 would be supplied? The right hon. Gentleman might say that he calculated on great reductions of taxation during the next twelve months. They had heard grandiloquent but grave charges against the extravagant expenditure of the House and the country, He supposed the intention of the right hon. Gentleman was to lead the House to a belief that it was the intention of the Government greatly to reduce the expenditure of the country during the coming year. Having watched the proceedings of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government for some 1994 time, however, he could not believe that there was any serious intention of very greatly reducing the expenditure of the country. Last year the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking of the enormous expenditure, which now seemed to be our normal condition, gave good reasons why no great reduction of expenditure could be reasonably anticipated in a short time. The right hon. Gentleman remarked—I may at once venture to state frankly that I am not satisfied with the state of the public expenditure and the rapid rate of its growth. I trust, therefore, that we mean in a great degree to retrace our steps. The process of retracing our steps in such a matter, however, even were it resolved upon and begun, is one which must necessarily he gradual; for if it be not pursued with circumspection and with caution it will serve but to aggravate the very evils which it may he intended to remove. I assume, therefore, whether the Committee concurs with the Government in the expediency of the Estimates which they have submitted or are about to submit to the House or whether it does not, that you can effect no radical change in the scale of that expenditure on which you have now for a series of years embarked—no radical change, I mean, applicable to the operations of the present year, or to the provision you will have to make for filling up the gap which yawns before you, and which is represented by the figures £9,400,000. The real question with which we have to deal is whether we ought upon this occasion to say our necessities are great, our means too narrow to enable us to effect any commercial reforms."—[3 Hansard, clvi. 820.]That passage he (Lord John Manners) believed to contain sound sense and sound logic; and, therefore, he thought he had not misstated the right hon. Gentleman in assuming that they would not see in 1862–3 any very considerable diminution of expenditure. But admitting, for the sake of the argument, that £1,000,000 might be knocked off, that would still leave a deficit next year of not less than £11,000,000. Was it, then, reasonable to expect that that £11,000,000 would be made up by any other than that objectionable and obnoxious impost, the income and property tax? For after the feeling which had been manifested by the country on the subject of the war duty on tea and sugar, he believed that the House would agree with him that it was highly probable that the right hon. Gentleman would not again care to undertake the odium and unpopularity of fastening those obnoxious duties on the great mass of the consumers of the country. He would, therefore, almost necessarily, have to fall back upon that which be had even already hinted he regarded with no special ill-feeling, a shilling income tax, And thus, as a direct and 1995 necessary consequence of the Budget with regard to which they were asked to confine themselves to the mere exigencies of the year, hon. Members would find they had imposed on the country it might be for all time to come the odious blister of a shilling income tax, and that for the sake of repealing duties which it was admitted were not felt by any class of Her Majesty's subjects. Was it possible that there were Members in that House who might even calculate on the irritation which so odious an infliction would necessarily create? There might be some who thought—indeed, it had almost been avowed elsewhere—that by establishing an enormous system of direct taxation the country would be roused to such a pitch of irritation or indignation that the maintenance of those enormous armaments which were the primary cause of the immense expenditure would be rendered absolutely impossible. He believed he had not been misrepresenting certain hon. Gentlemen in that House when he said that such was their avowed creed in matters of finance. Was it, therefore, to be supposed that they who believed that those armaments were not excessive, who voted them on the authority and recommendation of Her Majesty's Government in the full belief that they were not extravagant and not incommensurate with the wants and necessities of the land, should fall into that system of taxation which was supported and commended on the very ground that it would necessitate an enormous reduction in the very armaments which they did not believe to be excessive, but which they fully believed to be necessary? Hoc Ithacas velit, et magno mercentur Atridæ. But he and those who agreed with him could not agree that this was a proper engine to be applied to the reduction of the armaments that were necessary to the safety of the country. His hon. and learned Friend who opened this debate went so fully into the constitutional question raised by the mode in which the Budget had been framed that it was not necessary for him now to criticize the form and framework of the Budget. It had been admitted it had been so framed with the express object of preventing any declaration by the House of Lords on the various propositions contained in it. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman kindly permitted the Upper House to exercise its undoubted privilege, and to reject, if it saw fit, his whole Budget. But it could not have entered 1996 into the contemplation of the Government so to frame their Budget that the House of Lords would reject it altogether. The object was, therefore, clear and patent—namely, to prevent the House of Lords from considering one particular element in the Budget which had found so little favour in the country, and had so nearly escaped the condemnation of the House of Commons. Such being the real issue, it being the intention of Government to prevent the House of Lords from expressing any opinion on the paper duty, to feed fat the grudge the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his allies below the gangway on the same side of the House, against the House of Lords, for having saved them from the disastrous consequences of their improvidence last year—such being the admitted, the avowed intention, he thought it would have been much more open and manly if the right hon. Gentleman, and the hon. Member for Birmingham, instead of slinking behind the pretext of wounded dignity and inventing a quarrel which had no existence in reality, had boldly avowed their intention, and had said, "We think the price is not too great to give for the repeal of the paper duty; we are of opinion that it is worth the while of the toiling millions to pay 5d. a pound more on their tea than they would otherwise do in order to repeal this paper duty, and, at the same time, to avenge ourselves upon the House of Lords for their conduct towards us on the same subject last year."
Turning, however, from those general considerations to the question as it affected the duty at issue itself, he must say that he had listened with some considerable interest, as they always did, to the very animated speech in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied to the arguments of the hon. Member for Liverpool, or rather anticipated him. The right hon. Gentleman, following a precedent that he could not but think inconvenient, introduced to the notice of the House some specimens of a new manufacture of paper which he wished hon. Members to understand would be brought into extensive and beneficial use if the paper duties were remitted, There was nothing too extravagant for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say in favour of the particular manufacture which for the moment attracted his favourable attention. He told the House that it was a material stronger than iron, cheaper than lead, impervious to wet and weather; it was to combine every excellence that 1997 iron, lead, and nearly every tiling else, were supposed to possess, until he concluded it to be the right hon. Gentleman's intention, if the paper duty were abolished, to introduce this new material into our dockyards, in order to clothe our ships with garments of this impenetrable stuff, and, in short, to effect by this great invention those enormous savings in the cost of our armaments which the right hon. Gentleman declared to be necessary. He thought this system of advertising particular inventions was neither consistent with the dignity of the House nor the greatness of the subject they were now discussing. They had seen the thing done before without any great good arising from it, and his firm persuasion was, that if the House of Commons, in spite of the paper pipes which the right hon. Gentleman had brandished in their faces, would have the good sense, the courage, and the firmness, to do for themselves this year what the House of Lords had had the good sense, the courage, and the firmness to do for them last year, they would take a course which would not jeopardise that great manufacture that was likely to spring from the use of paper, He did not know whether it would be worth while to pursue the argument further, but it was matter for the consideration of those who advocated cheap paper—whether, if the material was to he put to these extraordinary and hitherto unimagined uses paper would not be increased, rather than diminished in price, unless there was a great increase in the raw material. If paper were to be turned into pipes, and camion, and ships, there would be all the less for the purposes to which it was at present devoted; and he submitted that to the consideration of those who contended that there was nothing else to be compared with the repeal, total and immediate, of the harmless Excise duty on paper.
The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had indeed told them in one part of his speech that the duty on paper was a retrograde duty; but in a short space he saw reason to depart from that argument, and he proved conclusively that, whatever might be the circumstances of the country or the condition of the seasons, the paper duty must go on increasing. He should be glad to know on which of these arguments the right hon. Gentleman proposed to rely. He understood that the argument which was most in favour was that the paper duties were retrograde, or at least sta- 1998 tionary. But let him (Lord John Manners) show what had been the rise and fall of some of the Excise duties during the last twenty-nine years. Some of them might fairly be called failing duties. One of the greatest of those duties was that of malt. In the year 1831 malt produced £5,036,667. In 1858, in spite of the improvements in the manufacture of beer, and in spite of the increase of population, malt produced only £5,592,624. But the paper duty which produced, in 1831, £723,247, produced in 1858, £1,281,022. In 1836 malt produced £5,699,878; and in 1858 only £5,592,624: while paper went on increasing. In 1836 the paper duty was £841,131; in 1859 it produced £1,281,623; in 1860 it produced £1,451,258; and in 1861 it produced £1,652,825; while the Customs' duty on foreign paper had absolutely trebled, and the consumption of foreign paper quadrupled within the last three years. The policy of the House within the last few years—he would not stay then to discuss whether that policy was right or wrong, wise or unwise—had been to abolish numerous Excise and Customs' duties, and the result had been that the indirect taxation of the country had been made to rest on comparatively few articles. Every fresh duty that was altogether repealed must, therefore, have the effect of riveting still more firmly round the necks of the taxpayers those duties that were left. The result, then, of repealing the comparatively innocuous duty on paper must be to prevent those remissions of other Excise duties that in the opinion of the House had a preferable claim for reduction over the paper duty. There were few either in that House or the country who would say that, apart from those extraneous political considerations, which ought not to he regarded in discussing financial questions, the paper duty was so much more obnoxious than any other duty now left on the statute book that it ought, on account of its own defects, to have the priority in respect of remission. It had been said that foreigners stood to us in the relation of posterity. Perhaps the House would allow him to quote a few lines from a well-known writer on the other side of the Channel on this subject. In the Journal des Débats this writer said,—There are various ways of employing a surplus, and that selected by Mr. Gladstone has given rise to universal discontent. Discipline and party tics, always so powerful in England, overcome every other consideration, but it must have cost many a Liberal Member a severe struggle to 1999 vote in favour of such a measure. Looking at the question on its merits, no doubt can be entertained that the decision of the House should have been the reverse of what it was. In England the consumer of sugar, but especially of tea, means all the world, and, above all, the poorest classes. The paper duty, on the contrary, does not affect the majority of the nation; its abolition will only benefit the Radical journals. Is that a decision the public ought to be satisfied with?Notwithstanding what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he seemed to treat with contumely the expression of public opinion through the medium of petitions, he must express his belief that the petitions presented to the House afforded a fair opportunity of judging what the feeling of the country was; and if hon. Members would refer to the papers which had been sent to them that morning, they would see that the numbers of the petitions and of the signatures in favour of the financial proposition of the Government were infinitely short of the numbers of those who condemned and deplored it. If they looked to the places from which the respective petitions came they would still less doubt the character of the popular feeling. The right hon. Member for Carlisle seemed anxious to make that a great party struggle. He, for one, should deeply deplore such result. His side of the House had shown, all through the present Session, every disposition to support the Government and maintain them in place. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, he was sure, could not have forgotten a certain memorable evening when, attacked from behind with a vigour seldom excelled in that House, he owed his safety to the defence and support that came from the Conservative side of the House. Those Gentlemen who supported Her Majesty's Government might have forgotten the occasion to which he referred; but Her Majesty's Government would not doubt or dispute the position which he laid down, that upon that occasion and others a frank and cordial support had been tendered to them from the Conservative side of the House. Therefore, he for one did not share in the wish that seemed to be entertained by the light hon. Gentleman, the Member for Carlisle, that the future discussions on this Budget should be carried on in a spirit of political partizanship. Far from being actuated by such a feeling, the Conservative side had shown a lofty constitutional spirit on many occasions, and when deserted by the Govern- 2000 ment—who might be said to have during the Session normally abdicated their functions—had shown their power and their determination to resist extreme Liberalism. But they never bad an occasion presented to them that was more important than the present—never was there an occasion when it more behoved the House of Commons to refuse its assent to the attempt then made to sacrifice to the exigencies of party alike the financial safety and the constitutional rights of the country. The Conservative party then said to the Government—"We have given to your Budget that careful, minute, and impartial consideration which the importance of the subject demands, and we find in it the unmistakeable signs of a political origin and a fatal disregard to the best interests of the Exchequer. Therefore, more in sorrow than in anger," we say to the right hon. Gentleman, "take back your Budget, and reserving for times of more undoubted surplus, and for more halcyon days, your glowing visions of theoretical finance, and substitute for it a scheme which will satisfy the just requirements of the people and maintain unimpaired the financial resources and the credit of the country."
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, that notwithstanding the industry and ability of the hon. and learned Member for Sligo, he had fallen into an error not unfrequent with those who had a difficult cause to conduct. He had taken an undoubted doctrine and endeavoured to apply it to circumstances to which it was utterly inapplicable. In the first of the instances which he had cited an attempt was made to tack to a Bill of taxation a Bill against occasional conformity. That Bill was regarded by a strong party as prejudicial to the interests of the religion of the country, but an attempt to force such a measure upon the House of Peers by a tack to a financial Bill was compared by the hon. Gentleman in the exigency of his argument to the union of a Bill for repealing the paper duty with other financial measures. An interest stronger than might have been anticipated had been awakened among certain politicians by the question of the paper duties, but he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had never yet heard that it was supposed to affect the interests of religion. The next attempt at tacking, referred to by the hon. Member, was that by which it sought to render the Long Parliament indissoluble. It scarcely required any argument to show how inapplicable such a 2001 precedent was to the present question; but he could promise the hon. Member that if any attempt of that nature were made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Members on that side of the House would be quite ready to aid in defeating him. The third instance cited, was the Bill with regard to the malt duties, in 1807, to which was tacked a clause for legalizing Exchequer Bills; but that was in effect a measure for the benefit of individuals who happened to hold bills which were previously illegal. The case was exceedingly like one mentioned by Lord Macaulay, and also relied on by the hon. Member for Sligo, in which a clause for remitting the money due from the Duke of Ormond to the Crown was tacked to a Bill of Supply. In the course of the discussions on that occasion, a threat was uttered that the next "tack" would be for the attainder of some of those Peers who had opposed the measure, and this unjustifiable threat Lord Macaulay had emphatically and most properly condemned. But even from the most energetic supporters of the Government proposals he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had heard no indications of an intention to propose that to the Paper Duty Repeal Bill should he tacked a clause for the attainder of my Lords Derby and Monteagle. The hon. and learned Gentleman also argued that the House of Commons ought not to include in the same Bill a repeal and a grant of taxes; but the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) had given instance after instance where such a course had been pursued by this House. There could be no doubt that the House had a perfectly constitutional light to combine in one Bill as many provisions relating to taxation as it might think fit, provided that it did not annex to such a Bill anything that was foreign to or different from taxation or Supply. So long as the Bill dealt solely with taxation, it might extend to any length; and in one ease, in the time of Sir Robert Peel, the continuance, repeal, and alteration of Customs' duties were all included in one Act, and those new Customs' regulations filled several pages of the quarto edition of the statutes. The hon. and learned Gentle man bad alluded to the standing order of the House of Lords; but he would ask, was there anything in its nature "foreign to and different from" taxation in the present Bill? The form of this measure was justified, not only by precedent, but also 2002 by reason and expediency. It was because it was necessary to give a general view of the finances of the country that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was obliged to make annually a comprehensive financial statement, so as to enable the House of Commons to decide on his proposals as to continuing, remitting, altering, and imposing taxes. The intimate connection of the various matters embraced in this Bill was clearly shown by the course of the proceedings in the Committee of Ways and Means. Though the Resolution as to the tea duties had been separately proposed, and it might have been technically more correct to confine the discussion on that Resolution to tea; this question was so mixed up with that of the paper duty, that the debate had turned as much on the latter as on the former. And when a division had been taken on the tea duties, although the paper duty Resolution was adjourned to a subsequent evening, yet the decision on the tea duties was felt so completely to have settled the question of paper duty (so far as respected the stage of the Committee of Ways and Means), that on that subsequent evening, when the paper duty Resolution was adopted, there was little debate, and there was no division. How, then, could it be otherwise than reasonable and expedient to comprise in one Bill matters thus naturally and necessarily mixed up in discussion and decision? Again, the necessity for the course taken by Government would be seen on referring to the Resolutions adopted last year, and still more from a paragraph in the draft report of the right hon. Member for Cambridge, on which those Resolutions were based. It was there laid down that in order to preserve the power of this House over Supply taxes might be granted annually, and the different parts of the Budget included in one Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, in the course of the debate last Session, said—I now come, Sir, to the second method of defending our rights suggested by my right hon. Friend, and I take it, adopted in the Resolution—that is, by insisting that the whole of our financial scheme shall be embodied in one Bill. We do not—at least, I for one and the Prime Minister for another—do not question the right of the House of Lords to reject such a Bill; but of course the responsibility of such a step would, under these circumstances, be greatly enhanced, and the difficulty of disturbing the financial arrangements of the House of Commons proportionately increased. For my own part, Sir, I have no objection to such a course; I should have liked, for example, that 2003 that course should have been pursued this year; I should have liked to have had the whole scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in one Bill; I should have liked to have seen the additional two-pence of income tax set down in the same Bill that was to repeal the duties on paper. [3 Hansard, clix. 1491.]He hoped hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, who might have an intention of joining in the objections urged to this Bill, would weigh the passage in the speech which he had just read before they finally determined to oppose a principle of which the right hon. Gentleman last year expressed his approval, and which this year the Government had adopted. To send up again to the House of Lords a proposal to repeal the paper duties in a separate Bill would be proceeding entirely in contradiction to the Resolutions of last year, in which they unanimously claimed for the House of Commons the right to determine the matter, the manner, the measure, and the time of taxation. By a separate Bill for repealing the paper duty this House would commit to the discretion of the Lords three of the four subjects, the rightful control over which it then resolved to be in itself only; the manner, by leaving to them to alter the proportion fixed by this House of indirect to direct taxation; the matter by leaving to them the continuance of a tax, here thought needless, on an important manufacture; the measure, by leaving to them to increase the total amount of the year's revenue. The Government could not have proposed such a course without disrespect to the House, and the House itself could not have acquiesced in it without a deliberate abandonment of its own most precious privileges.
§ MR. ROLT
said, he did not think it would be time altogether lost, if, starting from the assumption made by hon. Gentlemen that there was no constitutional objection to the power proposed to be exercised by this House of sending up to the House of Lords a Bill embracing the entire financial scheme of the Government for the year, he inquired whether it would be wise, just, or expedient to adopt that course in the present instance, and send up the Bill before them in its present form? What, upon that assumption, was the sum of the arguments urged that night in favour of that course? Those arguments amounted to this—first, that it was usual, or at all events not unusual, to send up in one Bill proposals to repeal taxes of one class and to grant taxes of an- 2004 other; secondly, that it was necessary, or at least convenient, for the Finance Minister to lay his whole scheme before Parliament in one Bill, and to take its opinion upon it as a single measure; thirdly, and he was surprised to hear it so laid down by the right hon. Member for Carlisle—that the course adopted by the House of Lords last year in respect to the Paper Duty Repeal Bill, even admitting that course to have been within their competence, was such as to justify the House of Commons not only in sending up such a measure again, but in joining it with all the other financial measures.
In the first place, having attended to the instances which had been cited, and having that day looked through the Finance Acts of the first twenty years of this century, he ventured to say that the Bill now before them was unusual in its form. Of course, no one insisted that it was the practice to bring in separate Bills for the grant or continuance of every distinct tax. It happens, indeed, sometimes that a Customs' duty and an Inland Revenue duty may be imposed by the same Act. Nay, further, during the period over which he had looked he had found eighteen or twenty instances in as many years of the repeal of a tax and the grant of a tax in the same Act. But, if they went through the statute book, they would discover a unity, a tie, a connection between the repeal of the old and the grant of the new tax. In the large majority of cases the method was this—that certain taxes were repealed, and in lieu thereof, and because of the repeal thereof other taxes were imposed. But the precedent which they were now in search for was one of a wholly different kind. What they wanted was an instance in which that House, having asserted that there was a surplus to be applied in the repeal of taxes, for which nothing was to be substituted, had tied to that voluntary repeal of a tax the continuance or modification of an ancient tax. By far the great majority of such cases between 1800 and 1820 related either to the repeal of a small tax and the grant of a larger one on the same subject, or to the repeal and modification of a certain class of taxation affecting Ireland or Scotland, or affecting a certain description of goods coming from a particular country. It was vain, therefore, to say that those instances went to the establishment of an usage making it common, necessary, or useful to adopt the scheme proposed on that occasion—namely, to 2005 repeal, on the ground that they had a surplus, an Excise duty, and to modify or continue existing duties of various kinds, which have no connection with the duty repealed. Assuming, then, as contended on the other side, that the House had the right and the power to do that, if they proceeded to justify such a course as being an usual one, he denied that it was usual, and said that all the instances cited, when closely examined, failed to sanction it. Throughout our legislation, it will be found that where there was one Act granting duties the next chapter in the statute book was one repealing a duty; showing that it was usual to repeal in one Act and grant in another; and it was only when particular reasons tied the two processes together, that they were coupled in the same measure.
Next, as to its being convenient that the Finance Minister should lay before Parliament and send up to the House of Lords his whole scheme comprised in one Bill, and so to declare that he would stand or fall by the whole as one measure, that was not the first occasion on which within his brief Parliamentary experience he had heard a Chancellor of the Exchequer declare that he would stand by his scheme in its entirety, and regard any material modification of it as amounting to its total rejection. Yet the Minister had never before found it indispensable to embody the whole plan in one Bill. Clearly that was not necessary as far as that House was concerned; for, thank Heaven! they at least had the liberty in Committee to deal with the scheme part by part, according to their judgment of its merits, whatever might be the wishes of the Minister. Neither was it true that that was the only shape in which the Government could convey to the other House that they desired their plan to he accepted or rejected as a whole. They had their organs in the House of Lords, who could give that assembly to understand that, although sent up in several private Bills, their proposals were to be treated, as far as the Government was concerned, as one and indivisible. On the ground of convenience, then, there was no sufficient reason for adopting a measure in the present form.
He would pass from those considerations to that which he believed was the substantial argument upon this occasion—the conduct of the House of Lords in the last Session—whether that conduct had been such as to justify the departure from the usual 2006 course, as the Bill undoubtedly did. Upon that part of the argument he took his stand, as did hon. Gentlemen opposite, upon the Resolutions of last year. The first of these Resolutions declared that it was for the House of Commons to grant Supplies, and to limit the time, manner, and extent of taxation. He quite adopted that view, and would go as far as who wont farthest on the point; but with the qualification that this grant and limitation should be with the assent of the other branch of the Legislature. The second Resolution was to the effect that that House would look with jealousy upon the rejection by the House of Lords of any Bill relating to taxation. In that Resolution he most cordially agreed. And was it not the fact that the House did look with jealousy upon any such rejection, and had they not done so last Session? But after jealously examining that conduct on the part of the House of Lords did the House of Commons come to the conclusion that it was a "gigantic innovation;" or did it adopt the views expressed in the statesmanlike speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he said that the House of Lords having seen the majority in the House of Commons decrease to nine, and, looking at coming events, were justified in acting upon what they deemed large considerations of policy, and not mere considerations of finance, and were entitled to urge that they had rejected the Bill upon broad grounds of public policy? The House negatived the idea that it was a "gigantic innovation," and affirmed that it was a due exercise of a legitimate power. It" that were so, had the occasion arrived when it became necessary for the House of Commons so to manage their legislation as to prevent the other House from exercising their inherent power by sending back the same measure in a different shape to that in which last year the House of Lords dealt with it, and exercised, as that House had decided, a discretion within the limits of their power? ["No!"] He maintained that the House had so decided. There were Amendments proposed, but they were withdrawn; and, although they were told that the matter would be heard of again, both in that House and in the country, and their table be loaded with petitions, yet they had heard nothing more of it unless, indeed, in the shape of thanks to the House of Lords for having wisely acted in determining whether the tax should be repeal- 2007 ed. Those reasons induced him to think that it was neither a wise nor expedient course to send up the Bill again in such a shape as would preclude the House of Lords from exercising their undoubted privilege. He was desirous and determined to maintain the privileges of that House; but those privileges were claimed and extorted at a time when danger was apprehended for the liberties and rights of the Commons; but no one would now say that those liberties were in danger from the despotism of either the monarchy or the aristocracy. There was a danger, indeed, which had been pointed out last Session, in the debate upon the conduct of the House of Lords, by the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman); but that danger was from the despotism of democracy, and the Bill, if passed, would have the effect of striking a blow at that power of resistance which the Constitution afforded to all ill-considered measures tending to give greater force to the democratic over other elements of the State. If the past conduct of the House of Lords was to be openly avowed as the reason for sending back the Bill of last Session in the shape it was now proposed, many hon. Gentlemen opposite would, he was sure, not give their support to it. He trusted that before the Bill left the House there would be an opportunity afforded for expressing their opinions by vote whether it should be sent to the other House in its present shape or not. The Bill contained many matters differing in themselves, and he could only regard it as intended to assert a triumph of that House over the coordinate branch of the Legislature, and to promote and facilitate at the same time direct taxation in place of indirect taxation; and, if that were so, he did not believe the House would think it was a wise or expedient course to pursue.
§ MR. COLLIER
said, he quite agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate that a very important constitutional question was at stake—a question of greater importance than the mere subtraction of £650,000 of revenue or the retention of the present Government in power. It involved the question whether they should maintain inviolate the ancient right of the House of Commons to an exclusive control over the taxation of the country. He had hoped that the discussion upon the Budget would have been conducted without allusion to the controversy with the House of Lords; but as it 2008 had been imported into the debate he should not shrink from that question. He maintained that the course which had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the only course open to the House if they were determined to maintain their privileges and at the same time to avoid a collision with the House of Lords. It was the only course open after the Resolutions passed in the previous Session with the unanimous consent of both sides of the House. He admitted the rights of the House of Lords were as important to the Constitution as those of the House of Commons, but the House of Commons was bound to maintain its own, and by the proposed proceeding it was doing no more. In the previous Session they sent up to the House of Lords a Budget, one main provision of which was the repeal of the paper duty, and another the increase of the income tax. The House of Lords undertook to revise and amend the Budget upon purely financial grounds, accepting so much as increased the income tax, and rejecting so much as repealed the paper duty. That was a course which the House of Lords had never taken before—and he was entitled to say it struck hon. Gentlemen opposite as strange and unusual, for if it were not strange and unusual why did they agree to the Motion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government for a Committee to search for precedents, a proceeding never taken except when grave questions arose? That Committee reported, and in a debate which took place he (Mr. Collier) went through every one of the reported precedents, maintaining, as he still maintained, that there was not a single case of the House of Lords ever having rejected a taxing Bill upon purely financial grounds, though they had rejected such Bills on some principle of general policy. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) could not point out a single precedent; nor could the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), though he placed the privileges of the House of Lords higher than the Lords did themselves, and spoke more disparagingly, he might say more contemptuously of the House of Commons than any statesman in living memory. He could not find a precedent; nay, he admitted that the proceeding was new, and compared it to a new process, set up within the Constitution, to counteract a disease, that disease being the growing power of 2009 the House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman really thought its power "had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished," no process was more calculated to effect that result than that it should abandon its privilege as to Money Bills. If it abandoned that right, and a few others which the right hon. Gentleman would probably deem equally unimportant, such for example as the freedom of debate, the House of Commons would gradually be reduced to the degree of importance the right hon. Gentleman might think befitted it. But the House last year affirmed the noble Lord's Resolutions. It considered they contained a protest against the course of the House of Lords, and maintained the principle that a Resolution of the House of Commons in Committee of Ways and Means was final and conclusive. This principle was long ago laid down by Blackstone; he said, a Resolution of a Committee of Ways and Means had always been so conclusive that any man might advance money on the faith of it. But it was impossible that Blackstone could have so written if the House of Lords had ever in his time dealt with a Budget as they had done with that of the last year. The third of the Resolutions of last year reserved inviolate the right of the Commons to the control of all taxation. That was accepted by the right hon. Member for Bucks, who also approved the suggestion that the Douse should hereafter, to avoid a collision, place all the provisions of the Budget in a single Bill. Having accepted that Resolution, hon. Gentlemen opposite could not say it was unconstitutional to act upon it. The hon. and learned Member who opened the debate had based his argument on the total misconception of the meaning of a "tack." The precedent of 1702, that gave occasion to the Resolution in the House of Lords on the subject of "tacks," was a Bill of Supply granted to the Crown from two sources—the land-tax in England, and the forfeited estates in Ireland. The objection of the Lords was not to these two provisions of the Bill; but a third provision was added to it, making the Commissioners appointed under the Act to carry it into effect disqualified from sitting in Parliament. The ground of the Lord's objection was a constitutional one. They said if the qualification of Members to sit in Parliament was a thing proper to be meddled with at all, it should be done by a distinct Bill; and that the House of Commons had joined to a Money 2010 Bill something totally different from it; on that ground they condemned the Bill. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer should attach to a Money Bill a clause distributing the vacant scats for Sudbury and St. Albans, or to remove the Bishops from the House of Lords, that would be a "tack," which meant adding to a Money Bill something that did not relate to money; but any provision that related to money was not a "tack." The hon. and learned Member for Sligo asserted that there had been no instance of a "tack" since 1807. That was true, and he (Mr. Collier) took advantage of that admission, for the House had since then often placed together many different provisions relating to money; these different provisions, therefore, according to the hon. Member's own showing did not constitute a "tack." But without going through all the precedents he would call attention to one that had not been quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Sligo; probably it had not escaped his research, but it might not have been convenient to allude to it. It was the precedent of a Bill of 1695. The first and second Resolutions referred to the establishment of a National Land Bank, the third took the duty off coals and culm, the fourth referred to the tonnage dues on shipping, another provided for raising money on the salt tax. A Bill was founded on these Resolutions; instructions were then given to the person who drew the Bill for the continuance of some of the provisions. That addition was agreed to by the Lords. It never occurred to the Lords then to object to the course taken by the Commons. Numbers of such precedents might be adduced, but it was enough to refer to the gigantic precedent, as it was rightly termed, established by Mr. Pitt's Budget in 1787. The title of the Act then passed was—An Act for repealing the several duties of Customs and Excise, and granting other duties in lieu thereof, and for applying the said duties, together with other duties, composing the public revenue; for permitting the importation of certain goods, wares, and merchandize, the produce of the European dominions of the French King into this kingdom; and for applying certain unclaimed monies, remaining in the Exchequer for the payment of annuities on lives to the reduction of the national debt.Three or four thousand Resolutions relating to the Commercial Treaty with France to the imposing and repealing of taxes, and to all manner of financial provisions, were then included in one Bill, and upon the 2011 division—that being the solitary division which could be found upon the question—the Ministry were sustained in their course by a large majority. The Bill on that occasion contained a combination of financial provisions compared with which the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman was insignificant. As to the precedent of 1807 which had been referred to it made in favour of the present Bill instead of against it. There the Bill contained a provision on a doubtful question of law relating to the signing of Exchequer bills along with certain financial provisions; and it was rejected by the Lords on account of the legal point involved in it, not because it joined together different financial provisions. That was shown in 1808, when the same financial provisions joined together in the same Bill passed without dissent or protest, the title of the Act being—An Act for continuing to His Majesty certain duties on malt, sugar, tobacco, and snuff; and on pensions and offices in England; and for repealing so much of certain Acts as relate to certain duties of 6d. and 1s. on offices and Pensions, and for re-granting the said duties of 6d. and 1s., and the said other duties, for the service of the year 1808.According to the hon. and learned Gentleman such combination was a gross violation of the privileges of the House of Lords. But no such argument ever occurred to the Lords themselves. Further the same Act which was passed in 1808 was passed annually till 1822; and, though some of the taxes were made perpetual, the same course was pursued with respect to the others till the year 1836. He wanted to understand the argument on the other side. Was it meant to be said that it was improper and unconstitutional to place in the same Act any two provisions relating to matters of taxation? Then was the Act joining sugar and pensions clearly wrong. But if two provisions were joined, was it unconstitutional to join three or four? Where did the line begin? The truth was that the House of Commons had always dealt with the Budget in the manner most convenient to themselves. They bad discontinued, it might be said, for thirty years, the habit of placing a number of financial provisions in the same Bill, but they had done so, not on the ground of any privilege on the part of the House of Lords, but simply for their own convenience, and they would never have disused the practice if they could have foreseen that the 2012 House of Lords would have acted as they did in 1860. But then it was said, "Having disused this right why do you now resume it?" The answer was, that the Commons resumed it in order to meet an interference by the Lords with their exclusive control over taxation such as had never been attempted before; and if it was said that the Lords had exercised a right which was legal, and therefore constitutional, his answer again was that the right of the Commons to join different financial provisions together in one Bill was also a legal and, therefore, a constitutional one. Admitting, however, that a legal right might be to some extent controlled by constitutional usage, how did the case stand then? With regard to the Act now complained of, the Commons had not used their rights for thirty years, while against the House of Lords the usage of some 600 years might be alleged. On these grounds he contended that the course proposed of placing all the main provisions of the Budget together in one Bill was legal, constitutional, in conformity with precedent, and in conformity also with the Resolution always adopted on the report of Resolutions agreed to in Committee of Ways and Means—namely, that the Budget should be placed in a Bill or Bills. There could be no meaning in such a direction unless it were a matter of choice to the House which course they would adopt. But it was contended that it was not, under the circumstances, convenient or expedient to adopt this course. He knew they had been told by the Earl of Derby, in a speech which he delivered at the Mansion House—in which he took occasion to lecture the House of Commons on the general impropriety of its conduct—that the House of Lords would be moderate; that he (the Earl of Derby) would be moderate; that probably if they sent the paper duty up to the House of Lords in a single Bill they would not again reject it, but would be satisfied to repose on their laurels of last year. But he (Mr. Collier) would not trust the privileges of that House to the moderation of the Earl of Derby. He would not trust the moderation of a man who had so little self-control as to be unable to restrain himself at a civic banquet from indulging in a tirade against the House of Commons and in a personal attack upon an absent Minister. The House were bound by their Resolution of the previous year to take the course proposed, unless, indeed, they were prepared to hear it said 2013 of them that, having unanimously passed a Resolution asserting their lights, and protesting against interference, they had neither the constitutional right nor the courage to apply it practically. If they did not pass the Paper Duty Abolition Bill in that shape, they would be acknowledging a defeat such as the House of Commons had never sustained, and they would not be insisting as they ought to insist on their exclusive control over taxation. He ventured to appeal to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The time was when the Tories considered themselves no less the guardians of the privileges of that House than the Whigs. He called upon Gentlemen on both sides who desired no triumph for that House, who sought to inflict on the Lords neither defeat nor humiliation, but were only determined to maintain their own rights—he called on them now to settle this question, which if not settled would inevitably beget angry feeling between two branches of the Legislature, whom all desired to see acting in harmony, and in the end be productive of serious injury to the Constitution.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman has recommended the House to adopt a conciliatory course, which I understand to be just this—that so long as the Lords do everything we desire them to do we shall entertain great respect for them; but whenever they venture to exercise an independent judgment we must take care that they shall be deprived of the opportunity of doing so again. The hon. and learned Gentleman has impeached the Earl of Derby for a speech delivered on a festive occasion, upon which I shall content myself with observing that, if the noble Earl were hero to answer for himself, I have little doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman would come off second in the encounter. The hon. and learned Gentleman, differing from the hon. Baronet, said that the House of Lords, in rejecting the Bill last year, did an unconstitutional act. Now, I have a sincere respect for the hon. and learned Gentleman, but he knows as well as I do that the Nestor of the House of Lords has framed an argument on that subject which I have never yet found anybody to answer, whether in regard to history, precedent, or logic; and I confess, therefore, I was surprised to find a member of the bar, after that learned argument, hazard an opinion that the House of Lords had no right to do what they did on that 2014 occasion. What was the argument of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham)? He candidly admitted that the House of Lords had a right to do what they had done; but when he admitted that he failed to observe that be had admitted a great deal against himself. He next proceeded to urge the right of the House of Commons to so frame its measures as to prevent the other House doing again what they had a right to do—not a very constitutional or moral argument. It amounted to this—what you cannot do directly you may contrive to do indirectly. The right hon. Baronet was obliged, by his knowledge of history and the Constitution, to admit the right of the Lords to deal with a Bill repealing taxation; yet at the same time this constitutional expositor of the law recommended the House of Commons so to frame their measures that the Lords would not have it in their power to exert their admitted rights again. Not a very conclusive argument. The precedent of Mr. Pitt has been quoted with reference to the negotiation of the French Treaty. An attempt was made to sever the two questions—the consolidation of the Customs and the negotiation of that treaty. The Motion failed in the House of Commons, and was attempted in the House of Lords. Now, why did it fail? The right hon. Gentleman was obliged to go back to 1787, for really there has been no precedent in favour of the view taken by the right hon. Baronet since that date, in 1787 Mr. Fox was of opinion that the two measures ought to have been divided. What was the answer given by Mr. Grenville—when it was asserted in the House of Commons, "You are preventing the House of Lords giving a deliberate opinion on any part of the measure?" He said—There are two great subjects for the House of Lords to consider—the Resolution with reference to the Treaty with France and the Resolution consolidating the Customs' duties. Now, the Resolution concerning the treaty has been sent up to the other House with the Address, and they have debated it, and their Constitutional right has never been questioned, and all that was done afterwards was to put the Resolutions in the same Bill.The argument of Mr. Grenville was, not that it would be a right thing to cheat the House of Lords of the power of giving judgment on the measure, but they had had a twofold opportunity of considering the question—on the Resolutions in the first case, and then on the Bill. That was 2015 good sense, for every sensible man in the old time was of our opinion. If the Members of the House of Commons were now seated round that table and told to make a Constitution, speaking not as political opponents, but as men of common sense, and if it were resolved to have a second chamber with co-ordinate power, would they lay down this law—"If you alter one letter of a measure we will reject the whole of your labours?" Everybody who has written on this subject has derided that view: Hallam has sneered at it, Macaulay has condemned it, Somers has scoffed at it; and what did Mr. Fox say, because I think Mr. Pox was a man of ability? I take this quotation from Stanhope's Life of Pitt—Pitt proposed a measure to regulate our commercial intercourse with America. The views of Pitt upon this question were of the largest kind. The Bill was complicated and extensive. The Bill was several times committed and re-committed, with a variety of Amendments, and at last, under the next Administration, was further altered by the Lords. It was, no doubt, a money Bill. 'But I am of opinion,' said Fox, 'that the order of the House respecting money Bills is often too strictly construed. It would be very absurd indeed to send a loan Bill to the Lords for their concurrence, and at the same time deprive them of the right of deliberation.'Fox held just the same view as Macaulay, Hallam, and Hatsell, and the loquacious Burnet, although I do not rely much on him. Now, take the case of the Marquess of Ormond, in which the Lords, as usual, were in the right, they said to the Commons, "We cannot accept the Bill with clauses tacked as you have sent it to us." The Commons replied, "You must take the Bill as it is, or not have it at all—then the army will cease to be paid—the navy will cease to exist, and the usual result will follow of the country being in a state of discontent and confusion." Of that case Bishop Burnet said—The measure attempted by the Tories in 1704 was, like many of the designs of that party, with a view to put all matters in confusion at home and abroad, and thereby to put a stop to the war and force a peace, and dispose our allies, as despairing of any help from us, to accept of such terms as France would offer them.In fact that was as unconstitutional a precedent as ever was established; and if you wish to see what the Whigs thought of it you must turn to the pages of Lord Macaulay. There was a dissolution of Parliament shortly afterwards, and Macaulay tells us that the Whigs had their cry—it is always useful to have a cry. Nobody knows that better than the right hon. Baronet. What was the Whig cry?— 2016The Whig cry was that the Tory Members of the last two Parliaments had, from a malignant desire to mortify the King, left the kingdom exposed to danger and insult; had unconstitutionally encroached both on the Legislature and on the judicial functions of the House of Lords; had turned the House of Commons into a new Star Chamber; had used as instruments of capricious tyranny those privileges which ought never to be employed but in defence of freedom.That cry, no doubt, was well cried, and the effect of it was to get a Parliament which evicted the very men who had asserted that privilege on which the right hon. Baronet had dwelt. But the right hon. Baronet turned to another subject, and one of great importance. He complained that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London was persuaded—I do not know by whom, but I suppose by somebody on this side of the House—to do a very wise thing—namely, to make part of the revenue of the country perpetual, not dependent upon an annual vote. The right hon. Baronet lectured the noble Lord upon that matter, and I should be sorry to interfere between two such excellent friends, but I hope the noble Lord will explain whether he was open to that lecture or not. I think the noble Lord was perfectly right; but the right hon. Baronet argued that a portion of the revenue having been made permanent the House of Lords gained an advantage over us, as Acts of Parliament establishing a permanent revenue could not be got rid of summarily by a Bill like the present. That is true, but the danger which the right hon. Baronet pointed out is merely fanciful; for the House of Commons has now a far larger revenue to dispose of annually than it had before. But what is the point of the argument advanced by the right hon. Baronet, even if facts were with him? Lord Lyndhurst has shown that when an Act of Parliament relating to revenue has been passed, establishing a certain law, you can get rid of that law, as of any other law, only by the independent votes of Queen, Lords, and Commons. You cannot touch it by a Resolution of the House of Commons. There are instances in which that has been attempted, and on one occasion Lord Mansfield said that a Resolution of the House of Commons, in his judicial capacity, he would not regard, because it was not entitled to any consideration, as it could neither make nor unmake law. The argument of the right hon. Baronet was to the effect that, whereas by virtue of an Act of Parliament a particular tax was 2017 made a permanent source of revenue, the House of Commons lost the opportunity of dealing with it annually, and was consequently in the power of the House of Lords. I admit that to be a correct statement of the law, but what is the mode of getting out of the power of the House of Lords? By submitting the question to them in a legal and constitutional way, What is that way? The precise way in which the matter was dealt with in 1802—a precedent upon which the right hon. Baronet made no observations, but which is decisive of the whole case. Upon that occasion there were two Bills, one dated the 30th of April, and the other dated the 4th of May. The first imposed duties on sugar, tea, and a variety of subject matter; and here I might say we have never argued that a Bill would be objectionable because it imposed duties on several things—as snuff, tea, sugar, and chicory. What we hold is that if you do another thing—if you introduce into a Bill a matter which has no connection with the real subject of it, then yon act unconstitutionally, and encroach on the privilege of the other House, The course pursued by Mr. Addington was very different. He had to get rid of the income tax. For that purpose, according to the right hon. Baronet, he had only to do what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done in the present instance—to put a clause in the first Bill repealing the tax. But the argument of the right hon. Baronet is answered completely by the precedent of 1802. The right hon. Baronet has asked us to observe that the words of the preamble of the Bill before us are that the House of Commons has "freely and voluntarily resolved to give and grant unto Your Majesty the several rates and duties hereinafter mentioned." [Cheers from the Ministerial Benches.] Quite so; but I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to observe what we thus give and grant to Her Majesty. Why, as far as the clause relating to the paper duties is concerned, we grant to Her Majesty an old Act of Parliament. When, I ask, within the last fifty years have we passed a Bill drawn in that form? Mr. Addington had to repeal the income tax, but, advised by sensible men, be brought in a separate Bill for the purpose. That Bill began in substance, "Whereas by a certain Act of Parliament the income tax was created, and whereas it is expedient to repeal the said statute;" and then, like an ordinary law, that existing Act was dealt with and repealed. But when Mr. Ad- 2018 dington was imposing duties, then the preamble of his Bill was exactly the same as the preamble of the measure before us. The argument of the right hon. Baronet is that in a Bill, the first clause of which relates to chicory and the last to pepper, you may introduce a clause disposing of the whole permanent revenue of the country, and then call upon the House of Lords to accept or reject the measure as a whole. If you could do that, would it be right and proper to so? Is it asking the other House to exercise an independent judgment on the several portions of a Bill? Is it not rather saying that we will take care not to allow the House of Lords to exercise its judgment, because we will so contrive it that, while the House of Lords may give its opinion upon the whole, it shall not be able to do so upon the parts? Yet that is doing what the right hon. Baronet thinks is constitutional. On the other hand, Lord Lyndhurst—who has filled the office of Chancellor of England, who has been accustomed to declare the law, and who actually docs give the law to half the civilized world, because his decisions are as much respected in America as they are here—having set out a long list of precedents, says, that nothing can be more clear or distinct than the legal and constitutional right of the House of Lords to do what it did last year. What, then, is the object of the present Bill? It is not to invite the House of Lords to consider most respectfully, as I am satisfied it is always disposed to do, the opinion of this House upon a question of taxation. I agree with the right lion Baronet that it is our privilege to originate taxation, and to settle the time and manner of it. But I appeal to the right hon. Baronet if it is not equally the privilege of the House of Lords to consider, not merely the piece of paper which is sent up to it, but the condition of England and of Europe, and the state of affairs throughout the world; and if, in the interval between the time when a Bill passes this House, and the time when it goes to the other House, circumstances arise which make it imperative for the welfare of the Empire not to convert that Bill into a law, are the Lords to be debarred from exercising a legal and constitutional right for the common good? Perhaps the right hon. Baronet does not mean that; perhaps he would allow the House of Lords to exercise its judgment in the matter; but is it an honest or a reasonable way of allowing the Lords to 2019 exercise their judgment so to frame a Bill as to make it impossible for them to consider the several parts of it, compelling them to accept or reject it as a whole? Is it wise so to insult that august Assembly? Having legally and constitutionally rejected a Bill for the repeal of the paper duties last year, why are the Lords not to have an opportunity of considering the question now? What is the meaning of a "tack?" Lord Somers, who was nearly indicted for high treason because he was a patriot, has described what was meant by the term, and one or two of his descriptions are worth noticing. It was the opinion of that noble and learned Lord that unless the House of Peers were allowed properly to consider any subject fairly brought before them it was impossible the Constitution of the country could be maintained. Lord Somers described a "tacker" as "a sort of roaring politician, who soars against all sense and reason;" and he further describes a "tacker" as one who, under pretence of being a friend to our Constitution, would render one part of it useless by tacking. What would that great Statesman have thought of the present Bill? Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot deny that the course taken last year was constitutional and legal. I ask him—How is it necessary that the subject of a Repeal Bill should be considered in a Committee of Ways and Means at all? Would it not be more consistent with ancient usage to treat a repeal Bill like any other Bill? That principle was laid down long ago in the case of the hearth money. The House of Commons then held that it was improper to deal with such a Bill in a Committee of Ways and Means, because it did not properly belong to the Supply of the current year. Take the case of the Civil List, which is permanently settled by Act of Parliament only. Suppose the House of Commons wanted to abolish half the Civil List? Will it be argued that we could introduce a clause to that effect into a Bill relating to the duties on tea, sugar, chicory, and other articles? There is a fine passage in Montalembert, in which, speaking of the trial of Mr. O'Connell, he eulogizes the conduct of the House of Lords, and holds them up as a model to the world of fairness and a sense of justice and moderation. "They had their political enemy in their hands," he says, "but their sense of justice was such that they refused to vote, but left the matter to be decided by the legal Members 2020 of the House." And so in this case, it was nothing but an overwhelming sense of duty which could have induced the House to deal as they did with that Bill. And my answer to the closing observation of the right hon. Gentleman, when he said, "Wo betide you if there be an appeal to the country 'paper against tea—Lords against Commons'" is "Wo betide you if that appeal should be made." The House of Commons possesses and deserves the confidence of the people, yet I believe the people are so accustomed to reflect and to reason, that perhaps, looking round the world, they might ask themselves whether liberty was most in jeopardy by any assaults from the artistocratic or the democratic side? They might ask themselves whether it was for their interest and freedom that the whole power of the State should be lodged in one Chamber, and whether a Minister who with a deficit proposed to repeal a permanent and increasingly-remunerative tax was acting in a manner more injurious to their interests than the House of Peers who preserved that revenue? And they might answer those questions in a mode not favourable to the right hon. Gentleman's views. For ray own part, I cannot believe that this is a question of dispute between the two Houses. It ought not to be a question of the privileges of one House or the other. Privilege is not a right given to a selfish oligarchy or democracy, to be exercised solely for their own benefit; it ought never to be exercised by one House or the other but for the public good. Liberty and constitutional principles never can be safe in any country unless each House, respects the spirit, and not merely the letter, of the privileges of the other House. If it be admitted—and the right hon. Gentleman has admitted it—that the House of Lords had a right to reject that Bill, the conclusion is inevitable, that this provision has been thrust into the present Bill, not to invite their judgment upon it, but to coerce their consciences at the expense of their patriotism, by saying to them, "Unless you pass the income tax and the other duties that are necessary for the revenue of the country, you will be destroying the institutions of the country by withholding from them the resources by which they are maintained." That is an unwise, unjust, unfair, and unreasonable experiment to make. I believe this Bill to be intended for the purpose of coercing that assembly, and for the purpose of insulting it. Because the right hon. 2021 Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed last year, and not because he apprehends he might fail now—because he is determined to avenge a fancied wrong to himself, though there was no wrong intended, but a benefit to the country, this unwise course of proceeding is adopted. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir James Graham) has admitted that for half a century this course has never boon adopted. We ought to "revert," he said, to what he calls the "good times of the Constitution." I think that to revert to those times would be perilous, and likely to be attended with mischief to the country, and for that reason I think the Bill in its present shape ought not to receive the sanction of the House.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
The right hon. Gentleman has argued with all the ingenuity displayed in his former speeches, and I can pay him no higher compliment; but even his ingenuity can never argue away the Constitutional privileges of the House of Commons, nor induce us to forego them. In the course of this debate I have heard many speeches against the course proposed by the Government; but most of them were very far wide of the point aimed at. They were directed evidently against some proposal different from that before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke first in the debate made a very able speech—the forerunner, I hope, of many such—and he argued conclusively against the "tack." But in the instance he gave of 1807, where a matter of taxation was joined with a question of the legality of certain acts of the auditor of the Exchequer, it is quite obvious that this last question was one by itself, totally different from any question of Money or Supply, and the House of Lords, therefore, were perfectly justified in rejecting a Bill of that nature. Indeed, I thought there was nothing more established than that, on the one hand, aids and taxes were the proper functions of the House of Commons, and that, on the other hand, no subject foreign to matters of aids and taxes and money could be introduced by way of a "tack" into a Money Bill, with a view of forcing the assent of the House of Lords. I quite admit that while on the one hand it is our bounders duty to assert our ancient privileges, on the other hand to enforce the House of Lords to agree to measures, perhaps unjust in themselves, by putting them into a Money Bill was an abuse of that privilege. It has now been 2022 abandoned for nearly a century past, and there can be no question of its revival. These are arguments, therefore, which I fully grant, but they have no application to the question before the House. The questions before the House, I take it, are properly two. One is whether we are justified, according to the law of Parliament, and according to precedent, in putting together in one Bill several measures of finance, being the financial arrangements of the year; and the second is whether, if we have that power, it is right and expedient to exercise it on the present occasion? With regard to the first question, I must say that hon. Gentlemen who agreed last year unanimously, or with very little question, to the Resolutions proposed by my noble Friend seem to have forgotten what those Resolutions were. The first Resolution says—That the right of granting aids and Supplies to the Crown is in the Commons alone, as an essential part of their Constitution, and the limitation of all such grants, as to matter, manner, measure, and time, is only in them.If you agree to that Resolution you cannot well deny that it is the right of the House of Commons to place in one Bill the manner, matter, and amount of taxes you think fit to propose or to remit. The next question is what precedent have we for such a course, and has such a privilege always been maintained? My right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, who argued the question so clearly, referred to the Act of 1787, and that, in fact, is a very signal instance of the use of the power of placing measures all relating to finance, but of various kinds, in one Bill. But it so happens that the very year before Mr. Pitt had shown his sense of the privilege of the House, and of their sole right to decide all questions of money. The year before he told the House of Commons that he had made such arrangements of taxation that there would be a million of surplus, which he proposed to devote as a sinking fund for the extinction of the National Debt. The question went to the House of Lords, and was discussed there; and it was said there, "The Minister has entirely miscalculated; he has no surplus; in fact, he has a deficit." My light hon. Friend has not been more accused of ignorance with regard to a surplus than Mr. Pitt was in that day. The Lords said, "The Minister cannot apply a million to this purpose," and they sent down to the House of Commons to obtain an account 2023 by which they might see what was the fruit of the several taxes, and what were the Estimates of the year, so that they might make a right balance of the expenditure and income according to their own views. But Mr. Pitt said such a proceeding would be utterly inconsistent with the privileges of the House of Commons, and he himself directed a message to be sent refusing their demand. Next year came the memorable Act to which my right hon. Friend has alluded. It was a year in which Mr. Pitt accomplished very great public objects. By means of a commercial treaty he settled our relations with France upon a footing likely to tend to the benefit of both countries, and by an elaborate and minute investigation of the Customs and Excise he framed 3,700 Resolutions, by which the various Excise and Customs' duties were reduced under a single and separate head. A Bill was introduced and sent to the House of Lords embracing the commercial treaty; and, likewise, a measure of consolidation. He also imposed a tax by that Bill, When that Bill went to the House of Lords it was argued by Lord Carlisle, "There are three different objects. We may approve the commercial treaty. We may not approve the consolidation. Above all, we may object to the tax. Let the Bill be divided, and do not let the House go into Committee." But he was answered by Lord Sidney, who at that time was Secretary of State, "All those matters belong to one arrangement, and tend to one end." That is, in fact, the question in the present Bill. These different matters all form part of one arrangement, and tend to one end—namely, the settlement of the finance of the year. The then opponents of the Government divided the House and were beaten 29 to 7. The House, therefore, affirmed that which the hon. Gentlemen opposite are denying now, that these various notices should be put into one Bill; and the Lords themselves, on a view of their own privileges and on due consideration of their own powers, not being indifferent to those powers and privileges, decided by more than a proportion of two to one that they ought to consider the Bill as a whole. But does the matter end there? Are there no other precedents? It is said we ought not to repeal taxes in the same Bill in which we lay on taxes. Another great financial measure of Mr. Pitt was the introduction of the income tax, and the income tax was introduced by him in this 2024 way:—He had very much increased the assessed taxes. That measure was found to be a failure. It was evaded in various ways, and Mr. Pitt consequently conceived a totally different plan for obtaining supplies for the arduous wars in which this country was then engaged. He introduced a measure which is now an Act of Parliament—the 13th chapter of the 39th Geo. III.—which begins absolutely with a total repeal of the Act of the preceding years which granted additional duties from the assessed taxes, and then goes on to impose the income tax, which was to make up the revenue of the year. In 1807 there was a Bill with respect to certain duties of excise in Ireland, increasing some and diminishing others; and in it was a simple clause abolishing altogether the duties on beer and ale in Ireland. That is exactly in conformity with what we now propose. We have a Bill in which the income tax is granted, in which duties on tea and sugar are granted, and in which the paper duty is entirely abolished. We are thus proceeding not only according to our privileges, which we have assorted, but according to former precedents, in placing all this arrangement in the same Bill.
Then comes the question, but, although you have the right to do so, it is not a convenient mode of proceeding; it limits the power of the House of Lords; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last has even gone so far as to say that it is an insult to the House of Lords to send them up a Bill similar to those two Bills of Mr. Pitt, who appears to have been in the habit of insulting the House of Lords in the most generous way. The right hon. and learned Gentleman founds all these notions of injury and insult to the House of Lords on that which passed last year. I am quite willing to admit—I do not see how any one can deny—that there is the right in the House of Lords to reject any Bill sent up from this House. They have always asserted, and I do not think the House of Commons have ever contradicted, that it is their right to reject a Bill to which their assent is required. My right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) said, and said truly, that it is an extreme right, which they ought not to use on ordinary occasions; and the real question which is being argued now is whether they used their discretionary power well and wisely? and whether an extreme case last year called for its action. My opinion is the other way. I do not agree with the hon. 2025 and learned Member for Gloucestershire. (Mr. Rolt) who commended the House of Lords for the wisdom of their act, and said he thought the House of Commons acted unwisely in repealing the paper duty. I am not willing to blame the House of Lords on that occasion. I am quite willing to admit that they considered the revenue from the paper duties necessary for the credit of the country and the Supplies of the year, and that on that ground, and on that ground only, they rejected the Bill which was sent up by the House of Commons. But the question which we have to consider is what may be the case in future. Admitting that in that case, which they thought an extreme case, they might exercise such a right, is it desirable that, having been successful in doing that for which there is no precedent whatever—namely, rejecting a Bill which gave great relief to the people, and which the House of Commons thought compatible with sufficient provision for the year—having done that extraordinary act, is it desirable that we should admit the House of Lords to equal functions with ourselves with respect to imposing and remitting taxes on the people of this country? Because that is the extent to which the hon. and learned Gentleman goes. That was the extent to which the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), went last year. Although hon. Gentlemen on the other side are not so frank as my right hon. Friend, the Member for Stroud, that is evidently the point at which they are aiming. They say the House of Commons is rash, is inconsiderate, is ill-advised in the use of its privileges, and it is necessary to send to the House of Lords the financial arrangements piecemeal, in order that the House of Lords, by clipping and cutting, accepting one thing and rejecting another, may have the whole financial arrangements settled, not by the House of Commons, but by both Houses. Now, this is what I deny. My belief is not only that this was a great privilege which in the time of our ancestors was asserted for the sake of the public interests, and by which the public liberties were established, but I believe that it is for the good of the trade and commerce of the country, which are greatly affected by these commercial arrangements. I believe that if it were found year by year that where certain taxes were proposed to be taken off by the Commons those taxes were retained by the Lords—that where we had made arrange- 2026 ments they had altered them—the greatest confusion would ensue. Their views of finance, as far as we learn from the speeches of noble Lords reported in the newspapers, differ exceedingly from those which meet with general approval in this House. They differ exceedingly from that system of finance which was established by Sir Robert Peel, and has since been continued, What confusion, what mischiefs would follow if we were to establish as a precedent that the House of Lords may take financial measures as ordinary pieces of legislation, and not to assert the ancient privileges of the House of Commons! If that be the case, I think not only is this a right which we have, but a right which we ought to exercise. If we put these different measures into one Bill, the House of Lords must accept it or must reject it. The noble Lord opposite supposes a case in which the House of Commons would propose to sweep away all Customs and Excise, and impose an income tax of 7s. or 8s. in the pound. I say that proceeding on the part of the House of Commons is to me entirely incredible. I do not believe there ever could be a House of Commons which would do so. But, if they did, I have no doubt the course would be that an appeal would be made to the country on that question, and my belief is that the country would decide against anything so rash and so injurious to the best interests of the country. But when I hear it currently said that the present system of finance tends altogether to destroy indirect taxation, and to set up direct taxation in its place, I examine the figures, and I find that this indirect taxation, which it is said this House for the last eighteen years has been paring away, has risen from £33,000,000 to upwards £40,000,000. That is the way in which indirect taxation has been abolished. That is the way in which we are proceeding to destroy all our revenue from indirect taxes. I do not wish to say much with regard to the question itself, which I am sure has been sufficiently debated. With regard to the question between the reduction of the tea and the abolition of the paper duties, I shall certainly leave that in the hands of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, at the same time, having been a listener to many of these debates, I cannot help being surprised at the rapidity with which hon. Gentlemen opposite have changed altogether their front. For two or three days we heard of nothing 2027 but the mistaken views of my right hon. Friend. We heard that no surplus existed, that it was an entire delusion, and when hon. Gentlemen opposite had gone on for some time proclaiming this opinion, to the surprise of many they then said, "After all, there is not only a surplus, but a surplus which will afford a quarter of a million more of reduction than the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed." That was a singular change, but I thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite had found that my right hon. Friend was right in his calculations as to a surplus; but no sooner had the House decided in favour of a repeal of the paper duty as against tea, than they came down with the same solemn countenances, the same gloomy language, and called attention to our failing trade, and predicted that there must be some misfortune in our intercourse with China, which will present us from getting the money which we expect. They, moreover, talk of convulsion in the West, and say "Surely you will not be so mad as to part with so largo an amount of revenue as you propose to remit in the face of these difficulties." Having, in the first place, proposed a reduction in the shape of duties greater than that contemplated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they turn round upon him for the third time and say, "After all, there is no surplus existing, and nothing was ever so rash as the proposal to deal with the finances of the country in this manner." Well, having considered this Budget in several debates, it having been made the subject of debate for many days, the great party fight of the year was taken upon it, and, therefore, it is clearly time that the right hon. Gentleman opposite who held the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Gentleman who was Secretary to the Treasury should really tell us what, according to their opinion, is the case. Are we disposing of a surplus, or have we none? Which is the line they take? Now, in dealing with the proposal for the remission of the paper duty, we have, I contend, only to look to what took place between 1844 and 1854 to come to a tolerably satisfactory conclusion. During these ten years there was, I find, a total abolition of duty in the case of various articles of Excise. The duties on glass, brick, and soap were within that period totally abolished. Those taxes yielded altogether about £2,500,000, while other taxes to the amount of £1,700,000 were 2028 about the year 1854 imposed. There ought, under these circumstances, one would at the first blush suppose, to be a considerable deficiency, but, instead of that, the relief given to the industry of the country, and the increased power of consumption gave us an excess of £500,000 over the amount of the Excise collected when the reductions to which I allude began. From these circumstances I come to the conclusion that, so far from the abolition of the duty on paper being a total loss to the revenue, you have, from previous experience, a right to suppose that, having done away with duties which impede industry, a new impulse is given to the trade which you thus set free. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, indeed, seem to think that something mysterious will follow as the result of the repeal of this duty; but I never could find that from the remission of the duties on bricks and soap it was predicted any great calamity was likely to ensue. The moment we approach paper, however, things undergo a change. I at once admit that this article can be applied to different purposes from brick and soap, but in an industrial point of view I cannot appreciate the distinction which is made between it and other commodities. There is in paper itself nothing which could justify hon. Gentlemen opposite in contending that it should not be subjected to the same laws as other articles of Excise. Some hobgoblin, however, in the shape of penny papers, appears to exist to terrify them in connection with this subject. Sir, I may add that it is impossible not to see that there has, in the course of this debate, been manifested a great desire to depreciate the measures and injure the political reputation of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That attempt, I think, it is the duty of every colleague of my right hon. Friend to resist. He has employed his great talents for the benefit of his country, and his countrymen will, I believe, appreciate the relief which he has extended to them, and the efforts which he has made in their behalf. Their gratitude for those efforts will, in my opinion, stifle all the accusations which have been made against him, while he will have an enduring reputation in the list of men who have employed their great abilities in favour of the industry and well-being of their country.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he rose to protest in the most emphatic manner against the assumption of the noble Lord 2029 who had just spoken that, owing to the division which had taken place last night, any hon. Gentleman who was disposed to do so was precluded from opposing the repeal of the paper duty. The noble Lord appeared to forget the gist and burden of their advocacy of the repeal of the tea duties, and their objections to the remission of that duty which had been advanced. He would therefore remind the noble Lord that if the duty on tea were repealed it would be only for one year, and that if any unexpected calamity arose next year it could without difficulty be reimposed. If, on the other hand, the duty on paper were once remitted, that source of revenue was destroyed for ever. [Cheers from hon. Members sitting on the Ministerial side below the gangway.] Those hon. Members who cheered him very naturally did so because their interests were in favour of a particular speculation. For his own part, he did not wish for a moment to question their motives in supporting the Budget, but he had first to learn that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the proprietor of a penny paper. If he might address an argument to the Treasury bench which would probably come homo to them, he would say that the repeal of the tea duty might he compared to the loss of half one's salary, while the remission of the duty on paper might be looked upon as the sacrifice of the entire amount by resigning office altogether. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had adverted to the repeal of indirect taxes during the ten years ending in 1854; and argued from the result that when indirect taxes were taken off an increase in other taxes made up the amount. He (Lord Robert Cecil) must reiterate what he stated the other night, that the revenue of France had increased 123 per cent. while that of England had only increased 96 per cent. and that there having been no remission of indirect taxation in Franco, it was plain that the prosperity, at least, in one country, did not arise from the cause alleged by the noble representative of the City (Lord John Russell). The noble Lord the Member for London seemed to be angry with those who sat on the Opposition side of the House because they were angry with the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but if personalities had crept into the discussion of the financial scheme hon. Members should bear in mind that the present was a personal Budget. There was no sort of 2030 guarantee for the existence of a surplus, except the confidence which hon. Gentlemen might be disposed to place in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but although the House might listen with great pleasure to the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman, past experience proved that much reliance ought not to be placed on his foresight on predictions. It ought to be recollected that when he had disposed of Excise duties on a previous occasion he must have had in the pigeon-holes of his office documents which informed him that a tremendous European war was impending. Still he persisted in regarding the year as one of prosperity; and when he found that prosperity did not ensue he was obliged to come down and demand an in creased income tax. In the course of the autumn, the hon. Member for Coventry had intimated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had concealed his knowledge of the Chinese expenditure; but the right hon. Gentleman afterwards explained, and the hon. Member for Coventry then expressed his belief that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was guilty of no intentional concealment, but still said he was wanting in foresight. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when told that his financial scheme was not ample enough, refused to believe the statement, just as in the present year the right hon. Gentleman declined to believe what was now told him. He (Lord Robert Cecil) had been very much taken to task for an expression he had ventured to use the other night to the effect that the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was worthy rather of an attorney than a statesman. That expression was thought to be too violent, and when any Gentleman in the heat of debate dropped an expression which on reflection he felt to be stronger than was necessary, he ought to take the first opportunity either to apologize or to retract. Therefore he felt that he was only doing justice to his own feelings when he avowed that on that occasion, he did a great injustice, ["Hear, hear!"] to the attorneys. They were a very honourable set of men, and he was sure—[Cries of "Oh, oh!" frequently repeated, so that the noble Lord was unable to conclude the sentence.] He was bound to express his opinion that the course which the Government recommended the House to pursue with regard to the House of Lords was neither a noble nor a manly one; but was distinguished by what he must call legal chicanery. ["Oh, oh!"] 2031 He was sorry to say anything disagreeable to hon. Members. No doubt the Government thought it their duty to adopt that proceeding, but the question was as to the character of the proceeding. He maintained that throughout the whole constitutional history of this country it would be found that when there were quarrels between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the latter bore the brunt boldly, repelled the attack openly, and maintained its privileges promptly in the face of day; and, in case its privileges were still questioned, appealed to the country. The Lords and the Commons were servants of a common master—the. nation, which watched their proceedings, and judged between their disputes. If the Commons thought last year that the Lords were not paying due regard to their privileges, why did they not dare in an open and manly way to appeal to the common master, instead of taking refuge in vague, unmeaning, and ambiguous Resolutions, desiring to creep round and circumvent the laws by means of a quibble, or what in any other place would be called a "dodge?" Such was not the conduct of a British House of Commons ought to pursue.
If the House would permit him, he wished to state very briefly the grounds on which he thought that the proposed course of proceeding constituted a most unjust attack on the House of Lords and the Constitution. The noble Lord had just laid it down that with the Commons alone rested the right of granting taxes, while the Lords had the right of assenting thereto or dissenting there from, having also the power of initiation in respect to political measures. With regard to the principle, I believe the majority of Members would agree with the noble Lord, but the difference would arise as to the application of the principle. The practice originated at a time when it was not foreseen that the boundaries between financial and political measures would inevitably become confused; and where financial would, indeed, be political measures also. The time of difficulty had arrived, and thus it was that the House of Commons found itself placed face to face with the House of Lords. Let them consider the origin of this matter. When first the House of Commons claimed the privilege the thing was simple enough. Whatever money was asked was granted, and the House of Lords never said "Aye" or "No." But, as time went on, taxes had to be levied in a manner more various, 2032 and then political questions began to creep into the financial. When that began, the House of Lords retained its own proper position. It denied the exclusive claim of the House of Commons, and asserted its light to judge of financial matters. But the affair was compromised in this way—that the financial propositions, though originated by the Commons, were placed in a certain number of separate Bills, so that the Lords had the power of revising each individual part of the financial scheme, and of rejecting, without overturning the whole scheme, any portion of it which was thought too closely to trench on political matter. He did not mean to say that Bills might not be found which occasionally departed from that arrangement; but from the time the present reigning family had been on the throne not a shred of a precedent would be discovered of a single Bill containing within itself the whole Ways and Means of the year. The House of Lords must either assent to the measure or be prepared to see the whole financial arrangements of the country thrown into confusion. It should he borne in mind that all the main questions of the day were now becoming financial matters. Such was the case with Maynooth, Ministers' Money, and Church Rates. On all these questions the privileges of the Commons intervened and forbade the Lords from the right of originating measures. What was at the bottom of the question of Reform, at present withdrawn from the consideration of that House? What made one section of the House so willing and the other side so averse to admit the very large increase of the franchise which was proposed? It was beer use it was avowed by the main supporters of the proposed changes that they were only to be the heralds of vast financial changes; and the enormous reaction against Reform was occasioned by the apprehension that Americanized finance was to be the consequence of Americanized institutions. No one had admitted that with more candour than the hon. Member for Birmingham. To deprive the House of Lords of the power of considering every financial measure would practically be to exclude them from deliberation on every political question. It had been said that the House of Lords ought not to reject a measure on financial grounds. Was the repeal of the paper duty a purely financial measure? He would prove that it was not. In 1853 the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to decide whether he would reduce the 2033 duty on paper or tea. He chose the latter alternative. He reduced the duty on tea to 1s. per lb., or 5d. less than it was now, and left the paper duty out of account. But the right hon. Gentleman had changed his policy since then. The reduction of the duty on paper had also assumed another aspect. It was now a political question. A political party hung by it. Certain political votes in the House were to be gained by it, and a certain amount of political support to be conciliated out of doors. And yet, although the measure had been urged in the House of Commons on political grounds, the Lords were to be told that it was a financial measure, and that they ought not to express their opinions on it. He put it to the House whether it would altogether redound to their own dignity to allow themselves to be plunged into the course to which they were invited by Her Majesty's Government? The House of Lords would not fail to note that there was no precedent for putting the whole Ways and Moans of the year into a single Bill for the last 130 years; they would observe, also, that a Bill which, they had previously rejected was tacked to it; they would see that it had been clone with an intention, and they would suspect that there was a design still further to control their privileges. Would the House of Lords tamely submit? Would they stand calmly by while the Commons drove them out of the legislative arena? If they were anxious to defend their privileges, would they not divide the Bill into several measures and treat them separately? What would the House of Commons do then? If when the Bills were sent down they rejected them, there would be no money for the service of the year, and a dissolution would be inevitable. If they assented to the proceedings of the Lords they would endure a most humiliating defeat. That was the dilemma in which the Government would be placed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was surprised at two extraordinary circumstances within the last two years. The one was that the Upper House had interfered with the financial policy of the country; the other, that the Opposition had interfered to protect the revenue. But if two such bodies had departed from what the right hon. Gentleman held to he their wonted course, did it not occur to him there must be some strong cause for it? The truth was that as long as the right hon. Gentleman occupied his present posi- 2034 tion there would neither be regularity in the House of Commons nor satisfaction out of doors. Ask any man in the City whom he would like for Chancellor of the Exchequer? Ask whether they would not prefer the palmy days of the light hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary? It is notorious that there was nothing so much suspected and disliked as the shifting policy which distinguished the right hon. Gentleman. A purist in matters of fianance, he had relied on windfalls and godsends to fill the Treasury; intending to secure a surplus he had produced deficiency; pretending to swell the revenue he had diminished it; professing to help trade, he had laid upon it burdens so heavy and vexatious as to cause an outcry such as had not been heard for years. None of these charges could be denied. Their opposition, then, was not to be attributed to personal feeling or resentment, but they deemed it their duly to raise their voices against such an unprecedented mode of dealing with the finances of the country, and he trusted that the House would pause before it sanctioned a policy the loading consequences of which would be to plunge the Exchequer into confusion, and to throw into unnatural and dangerous antagonism the two essential elements of the State.
§ MR. DU CANE moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I hope the hon. Member will reconsider his proposal. It is really time that we should review the proceedings in regard to the financial measures, which have been already unusually prolonged, before we accede to the farther adjournment of a discussion in which no issue has been raised. Indeed, I am not aware that it is intended to make any motion or offer any opposition on this stage of the Bill. The financial statement was made on the 8th of April. The Government have put aside all business of every description in order to go on with the financial business. The plan contained only two propositions, neither of a very novel or complex character, and yet we are now only at the second reading of the Bill, and have consumed a sixth part of the Session. Seventeen days were occupied before you. Sir, were permitted to leave the chair—a fact entirely unprecedented in our financial history. In 1853, when very extensive propositions were proposed, after seven 2035 days we were allowed to proceed to the discussion of them in Ways and Means. In 1845, when the proposals were also extensive, the discussion in Committee of Ways and Means was commenced after three days. I do not mention these things by way of complaint, but as a reason why the debate should not be adjourned. The Government wished to carry on the financial business from day to day, but hon. Members would not give way. Never until tonight have we heard of this constitutional question. ["Oh!"] At least it has not been debated on previous nights. But no issue is challenged on the question, nor am I aware that any is to be raised. I need hardly tell the House that great public injury and annoyance arises from a discussion which is protracted beyond all precedent. The revenue of the Customs is suffering very perceptibly from the uncertainty attendant on proposals involving changes in our financial system in respect to the duty on tea. On account also of the arrangements which have to be made for levying the income tax, much inconvenience is caused to the public service by these delays. It must not be forgotten that there are other stages through which the Bill must pass, and that this is not the last opportunity for discussion. I certainly must, on the part of the Government, object to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, and I trust that if he does not withdraw it, the House will show themselves sensible of the necessity of proceeding with the financial business without further delay.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, It is not desirable that there should be any division upon a question of this kind, and, therefore, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it will be well for the House calmly to consider, and not to decide passionately upon, the course which they will now adopt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that it becomes ns to consider in a comprehensive manner what has occurred during the last month with respect to the measures brought forward by the Government. He tells us that in no other instance that he can recall, and he has referred to the case of 1853 and other years, has so great a delay taken place in the consideration of the financial measures of the Government. He will pardon me for saying that, with respect to measures of this character, the House has never before been placed in the position in which we have been placed this year. There have, no doubt, been equally im- 2036 portant measures of finance brought forward by the Government—I will even admit that there have been more important, larger, and more extensive measures; but they have never been connected with a combination of circumstances such as we witness this year, and from which it arises that this House, and this House alone, is to decide upon the merits of the policy recommended. Under these circumstances, and considering that the other House is to have no power of revising the measures of the Government, it does become this House—the single House which is to decide upon the policy of the Government—to proceed with caution and deliberation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has again mentioned the great inconveniences to the finances and to the trade and commerce of the country which may arise from these delays—delays, let me remind him—of deliberation. Now, although the right hon. Gentleman has more than once touched upon the subject, I have not been able to realize any clear or precise idea as to what those inconveniences are. First let us consider the income tax. No doubt inconvenience must arise to the Government from depending on a tax levied under a law which has become extinct; but that is not the fault of the House of Commons. The Act under which the income tax is raised had expired before these measures were brought forward, and if it was matter of urgency that it should be immediately renewed, why did not the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduce a separate Bill upon that subject, and ask us to pass it immediately? But I am bound to say, speaking upon such a subject with all diffidence, and all deference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, from such slight experience as I have of the consequences of that Act having expired before the financial exposition has been offered to the House, no injury can arise from that circumstance. The Act must necessarily be of an ex post facto character, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already announced to the House that he will take care that no one who has received his last quarter's dividends shall escape its action. Therefore, practically speaking, I may, I think, venture to say that the House may dismiss from their minds the idea that any inconvenience to the public service will result from the expiration of the Income Tax Act. Then I came to the great taxes—the du- 2037 ties upon tea and sugar. What possible inconvenience can arise from the course which the House is taking in deliberating upon the measures of the Government with regard to those taxes? We all know that immediately the Resolutions with respect to those duties are passed by the Committee of Ways and Means the Government nets upon them. At this moment those duties are levied according to the Resolutions passed in Committee of Ways and Means. Is it that the Government are afraid that there will he another attempt to reduce those duties? Why, a Government in the proud position which they occupy with respect to that subject may defy any attempt of that kind, and I do not suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will pretend that at this moment the Government and the House are waiting with anxiety to see whether another effort will he made by the Opposition to reduce those taxes. Although the law under which they will ultimately be levied is not passed, those duties are paid, and I do not doubt that this very day a considerable revenue has been received from them in virtue of the Resolutions which we have passed.
But, then, I come to another branch of trade, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer may tell me that very great inconvenience and very great loss will be occasioned, both to the trade and to the Treasury, by the time which we are taking in considering what course we ought to adopt—I mean the paper trade. But does the Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously and really make that a plea for calling upon the House to come to a Resolution? [Mr. GLADSTONE: I have not said a word about it.] The other night the right hon. Gentleman particularly referred to it. If he docs not mean it, there are a great many hon. Gentlemen in this House who believe that the paper trade is very much injured by our deliberating upon these measures. But I beg the House clearly to understand that that is not the fact—that neither the trade nor the Exchequer can possibly suffer by this suspense. It is quite clear that the trade does not believe that it suffers, because of two hon. Members of this House who are intimately connected with that trade, and who represent different opinions, one more extreme than the other, with respect to the policy pursued by the Government, one made a Motion the other night which was to occasion a great delay in the 2038 measures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, clearly showing, therefore, that the branch of the trade which he represented, more especially as concerns Ireland, does not apprehead any injury from delay; and the other, who is a warm supporter of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Norris), has for one of those nights devoted to independent Members, but of which Her Majesty's Government now so much grudge them the enjoyment—for next Tuesday given notice of a Motion for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the paper trade. Therefore he does not anticipate that any delay which may arise from our discussions will cause an injury to his trade. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows perfectly well that from the system of drawbacks it is impossible that the Exchequer can be injured. I beg to remind the House that the other night, when the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Moffat), who is a warm advocate for the remission of the tea duties told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would by October lose £500,000 or £600,000 upon the paper duty, the right hon. Gentleman, who knew his business, told him that he was quite mistaken, and that he should not lose a single farthing. Now, I have gone through all the great taxes, the income tax, the tea and sugar duties, and the paper duty, what other interests are there that any one can pretend are placed in jeopardy by the House of Commons performing the greatest duty which can devolve upon it—that of duly considering measures of taxation? Is there, then, any foundation for the statements, the ambiguous, and at the same time the menacing statements, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is so fond of indulging? What reasons are there for asking the House to come to a precipitate conclusion? I beg the noble Lord the First Minister to consider this, Is it his opinion that the other House of Parliament is to exercise no judgment upon these questions of finance? Be it so. I will on this occasion admit the whole case of the Government. I will enter into none of the controversy which has taken place to-night upon what is called the constitutional question. Admit not only that it is the undeniable right of the House of Commons to originate Money Bills, but that the House of Lords ought to pass them under all circumstances. Take the broadest view of the case and what is the deduction, 2039 what is the moral—the inevitable moral—that must be drawn? That it becomes the Prime Minister, under these circumstances, to bring forward no measures of finance which he does not believe will meet with the unequivocal support of those who represent the people in this House. If the will of this House alone is to decide these questions, a wise and politic Minister would not bring forward measures which, so far as we can judge from what is past, can only be carried by a bare majority. If the undeniable privilege of our House is that we are to have sole authority in these matters, our responsibility becomes proportionately greater, and proportionately greater becomes the responsibility of the Minister who leads this House and advises this great council of the nation. But what has taken place to-night? The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that there is no issue before us. No issue before us! A Minister rises and moves the second reading of a Bill which includes the whole of his financial scheme, and on the first night of the debate says that there is no issue before us. Is not the second reading of this financial scheme an issue large enough to raise a debate? And what right has the Minister to presume that there will be no division challenged upon the merits of his policy? What right has he to make any assumption of the kind? Let me remind the House that we came down to-night to discuss the financial policy of the Minister. The hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate confined himself to the consideration of the constitutional question. He dealt with that question in a clear and vigorous speech, well entitled to the attention of the House, but he sedulously guarded himself against moving an Amendment upon that point, and left the larger issue open. Upon that larger issue not a word has been spoken tonight but by a Minister of the Crown. A Minister of the Crown has made a speech upon the financial scheme of the Government. He went into great detail in his examination of the Budget, and called upon me to answer his reproaches, and state the policy that I intended to pursue. With this challenge of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary still ringing in our ears, which we have had no opportunity of answering, the Chancellor of the Exchequer rises in amazement and expresses his sad surprise that the House of Commons should discuss his Budget. The right hon. Gentleman may be pursuing a policy advan- 2040 tageous to the country and honourable to himself, though this is not the opportunity, on the Motion for the adjournment, to enter on such a discussion; but this he must know, that he is taking, if not an unprecedented, a very unusual and violent course, and he is the last man who ought to grudge to the House the due examination of the measures he has introduced or the policy he recommends. I trust we shall not be put to a division on this question, but that the noble Lord will feel it is for his own honour, and for the honour of the House, that the debate shall be adjourned, and that there should be a free and complete discussion upon all the merits of that policy which I have myself been challenged by the noble Lord opposite to even impugn.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I must admit that the right hon. Gentleman has made what in my opinion is a very convincing speech, but the conviction he has brought to my mind is the very opposite to that which he wished to produce. If I understand rightly what the right hon. Gentleman stated he does not intend to dispute that part of the Budget which is connected with the income tax, nor does he to revive the question of the tea duties, nor to object to the repeal of the paper duty. [Mr. DISRAELI dissented.] He stated as far as I understood, that these matters had been disposed of—that upon the Resolution of the House the duties would be levied as a matter of course. The right hon. Gentleman has not announced that there is any intention of objecting to the second reading of the Bill. He has simply stated that he wishes for discussion. He criticises the statement of my right hon. Friend that no issue had been raised. I say no issue has been raised upon the second reading. We have had a long debate, but not one single Member who has spoken on the other side has stated or pointed to any intention of opposing the second reading. Then the only question is, whether those who object in general to the financial arrangements of the right hon. Gentleman, or those who object to the manner in which those arrangements are comprised in one measure, shall have the opportunity of fully discussing them? But my right hon. Friend has pointed out that there are many occasions on which, according to the necessary proceedings of the House, that discussion can take place. There is the question of you, Sir, leaving the chair, and upon that, as well as on the third reading, there will be 2041 a full opportunity for discussing all the details of the general financial arrangements of my right hon. Friend. Those who object to the arrangement by which all these details are comprised in the Bill must make their objections in the Committee upon the Bill. That will be the proper opportunity for them; and, therefore, I must say that I have heard no reason whatever assigned for the adjournment of this debate. If, indeed, it had been stated that the second reading would be opposed, and if notice of some Amendment had been given, and if it were alleged that Members who meant to speak upon that question had not had an opportunity for stating their reasons, there might be some ground for an adjournment, but as all seem agreed that the second reading should pass without a division, I do not see any valid reason for adjourning the debate. Silence gives consent. As every hon. Member who has spoken has hitherto been silent as to any intention to oppose the second reading I am entitled to assume that no such intention exists. That being the case, I shall certainly deem it my duty to object to the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The House is in a very awkward position, but, I ask, who is responsible for it? The noble Lord says that we are unreasonable because we object to a Supply Bill being placed before us in a form which has not been adopted for more than twenty-five years. I object distinctly to that form as touching the privileges of the House, and say that this House is now feeling the deep inconvenience of having all the subjects included in this Bill consolidated together. If these matters had been submitted to us separately, as has been the custom of the House and the habit of Parliament for the past thirty or forty years, there would not have been this delay. As an independent Member of the House I desire to have an opportunity—from which unless the debate is now adjourned I shall be precluded from having—of discussing this measure on the second reading. I do not wish now to touch on questions which have been raised with respect to the House of Lords, but I claim an opportunity of stating what, as a Member of the House, I consider are its privileges, its customs, and its practice are invaded by the manner in which the Government have brought forward their financial scheme. I can see an object in it, which is to make every financial question a question of confidence in the Govern- 2042 ment, and I say that that is a mode of coercing the House of Commons, and as a Member of the House I take this opportunity of objecting to that proceeding.
§ Question put,
§ The House divided—Aves 164; Noes 247: Majority 83.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he had often heard that a bad cause made a bad advocate, but he had not thought it possible, under any combination of circumstances, that the noble Viscount could have made so bad an advocate of any cause he had attempted to support as he had shown himself that night. He had never heard arguments so unconstitutional for closing a debate. The noble Lord said the House ought to come to a decision because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks had not announced publicly that he did not intend to oppose the second reading. That might be a good argument for the right hon. Gentleman and the bench he occupied; but the noble Lord forgot that there were 300 Gentlemen on that side of the House who had a word to say on the subject. What the noble Lord said amounted to this—that you were to prejudge the decision before the question had been discussed. That was the most remarkable position he had ever heard laid down by the Prime Minister of the Crown. He (Mr. Bentinck) for one was not prepared to relinquish his right of discussion, and he, therefore, moved that this House do now adjourn.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I am very sorry that I am so bad an advocate. [A laugh.] But I am somewhat consoled by the result of the division. If the hon. Member means to take the sense of the House on the second reading, he cannot have so good an opportunity on any future occasion, as there is not likely to be a fuller House, If I really thought that by opposing the adjournment I was precluding hon. Members of this House from the fullest opportunity of the discussion of this measure, I would certainly bow to the wish of the minority, But when I recollect that on the question of you, Sir, leaving the chair, the same opportunity will be afforded of discussing the measure in principle and detail as now, I feel that I am not asking too much in asking the House not to accede to the Motion, but in calling on it to come to a decision on the second reading.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Before the House divides I wish 2043 to say one word on a subject to which it is usual to assign some weight—I mean that of public inconvenience in conjunction with delays and the protraction of a discussion which has already passed the ordinary hounds. I must say I was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, undertake to say on his authority that there could be no public inconvenience from these delays. It only showed that the right hon. Gentleman had not in the slightest degree understood the specific reason I have stated of the cause of inconvenience in conjunction with these delays. It is not because retrospectively the income tax will not be levied, but it is because very considerable and laborious processes have to he gone through before the new assessments can be made, and it will be difficult to got these processes concluded in time to levy, within the year, the whole of the income due to the year, and reckoned upon for the service of the year. It is true that, on the one hand, unusual time has been occupied, and for the most part in discussions where no issue has been raised and no challenge of the judgment of the House. It is true, on the other hand, that injury is done both to the revenue and to trade, by the prolonged uncertainty which necessarily attends the continuance of this discussion.
§ Motion made, and Question put, that this House do now adjourn.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 233: Majority 88.
§ Original Question again proposed.
had watched this debate with much interest. The subject was a very important one, and one on which they could not too long dwell. He must protest against the appeal made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the right hon. Gentleman said that it was for the convenience of the State that they should close this debate. That was an argument which the right hon. Gentleman had no right to bring forward; for he should have considered all the consequences before he introduced his Budget, which was a most detrimental one to the interests of the country, and especially to the interests of Ireland. He begged leave to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
It is useless, I know, to persist when Gentlemen are determined to prevent measures from being proceeded with at this hour (one o'clock). As those who succeed will be 2044 entitled to the glory of the conflict, I beg to second the Motion.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.
§ House adjourned at half after One o'clock.