HC Deb 07 March 1865 vol 177 cc1223-301

Sir, before proceeding with the Motion of which I have given notice— That upon any future remission of Indirect Taxation, this House should take into consideration the Duty on Malt, with a view to its early reduction and ultimate repeal, I ought to state to the House that I have been intrusted with nearly 3,000 petitions for the repeal of the Malt Duty; but from the impossibility of affixing my name to so many I must delay their presentation to another day. The time has now arrived when I conceive that this question of the Malt Tax should be placed on a practical and intelligible footing; and it is to that end that I have undertaken to submit the Motion on the paper to this House. I must admit at once that the pursuits and habits of my life have scarcely qualified me to deal with such a subject; and I must, therefore, very earnestly, and with unfeigned humility, solicit the indulgence of the House, while I proceed to address myself to this very important question. First, let me endeavour to explain what the Resolution really is, what is its meaning and what its extent. Not perhaps in this House, but elsewhere, it has been imagined that I am about to claim the repeal of the Malt Tax, even though to effect that repeal it should be necessary to increase, or at least to abstain from further reducing the income tax. It has also been supposed that I was about to call upon the Government to repeal the Malt Tax, although it should be necessary to impose some new tax in lieu of it. In this House I need not say that I have no such intention. When, indeed, I remember that the income tax condemned by the general voice of the country and after five and twenty years of extinction, was revived in the year 1842 with the universal consent of Parliament and of the people, for no other purpose, after supplying certain deficiences in the revenue, than to give freedom to trade and commerce, and to increase the comforts of the great mass of the population, I may think that to maintain it a little longer now for the very same purpose—to put an end to restrictions which fetter agriculture as well as commerce, and to add to the few comforts of life enjoyed by the poorer classes would not be inconsistent with the policy which imposed that tax. But whatever may be my own opinion, it is not my intention, as it is not within the scope and meaning of this Resolution, to attempt to question the decision at which Her Majesty's Government may arrive with reference to the income tax, or to interfere in the slightest degree with any other species of direct taxation. My object to-night is to recall the claims of those who have so long suffered under the weight and burden of the Malt Tax—whenever the time shall arrive when the financial condition of the country will admit of some substantial remission of indirect taxation. And now allow me, before I proceed further, to call the attention of the House to some of those principles of public policy which have been approved and acted upon by the most eminent among the statesmen on whom, in modern times, has devolved the duty of directing the financial affairs of the country. Without dwelling on the authority of writers on political economy, let me remind the House of the principles laid down with so much perspicuity and so much eloquence by the late Sir Robert Peel in 1842, and on which that great statesman proceeded in the reduction or extinction of duties upon 700 or 800 articles of consumption. The very first of those principles was, that it was impolitic and inexpedient to lay a tax, or to continue a tax already imposed, on any raw commodity, or on any article in the first stage of manufacture. And why? Because a tax of this nature checks production and interferes with commerce, or agriculture, and because it is found that when you come to tax a raw material which, before it is a completely manufactured article, has to pass through several stages, the tax by the time it reaches the consumer is doubled, or trebled, or sometimes quadrupled in amount. The consequence is, that the consumer pays three or four times the original amount of the tax, while two-thirds or three-fourths of it are lost to the country; and though he has to bear the burden of the whole accumulated amount, scarcely one-third or one-fourth passes into the Exchequer. The effect of this vicious system is to clog and encumber the operations of commerce with the weight of a severe and vexatious tax, and without any corresponding benefit to the community. Another of these principles was, that we should always forbear, if possible, to tax an article of general consumption, more especially when it is consumed chiefly by the labouring and the poorer classes; by those who may be supposed the least able to bear the weight of taxation. Sir Robert Peel, in introducing to Parliament his great financial measures in 1842, expressly says— You must so adapt and adjust your measures as not to bear on the comforts of the labouring classes of society."—[3 Hansard, lxi. 434.] To impose a tax, therefore, or to continue a tax on any article whatever of general consumption, and especially on an article consumed by the less well-to-do of the middle classes or the labouring or poorer classes, is opposed at once to policy and justice. And when we remember that it was upon these principles that Sir Robert Peel conducted our financial affairs during those three years in which he raised this country to a state of almost unexampled prosperity, I think we may safely call on the House now to respect and to adopt those principles, and apply them, when the condition of the finances will permit, in the reduction or extinction of this tax. Another principle to be observed is, that the weight of taxation should not be made to fall upon articles of British production. So uniformly did Sir Robert Peel adhere to that principle, that if hon. Members looked through the tariff established by that statesman, they would find several schedules of reduction in which, where the article was of foreign produce, the amount of duty was settled at double the amount imposed upon the same article when imported from a British colony. If, then, favour be shown to the produce of our colonies, how much more was it incumbent upon the Minister to lighten a burden which bore exclusively upon an article of home production. It is unnecessary that I should refer to the language of Sir Robert Peel. The speech of that great statesman—his financial statement in 1842—will be in the recollection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for he listened and assented to that speech. In those times it was my good fortune to sit side by side with my right hon. Friend; though changes of opinion, whether in him or in me it is immaterial to consider, have now separated us by the breadth of the table. But the right hon. Gentleman will remember, as I remember, the force and eloquence with which the principles to which I have adverted were insisted upon by the late Sir Robert Peel, and the earnestness and steadfastness of purpose with which, during the three or four years he afterwards remained in office, he strove to apply those principles to every financial measure which he brought before the House. These, then, being the principles which should guide us, let me now call attention to the nature of the effects of the tax which we have to consider. But first, let me further remind the House of the direct bearing upon this question of the great principle of free trade itself; the principle upon which the Corn Laws were repealed, and which, in 1846, it was declared by immense majorities in this House, ought to pervade' direct, and govern the whole commercial and financial system of this country. And here, again, I would invoke the authority of Sir Robert Peel, the political and financial master of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). He will remember as well as I that before that time, as early as the year 1839, upon one of the annual Motions of the right hon. Gentleman now the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. C. P. Villiers), for the repeal of the taxes on foreign corn, Sir Robert Peel expressly and forcibly urged upon the House the application of the principle of free trade to this very tax upon malt. Sir Robert Peel said, speaking on behalf of the farmer whose interests he considered were involved— If you will repeal the Corn Laws, and extend what you perhaps justly call the principles of free trade to agriculture and the produce of the land, listen first to the farmer." He says, "Extend the same principle to everything else as well as to corn—do not make me the sole victim of this excellent doctrine—let me grow my own tobacco, let me manufacture and consume my own malt. And what (continues Sir Robert Peel), what answer have you to the farmer? Can you deny the justice of his appeal?"—[See 3 Hansard, xlvi. 774.] That sentiment received the assent of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone). I say that with confidence, for I speak in the hearing of some of the most able and sincere advocates of free trade at that time, and they will remember that the sentiment of Sir Robert Peel was received with the general assent and approbation of every Member of the House. The President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Villiers), the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Milner Gibson), the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden), the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), the late Mr. Joseph Hume, and all the other leading advocates of a repeal of the Corn Laws, admitted throughout the whole of the free trade discussion that if the Corn Laws were repealed the tax upon malt must be abolished. The time is now come for submitting this question fairly to the House; and I trust I shall receive the support of those Members who so strenuously supported the repeal of the Corn Laws in former days, but admitted that the very same principle of financial policy was applicable to the Malt Tax. Sir, I would now, in order that we may see the real nature and incidence of this tax upon malt in all its Stages, desire the attention of the House to what the tax is—to what is its amount, its bearing, and its ultimate effects as regards the great body of the consumers of beer, who are, in fact, almost the entire population of this country. It is a generally admitted principle that you ought not to impose a tax on a raw material, because the effect of such a charge is to increase and multiply itself at every stage of the manufacture, until it ultimately becomes double, or treble, or quadruple, the original amount which alone passes into the Exchequer. I ask the House to consider in the first instance the entire amount paid by the consumers of beer in this country; and I believe that amount will place this question in a very striking, and, perhaps, startling point of view. I have made a calculation of my own upon that subject, but it falls short of what I have since found to be the estimate of an authority which will be respected by both sides of this House. I mean the publication called The Economist. In that journal it is stated that the sum paid by the consumers for the whole quantity of beer bought and consumed in this country, amounts to £60,000,000 per annum. In my anxiety not to overstate the case I put it down at £50,000,000 per annum; but I will take the amount as set forth on the higher authority of The Economist. Now, if the people of the United Kingdom pay £60,000,000 a year for beer, and if, as I believe I can show to be the case, one third of that amount is caused by the Malt Tax, it follows that £20,000,000 a year is the sum paid by the people of this country by reason of the existence of that tax, while only £5,000,000 of that sum passes into the Exchequer for the benefit of the State, £15,000,000 a year being thus thrown away. If the statement I am now making is chargeable with any error, I believe it is a fractional error only, and that the sum lost by the country is even greater than that which I have mentioned. Let us see how the matter stands. There are not less than four stages in the manufacture and supply of beer to the consumer. There is first the purchase and the malting of the barley, and the payment of the duty upon the malt by the maltster; next, the sale of the malt with the maltster's profit to the brewer; then the brewing of the beer, and the sale by the brewer to the publican or beer-shopkeeper; and finally the retailing of the beer by them to the consumer. We must, in the first place, consider the price of barley. It is at present a low price, and I believe it may fairly be set down at an average of 28s. a quarter. I take 4s. a quarter as the expense of the malting; it is occasionally somewhat more and occa- sionally somewhat less. The price, therefore, of a quarter of barley made into malt, in the hands of the maltster, is 32s. I put the duty upon it at 23s. We know that the duty is fixed at 21s. 8d. on the quarter of malt, but I put it at 23s. on the quarter of bailey by reason of the increase of the article in the process of malting. That increase sometimes amounts to 2 or 3 per cent, sometimes to 5 per cent, sometimes to a good deal more, and sometimes there is no increase at all. But I think I may fairly estimate the duty on the quarter of barley made into malt at 23s. which supposes an increase of 5 per cent; and now I invite attention to what follows. The tax paid by the maltster upon a quarter of malt being 23s. upon a cost price of 32s., it follows that the price of the manufactured article is thus increased a fraction above 70 per cent by taxation. It is sometimes more and sometimes less. I have received communications from a great number of persons practically acquainted with this subject, and I find from them that the percentage of the tax, as compared with the original price of the malt, varies from 66 per cent to about 76 or 77 per cent; and I think I may fairly put the average at 70 per cent, and not 12½ per cent as we have lately been told upon high authority that it is. The malt thus costs the maltster 32s., and the duty 23s., or 55s. altogether. I will put the profit at which he sells it to the brewer at 5s., making its cost to the brewer 60s We now come to another element in the price. The amount of the tax being 23s., that charge forms above two-fifths of the 55s., and with the proportion of the maltster's profit upon it, becomes two-fifths of the 60s. the cost of the malt to the brewer. The brewer has then to undertake an additional expenditure; he has to purchase a quantity of hops which I take at some 7s., or 8s., or perhaps it may be a little more. I do not know exactly the price of hops at the present moment. But I understand from a gentleman who has just gone through the process that he had to add 10s. for hops to the 60s. he had to pay for malt, so that his total expenditure under these heads amounted to 70s. We now come to the only actual outlay before the beer is manufactured. That outlay is the expense of brewing. Upon this point I have some practical experience, and I believe that when once a person has obtained malt with the duty paid and the hops there is really little or no other expense. Something must be put down for fuel; but when a person brews in small quantities he generally has a fire for some other purpose, and the water in the boiler being heated serves for brewing. But here, again, we are in a state of some uncertainty. I find it stated by farmers and labourers who brew for themselves in small quantities that the process costs them little or nothing, because they would in any case have fires lighted, and they may as well employ them for their boilers as leave them unused. I am met, however, by the argument of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass), who says that no people would think of brewing in small quantities, inasmuch as they could get their beer cheaper from the large brewers. But if small farmers can brew at home for nothing, or next to nothing, that argument can have no force unless large brewers can brew for less than nothing. The large brewers, however, in London and other places, must be at considerable expense in maintaining their vast establishments. There is the plant and the number of men they employ. But in order to avoid all controversy I add 5s. as the cost of brewing, so that the total charge for the converting of a quarter of barley into beer in the hands of the brewer will be 75s. Of this, 25s. or one-third is duty and profit upon duty; and any additional sum paid by the consumer must be the profit either of the brewer or of the publican as well upon the one-third ascribable to the duty, as upon the two-thirds, the remaining expenditure. Thus one-third of the ultimate price to the consumer is occasioned by the duty. Let us now consider the quantity of good beer which may be made by these means and at this expense from a quarter of malt. Here, again, I have consulted a number of the most competent authorities, who have furnished me with the best information upon the subject. I am told by them—and my own experience confirms me in the opinion—that out of a bushel of malt you may brew eighteen gallons of beer, and you will have in addition some two or three gallons of small beer, which I put down as a counterpoise to any possible error in my calculation. The result is that out of every quarter of malt you will have 144 gallons, or four barrels of beer, at a cost to the brewer of 75s. Now, what is the sum the consumer pays for this beer? A portion of it is furnished to families by private brewers in quantities of eighteen gallons or thirty-six gallons, perhaps at about 1s. a gallon; but the great mass of the middle and labouring classes purchase it from the publicans in pints and quarts at 16d. and 18d.; I put, therefore, the average price of all the beer consumed in the three kingdoms, and ultimately paid by the consumer, at 1s. per gallon. I believe I should be justified in putting it higher—in putting it at 16d. or 18d. a gallon; and why do I say so? The great mass of the consumers purchase their beer at the public-houses or beer shops, and the quantity sold by the private brewers is very small in comparison. The best estimate upon this point that I can form is from a Return which shows that the private brewers manufacture about 400,000 or 500,000 gallons for every 4,000,000 of gallons manufactured by the great brewers who supply the trade. I am informed that 16d. per gallon is the lowest price at which beer is obtained at a public-house; that a man may get a quart of porter for fourpence, but that he cannot get a quart of good beer for less than sixpence, and this supports the supposition that good beer must be paid for at an average rate exceeding 16d. per gallon. A large quantity of beer is also consumed by the higher classes of that description which the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass) enables us to enjoy, and which cannot be bought for less than from 2s. to 3s. per gallon. What is the general result? Why, that the consumers of this country pay £60,000,000 a year for beer, paying for that beer upon the average at the very least 1s. per gallon, and the question being at what price could the beer-consuming public obtain it, if there were no Malt Tax. The answer is, that it would be obtained one-third cheaper, and that the public, instead of paying for it £60,000,000. would pay only £40,000,000 per annum. That would be a saving of £20,000,000 sterling per annum, which is now paid by the public, by reason of a tax which yields bat £5,000,000 to the State. If this be controverted—if the Chancellor of the Exchequer should say that if the Malt Tax were put an end to the public would not be able to purchase this large quantity of beer at one-third less than is now paid for it—I undertake to prove, upon the evidence of a great number of persons of character, of property, and of large practical experience, brewers, maltsters persons of every class conversant with the subject—I undertake to prove at the Bar of this House or before a Select Committee that there are practical men, ready and willing to engage, reserving to themselves a substantial profit, to supply beer in any quantity, whether to the public-houses or to families, equal, or more than equal, in quality and value to the average of beer sold in the country, and this good and wholesome beer instead of bad and adulterated beer—at prices which will enable the consumer to purchase it by retail, at two-thirds of the price now paid. Thus I again assert that this tax of £20,000,000 a year is imposed upon the people of this country by reason of the existence of the Malt Tax, from which the State derives some £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 and no more. And I beseech the House to consider upon what classes of the people this burden falls. I will not say that the higher classes are not, to some extent, drinkers of beer, but the great consumers of beer in this country are the least well-to-do of the middle clases, the smaller tradesmen, the shopkeeper and his family, the higher sort of artisans and persons employed in manufactures, and, above all, tlose among agricultural labourers who can afford to drink their pint of beer. These constitute three-fourths of the consumers of beer. It is upon these classes, undubtedly the least able to bear any species of taxation, that you now impose this mischievous tax of £20,000,000 sterling per annum. Looking back to the principles adopted by Sir Robert Peel and by this House in 1842 and in 1846, every principle of policy and of finance forbids the continuance of this tax, and would forbid its imposition; but it has now been in existence for a century and a half, and produces a revenue of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000; and what with the unwillingness of our Financial Ministers to part with so large a sum, and the inability of the agriculturists to contend with effect in this House against that combination of forces which has hitherto been opposed to their claims, this tax has remained from 1815 to the present day unmitigated and undiminished. Now, Sir, this is undoubtedly to a great extent an agricultural question; but it is still more a question involving the interests of the labouring classes. Let me compare this article with others, and see how it has been dealt with by Governments and Parliaments during the last half century. I will not go further back than 1815. Between 1815 and 1820 our financial system may be said to have been placed on its modern footing, and let me remind the House that between 1815 and 1865 taxes have been remitted—that is, reduced or altogether taken off—on not less than 800 articles of consumption, while the tax on malt alone has been left untouched. Consider for a moment whether this is equal justice between one class of the people and another; consider the condition of the agriculturist and of the labouring classes affected by this tax. I shall not trouble the House with any enumeration of the articles of the Tariff of 1842 and subsequent years, but I hope I may be permitted to refer to one or two of them which may deserve attention. Do not let it be imagined that I complain of this. You put an end to the tax on foreign corn. I agree that that measure has conferred vast benefit on a great part of the population of this country. I agree also that it proceeded on the first and best political principles on which the reform of our financial system ought to take place. It was a tax on the raw material producing bread, the food of the people, one of the necessaries of life, an article of universal consumption. But so is malt. Malt is the raw material out of which beer is manufactured; it is likewise a necessary of life, or at least the only comfort, the only approach to a luxury which the poor man can hope to enjoy; and it is also an article of general consumption, besides being chiefly consumed by the classes least able to bear taxation. The difference between corn, the material of bread, and malt, producing beer, is that bread is an article of equal as well as general consumption, while beer is consumed in much greater proportion by the humbler classes. If, therefore, equal justice is to be done to the consumer of beer and of bread, on the same principle on which the Corn Laws were repealed, the tax on malt ought also to be put an end to. How can you, then, on the principles on which the Corn Laws were repealed in 1846, continue the duty on malt? There are other articles, such as glass, soap, bricks, tallow, and timber, of various descriptions and degrees as regards consumption, and other elements which enter into the consideration of this question. Upon all these articles the duty has been entirely taken away, while on malt it has been retained. I now come to wool and cotton. Again, I do not complain that the duties have been taken off these articles, for they are within the very principles which ought to operate upon the mind of every Financial Minister to prevent a heavy burden being laid upon the consumer while only a small portion of the sum paid passes into the Exchequer. Why was the duty taken off wool and cotton—articles of the first stage of manufacture, and why is it retained on malt? There is another article—paper. I know there has been a great difference of opinion as to the expediency of the removal of the duty on paper, at least as to the time when it should have been taken off. I am not going to revive the controversy. But paper was not a raw material; it was a manufacture, and was taxed by the Excise in undoubtedly a mischievous and vexatious form as regarded trade. I do not complain that that tax was removed; but why, when the manufactured article, paper, was relieved, has the raw material, malt—open to all the objections applicable to paper, and more—been left a solitary exception? Let me now come to another class of articles. I have dealt hitherto with articles wholly or partially of home produce, some of foreign produce, and some of a mixed description, and before I part with them altogether, I would refer to tea and sugar. As regards tea, until lately that was an article exclusively of foreign produce; but now considerable quantities are produced in India, and it may, therefore, be considered also an article of colonial produce. In 1852 tea was taxed at an ad valorem duty of 96 per cent. I rejoice that, on what is almost one of the necessaries of life for the middle and humbler classes, a great reduction of taxation has taken place; but I do not see why the labouring man should not take his choice, after a hard day's labour, whether he will take his pint of beer or his cup of tea. I cannot help thinking that we ought not to blame him if he prefers his pint of beer; and therefore I would ask, why are millions of the labouring classes forced to the substitute of tea when beer is the beverage they would prefer? Why is tea, an article chiefly of foreign growth, to be the subject of a large reduction—from 96 per cent to about 33 per cent, while malt is to remain as it was? I make the same observation with regard to sugar. That is an article partly of foreign, partly of colonial produce. The duty on sugar has been largely reduced, and I am glad of it; but I say that malt has an equal claim with sugar to partial or entire remission. Tobacco, again, another of the very few luxuries, almost the solitary luxury of the labouring man. I am not sorry that some reduction has been made in the duty on tobacco, but it is entirely out of the question to compare tobacco with malt. I now come, finally, to another duty, that on foreign wine. I must declare, with unfeigned sincerity, that I am at a loss to conceive on what principles a Financial Minister can justify the giving up of taxes to the amount of £1,000,000, or more, in the course of the year, on an article of foreign produce sent to this country for the benefit of the foreign trader—an article exclusively consumed by the higher classes and the upper portion of the middle classes—a mere luxury, which those who enjoy it are ready, able, and willing to pay for, whatever may be its price. I do feel surprised that an article of foreign produce, grown and exported to this country for the benefit of the foreign trader, limited to the consumption of the rich, should be the subject of a remission of taxation to the amount of millions; while malt, one of the necessaries of life, an article consumed almost exclusively by the middle and poorer classes, remains taxed to the highest amount that it will bear. It appears to me that to remit taxation upon these articles, but to deny remission altogether upon malt, is opposed to the first principles which ought to regulate the conduct of the Finance Minister, and is not acting in a fair spirit to the labouring poor. And this reminds me of a statement of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Milner Gibson) to his constituents at Ash-ton-under-Lyne, and also in this House. This speech of my right hon. Friend was not characterized by his usual clearness, for he spoke sometimes of malt and sometimes of beer; but whether speaking of one or of the other, his statement was that malt or beer was taxed to the amount of 12½ per cent. Now, I affirm that the tax is about 33 per cent on the beer and 70 per cent on the malt. I have offered to prove before a Select Committee of this House, that the actual proportion paid by reason of the tax on every quart of beer consumed in this country, taking the average, amounts to one-third, or 33 per cent. So much for the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. But my right hon. Friend went on to say that there were other articles much more highly taxed, and he instanced the case of tea, which he said had been taxed 83 per cent. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON: I was speaking of retail tea.] The confusion arises from the fact of my right hon. Friend dealing in the same terms, at one time, with the duty on the article as imported, or when taken out of bond, and at another treating only of that proportion which the tax bore to the retail price which the grocer receives across the counter. Tea bears now a very reduced duty. Formerly it was an ad valorem duty of 96. per cent upon every description of tea. Now it is 1s. in the pound upon all descriptions alike. If we want to know what is analogous to the 70 per cent duty paid upon malt, we must know the average price of the whole amount of tea imported, and which is ultimately charged with this duty. I should say, then, under correction, that the average price of tea imported is something like 2s. in the pound. [A laugh.] Well, Sir, if it be less, so much the better. I wish that Gentlemen conversant with the subject would inform my ignorance. But seeing that we pay at this moment for good tea 4s. and 4s. 4d. per pound, and that the middle classes pay something like 3s. a pound, I should myself be inclined to think that 2s. is the fair average price for all tea imported and consumed. If it be less so much the better for the people. But, whatever it may be, if you take the average price even at 1s. the pound, it will be 50 per cent on the price to the wholesale dealer; while malt is 70 per cent to the brewer. I do not, however, wish to dwell any longer upon any errors into which my right hon. Friend has fallen, because upon a subject of this nature I admit that I am liable to error myself. But when we come to the article of sugar I find my right hon. Friend stated that' the yellow and the brown sugars paid 61¼ per cent duty. Now, all I can say is this, that sugar, in reference to taxation, becomes such a complicated question, from the fact that it is of various kinds, and comes from our colonies, as well as from foreign States in every quarter of the world, that I should much rather leave that part of the question to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is, no doubt, better able than I am to distinguish between the one and the other. I will, however, venture to observe if my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exehequer has calculated his receipts at the Treasury, upon the amounts thus stated by his right hon. Colleague, he will find himself grievously disappointed when he comes to compare the sums anticipated with the sums received. I recently received from a wholesale dealer in the article a statement of the duties paid upon the various kinds of sugar. I will not trouble the House by going through them all, I will only take five descriptions of sugar which my right hon. Friend mentioned, and in respect to which he has taken upon himself the responsibility of stating the percentages of duty. Now, I find in every one of those five descriptions the real percentages of duty are from 10 to 20 per cent below those stated by my right hon. Friend. But I pass away from tea and sugar. I have not, however, done with my right hon. Friend; for he thought it necessary, unhappily for himself, to embark upon the question of foreign wines. Now, I fancy I heard with my own ears my right hon. Friend say that, while malt and beer were taxed 12½ per cent, French wine was taxed 22 per cent, the wine of Portugal at 30 per cent, and the wine of Spain at 29 per cent. Now, let us come to close quarters on this point. The duty on the greater part of the wines produced in France—the clarets, almost without exception, and the lighter Burgundies—if I am correct, is 1s. per gallon. That I believe is the present amount of duty. I will not stop to consider the proportion of duty on a certain description of French wine which bears the honoured name of "Gladstone." I think, however, it is rather hard upon the right hon. Gentleman that his great name should go down to posterity stamped upon the very worst and weakest of the fluids with which it is his duty as financial Minister to deal. But so it is, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain how much of duty this particular wine bears in proportion to the price to the consumer. I return to the French wine—the claret—which we drink in our own houses. Of course the price varies from 3s. to 4s., 6s., 8s., and even to 10s. a bottle. But I will take the wine of 3s., 4s., and 6s. the bottle, which those who are content with a moderate quality generally pay for the article. Well, Sir, one gallon of claret fills six bottles, and therefore, the duty upon a gallon being 1s., makes the amount on each bottle only 2d. If we take claret at 6s. a bottle, the 2d. duty on each bottle is only the thirty-sixth part of the price, or less than 3 per cent. But when we come to port and sherry, which are the wines chiefly consumed by the middle, and perhaps also by the higher classes—even taking the price of it to be 3s. a bottle, for which tolerably good wine can be purchased in the wood, the duty upon that wine would be only 4d. per bottle, or 10 per cent upon the price to the consumer. But, Sir, apart from all comparisons, why have the duties been largely reduced upon foreign wines, the luxuries of the rich, and of foreign production, whilst there has been no remission of duty on the part of the Government upon malt of home production, and the drink of the poorer classes of people? Well, I come now to another branch of the question. Let us consider next what would be the effect in a social point of view of the removal of this tax—what its effects upon the comforts, the well-being, the good morals, and the honest and sober habits of the labouring man. I believe that the first effect would be to supply good and cheap beer to at least a million of men among the labouring classes, who cannot now drink any beer at all; and further, that it would supply to another million of the labouring classes a good and cheap article instead of a bad, adulterated, and dear article, which they are now obliged to drink or to go without. I have already dealt with the question as to what would be the price to the consumers generally of beer if the duty were removed, whether they frequent public-houses or drink it at home in their own families. But let us consider the effect of this remission on the farmers and labourers themselves, and upon those who would then, if they do not now, brew at home. Upon this question my hon". Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Bass), whose authority every Member of the House must respect, stated that it was quite in vain to imagine that the people of this country would ever brew their own beer, because it was so much more expensive an operation to them than to the great brewers who traded on it and manufactured it upon a very large scale. The Chancellor of the Exchequer instantaneously seized upon that statement with the rapidity and avidity of a falcon, and availing himself of it, made merry with it, adopting the culinary expression of the impracticability of this kettle-brewing. Now let me assure the hon. Member for Derby and the House that I know of my own knowledge that this kettle-brewing, or this brewing upon a small scale by farmers, and even by labourers, is actually practised, and to a very great extent, in the very county of which I have the honour to be the representative, and in the very parish in which I reside. I speak upon the authority of Mr. Biddell, of Playford, and upon my own experience. If the Malt Tax were abolished the increase of this private brewing would be necessarily very great. The labourer need only send his sack of barley to the maltster, who would return to him a sack of malt free from any charge, the maltster being compensated by the increase of quantity in the operation of malting, and what is to prevent the farmer for himself, or the labourers for themselves, even without the aid of the farmer, from brewing their own beer? Mr. Biddell, whose knowledge and authority on this subject are conclusive, has stated that a great many labourers brew their own beer now, notwithstanding the pressure of the Malt Tax and all its vexations. But if the Malt Tax were taken off and a man might brew his own beer, farmers and labourers would both undoubtedly do so, until at least they compelled the brewers to sell good beer at a fair and reasonable price. Mr. Biddell has given us a short statement of the cost if there were no Malt Tax of brewing beer as good as that now sold for 16d., 18c?., or 20d., per gallon in the public-houses and the beer shops. A bushel of barley at 29s. per quarter would cost 3s.d., the cost of malting, &c, at 4s. 6d. per quarter, would be 6¾d. The advance in the price of barley if the Malt Tax were repealed Mr. Biddell put at 3s. per quarter, or 4½d. per bushel; one pound of hops he estimated at 1s. 6d; and the fuel 6d., making the entire cost of brewing 20 gallons of good beer 6s. 6¾d., or 4d. per gallon, 1d. per quart, or a halfpenny per pint—grains and small beer paying for labour. He says that if the malt tax were repealed, there would probably be a great advance in the price of barley, and he therefore allows 3s. per quarter for this advance. This allowance is a guarantee for his candour and fairness, and so we may take it that good beer could be thus brewed at 4d. a gallon if there were no Malt Tax. This is not a speculation, but it is a matter of fact which cannot be controverted. Will any one then tell me that if the Malt Tax were abolished, the farmers and labourers would not brew their own beer, and thus secure a comfortable, wholesome, and nutritious beverage, at one penny per quart or a halfpenny a pint? In the part of the country in which I live, agricultural labourers are only paid 11s. or 12s. a week. They consequently cannot afford to drink beer, at least such of them as have families, and they are obliged to abstain the whole year from it, except at harvest time, when it is given to them as part of their wages. In taxing this article of malt, it therefore follows that you really tax the price of labour to the labourer, because you tax the very article which in harvest time he receives as part of his wages. And even those who can afford to drink their beer would, if this tax were remitted, be able to obtain a good and wholesome article for themselves and families in their own homes, instead of being obliged, as they are now, to frequent public-houses for the purpose of buying a bad and deleterious article. I believe that the abolition of this tax would effect a social revolution of a most beneficial character in the habits of the people generally, especially in those of the agricultural labourers; and further, that it would confer an inestimable benefit upon the artisans and mechanics and work, men throughout the trading and manufacturing districts of the country But let me now say a word in reference to a class of gentlemen for whom I entertain the highest respect, and whom I regret to find among my opponents upon this question. I mean the numerous supporters and members of temperance societies. Now, I declare with the most perfect sincerity if I thought that the extinction of the Malt Tax would tend in the slightest degree to increase or to encourage habits of intemperance in any class of the people, I would not for one moment stand forward as its advocate. But I believe the very contrary would be the result. Is it because drink can be had cheap and good and in plenty that people would be induced to get drunk who otherwise would remain sober? Look at our own history, and remember the domestic habits of the upper classes some sixty years ago. The duty 'upon wine was 7s. and 8s. and 9s. a g. The price of wine was double what it is now. Did that prevent the old English gentleman of other days from indulging in excesses, which now we look back upon with wonder and shame? Are we more or less temperate now, when wine is half the price, and the duty next to nothing? Well, then, I believe that the effect of taking off this tax would be not to increase drunkenness nor to encourage intemperance, but rather by substituting a good and a wholesome, for a had, an adulterated, and a deleterious drink, to induce the people to obtain beer by brewing it themselves, and drinking it with their families in their own homes in- stead of going into public-houses and mixing with bad companions, and indulging in habits of intemperance, and at last of crime. I have now done; but let me say a word or two before I sit down in reference to the position of Ireland and Scotland in relation to this subject. I own I heard with much surprise in a former debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeal to the Members for Ireland and Scotland in an argument to this effect—that it would be unfair to take off this tax because it would only benefit the people of England, but would confer no advantage upon Ireland or Scotland. Well, Sir, if it were so, if it were true that the remission of this tax would confer benefit only on England, is it possible that the Members for Ireland and Scotland would refuse to assist us in removing from ourselves, their fellow-countrymen, the burden of an unjust and galling tax, because they happen for the moment to be free from its weight and pressure? No, Sir, I am satisfied that no such argument will have the slightest effect upon the minds of just and conscientious men from whatever country they may come. But I deny the fact in to to. I take issue upon it; and I say that the removal of this impost would greatly benefit both Ireland and Scotland. I say that there is a long line of the coast of Ireland on which inferior barley, if not the best, could be grown in great quantities. Such barley could then be easily converted into malt and used for the feeding of cattle. I maintain, therefore, that the abolition of the Malt Tax would indirectly confer upon Ireland a great advantage—such an advantage as might afford some compensation for the mortal injury which the people of that country sustained by the repeal of the Corn Laws. I am, therefore, much surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer, any other Member of this House, assert that the abolition of this tax would prove beneficial only to this portion of the United Kingdom. I have received communications from many parts of Scotland, not only from farmers but from persons in other occupations, and they all agree that it would be a great benefit to Scotland if you could encourage the consumption of cheap beer and diminish the consumption of raw spirits. Here, then, I take my stand. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain to the House why it is that this tax on malt, an article of British product, of British manufacture, and of general consumption— a tax which presses most heavily upon the middle and the labouring classes, upon those least able to bear the burden of any taxation whatever—a tax involving high moral and social as well as political and financial considerations—I ask, why should this tax be left standing by itself amidst more than 800 of other taxes reduced or repealed, this tax, and this alone, not only unrepealed, but undiminished? I know that I do not contend on equal terms with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His eloquence may be applauded, and his measures supported, if not altogether approved by a majority of this House. He may turn a deaf ear now to the voices of those classes who cannot make themselves heard in this House, where, alas, they are outnumbered and borne down. But I tell him that this state of things cannot last. It is with the cultivators of the land, and with a great number of the consumers of beer, as it was with the paper-makers and others who have become the victims of a course of legislation which, though I do not deny that it has conferred considerable benefits on numerous classes, has also inflicted deep and permanent injury on others. These, the sufferers, may indeed yield in becoming, though not uncomplaining submission, to the decisions of this House, but they will feel, until their grievances are redressed, that they have not had equal justice, with other classes of the community, at the hands of the Legislature. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving his Resolution.


Sir, I rise to second the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend. In his able and exhaustive speech he did not exaggerate the importance attached to the relief from the Malt Tax by the great body of agricultural producers; and the amount of the tax, which, no doubt, seems to many Gentlemen the strong reason for retaining it, seems to the farmers the strongest argument in favour of its repeal. What the farmers say is this, When you tell us that this tax produces £6,000,000 a year, you only bring more vividly before our eyes the extent to which we are defrauded in the fair exercise of our industry and skill. Here you call in free trade in order to compel us to vie with the corn-growers throughout the world, and when in this struggle we turn to that crop on which we ought most to rely, because in that crop we are most a match for the foreigner, your free trade resolves itself into a tax of £6,000,000 on our raw ma- terial; and you make the very amount of the spoliation the reason why we should submit to be despoiled." But it is not only against the free cultivation of barley that the tax militates. Its tendency must be, more or less, to derange the natural process of agriculture in the unfettered selection of crops. Agriculture is a course of tillage spread over a certain series of years in a certain rotation of crops; and in that year in which the farmer would and ought to sow barley, our common-sense must tell us that the presence of this tax at once obtrudes itself on the consideration of his choice, and will often induce him to select another crop more exhausting to the land, less appropriate to a judicious place in the regular course of his husbandry, and less lucrative than barley would be if barley were left free from the exciseman. You cannot, therefore, wonder to find many farmers declaring, at the various meetings which have been held on this subject, that they will not grow a bushel of malt so long as the tax lasts. And if the tax thus deters farmers from selecting a barley crop even in the barley-growing districts, how much more will it tend to prevent the introduction of that crop in other parts of these kingdoms to which it would be invaluable as an article of cattle food, if it were not frightened away by a duty of 21s. 8d. a quarter? Thus by the positive discouragement you give to a crop in which England naturally excels every other nation, you exclude it altogether from many soils to which it would be well adapted, and you stint the whole agricultural wealth of the country to a far greater amount than the revenue benefits by so mischievous a tax upon a raw material. The question becomes still more important as to the operation of the tax, not only against the farmer, but against every class of consumer, and against the elementary source of national wealth, which consists in the fertility of the soil, when you consider its injurious effect upon the quantity of stock kept. For stock implies two things—first, meat to the consumer; secondly, manure to the soil. Whatever tends to restrict the quantity of stock kept tends to make meat less plentiful and of higher price, and tends also to rob the land of the manure necessary for its nourishment. If you have no stock, you have no farmyard heap. If you have no farmyard heap, you have no guarantee for the permanent and continuous fertility of the soil. Artificial manures are like doctor's drugs—they may do great good for a time, they act as restoratives or alteratives; but they can no more supersede the necessity for the natural manure of the farmyard heap than doctor's drugs can supersede the necessity for food. The farmyard heap is the food of the soil, and nothing can supply its place. Now, let me ask any of those distinguished practical agriculturalists, of whom there are so many in this House, if I am not right when I say that just in proportion as, since the repeal of the Corn Laws, successful farming has ceased to depend upon the price of corn, it ought to depend upon the increased cultivation and keep of stock? And yet, I ask again, can there be a greater discouragement to the increase of stock than a law which restricts the farmer in the growth of his own food for it? And what kind of food? Why, precisely that which can be grown upon almost any soil. Therefore, this tax, which some consider only the grievance of the farmer, and others ridicule as a mere question of beer, operates against every constituent you have in towns or boroughs, because, by discouraging stock, it raises the price of meat, and by defrauding the soil of the manure which is its most lasting fertilizer, there is nothing that the soil can yield which it does not render dearer, while it diminishes the taxable wealth of the whole community. But the Board of Trade has issued a Report on the eve of this debate which, in common fairness to Members, who in questions of practical detail naturally desire time to confer with practical authorities, it ought to have issued some weeks ago, containing an account of a course of experiments on cattle food; by which Report it is made to appear that barley unmalted gives more weight to cattle and more milk to cows than barley malted; and thus, it is contended by a powerful daily journal, that one main argument for the repeal of the tax is destroyed. That those experiments were made fairly the name of Mr. Lawes is to me a sufficient guarantee. Asa Hertfordshire man, I am too proud of the fame of that eminent chymist to disparage his authority. But Mr. Lawes, were he here, would agree with me when I say that the whole history of physiological science shows how little faith is to be placed in any preliminary course of physiological experiments—or even in a second or third course—however plausible they may be. For instance, a series of experiments was made on the transfusion of new blood into diseased sub- jects, which appeared at first so triumphantly successful that it created a profound sensation throughout Europe. Everywhere medical men adopted the practice, but the result so upset the theory founded on these experiments, and caused so many sudden and violent deaths, that the Parliament of Paris actually declared the transfusion of blood to be criminal, where it was not formally authorized by the medical faculty. The inventor, despite the unquestioned success of his early experiments, was sent into banishment, and the whole system fell into discredit till revived in our day and placed on a scientific basis. But how? Why, by allowing that the first process of experiments, though apparently so successful, was altogether based upon an erroneous principle, that the subsequent course was equally fallacious, because adhering to the same error of principle, and showing by experiments founded on a principle before unacknowledged, and now generally recognized as sound, where and how the process may be beneficial and where it must be fatal. But in the whole history of experiments nothing has required so many repetitions, and undergone such revisions of scientific opinion, as experiments analogous to those of the Board of Trade which have been made upon the relative merits of articles of nutrition. Here the deductions drawn from the first course of experiments, made by the ablest authorities, have been almost invariably disproved by a second course of experiments, and the second disproved by a third; and to this day the whole subject is one of the most complicated and mysterious in which rival physiologists can engage. I think that one of the last of these inquiries on the merit of comparative articles of nutriment made by the physiologists of the continent was whether, according to scientific experiments conducted on principles of selection exactly similar to those adopted by the Board of Trade, only selecting varieties of men instead of varieties in the inferior animals, more nutrition was contained in the roast beef of Old England or in the boiled leg of a donkey. I believe the first experiments were in favour of donkey, but I am now assured that, on second thoughts, sound philosophers give the preference to beef. Sure I am, however, that if the raw material of donkey yielded to the revenue £6,000,000 a year, a Board of Trade would never be at a loss to find a preliminary abstract report to justify its predilection for donkeys. Therefore, Sir, with all respect to the Board of Trade, I object to take their Report as in any way settling the question. We are not to suppose that during all these years farmers themselves had not been testing the relative merits of barley and malt as cattle food, with every inducement to prefer bailey because it is untaxed. Numberless persons have made these experiments. I will single one, because he is as high an authority as even Mr. Lawes on this subject—Mr. Booth, of Catterick, Yorkshire—who, as the largest stock-breeder in England, and perhaps, in the world, has tried both barley and malt in every conceivable combination, and found that though barley might require to be very slightly steeped, it must be steeped enough to be chargeable to the tax in order to be of general advantage, and in that case he would have given it the most important place in cattle food, if the tax did not render it too expensive. Thus, I am quite sure that we shall shortly hear from numbers of persons of unquestionable authority, that the result of their experience is totally at variance with the Report of the Board of Trade. But we will now assume, for the sake of argument, that the Report establishes the fact at which it aims, and even then it will not affect, except to strengthen, our proposition that the Malt Tax operates against the increase of stock. And for this reason, assuming that unmalted barley is better than malted barley for the food of cattle, still it will be the inferior barleys devoted to that object. But the Malt Tax, as the leading journal I have before referred to allows, is a fine on the inferior barleys, and a fine which the same authority admits is sufficient to discourage the sowing of inferior barley—that is, to discourage the growth of cattle food in barley, whether it be malted or unmalted. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose faith in the legitimate laws of competition, and whose vast information on all subjects belonging to philosophical inquiry must make him, at heart, somewhat sceptical as to the value of those experiments on which the Board of Trade seem to reply, saw that in the application of malted barley to cattle food there was an argument with which it was difficult to cope; and, therefore, in his Bill of last year, he attempted to encourage the experiment of malting barley exclusively for the purpose of cattle food. I wish to do the amplest justice to the enlightened consideration for the interests of the meat consumer—in other words, for the whole population of England—which is evinced by the intention of his Bill. But I am sure that his candour will at once allow that the effect of that Bill must be extremely partial. I am ready to concede, for the sake of argument, that it has done more good than is generally supposed; but, on the other hand, it must be quite clear to him—it must be quite clear to every man of sense—that only a very small number of farmers and stockkeepers will attempt the experiment of malting for cattle food, with all the vexatious restrictions heaped upon the experiment, with all their jealous dislike of the exciseman, with all their natural and excusable desire not to co-operate in assisting a contrivance by which the tax itself is to be retained—a very small number, indeed, compared with those who would grow barley for the sake of malting if malt were free from duty and they could count on the double profit of malting, both for the food of cattle and the drink of man. And out of that great increase in the quantity of malted barley the larger part would necessarily go to the food of cattle, because that is the proper destination of the inferior barleys which at this moment are almost a drug in the market But, apart from the direct application of malt to cattle food, and apart from the Report of the Board of Trade, and regarding only the application of malt to the popular beverage of malt liquors, the repeal of the Malt Tax would inevitably tend to the increase of the quantity of stock kept. For malt so applied, if free from duty, would be a new and large item of profit to the farmer; it would thus increase the general farming capital, and that increase of capital would find its natural, because its most profitable, vent in the increase of stock; while, if the working-class paid less for their beer than they do now, they would of course have more to spend upon butchers' meat; and thus there would be at once created an additional supply of, and demand for, that main article of human food—meat, all tending to the encouragement of keeping stock, and by the manure produced from the stock all tending to the increased fertility of our soil, even for wheat crops, and, therefore, all tending to the cheapening of bread itself. For it is clear that the manure which the farmer would obtain by growing untaxed barley he would devote to the land which is to grow untaxed wheat. Is it not a strange anomaly that you should say to the bread producer, "You must give us the cheapest bread which unlimited competition with foreign countries can secure;" and then inflict on the bread grower a tax which directly frustrates your object of cheap bread; because it mulcts the capital by which the bread crops are produced at home, and cheats the land of the nourishment which the bread crops require? If this tax raises £6,000,000 a year from the raw material of the agriculturist, what is it but £6,000,000 withdrawn from one of the most reproductive sources of the wealth of the nation? I ask, then, is not this relief essential to the consummation of free trade? Is it not the fair demand of skilled labour to be free from a tax upon the raw material? And if you wish that raw material to be worked up so as to contribute a fair benefit to the consumer, do you suppose that you can effect that object by the partial experiment of a handful of maltsters with the exciseman at their backs, and all the complicated machinery by which malt may be rendered unfit for the use of man? No; you can only effect your object in the common-sense natural way, by the unshackled competition of the cultivators of the soil, by whose skill, industry, capital, and labour, the raw material of the soil is to be raised and increased. Now, there has been a strange attempt to prejudice the true merits of this question by narrowing them to the mere effect of the tax upon malt liquors. But, quite apart from that article of consumption, I think I have shown that the tax affects the price of meat and of bread; that it affects the productive fertility of the soil, and therefore, of course, everything which the soil produces. But its effect on malt liquor is not a thing to be ridiculed. First, as to quality. I bring no charge against respectable brewers. I do not believe that they adulterate beer by any deleterious ingredients. But it is not from the respectable brewers that the workmen get their beer. The beer of the working-class is bought retail, and we are told by an eminent chymist that the beer retailed to the working class is agreeably compounded of quassia, wormwood, and coculus indicus, which last has the special advantage of being a poison that insures speedy intoxication. So here I grant that you may say to the working man, "It is true that the tax raises the prices of your beer, but then it gives you these two blessings in return—it accelerates the stupefaction of drunkenness, and shortens the proba- tion of this mortal life." Secondly, as to the effect of the duty on the price of malt liquors. I shall not here attempt to add anything to the calculations of my hon. and learned Friend. Whether it only tax a quart of malt liquor at 12½ per cent, as my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade assures us, or, as my hon. and learned Friend contends, 50 per cent, that is a matter which I leave entirely to those more competent than myself to deal with. I may, indeed, think it strange that malt liquor is only taxed 12½ per cent, when the malt which we in the innocence of our hearts assume to be its principle ingredient is taxed 70 per cent; but I am old enough to know that there is no conjuring trick equal to that of figures in the hands of a clever Minister. I am contented to take my stand on the simple certainty, which the President of the Board of Trade is the last man to dispute—namely, that according to the law of competition, which affects the operations of trade, the repeal of the Malt Tax would give to the consumer of malt liquor his most probable chance of having the best quality at the lowest price, and while the tax lasts he certainly has neither. But permit me to add that I think it would be difficult to persuade the working man that you apply your legislation fairly to him when, in the name of free trade, you so largely reduce your duties on the beverage of the rich, and then, in the name of the revenue, refuse all mitigation of a tax on the beverage of the poor—taking such special pains that the working man shall not have the best drink at the lowest price that your last legislation on the subject exhausts the ingenuity of mechanicians in order to exclude the man from the advantage you are willing to give to a cow or a pig. But, Sir, the Malt Tax is entitled to our first consideration, not only for the reasons I have stated, but because it now stands prominently foremost among the objects for which the income tax was first imposed. What the farmers feel and say is this, "You have levied an income tax of which we pay a share, for the avowed object of establishing free trade as the mainspring of all fiscal legislation. Availing yourselves of this mighty instrument, you have given relief to other classes of the community in the taxes or duties by which their energies were most crippled, or of which their complaints were most loud; but, all alone, we agriculturalists have been thrust out of the pale of your benignant consideration. The exciseman stands between us and the free culture of our soil, just as he stood before free trade was an experiment tried upon ourselves, or the income tax drew from our pockets monies which have gone to the relief of others. You have conceded to fellow-sufferers far less numerous than we are all those arguments against the principle of excise duties to which you turn a deaf ear when they are urged by us. Bricks and soaps and paper have all had priority over our complaints. But we now ask—and is it too much to ask?—that the income tax shall complete its object, and give us, however tardily, some share of the relief which our contributions to that income tax have so largely assisted to give to all industrial occupations except our own?" "Oh," but it is said, "we do not dispute the justice of your demand, but then your grievance is so lucrative to the Exchequer. How can you expect us to repeal all at once a duty that yields £6,000,000 a year? A mere reduction would not satisfy the agitators, and would not get rid of the exciseman." And finally, reasoners of this kind sum up by saying, "Since we cannot give you all, we will give you nothing." But is that the way Reformers deal with reforms? or is it in that way we are "to rest and be thankful?" Why, every abuse would last to the end of time if one party did not concede a something and the other party accept a something as an instalment of the whole demand. Do not forget that in this very temperate Motion we do not ask you to take off the whole tax all at once. We only ask you to begin to take it off by any instalment you have to spare, and continue to bear us in mind whenever you can take off old taxes without imposing new ones. I do not deny that I desire and that I argue for the ultimate and total repeal of this tax; but I say this on behalf of our friends the farmers, that they are like other Englishmen—show them that you are in earnest to redress their grievance, and they, in turn, will have confidence in you as to the mode and manner of doing so, without too sudden a derangement of your financial operations; but do not dismiss them by the mockery of saying, "Since we cannot at once give you complete justice, we will give you no justice at all. Instead of justice we give you a Report from the Board of Trade." I earnestly entreat hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to regard this question with that fairness and freedom from prejudice which I am sure is their natural desire upon all matters that affect the general interests of the community. Do not be biassed against the Motion because it emanates from these Benches; do not suffer it to become a party question; and do not regard it as a mere farmers' question, on which you have no interest if farmers are not your constituents. It is one of those instances in which the grievance of the producer is the wrong of the consumer. And, indeed, if I have proved to you how the tax raises the price of meat, meat is much more consumed by your constituents in towns than by our labourers in the counties. And now, as to the amount of the tax. Is it really so great a difficulty if you will but grapple with it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us last year, on introducing his Budget, that since 1860–1 the real diminution in our taxation had been £6,668,000. That is within three years above £500,000 more than the proceeds of this Malt Tax which, we are now told, is protected from even an approach by the sanctity of its colossal injustice ! But you say that approach cannot be made with safety to the revenue. Yet so safely to the revenue did you sweep away more than six millions and a half of taxes on industry in three years that last year you had two millions and a half again to give away, and this year I believe you have much the same. All these great reliefs were effected because you were in earnest to effect them while you could avail yourselves of the income tax. Be only as earnest to complete, by this relief, the objects of that income tax, and ways and means will be found in this case, as they have been found in others, in which a relief to the national industry has proved to be the readiest means to increase the national income. I have always said of this House of Commons, in which it is more than thirty years since I first had the honour of a seat, that there has never been a popular Assembly, on the whole, so alive to the principles of political honour, nor an aristocratic Assembly, on the whole, more desirous of doing equal justice between man and man; and it is from a respectful but profound conviction that neither according to honour nor to justice you can play fast and loose with those professions and pledges in free trade which make the repeal of the Malt Tax the logical and inevitable consequence of the Corn Law, that I entreat you not to reject the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That in any future remission of Indirect Taxation, this House should take into consideration the Duty on Malt, with a view to its early reduction and ultimate repeal."—(Sir FitzRoy Kelly.)


rose to move the following Amendment to the Motion:— That, considering the immunities from taxation now enjoyed by the owners and occupiers of land, they are not entitled to any special consideration on account of the pecuniary pressure of the Malt Tax; and that, if, on other grounds, that tax should be reduced or abolished, compensation to the Revenue should be sought, in the first instance, by withdrawing from landed property the advantage it now has over other property in the shape of total exemption from Probate Duty and partial exemption from Succession Duty and Income Tax. He said, he was aware that there was something in the terms of his Amendment which, in the eyes of many hon. Members, would appear to be in the nature of an audacious paradox. He had to some extent incurred the reproach of ignorant hostility to the landed interest, and, therefore, he begged to observe that for the last twenty years he had been very much concerned with the management of landed property, and during that time had neglected no opportunity of having personal intercourse with the cultivators of land. He had given a greater proof of his friendly attachment to the cause of the agriculturists than almost anyone on his (the Ministerial) side of the House. There was one circumstance which he would name, because by way of friendly intimidation it had been threatened to be cited against him if he resumed his opposition on this subject. He once wrote a pamphlet in favour of Protection, and he was not ashamed to own it, because he did so with the permission, and, to some extent, with the encouragement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), whom he was glad to see in his place, and his performance was honoured with that right hon. Gentleman's emphatic approval. The hon. and learned Gentleman who began the present debate insisted principally on the claims of the consumer. That was the best way of putting the matter before the House; but that was not the way in which it would go before the hon. and learned Member's constituents. There was no doubt that the real character of this claim was not that of being a claim on behalf of the consumer, but it was in reality a claim for some indefinite pecuniary advantage. It was meant as some retaliation for what the right hon. Baronet who last spoke conceived to be past injuries, and some compensation for past evils. Therefore, it was very relevant to inquire what were the immunities which land enjoyed, and what were the special burdens to be set against them. In some minds those burdens were so multifarious that no one knew where to begin with them. Some people thought that all the expenses incident to country life were to be regarded as burdens to be taken into account as grounds for consideration for relief from the Exchequer. Subscriptions to a school or hospital, and even the expenses incident to attending church oftener than was the case in towns, were regarded by some as reasons entitling them to relief. The great local burden was, of course, the Poor Rate, and it was argued that the land was unjustly used because stock-in-trade was not taxed; but so long as the agricultural unions were for the most part inhabited by persons occupying land, so long as the principle of local liability and assessment prevailed—and he hoped it would prevail, for he saw no safety in any other principle—it did not matter one sixpence to the agriculturists whether stock-in-trade was taxed or not. If the Poor Rate were a national rate, then, no doubt, the case might be different. The county rate contributed in a greater degree than it ought to Imperial purposes, but it was not the laud only which contributed. A large amount was paid also by house property in the suburbs of boroughs and in market towns, which had to pay borough rates besides. It was said that the Land Tax ought to be regarded as a special burden on land, but that tax, being a very old and settled one, became no tax at all. When the property was sold it was taken with the estate and was no more felt as a tax than tithe. Towns were subject to the Land Tax, although the contributions of newly-built ones were trifling. London paid a considerable tax, but Liverpool, and all new towns, paid not more than a halfpenny or a farthing in the pound. But all these new towns contributed to the house tax, whereas the lightly taxed portions of the land contributed an incredibly small portion of the tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer obtained only a small per cent-age from agricultural houses. Of the 37,000,000 acres of land in this country, not less than 25,000,000 were of a character subject to cultivation. Only 23,000 houses were on that land, and the average amount they were rated at was £24; and justice would not be had in this respect so long as the local authorities continued to be the assessors. Farm-houses contributed one-sixtieth of the whole. These were rated at £24 per year; whilst other houses, including the residences of the gentry, were rated at an average of £50 per year. The Committee of 1846, by an estimate of Mr. Pressly, Surveyor of Stamps and Taxes, put down the amount of immunities enjoyed by the landed interest in respect of fire insurance, horses, dogs, &c, at upwards of £900,000. They would not amount to that now; but in direct and intentional immunity they still amounted to £450,000. He now came to the sources of immunity referred to in his Notice. Land was formerly exempted from probate duty because wills devising real estate only did not require probate; the reason for the exemption had now ceased, and he hoped that one of the taxes to be substituted for the Malt Tax, if it was repealed, would be a probate duty upon land. As to the succession duty the exemptions were of an unaccountable character. If a man received a gift of land in fee-simple, he paid no more than if he obtained only a life interest; and what was still more extraordinary was that while landowners were allowed to pay the duty by annual instalments, if they died before they had discharged the full amount, the instalments were not charged against their successors. How could men have the audacity to put forward such preposterous claims, and what excuse had the Chancellor of the Exchequer for yielding to them, except the necessity for submitting to the predominance of an interest against which and without which no Ministry could live for a day. Another advantage enjoyed by land was that it did not pay the same amount of income tax as was charged upon other property. The income tax upon land bore a less proportion to its capital value than did the duty levied upon any other property. He knew that in making this statement he differed from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That right hon. Gentleman argued that if the income tax lasted for ever, it made no difference whether a man enjoyed his income for a short term of years or a long one, and that the tax would in either case bear an equal proportion to the value of the property. He had endeavoured to see the force of this reasoning, but he had not been able to do so. It always appeared to him to resemble the consolation addressed to a man who was suffering under an unexpected calamity, that it would be all the same a hundred years hence. The income tax varied in amount, and the advantage derived from its fluctuations by the owners of land, was greater than that enjoyed by any other class of the community, because the capital of their property bore a greater proportion to the income. The landed interest actually complained of the great increase of the capital value of their land, because that was the real meaning of the statement that land now paid only 2½ or 3 per cent. The value of land had increased above everything, and their real complaint was that while during the last twenty years their rents had only increased 10 per cent the capital value of land had increased 30 per cent. The tenant farmer paid duty upon only one-half of his income, although under the income tax of Mr. Pitt he paid upon one-third. This was justified upon the ground that all that he paid was deducted from the rent, and that therefore the landlords paid an income tax and a half. But if whatever was a burden to the tenant became a burden upon the landlord, whatever was a benefit to the tenant must be a benefit to the landlord; and if it was true that men engaged in the cultivation of land escaped taxation to which they would be liable if they embarked in other occupations, the result would be that the landlords paid only half an income tax instead of an income tax and a half. He admitted that that seemed rather a subtle argument and he had only arrived at it himself with considerable care. With respect to the Malt Tax, what was the burden of which they complained? That burden must be exactly commensurate with the benefit they expected to derive from its repeal, and with the increase of rent they would obtain. As the farmers' friend he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite how much they meant to add to their rent. Perhaps they were not prepared to tell that now, but it was to be hoped that they would tell it to the farmer on the hustings. In his own county he would take care that that question should be asked. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were in this predicament; they either contemplated such an increase to their rents as they durst not avow, or they thought that increase would be so small that its loss would not be worth considering in contrast with the immunities he had shown they enjoyed. He might be charged with audacity, but he was disposed to return the compliment and express his astonishment at the moral courage with which the advocates of the landed interest came forward, seeking on such grounds to disturb the financial arrangements of the country. He had seen symptoms of a desire to do that, even at the expense it might be, of the interests and honour of the country, by forcing upon every department of our expenditure an indiscriminate retrenchment, not for the sake of economy or to diminish the pressure on the community at large, but to increase the gains of one class, and that the most flourishing. The House had already heard two distinguished Members of the Conservative party, and probably it would by-and-by hear those who were supposed to represent that party's financial policy. What, he asked, did they mean to do? Would they, if the result of the next election gave them possession of the Treasury Benches, propose either a considerable reduction or the total repeal of the Malt Tax in their first Budget, or in their second? Perhaps they might propose to do it in their third Budget without much fear of having their pledges to fulfil. In their first Budget, no doubt, the repeal of that tax would be conspicuous by its absence. They would be able to make excuses, and to say, not only with plausibility, but with great truth, that it was all the fault of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer; for it would be because that right hon. Gentleman had diverted the overflowing stream of his revenue into a wider channel, because in the application of his ever recurring surplus he had taken into consideration not only the material, but the moral wants of the community; because in a certain sense he had frittered away the resources of the country in the payment of its just debts, that neither he nor his successor would be in a condition to meet the importunate claimant who now thundered at his gate. But if the effect of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's policy, whether prudent or imprudent, was to make the repeal of the Malt Tax for many years to come entirely out of the question, why did right hon. Gentlemen opposite hold out the hope of it to the country? He knew why they did that. Such a course might be successful for a season, but those who adopted it could not expect permanently to benefit by it. The time would come, if it had not come already, when the English farmer would grow weary of that oft-told tale of the repeal of the Malt Tax, when he would renounce all such visionary hopes, and, still more, those feelings of barren resentment, which the men who called themselves his friends, for their own political purposes sought to keep alive in his breast—when he would turn with something even of indignation upon those who bade him, since he might not hope for victory, seek at least for revenge. And revenge against whom? Against those who never meant him any harm, and had never done him any, but who ought rather to be regarded as his best friends, because they had never lured him on by delusive hopes of dishonest gains; because they had forced him to rest his hopes of prosperity on the sure and certain ground of equal right, and because they had taught him to discover, and that by no very painful experience, that the bottom of the great river of free trade, was a very good bottom when they came to it.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "considering the immunities from taxation now enjoyed by the owners and occupiers of land, they are not entitled to any special consideration on account of the pecuniary pressure of the Malt Tax; and that if, on other grounds, that Tax should be reduced or abolished, compensation to the Revenue should be sought, in the first instance, by withdrawing from landed property the advantage it now has over other property in the shape of total exemption from Probate Duty and partial exemption from Succession Duty and Income Tax,"—(Mr. Neate,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he did not rise for the purpose of following the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down into his somewhat elaborate network of figures on the subject of the burdens on land, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had furnished a most excellent reason for his not doing so, inasmuch as he had frankly told the House that it took him a very long time to arrive at an accurate comprehension of his own argument, and the House might very fairly excuse him (Mr. Du Cane) from not comprehending them on the spur of the moment. But as he and his constituents took a great interest in this subject he trusted he might be permitted to address a few observations on the main point at issue. He congratulated his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Suffolk (Sir FitzRoy Kelly) not merely upon the able and lucid speech with which he had introduced his Motion, but upon the improved position which this question now occupied. No doubt last year the question of the Malt Tax was discussed under great disadvantage. They had to contend with two powerful rivals—in the war duties on tea and sugar, and the income tax—to the reduction of which the leading Members of both sides of the House were undoubtedly pledged. All they could do last year was to lay their case fairly before the House, apart from those party feelings which he was sorry the hon. and learned Gentleman had had the bad taste to impute to them, and show that they were thoroughly in earnest, but this year they fought their battle under different auspices. They were first in the field. There was no rival claimant, save the vague and shadowy one indicated, if indicated it really was, in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down. No doubt when the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget he would summon up a host of rival claimants, as no doubt he would that evening assign a host of reasons to show that the Malt Tax was the only tax which ought to be left untouched. But as yet the hon. and learned Gentleman was their only adversary, and his line of attack was a rather peculiar one. His Resolution did not affirm that the Malt Tax ought to be retained because it was wise, just, and beneficial, but simply that the landed interest had no claim to a reduction or repeal of the Malt Tax on account of their immunity from the probate duty and income tax. If, however, "on other grounds" the tax were to be reduced, meaning as he (Mr. Du Cane) supposed, for the hon. and learned Member had not been very explicit on this point, if the repeal would benefit the manufacturer as well as the agriculturist, then the deficiency was to be made good by another pull at that pet milch cow of hon. Members below the gangway—the landed interest. Now, in the first place, he (Mr. Du Cane) replied that if a prima facie case could be made out against a particular tax, that it was unfair and unjust, and against the leading principles of our commercial and financial policy then it was no argument for its maintenance to urge that it should not be abolished because any one interest in particular would be benefited by the repeal of that tax. It might with equal justice have been urged in the case of the manufacturers of soap, glass, and bricks, all which duties had been repealed in the last twenty-five years that the great bulk of them were exempted from burdens peculiar to the land such as tithe and land tax. And when a few years since this side of the House strenuously opposed the abolition of the paper duty, he thought they might with equal justice have moved a Resolution to the effect that as the manufacturers of Manchester and Birmingham were the principal parties to benefit by the repeal, the deficiency to the revenue should be made good by a special rate on the manufactures of Manchester and Birmingham. And in the next place, he ventured to deny that the repeal of the Malt Tax was exclusively a landed question; it was a question which affected the interest of the consumer as much, if not more, than those of the producer, and especially it was the question of the whole mass of the labouring population both in town and country. He also denied that the landed interest enjoyed an immunity from taxation either upon account of income tax, legacy duty, or other Imperial or local taxation. Now, first as to the case of income tax. If they compared the amount of the gross rental upon which the owner of landed property was arbitrarily assessed with the net rental he actually received, they would find that at least 16 per cent must be allowed for deductions for repairs and other outgoings before a penny of income reached the owner's pocket. That is to say, that the owner of land and houses paid not only upon 16 per cent more income than he actually received, but he also paid on 16 per cent more than the manufacturer and merchant, who made his own returns and was allowed to make these deductions. This statement was an arrow he had ventured to borrow from the quiver of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he further believed he was not overstating the case when he said that at this moment the owner of land and houses was paying, as contrasted with those assessed in the other schedules of the tax, in the proportion of 8d. to 6d. in the pound. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Neate) laid great stress on the argument that the occupier of land was only assessed to income tax upon half his rental; but he (Mr. Du Cane) would reply that even in the best of agricultural times looking to the slow and limited character of agricultural profits such an assessment was only just, while when agricultural prospects were bad or indifferent, as at this moment, those who were connected with land knew that the farmer frequently paid income tax upon utterly imaginary profits, as he realized scarcely any income. Passing from direct to indirect taxation he would now refer to one or two other burdens on land; and first he would refer to the Customs which the hon. and learned Gentleman had entirely forgotten to mention. If they looked at the Customs Returns they would find that about one-fourth of the entire income raised from that source was derived from the duty upon tobacco; that was to say that while all those classes who were connected with land contributed equally with others to the duties upon tea and sugar, and other items of Customs revenue one-fourth of the entire Customs revenue we derived was levied upon the prohibition of the growth of an article in this country which he believed a large quantity of the soil both of England, and Ireland, was as well qualified to grow as the land of Holland and Germany. Passing to the Excise, they found that nearly one-third of the Excise revenue was levied by a single tax, which if it did not altogether prohibit at least very materially restricted and disarranged the growth and cultivation and use by the farmers of a leading article of agricultural produce. He must say he could not gather from the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Neate) what special immunity from taxation the landed interest enjoyed at this moment. It was true he had said something about exemption from probate and succession duty, and it was true that the land was partially exempted from those duties; but against this there was to be set more than £1,000,000 that was paid for unredeemed land tax into the Exchequer, and which the Committee of 1846, so much relied on by the hon. and learned Gentleman, specially described as being one of the heaviest burdens the land had to bear. And if in addition he placed also to the account the very large sum which had been expended in redeeming the other portion of the tax, the interest upon which sum was a portion of the revenues of the State, this, he contended, would leave a very considerable balance of payment in favour of the landed interest. The main question for their decision, however, did not relate to the old battle-cries of twenty years since, which had reference to the special burdens upon land as compared with other interests, but whether the Malt Tax was the tax of all others which on the ground of justice as well as the general benefit had the first claim on the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Upon the ground of justice, he ventured to say that the existence of the Malt Tax at that moment was a living testimony to one of the greatest breaches of faith ever perpetrated by the House of Commons. He affirmed that apart from every other argument. There was a distinct pledge by nearly every distinguished leader upon the other side of the House, at the time of the adoption of a free trade policy, that if the Corn Laws were repealed, the repeal of the Malt Tax should follow as a matter of course. He would not again quote the authorities to which he referred last year upon this matter, and which had now become as familiar "as household words" in every market town in the country. He admitted that the farmers were unwilling at that time to accept the compromise, and looking back calmly and dispassionately as he did through a long vista of years at the history of that time, he now thought that they lost a golden opportunity; but because one party in a great quarrel took a mistaken view of the objects for which they should contend, it was no reason why the leaders upon the other Bide of the House should change their war cries, and seek to retreat from their engagement, Now that they had arrived at the time of continued surpluses, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been enabled to do justice, and more than justice, to rival claims, the time had surely come for the fulfilment of the outstanding pledge to the farmers of the country. In his opinion the House ought to bring to bear upon Her Majesty's or any other Government, all the constitutional and legal pressure in their power to force them to redeem the pledge given to the farmers so long ago. He should like to say a few words upon what the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Neate) said was quite beyond his comprehension, the injustice done to the farmer by the Malt Tax. His case was simply this—that at a time when the price of wheat was so low as to be hardly remunerative, and when the imports, particularly from America, were so large and increasing as to be likely still to depreciate its value, the farmer would, if it were not for the restriction of this Excise law, seek to redress the balance by growing less wheat and more barley. But the operation of the Excise law was such as to render all but the first-class barley, which only a very limited portion of the soil of this country was qualified to grow, a mere drug in the market. And thus the operation of a single tax was to restrict and disarrange the whole course of English agriculture. The farmer was forced into exhausting his land by growing crop after crop of spring wheat when he would gladly grow barley, because under the existing laws wheat unremunerative as it was, was a safer crop to grow. And there could be no doubt that at the present moment the quantity of wheat grown in this country was as far above the average as the quantity of barley was below it. Mr. M'Culloch, a most important authority on such matters, had estimated that if the soil of this country were cultivated according to the proper rotation of crops there ought to be under barley about 2,500,000 acres; and this quantity of land would produce, upon the moderate calculation of between four and five quarters per acre, 10,000,000 quarters of grain. But the amount paid to the revenue—£5,500,000—in the form of the Malt Tax showed that duty was paid upon only 5,000,000 quarters, of which our yearly returns proved that at least 2,000,000 quarters were foreign. Where, then, were the other 5,000,000 quarters? There was no doubt a considerable quantity of barley consumed for seed and for food for poultry, cattle, and pigs; but there could be no doubt equally that a large portion of the 10,000,000 quarters was not grown at all; that at the present moment there was not above two-thirds of the land which should be cultivated for barley which was so employed. And when the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite talked of the farmers partial exemption from income tax, he should like to know what amount of income tax the Malt Tax in the case of the farmer might be fairly said to represent. Sir Robert Peel estimated years ago, and the correctness of his estimate had never been disputed, that, except in the cider-growing counties, every farmer who farmed 300 acres consumed, in the course of the year, 100 bushels of malt. Taking the rent of 300 acres at 30s. per acre at £450, the farmer would pay income tax upon £225, which at;the present rate of 6d. in the pound, would amount to £5 10s.; but upon his annual consumption of malt, with a duty of 21s 8d. a quarter, he would pay £13 10s., which was equivalent to an income tax of 14½d. in the pound. He did not, therefore, think that the hon. and learned Gentleman had very satisfactorily made out his case of partial exemption from the income tax. And he paid this enormous charge while he had in all probability a large quantity of barley lying useless on his hands, which but for the Excise duty, he might convert into a good and wholesome drink for his labourers. And here he should like to refer to one or two opinions of his constituents with regard to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme for allowing malt to be used for feeding cattle; and if ever there was a season when its merits would have been likely to have been put fairly to the test, it would be the present one, when, from the general failure of the turnip crop and the scarcity of all feed, the farmer had been driven to every possible shift to find food for his stock. But from buyer to seller he had received only one concurrent testimony, that the utterly needless restrictions imposed by the Excise, by which the measure had been encumbered, rendered it down to this moment practically a dead letter. A large corn-factor and dealer in artificial manure wrote to him in these terms— I have invested in a quantity of the new malt condiment, but I have no demand for it. The fact is, under the present absurd Excise restrictions, it cannot be sold at a price at which the farmer can afford to buy it, and while they continue in force it must continue also to remain a drug in the market. He had also the testimony of one of the largest farmers and breeders of stock in the country. He said:— The making of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's malt mixture is encumbered with so many vexatious restrictions that very few persons indeed will subject themselves to the strict surveillance of the Excise, and thus the making of it will in a degree become a monopoly, and make the price too high compared with other food, being now £12 a ton, while barley is scarcely £1, and oilcake from £9 to £11. I think you are scarcely aware of the strict regulation of the Excise in carrying this law into execution, nor of the expenses entailed by it to the country. A person intending to make this compound, even upon a small scale, must in the first place provide a house upon the premises for the exciseman, whose business it is to be constantly on the premises, and if he is called away the persons are locked in until his return, particularly so when grinding of malt and linseed and the consequent mixing is going on; so that if an accident from breakage of machinery or any other cause should take place their escape is impossible. This appears to me to be almost curtailing the liberty of the subject, and is quite contrary to the freedom of Englishmen. Another large farmer and tenant of his own wrote as follows:— Having sent a quantity of barley and linseed of his own to be ground at a neighbouring manufacturer's, and the mixture having been made, a sample had to be transmitted to Somerset House, where the authorities were between ten days and a fortnight sitting on it, much to his inconvenience and loss of time in fattening his stock. He added— Having previously purchased a ton for £12,1 can recommend it from experience as the most valuable condiment that could be used, were we allowed its use without the admixture of linseed, which occasions an extra expense of 14s. a quarter, to say nothing of the risk of adulteration. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Suffolk and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire had so ably dealt with the case of the consumer, as regarded the operation of this tax, that he did not feel it necessary to trouble the House with any remarks on that head. But there was one argument upon which he should like to say a few words, inasmuch as The Times, a few days ago, in dealing with the great meeting at Freemasons' Hall, said that no farmer's friend had ventured to grapple with it—the old Protectionist cry, that if the duty were taken off they would be inundated with large importations of malt and undersold in their own market. Now that was simply an old Protectionist argument, and being such could not possibly be advanced by any Member upon the opposite side of the House; for if such an inundation would occur, hon. Members opposite ought to make merry over it and to vote in a body for the repeal of the Malt Tax; but the real truth was that they were exposed at that moment to as full and free an importation of barley as they were ever likely to have. And if the duty were taken off, the great mass of the barley imported into this country would reach it as now too late for malting operations; while as to the importation of malt itself he had been credibly informed that it was an article that would not travel well, and the effect of a sea voyage would render by far the greater quantity that reached this country unfit for any brewing purpose. But there was another reason why the farmer did not dread any great importation of foreign malt and barley, for he knew that whenever this argument was used against him there were those highly respectable gentlemen, but Leviathan monopolists, the big brewers, at the bottom of it. The farmer believed that the first effect of the repeal of this Malt Tax would be to knock the monopoly of the great brewers upon the head; and resuscitate thousands of smaller breweries and makings that the Excise law and suspension of the malt credits had extinguished; and knowing this, the farmer was perfectly prepared to stand his own ground and risk the consequences of the importation of foreign malt. In conclusion, let him say that he did not think that the history of the question of Malt Tax repeal was altogether creditable to the good faith of the House and some of its leading Members. It was now more than thirty years ago, when there was great agricultural distress, and under the leadership of Lord Althorp, that this question was first discussed; and the House one evening agreed to reduce this tax, but the same House a few days after rescinded its vote. In a year or two Sir Robert Peel came into office, and when the question was again moved he told the landed interest that he would repeal the Malt Tax, but that they must accept instead a property tax, and must make up their minds to a repeal of the Corn Laws. The landed interest did not like the exchange, and the subject was quietly suffered to drop. In a few years more the right hon. Baronet came again into office; the first thing he did was to impose a property tax, but somehow or another he quite forgot to repeal the Malt Tax. A few years passed away, and Sir Robert Peel began to contemplate a great financial change, and he and every leader of that change said that if they on that side of the House would only consent to the repeal of the Corn Laws the repeal of the Malt Tax must necessarily follow; but the Corn Laws were repealed, the property tax retained, and again the question of Malt Tax repeal fell into abeyance. A few years after the star of the country party was for a short time in the ascendant, and the leader of that party bethought him of the theories and the pledges of his free trade opponents, he framed his financial schemes in accordance with those theories and pledges; but a change had come over the spirit of his opponents' dreams; they turned round and refused to ratify their former engagements. Then came a lengthened period of war, and high expenditure, and the Malt Tax was made in no slight measure to bear the burden, but as the hour of peace and retrenchment returned so did the question of Malt Tax repeal again revive. We were told to have a little patience, to wait till the taxes raised exclusively for war purposes had been first reduced. These duties had now been reduced; faith had been kept with the country; but they were told again that this question of Malt Tax repeal was to be still further postponed. He ventured to tell the noble Lord at the head of the Government (Viscount Palmerston) that in neglecting to deal with this question he would not act wisely or well; that there was a limit to even agricultural forbearance; and he warned him that they were now, once for all, embarked in an agitation that would never cease until this longstanding engagement had been performed. It might be, perhaps, thought now, as in the days of Walpole, that "the farmers, God bless them ! would bear shearing as easily as their own sheep;" and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might, perhaps, adopt the definition of a witty publication that "deputation" was "a noun of multitude signifying many, but not much;" but he (Mr. Du Cane) must again warn the Government that the feeling as regarded this tax had increased, was increasing, and would increase. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that his duty was not to part with revenue except upon compulsion, and that if they would attain their end they must agitate. They on that side of the House were not fond of agitation, but he was afraid that they had no recourse but to adopt the weapons they had been advised to use. They had already taken the means for providing "pressure from without," and it remained for the House to give they pressure from within, and by adopting the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member (Sir FitzRoy Kelly) not merely to affirm a reduction of taxation just, wise, and beneficial in itself, but to put the copingstone upon that system of free trade which they had been so long taught to regard as an inevitable law; and settle a question which he, for one, would willingly suffer to glide from the arena of party contention.


was willing to admit that the Malt Tax WAS a bad tax, but if every bad tax was to be repealed he was afraid there would be very few taxes. But before they adopted a Resolution which would tie the hands, not only of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer but of many future holders of that office, it should be shown that the proposed relaxation would confer a general benefit on the large class of agriculturists for whose advantage it was principally intended, or failing that, at least that those who derived the benefit from it were those most in need of relief. The present proposal was deficient in both those requirements, and he laid down the two following propositions:—first, that the great majority of the agriculturists of the United Kingdom would not derive any benefit from the repeal of the Malt Duty; and secondly, that that portion who would derive benefit were precisely those who had the least claim to relief. Of course any large remission of taxation must in a greater or less degree benefit all classes, but with that reservation he believed himself able to prove his first proposition. Taking first the case of Ireland, and treating the question first as one affecting the growers of barley, he observed that barley was not a staple agricultural product of that country. Live stock and the products derived from live stock occupied the first position; then came oats, potatoes, and wheat; but barley came very low in the scale, and there could be no disputing the fact that the great body of the agriculturists of Ireland would not, as growers of barley, derive much benefit from the proposed repeal. Then, again, with regard to Scotland, the greatest agricultural product was live stock. There were some parts where good barley was grown, but taking the country through it was incontestably the case that the great proportion of the agriculturists, as growers of barley, would derive no benefit from the remission of the Malt Tax. In England, also, there were large grazing districts, dairy districts, downs and uplands, and there was here, therefore, a large portion of the country where the agriculturists, not being growers of barley, were not interested in the question of the duty. Take, next, the large clay districts of England. Clay grew barley of inferior quality, and not in quantity sufficient to make up for the defect of quality. But even supposing there was a greatly increased demand for malting barley, and clay-grown barley was taken for the purpose, it would come into competition with foreign barley, of which the quantity imported had increased of late years, until in 1863 it considerably exceeded 2,000,000 qrs., and the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass) had informed him that within the last few months he had purchased no less than 40,000 qrs. of French barley for malting. The returns for 1861–2–3 showed that though the price of barley had steadily decreased the importation had equally steadily increased. He was persuaded that any attempt to force the growth of barley more extensively on clay would only be attended with disappointment. Then as to the question of feeding, would the price of barley be so much increased by the additional demand for malting as to benefit the cultivators of clay lands by raising the value of the barley they could grow for feeding purposes? He thought not. An acre of wheat grown on clay was worth for feeding purposes more than an acre of barley grown on clay. The value of wheat for feeding purposes had never been fully appreciated until this year, when the scarcity of turnips induced farmers to feed their animals on wheat, and they did remarkably well upon it, the cost being 50 per cent less than when they bought cake for the purpose. Farmers on clay lands would not, then, either as growers of bailey or feeders on barley, benefit by the repeal of the tax, and this proved his first proposition; for, adding to the clay lands the grass lands and uplands, and taking Scotland and Ireland into account, clearly the great majority of the farmers of the United Kingdom were not interested in the repeal. As to the question of the superiority of malt to barley for feeding purposes, he had been a practical farmer for twenty-five years, he had carefully attended to all the experiments upon that subject, and had found malted barley useful for sick animals deficient in appetite, and in the preparation of animals for shows, but taking it as a staple food, he believed malt was no better than barley. He should not have been brought to that conclusion to his own satisfaction had it depended merely upon the experiments at Glasgow, or those tried with such care and accuracy by Mr. Lawes, but they were prepared for the results obtained in those trials by the knowledge that in the process of malting, barley lost a certain quantity of its most valuable qualities for feeding purposes, and experience showed that barley was wholesome, easily digestible, and palatable food for stock of all kinds. For these reasons he was decidedly opposed to the opinion that any advantage whatever would be derived in feeding nattle upon malt, except for purposes which he might call the millinery of farming. With regard to his second proposition, they all knew that for a series of years past the occupiers of barley land who were for the most part great sheep farmers were precisely those who had been making money, while the clay land farmers had met with little success. But the clay land farmers who had sold their wheat for several years at unremunerating prices, and the farmers of Ireland who had experienced so many bad harvests, would derive little or no advantage from the repeal, while those who had been doing the best would receive the greatest benefit. He was the owner and occupier of good barley growing land, and therefore was naturally prejudiced in favour of the repeal; but he opposed it because he was convinced that if carried it would disappoint the expectations of its supporters.


thought that he could hardly be expected to give a silent vote on the present occasion, inasmuch as the Motion was almost identical with that which he last year submitted to the House; and he could not hesitate, now that the question had fallen into abler hands, to give it his cordial support. Although he achieved no great success with his own Motion, yet, upon the present occasion he entertained strong hopes, grounded upon two circmstances—first, his firm belief in the justice of the cause; secondly, faith in the tribunal before whom it was brought. He believed that a great majority of their constituents sent them to the House in the firm conviction that they were sending men who were intrinsically honest—men above being swayed either by party interests or party feeling—men who were really anxious to serve their country to the best of their ability, and to carry out the great principles of justice. He had heard it said that in bringing forward subjects of this nature independent Members ought not to consider what effect their propositions would have on the finances of the country, for that was not their business, but the business of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So far from agreeing with that, he thought, on the contrary, it was the bounden duty of every Member bringing forward a Motion to consider how it would affect the finances, and to place himself, as it were, in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When he brought forward his Motion last year, he did endeavour to consider the matter in that light: and in so considering it, he found that ever since he had been a Member of that House there had always been a yearly surplus of revenue, in spite of the reductions of taxation which had gone on, owing partly, no doubt, to the excellent management of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but not altogether to that, but owing still more to the wonderful prosperity of the country, a considerable portion of which was owing to patriotic men, who left this country, perhaps in a penniless condition, made large fortunes abroad, and came home to spend them. He then considered what taxes had been repealed or reduced and what had not, and he found that there was scarcely one besides the Malt Tax which had not been so treated. Therefore, he thought there could be no doubt of the justice of the cause he was advocating. After the speech of the Mover, and especially after the speech of the right hon. Baronet who seconded the Motion, it was unnecessary for him to enter at large into the merits of the question. He would only ask why was it that the Malt Tax was the only tax which after these continual years of surplus had not been touched? Considering the nature of it, he should have thought it would have been the first. It had been condemned by all their best statesmen down to Sir Robert Peel; and Sir James Graham said of it, "that it was a tax that enhanced the price of malt; that that enhanced the price of beer, that that lessened its consumption, and that, therefore, it was detrimental to the growers of barley and to the farmer." It prevented a landowner from doing what he pleased with his own land, as he could not grow barley to malt for the use of his own household and servants, or arrange, his rotation of crops to the best advantage. That surely was an interference with the national liberties of Englishmen. With regard to the feeding of cattle, and the comparative value of barley and malt, he wished to say that he cared nothing about these experiments. He asked the farmers themselves. He represented a constituency of 14,000 or 15,000, and a good many of them were farmers. They told him unanimously that this tax was a great detriment to them in the matter of feeding cattle; when the farmers themselves said that, did the House think he would listen to the Board of Trade? It was only fair to the farmers that they should have the option, and try experiments for themselves. Now he would endeavour to put himself into the shoes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—he hoped he should never arrive at that consummation—but supposing himself to be the person to whom an application of this sort should be made, he should say to himself, "How can I meet it?" Of course that must all depend upon circumstances. They had heard to-night that there was probably a surplus of three millions—he hoped it would turn out to be four; but taking it at three, he would see what demands were made upon it. There was now an outcry (in which he concurred) against the duty on fire insurance; there was always an outcry against the income tax; and there was the Malt Tax. He would, under these circumstances, apply £1,000,000 to the reduction of the fire insurance, and the rest, whatever it was, to the reduction of the Malt Tax. The income tax was reduced a penny last year, and might very well wait till next year. But if this was thought inexpedient, he would reduce the income tax one penny, take off the fire insurance duty altogether, and keep the rest over as a surplus, in order to be able next year to apply four millions to the reduction of the Malt Duty. Some hon. Members said the farmers would reap no advantage from the reduction; but they should allow the farmers to be judges of that. The hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson) told them that the repeal of the Malt Duty would benefit those who were already prosperous, and would not assist those who were struggling with the strong clay lands. But, if so, why was this clamour so general? Still he said, let the farmers judge for themselves. He (Mr. Morritt) did not pretend to be a practical farmer of twenty-five years standing, like the hon. Member for Whitby, and he therefore took the opinion of practical farmers—like, for instance, Mr. Booth, a thoroughly practical farmer of acknowledged excellence, and a constituent of his own, whe had already been mentioned in the debate. He (Mr. Booth) had said over and over again that he could prove to a demonstration that the Malt Tax was an impost hung around the necks of the farmers like a millstone. The hon. Member for Whitby was a great railway director, and had a thousand things to do. If he were a bonâ fide farmer, and a farmer only, then he might be put in the scale against Mr. Booth; but, as it was, his arguments were as light in the balance as he would be physically against Mr. Booth, who was a very stout man. He would not detain the House longer. He rested their cause on its justice and truth; but if, after the eloquent speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir Bulwer Lytton), and the unanswerable arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman who proposed the Motion, hon. Members were not convinced, nothing he could add would produce that result. All that he asked was that they should remember those speeches, and then act justly and according to their convictions, not being swayed by considerations as to which side of the House they sat, or by any private interest, or by party considerations.


said, he had given notice that he should move the Previous Question. The forms of the House did not permit him to do so while the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Neate) was before the House; but, as he hoped that Amendment would be withdrawn, he should then adhere to that course. He wished to discuss for a few moments the question how this Malt Tax affected the interests of all classes in Her Majesty's dominions, both producers and consumers. He believed there was no financial question about which there were so many misunderstandings, and he might almost say misrepresentations; and he would endeavour to prove to the House that, so far as the interest of the consumer was concerned, the tax was a boon rather than an evil; and that as far as the interests of the growers of barley were concerned, they were by no means injuriously affected, and that in fact the growers of the best samples of barley received a considerable bonus in consequence of the operation of the Malt Tax. The hon. and learned Member for East Suffolk,(Sir FitzRoy Kelly), laboured under one of these misunderstandings. In his argument he went on swimmingly up to a certain point, and then befell into difficulties; he said that £60,000,000 was spent in the course of the year upon beer, and that of this sum £20,000,000 was attributable to the influence of the Malt Tax. He did not, however, prove that statement in the slighest degree, but said that if he were allowed he would prove it at the Bar of the House, well knowing, of course, that he would not be called upon to do so. When, therefore, misrepresentations were made in that House it was not surprising that they were more rife out of doors. There was a meeting, of which the hon. and learned Member was Chairman, the other day, which would prove his assertion. It was composed chiefly of farmers, and there were besides a few Members of that House, of whom some made speeches. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Cobbett) asked a very important question—namely, what was the price of barley, and although it was a meeting of farmers no one could answer. There was a scene of confusion for some minutes, and the hon. Member was obliged to answer his question himself. At that meeting there was one remarkable speech containing a number of these prevalent errors. It was made by a gentleman named Punnett, whom he did not know, but who was described as Chairman of the Central Association for the Repeal of the Malt Tax. This gentleman gave his opinions with greater confidence than taste. For instance, he complimented the ninety-nine Members who voted last Session with the hon. gentleman (Mr. Morritt), as the ninety and nine just men who needed no repentance. That was rather a curious compliment to pay hon. Gentlemen, and perhaps if the speaker had remembered the context he would not have used the comparison. Amongst other things Mr, Punnett said that there were 9,000,000 quarters of barley produced in this country, of which two-thirds were positively excluded from malting operations by the tax, But what was the real state of the case? Why that five and a half millions of quarters actually were malted last year. But his most remarkable statement related to the price of beer. He said that beer now purchased for 1s. a gallon from the brewers, and 1s. 4d. from the retailers, could be brewed but for the tax for 1d. a gallon, but a more extravagant assertion could hardly be made. The real fact was that for one quarter of malt about 130 gallons of the ordinary beer alluded to could be produced. The Malt Tax on these 130 gallons would amount to £1 1s. 8d., as nearly as possible 2d. a gallon. The practical result to the consumer was this. An artisan drinking two quarts a day would contribute to the revenue the sum of 6d. a week, or 26s. a year. The case of a farmer paying a part of the wages of his men in beer would be somewhat similar. He would take the case of a man with 100 acres of arable land employing four men. The practice, he believed, was to give the men much weaker beer generally, increasing its strength during the harvest time. The amount given to each man would be about two pints a day. The farmer would consequently pay about 1s. a week, or 52s. a year to the revenue. That was not a charge of which the labourer or the farmer had any great reason to complain. It was generally argued by gentlemen in favour of the repeal of the tax that barley on the removal of the duty would rise in price. He held, however, that the contrary would be the case. Gentlemen who were in the habit of looking at the Reports of Mark Lane must be aware that there was a steady range of prices from the inferior to the higher qualities of grain, and it must be tolerably evident that the marketable price was regulated by the cost at which the lower qualities could be either grown or introduced into the country. The prices of barley had a range of about 15s. per quarter from the lowest grinding to the highest malting qualities—but the tail governed the head; the price of the highest was ruled by that of the lowest; and any tendency to a rise which might result from the repeal of the duty, would, he thought, be checked by the enormous quantity of other feeding stuffs that were daily imported into this country. If they remembered the present unprecedented low price of barley—lower, in fact, than it had been for ten years, and how foreign grain was poured into London during the winter, they could not doubt that the tendency which a bad harvest would have to raise the price of grain would be naturally checked by the large extent of our importations. Owing to the protective Customs Duty, no foreign malt had found its way into the English market, but if the Excise were removed, the Customs Duty, amounting to 25s. a quarter, would have to go too, and the English farmers must make up their minds to find foreign malt coming into active competition with that which was produced at home. Considering all these things, there was, he thought, good reason to believe that the price of inferior barley would not be enhanced by the repeal of the Malt Tax. But what about the best barleys, those barleys which, under the present state of things, were made into malt? Would the price of such barleys rise, fall, or remain stationary if the Malt Tax were repealed? Before entering into that question he must remark that he saw no reason to anticipate a largely increasing consumption of malt if the tax were repealed. The lowering of the wine duties was not at all a case in point. In that case the great diminution of price enabled large classes of inhabitants of this country to buy foreign wine who had never bought it before; but all classes drank beer, and it was not likely that a man would drink much more because the price was a little reduced. Now, as regarded the superior descriptions of barleys, he thought their price would fall relatively with the repeal of the Malt Tax. The tax was levied not on quality but on quantity, and the consequence was that the best barleys paid no more duty than the worst. It was, therefore, an advantage to the brewer to buy the best barleys rather than the inferior kinds. The lowest quality of barley that could be profitably employed formatting purposes was worth about 25s. a quarter at present; and while a quarter of that kind of barley contained about 75lbs. weight of fermentable matter, the best qualities contained about 901bs., or about one-fifth more. It followed that best barley was naturally worth one-fifth more in the market than the worst, so that if the latter sold for 25s. the former might be expected to sell for 30s. At the present time, however, the best descriptions of barley could not be bought under 35s. a quarter. There was, in fact, a direct bonus of 5s. a quarter to the grower, so far as the best barleys were concerned, owing to the operation of the Malt Tax. The hon. Member for East Suffolk said, that one result of repealing the Malt Tax would be that labouring men would desert the public-house and brew at home. Was the hon. and learned Member ever in Suffolk at harvest time? He (Mr. Hard-castle) did not deny that kettle-brewing was carried on in that county; but in the harvest fields it was usual to ask for lar-gesse, and he presumed that whatever money was there given was not spent in kettle-brewing. The repeal of the tax would not alter human nature. The man who had been in the habit of going to public-houses would continue to do so were the Malt Tax repealed. He would not go less frequently because his drink was cheaper; he might do so if it were dearer. The public-house, as had been said, was the poor man's club. He went there to read the paper, or have it read to him; he went to see his friends; and sometimes he stayed at his club too long; but so long as human nature remained what it was a reduction of the Malt Duty would not abridge attendance at the public-house.


said, the last speaker had risen to defend the brewers monopoly. He denied that a remission of the tax would benefit the labouring man; he denied that it would benefit the farmer who farmed poor land; he denied that it would benefit the farmer who farmed land that would grow first-class barley, because, he said, the man who could grow first-class barley sold it at 5s. more than he would without the tax. He (Colonel Barttelot) denied the assumption; he denied that the tax kept up the price of the best barley; his conviction was, that if the tax were repealed the best barley would command a higher price than now. He had consulted the best authorities on the subject, and he found the general opinion to be that if the tax were repealed the barley trade would be invigorated. It had been said that when he brought forward his Motion last year he was advocating the cause of the plaintiff in "Barley v. Sugar." That was not the issue. It was the relative claims of barley and sugar, when a surplus was to be disposed of. The temperate Motion of the hon. Member for East Suffolk must commend itself to the House, because it did not ask for immediate total repeal of the tax, but for repeal when it could be effected without prejudice to the interests of the country. It simply asked that when a remission of taxation were practicable the claims of the Malt Tax should be considered. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not deny that the question deserved consideration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would not deny that when the advocates of repeal attended him at a deputation he urged them to agitate on the question. Well, that agitation had been carried out quietly and respectably. They had asked that the tax might be considered when there was a surplus. But he (Colonel Barttelot) did think that the tax had a prior claim to abolition before any indirect tax. As an independent Member he said this was no party question. It was a question which affected the interests of all classes of the community. He was sure it was not made a party question on this side of the House. If it was made a party question at all it was so made by those who sat opposite, particularly those on the front Benches, and who, by neglecting to perform the promise they made years ago, had imposed on those representing the landed interest the necessity of demanding redress. To say that the barley-growing farmer was not hampered in his trade by the tax on malt was equivalent to saying that its repeal would not benefit him, remembering that according to present prices one bushel of malt was worth two of bailey. He (Colonel Barttelot) said, on the contrary, that the benefit to the farmer from the repeal would be exceedingly great. The tax depreciated the value of barley to the extent of 3s. a quarter. Supposing a farmer did not harvest his barley in first-rate condition he was not able to sell it for malting purposes, although it might be malted advantageously but for the duty, and he lost not only that 3s., but he lost another 3s., making a total of 6s. a quarter, which was a very serious loss to the man farming 300 acres—allowing 60 acres for meadow and 240 acres arable. He would annually grow 60 acres of bailey, which, at five quarters an acre, would be 300 quarters; the loss, therefore, if well harvested, would be £45, if badly harvested, £90. Supposing the tax to be repealed, how would barley be raised in price? The maltster would go unfettered to market and purchase at the full value, the same as millers now do with wheat. At present all but the best quality of barley was a drug in the market. If he was right it was a very hard case that this tax, so far as the agriculturists were concerned, should be maintained. As a principle of free trade, he raised the question; and it was as a principle of free trade that it ought to be treated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone). He (Colonel Barttelot) was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Milner Gibson) had also forgotten his free trade principles. He was afraid that when that right hon. Gentleman stepped up from below the gangway bis free trade principles vanished; he lost the vivacity and vigour which once distinguished him, and became a steady, sober going official. The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech at Ashton-under-Lyne, taunted the Conservatives with keeping up the expenditure of the country and then expecting the Malt Tax to be repealed. He (Colonel Barttelot) denied this. No men who had ever sat on the front Benches had spent so much money as the present Government. He appealed to the Gentlemen below the gangway; and he said that the House were bound to exert themselves to promote retrenchment in expenditure, and then there would be a surplus which would afford the opportunity to repeal the Malt Tax. Years ago one could hardly go over the agricultural portions of England without seeing a malt-house in every village. Where were they now? Turned into cottages. But the maltsters had disappeared. And why? Because of the shortness of the credit given to maltsters by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would just read to the House a Report from the Inland Revenue Almanac for the year 1861, which said— The period of credit for payment of the duty on malt has, this year, been again further reduced from twelve to six weeks. There has been a gradual decrease in the number of persons licensed, and in the number of malt-houses, within the last ten years; and the diminished credit will probably have the effect of accelerating the movement towards the concentration of the trade in the hands of the larger capitalists. Lest this should be attributed entirely to the recent alteration in the law, it may be well to call attention to the following account, from which (as inserted in the Report) it appears that in ten years there has been a decrease of 1,667 licensed maltsters, and of 1,322 malt-houses, although the quantity of malt made has very largely increased. Then the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds said, that if the Excise duty on malt were repealed, the Customs duty on malt must be repealed also. That duty he (Coionel Barttelot) believed was 25s.; the duty at home was 21s. 8d.; but he thought it would be no hardship on the foreigner that the difference between the Customs and the Excise duties (i.e., 3s. 4d.) should be retained if the home duty were repealed; for if foreign malt were bonded, there was no duty charged till the sale was effected. Was that the case with our maltsters at home? The foreigner had nothing to pay till he sold. But the home grower had to pay the right hon. Gentleman at once; and, moreover, to give longer credits than the foreigner. To the foreigner everything was couleur de rose; not so to the home grower. A great deal baa been said concerning the benefit that would arise from the feeding of cattle on malt; and the right hon. Gentleman introduced a Bill last Session for allowing barley to be malted for cattle-feeding purposes, care being taken to prevent its use in brewing. He held in his hand a Return stating the number of malt-houses opened for the making of this malt. The number was twenty-eight, Only twenty-eight people could be found to attempt to manufacture this condiment, which, after all, could be used for brewing; for the hon. Member for Derby, at the close of last Session, sent down to the House two casks of beer, one brewed from pure malt, the other from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's condiment, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer preferred the beer brewed from his own condiment. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. He (Colonel Barttelot) thought he remembered the right hon. Gentleman returning from tasting the beer outside; and, although the right hon. Gentleman made a curious face, he (Colonel Barttelot) understood that the right hon. Gentleman gave the preference to the brewing from his own mixture. But, whether so or not, the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman had been a dead letter and of no use to farmers. An attempt had been made to persuade the House that the farmers were the most ignorant of men, because they had not used barley for feeding cattle. But had any practical agriculturist present—the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson), for instance, with his twenty-five years experience—ever used barley for feeding cattle. If they had not, why not? Because barley was not the best food for feeding cattle. For feeding pigs barley meal was the best food, no doubt—not so for feeding cattle. The fact was that it did not make as good manure as wheat, or anything like as good as malt; and the proof was that, after generations of experience, it was only used for the single purpose of feeding pigs. The Report from the Board of Trade had been referred to as conclusive. But that Report, to be of real value to the House, ought to have been produced three months ago, It was a hardship for hon. Members to be called on to decide on a Report just put into their hands, and before they had time to acquaint themselves with its contents. Almost at the same moment that the Report reached him, he read in The Times a leading article asserting that the case of the advocates for the repeal of the tax was hopeless; but on looking into the Report he saw that the gentleman who wrote the article could have known nothing whatever of farming. The Report formed no test at all except with regard to sheep. To the cows 3lb. of barley a day was given, and to the oxen 41b.; but it was not by such small quantities that the effect of food upon animals could be seen. He had seen experiments tried with oilcake and malt. His neighbour Lord Leconfield had put up four beasts at Petworth, and had fed two on malt and two on oilcake. Those fed on malt weighed, when put up, 140 stone, and when killed 192 stone 4lb. Those fed on oilcake, when put up, weighed 168 stone, and when killed 218 stone 4lb. They were fattened for sixteen weeks, and the difference in favour of malt was two stones. If malt could thus compete with oilcake it would be the greatest boon to the agricultural interest to have it cheap. Another effect of taking off the duty would be to reduce the price of oilcake, of rape cake, and of cotton cake, and thus enable farmers to feed more stock either with their own barley malted or the cheaper article which they would then be enabled to buy. No one could look at our home supply to the London market without feeling surprised that it had increased so little. The numbers were as follows:—

1853. 1863.
Beast 252,624 288,177
Sheep and lambs 1,325,474 1,389,142
Calves 20,395 23,291
Pigs 34,677 53,985
From the above figures we must deduct the numbers of foreign stock offered, in order to see how far production has increased in the United Kingdom. Those numbers were—
1853. 1863.
Beasts 52,344 72,907
Sheep and lambs 220,429 285,296
Calves 22,619 26,630
Pigs 8,508 17,562
The increase at home was so small that it was hardly to be taken into account. The only mode to explain this was that the agricultural interest in England, in Ireland, and in parts of Scotland had been much depressed, and it might be supposed that there had not been the means of fattening the beasts in proportion to their increase. Then one word with respect to the Report which the right hon. Gentleman had supplied them with. That part relating to sheep was rather a fairer test than that of cattle, the quantity given to the cows and oxen was so small that it was no criterion. He must say that the results were not what he could wish, though he had nothing to say against Mr. Lawes, except that he believed he had some time before expressed an opinion, which was published in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, that barley was better than malt. Was he then, having a foregone conclusion on the subject, quite the right man to intrust the experiments to? Mr. Lawes was also sent down to Rugby to make experiments with regard to sewage which were not likely to prove generally satisfactory, considering the mistakes that he had made. When he (Colonel Barttelot) had read the Report through and formed his own opinion, knowing the experience of Mr. Rigden as a most successful breeder of sheep in Sussex he went down to him, and his opinion was as follows:— It appears to me that the quantity of both barley and malt used is excessively small. The quantity consumed by each animal is not more than four bushels in ten weeks, and bears such a small proportion to the other food that it can hardly be considered a test as to what either malt or barley would accomplish if used in larger quantities. If I were feeding a lot of beasts I should use three times as much, leaving out the cake and bean meal; I mean supposing I was doing so entirely for the purpose of testing the relative value of malt and barley for feeding purposes. The same remark would apply to the twenty oxen. The experiments with sheep seem to be a fairer test, as only barley or malt have been used in addition to clover, chaff, and roots. It appears by the Report that the gain of each sheep in live weight has been about 8lb. in a month. Some years since I fed several sheep with malt, in addition to oilcake, roots, amp;c., and I never obtained so much weight in a given time as I did on that occasion; some of the sheep gained upwards of 20lb. live weight in a month. It may also be worth consideration that the feeding qualities of the inferior barley has been very good during the last two years. A great deal that has not been saleable for malting would weigh 52lb. or 53lb. per bushel, which is 5lb. or 6lb. over an average for that description. I should never have thought of feeding pigs with malt. I should quite expect that they would thrive better on barley meal. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson), that the repeal of this tax would not benefit the occupiers of clay lands, he (Colonel Barttelot) expressed a confident opinion that if they were well drained and managed very fair barley could be grown on them. It was very seldom, too, that there were not five or six fields on a clay farm which lay higher and drier than the rest of the farm, on which barley could be grown. He did not say they would grow the best barley, but they would grow a good feeding barley. If the duty were taken off, the farmers would be able to fatten their beasts at a cheaper rate, and there would be a decrease in the price of meat. In 1853 the price of beef ranged from 2s.i 6d. to 5s., and of mutton from 2s. 6d. to 5s. 4d. In 1863, however, the price of beef had risen, and ranged from 3s. 4d. to 5s. 2d., while the price of mutton ranged from 3s. 6d. to 6s. 2d. Only that day he had seen it stated that some sheep had been sold at from 7s. to 7s. 4d. per stone of eight pounds in their wool. Nothing but the good price of their stock had enabled the farmers to keep their heads above water. He was sorry not to see the hon. Member for Rochdale in his place, because he had promised him that if he raised a similar Motion to the present on free trade grounds he (Mr. Cobden) would vote for the repeal of the Malt Tax. Last year, upon his (Colonel Barttelot's) Motion on the subject of the Malt Duty, the hon. Member for Rochdale said— It would be a great relief to the very poorest part of the community if the Malt Tax could be abolished. I say the very poorest part of the community, because I think the consumption of beer, probably more than of any other article, belongs to the very poorest of our labourers. I now speak of the male labourer more than of any other. I am of this opinion, because, as all of us who are acquainted with rural life must know that, if they could, the agricultural labourers of this country would all enjoy the beverage of beer; while, with their limited wages and with the general habit of agricultural labourers to be married men, I think there is very small danger of these men ever carrying the indulgence too far. But depend upon it, it would contribute very much to the contentment of that class, and to make them less dissatisfied when comparing their lot with that of the rest of the community, if, instead of being compelled to resort to the brook or the spring, they could enjoy some share of the produce of the land on which they are employed, in the shape of a glass of beer."—[3 Barnard, clxxiv. 1025.] That was a strong argument put in his usual forcible way by his hon. Friend, who was in the habit of dealing openly with such questions, and if he were in his place on that occasion he should have hoped to hear a speech from him in favour of the Motion. Now a word as to the difference between tea and malt in regard to the labouring man. It was perfectly true that the duty upon tea and sugar had been reduced, but the benefit of that reduction had failed to reach the agricultural parts of the country as it should have done. In the small shops of the agricultural districts tea which might be had in towns for 3s. 8d. a lb. still cost 4s., and sugar which might be got elsewhere for id. a lb. cost 4½d. The consumption of tea by a labouring man, his wife, and six children, in agricultural districts might be taken at ¼ lb. each week, and 21bs of sugar and the saving on both tea and sugar 1½d. each, was only 3d. a week. What did a man pay for his beer? He paid id. per pot for beer adulterated, perhaps, with coculus indicus, the infusion of a berry producing a stimulating and intoxicating effect on the system very much like that caused by alcohol, and serving as a cheap substitute for a portion of malt, thus getting a very bad article at a very high price. The poor man ought to be enabled to brew his own beer at 4d. per gallon, and small beer at even a lower sum. This would materially affect his household economy, besides supplying a better drink to his family than that miserable stuff weak tea, sugared, but without milk. He thought this would cut the ground from under the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lawson) with regard to his Permissive Bill, and would supply to a labourer a good, honest glass of beer. He begged to ask the serious consideration of the House to this question. He therefore ventured to hope the House would calmly consider this matter, and that its verdict would be in favour of a reduction with the view of a total repeal of a tax which he had shown was most unfair to the barley-growing farmer, most hurtful to the physical and moral condition of the poor man, was also a heavy tax on the general public both with regard to meat and beer. He therefore hoped in fairness to one class, for the moral welfare of another, and for the public good, that this Motion might be carried as the first step to the removal of a most unjust and oppressive tax.


One would suppose from the way in which the Report with regard to the experiments to test the value of malt in feeding cattle has been mentioned in the course of the debate that the experiments were undertaken voluntarily by the Board of Trade, and that the Report was volunteered by that Department. Sir, there was a Committee of this House appointed to consider the question, and they separated with the distinct understanding that during the recess experiments upon a large scale were to be undertaken by the Board of Trade, with a view to acquire some accurate information upon the subject. Well, the Board of Trade acted in accordance with the wishes of the Committee. They employed one of the most eminent agricultural chymistsin the country, a man well versed in the science of farming, and who could not be supposed to have any other object whatever than to ascertain, as far as experiments could enable him, the exact truth. But I think these experiments are in their nature so complicated that we should not usefully employ our time in discussing in detail the precise methods which were employed in testing the qualities of malt as food for oxen, sheep, cows, and pigs. We must take it that we have an authority who is entitled to weight—I do not say he is infallible—and who tells us that the value of malt in feeding cattle is not what it has been supposed to be, and that a given weight of barley is more profitable as food for cattle than if given as malt. I think that this Report of Mr. Lawes is very much strengthened by the fact that pre- ceding experiments have always ended in somewhat similar results, and, though it is stated that Mr. Lawes was engaged in some experiments in 1848 and 1849,1 am not aware that he was so engaged in 1845 and 1846 when experiments were carried on by Dr. Thomas and Mr. Thompson upon the same subject. We are told that this Motion is a moderate one. We are first of all asked to vote that the duty on malt should be considered when there may be an opportunity of remitting indirect taxation. I admit that has a moderate aspect; for I presume when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is about to remit indirect taxation he takes into consideration all such taxation, with the view of seeing how he can give relief in the most just and beneficial manner to the community at large. Neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this or any other Administration would exclude from his consideration the claims of the landed interest or any other interest, and, therefore, I think it unnecessary to assume that this or any other duty would not be considered by a Government about to remit indirect taxation. But the Resolution goes on to say that it is to be considered "with a view to its early reduction and ultimate repeal;" that it is to be preferred to any other, and, therefore, we are asked to-night to tie the hands of this and of future Administrations, to bind them by this solemn promise that, whatever the circumstances of the country, whatever the claims of different interests when indirect taxation is to be dealt with, a deaf ear is to be turned to all others except those who ask for a repeal of the Malt Tax. We are to affirm that the Malt Tax is the worst of taxes, and that we are bit by bit to nibble at it until we arrive at its total abolition. I do not think that it is a wise proposition. I do not think, whatever may be the objections entertained by some to the Malt Tax, that it is wise or prudent to pledge Parliament that this tax shall year by year be dealt with in preference to other indirect taxes, until its total repeal is accomplished. This is a proposition altogether different from that brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckingham, in 1853. He proposed, if I am not mistaken, to deal with it upon a totally different principle. He proposed to halve the Malt Tax. That was thought by many to be a very injudicious proposal, because when you halve an Excise tax you still keep on all the harassing Excise regulations, and have the same cost of collection as before. Bat I think I am right in saying that his idea was to halve the tax in order that, by increased consumption, a very large portion of the revenue which was at first sacrificed might be restored. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) disapproves any proposal for the ultimate repeal of the Malt Tax, though he admits that, there being other taxes which have a prior claim, at some distant time a million or two may be taken from the tax. But this is quite a different proposal. You may call the Resolution an abstract one, but I think it is a very practical one. If it passes, Parliament cannot disregard it, and, unless rescinded, I say we pledge ourselves not to repeal any indirect taxes until we have got rid of £6,000,000 of Malt Duty. Now, what is this Malt Tax? It is a very ancient tax; it has existed a century and a half. I do not say that this shows it to be a good tax, but is it not part of a system? I have often heard it said that direct are preferable to indirect taxes. This Motion is not brought forward on such a principle, but there are many who, arguing for the abolition of all indirect taxes, say that if you are to maintain any such taxes they see no objection to a revenue derived from stimulating and intoxicating drinks. That is a very general opinion, and I find it confirmed by a very eminent authority. Mr. Stuart Mill says— Among luxuries of general consumption, taxation should by preference attach itself to stimulants, because these, although in themselves as legitimate and beneficial indulgences as any others, are more likely than most others to be used in excess, so that the check to consumption naturally arising from taxation is on the whole better applied to them than to other things. Well, we have acted on that principle in England. We have got a large revenue flowing from indirect taxation levied on stimulating drinks and this revenue amounts to upwards of £20,000,000. From British spirits you get £10,000,000; from colonial rum, brandy, and geneva, £2,910,000; from wine, £1,232,824; and from malt in the shape of beer, £6,000,000; amounting altogether to £20,143,649. I say, therefore, that this is part of a system. Why should beer be excepted from this system? Spirits, on which you would keep the tax, are distilled from corn. Colonial rum is a product of colonial industry. Why, then, remove the duty from beer? [An hon. MEMBER: From malt!] Yes, and therefore from beer. As the proposition stands, I say it is to repeal the duty on beer and to make it an exception to the present system. You may talk of the vehicle in which the alcohol is contained as being very important, but I do not believe in that. The same stimulating element exists in beer as in brandy, and all other alcoholic beverages, making them objects of desire. Now, how do you propose to treat British spirits? Taking the wholesale price of corn-spirit at 1s. 8d., the duty at 10s. per gallon amounts to 600 per cent. If, then, you take the duty off beer, will not the distillers say, "Are you not going to do anything for us?" Would not that be a just claim? Are not the consumers of brandy, geneva, and spirits, as much entitled to consideration as consumers of other stimulating drinks? ["No, no!"] You are going, then, to favour the competition of beer with those other beverages, and you think that just? I confess I do not think it is. Take the case of Ireland and Scotland. I have got here a Return of the number of barrels of beer per head of the population consumed in the three kingdoms. In England two bushels of malt or one barrel of beer per head are consumed, taking the population at 20,000,000; and therefore the duty paid on beer is in round numbers 5s. 5d. per individual. In Scotland the population is 3,061,329, and the consumption there is only one-third of a barrel of beer per head, the duty paid being 1s. 10d. In Ireland, with a population of 5,790,000, only one-fifth of a barrel of beer per head is consumed, and the duty paid is 1s. 1d. per head. So that you are going to relieve the population of England of a tax amounting to 5s. 5d. per head, and the population of Scotland and Ireland only to the extent of 1s. 10 and 11 per head. I think when that is understood by the people of the three kingdoms they will say that what you now propose is not a just remission of taxation. If you untax stimulating drinks in general use in England you ought to relieve the alcoholic beverages which are generally consumed by the population of Scotland and Ireland. If by repealing the Malt Tax you set beer free, you will be compelled to deal with whisky and spirits, and you will thus break in upon this revenue of £20,000,000 a year, which I declare I think has tended greatly to the stability of British credit and finance. My figures have been so much attacked that I am really almost afraid to quote any more, but with great respect I must say that I adhere entirely to the statement I made at Ashton, which has been so much impugned. I stated a fact, which has been confirmed by the hon. Member (Mr. Hard-castle), that the duty on beer sold retail at 4d. a pot was less than a halfpenny, and that this duty was nearly equal to 12½ per cent. Recollect, I used this statement in order to compare the relative taxation upon tea, sugar, and malt, because the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir FitzRoy Kelly) had stated publicly that all he wanted was just and equal treatment as between these articles. Well, I found that taking tea at a fair average retail price of 3s a pound, the duty of 1. upon that amounted to 33⅓t. I made the same calculation with respect to coffee and sugar; and as to those additions to the Malt Tax to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred, as taking place in the passing of the malt and beer from one trader to another, if that is to be allowed you must also allow for the same additions in the Customs duty upon tea and upon sugar, which has been advanced by the person who first takes those articles out of bond. I submit, therefore, that my comparison was perfectly fair and reasonable, and I cannot see in what respect it was fallacious. If I take the wholesale prices of these articles I find that the difference is still very greatly in favour of the duty on beer. In the case of tea, for instance, at a shilling a pound, the duty of a shilling would amount to 100 per cent on the wholesale market price. On coffee at a wholesale market value of 5d.a pound a duty of 3d. would amount to 60 per cent, and so with other articles; but when I come to the wholesale price of beer, and put it at 36s. per barrel, I find that the duty amounts to only 17½per cent. Whether, therefore, we take the wholesale or retail prices of different articles, we find that beer is much less taxed than either tea or sugar. I will put the cases very shortly in this way—for every shilling spent on tea sold retail, a man pays 4d. duty at least; for every shilling spent on brown sugar 2d. 64–100; for every shilling spent on coffee 2d. 28– while for every shilling spent on beer he pays only 11½r to these several articles as sold retail. That, I contend, is a fair way to estimate the pressure of these taxes on the consumer, and I cannot help thinking that public opinion would be more favourable to the claims of such articles as tea and sugar than to those of alcoholic beverages. You may talk of brewing at home, at the labourer's cottage, but what an important article to the wife and children of the labourer is tea ! What an important article is sugar and those other commodities to which I have referred ! It is, I may add, my firm belief that the habit of drinking tea is making way among the agricultural labourers, and I know that at this time, not only among the agricultural but the maritime population of this country engaged in the coasting trade, there is a very great extension of the consumption of tea, coffee, and such beverages,' and a smaller consumption of beer and stimulating drinks. Though I do not at all profess to advocate the view of prohibiting by means of restrictions the consumption of fermented drinks, yet I do think it is a movement in the right direction when you see that there is a greater consumption of more innocent articles than used to be even among that class who get their living by the labour of their hands. I do not, however, go the length of saying that the Malt Tax has no evils. I am viewing the Malt Tax in relation to the financial necessities of the country, and the claims for remission in the case of other taxes; but I am far from maintaining that there are not evils connected with the Malt Duty, as with all other taxes. I quite admit it is undesirable that any kind of manufacture should be carried on under Excise Regulations, but taxes must be levied, and while that is the case I am afraid we must submit to evils to the extent to which I have referred. I have, I may add, been informed that no maltster now complains of the regulations which attach to the manufacture of malt. It is I believe, true that those regulations have been so modified that it is no longer considered that the Excise system in relation to malt stands in the way of its being most cheaply and most profitably manufactured. The Customs duty of 25s. on foreign malt as against a duty of 21s. 8d. on home made malt is, I have no doubt, more than sufficient to cover any disadvantage which may arise from the latter being manufactured under the operation of an Excise duty. But I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken to advocate the repeal of the Malt Tax on the ground that a certain amount of Customs duty was still to be levied on foreign malt. I do not think, however, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Suffolk led us to suppose that that was the meaning of his Motion; nor do I think Parliament would consent, after the repeal of the Excise duty on malt, to enact that a protective duty to the extent of some 3s. or 4s. should be levied on foreign malt. The proposition of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, as I understand it, was that after the repeal of the Malt Tax we were to deduct from the 25s. now levied on foreign malt only 21s. 8d., thus leaving a duty of 3s. 4d. still in operation, and that is a point which I should wish to see cleared up, because the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in thinking that such a scheme will be sanctioned by Parliament, is, in my opinion, indulging in an illusion. Whether the effect of taking away altogether the duty on foreign malt would not be to cause the importation of vast quantities of it, I am not competent to say, but the best authorities seem to be of opinion that if the duty on foreign malt were repealed we might expect a considerable addition to our supply from foreign countries. We have been repeatedly told that if we repeal the Malt Tax the labourer will brew in his cottage. If that be so I should like to know why he does not brew at home now? Why cannot he go to the maltster and buy his malt, and brew it at his own house? It is said that if there were no Malt Tax a man might brew his beer at home at a cost of 4d. a gallon; but I cannot help thinking with Mr. Biddle, to whom reference was made to-night, that even with the Malt Tax in existence you can buy your malt and brew it at your own house at a cost of not more than 5½ gallon. Then we are told that if you go to the brewer you have to give 1s. a gallon for the same quality of beer, while the charge at the public-house is 16d.; but is not, I would ask, the difference between 5½d. and 1s. and 16d. sufficient inducement to a man to brew at home? Is it the additional 1½d. per gallon that makes all the difference? Depend upon it there must be other reasons why brewing at home is not carried to a very great extent. There must be other causes than the operation of the Malt Tax for the extraordinary difference between the retail and the cost price of beer. The difference cannot be the result of a duty which does not amount to quite ½d. per quart, or ¼d. per pint, and do what you please with the Malt Tax it is quite evident there will always remain a considerable difference between the retail and the cost price of beer. I would now beg leave to say a few words in reference to the question of barley land, but, as I do not profess to be a practical agriculturist, I will take the liberty of quoting the high authority of a political economist, who well understood agriculture and the bearing of taxes on the agricultural interest. Dr. Adam Smith, in a passage in which he is supported by Mr. Ricardo, says— The different taxes which have been imposed upon malt, beer, and ale, have never lowered the price of barley, have never reduced the rent and profit of barley land. The price of malt to the brewer has constantly risen in proportion to the taxes imposed upon it; and those taxes, together with the duties upon beer and ale, have constantly either raised the price, or, what comes to the same thing, reduced the quality of those commodities to the consumer. The final payment of those taxes has fallen constantly upon the consumer, and not upon the producer."—[Bk. v. chap. 2.] If, then, the statement that the Malt Tax falls entirely on the consumer was true at the time when this passage wag written, and when foreign corn and bailey were subject to a high duty, there is every reason to suppose it is more true in the present day, when any increase in the prices of barley and grain must be kept in check by foreign competition. I want to understand—is this a farmer's question? How is it proposed to secure to the fanner of barley land a higher profit than to the farmer of other land? Is it possible by any scheme in Parliament to make the profit of one soft of farming higher than another? Is it not obvious, if the profit of any particular kind of agriculture were greater than the profit upon the general kind of agriculture, that competition would force down the profit, and the excess would go to the landlord in the shape of rent? You may for a short time, by the repeal of the Malt Tax, add to the demand for barley—though I doubt whether that would be the case; but, at any rate, the advantage to the farmer must be temporary, because if the profit of the barley lands increased, new tenants would in a short time come forward prepared to give higher rents for those lands, because they would be satisfied with the ordinary profits derived from the employment of capital in agriculture. Why, then, is this called a farmer's question? I should not object to support it merely on account of its being only a landlord's question; but I really do not believe it is anybody's question, except the question of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of the public finances of this country. I do not for a moment say that the Malt Tax is not, like other taxes, to come under revision from time to time, and to be considered by the Financial Minister; but what I am protesting against is that we should now, before hearing the Chancellor of the Exchequer's views as to the general resources and prospects of the country, pledge ourselves by this binding Resolution never to touch any other indirect taxation until the Malt Tax should be abolished. But what is to be done with the direct taxes? Does the hon. and learned Member for East Suffolk mean to wait before he begins with his Malt Tax till the whole of the direct taxes are repealed? I should like the farmers to understand the meaning of the Motion. Is anything to be done in any period that can be assigned? I collect from some observations which fell from the hon. and learned Member, that he thinks that the income tax is condemned; and therefore I suppose that his plan is first of all to take off £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 a year of the income tax; and then to take off £6,000,000 of Malt Tax. I must say that I am not very fond of defending any tax, but really these are propositions of such a very reckless character, that I for one, if I were an independent Member and in that position to which the hon. and gallant Colonel alluded, could not give my support to a proposal which pledged me to deal so extensively with the resources of our public revenue. I think that the farmers have been somewhat deluded by this proposal. I think that the cultivators of barley lands have been and are now, perhaps, the most prosperous of all our farm cultivators. They really have the least to complain of. If you look to the price of barley for the last few years you will find that it has been less affected by the repeal of the Corn Laws than any other of the cereals; and though I doubt extremely whether this plan of dealing with the Malt Tax will be of any relief to the barley growers, still, I contend, that of all classes connected with agriculture, those connected with the cultivation of barley are the least in want of any special boon. No case has been made out in this debate to show that the barley growers and those connected with the cultivation of the light lands on which barley grows are at this time suffering from distress so as to deserve some special legislation on their behalf. I do not think that this Motion will be adopted by the House. I cannot conceive that, with the division of opinion which appears to prevail, even among the agricultural classes, as to what would be the effect of the repeal of the Malt Tax, that this proposal will receive the united support of the whole of the agricultural party. I hope the House of Commons will not consent to bind itself by any such Resolution as this, and I am quite sure that if it does it will have to retrace its steps in some way or other as on a former period. Having regard to the liberal manner in which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been prepared to view the claims of all the various interests of this country, I think you may, without passing any Resolution to tie his hands, or to fetter his discretion, trust that when he deals with indirect taxation he will deal with it in a manner at once just and beneficial to all classes of the community.


The concluding sentence of the right hon. Gentleman's speech is so remarkably in contrast with the main part of his observations that I feel considerable difficulty in knowing how to answer him. He asked us in the first part of his speech to look at the whole of the taxation put on alcoholic drinks, and he told us that we must be tender in touching that precious edifice of £20,000,000, yet in the last part of the speech he asked the House not to pass the Resolution, but to trust to the justice of his Colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who would deal with these matters fairly and properly. But was not this precious edifice of £20,000,000 broken in upon when the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with foreign wines and French brandy? We did not then hear anything about this consecrated edifice of £20,000,000, yet directly any proposition is made to deal moderately with this tax on home produce and consumption, we are to be frightened by being accused of doing something to damage public credit. The right hon. Gentleman thinks the farmers have been considerably deluded on this subject. If so, they must have deluded themselves, because the movement with respect to the Malt Tax has been quite spontaneous on their part. There have been reductions of duty on very many articles in this country within the last twenty years, and the diminution in price has been followed by an enormous increase of consumption, more than recouping the amount of duty taken off. Do you suppose that the farmers have not observed this result, and can you wonder if they conclude that the same result would follow a reduction of the duty on malt? Why should not that take place with regard to malt liquors? The right hon. Gentleman has said a good deal about his 12½ per cent duty on beer. I do not like to follow Gentlemen when they go starring in the provinces, but certainly when he made those statements at Ashton I got my best spectacles and looked at the speech to see whether he illustrated the subject in the manner most natural to that audience by a reference to the old duty upon cotton. I should like to have seen that he said something of this sort—"You know that some years ago you paid a duty of an eighth of a penny a pound upon cotton. A pound of cotton makes so many yards of common calico, therefore if you take the price of calico and deduct an eighth of a penny for every such quantity, that would show what was the duty upon calico." I should like to have heard him argue that before the audience at Ashton. They would have been able to answer him—"It is all very well to delude agriculturists with that sort of reasoning, but it won't do for us north countrymen." They would have told him that at once, and he would have stood a good chance of being kicked off the hustings. Let us come to closer quarters with what the right hon. Gentleman calls alcoholic drinks. It is a large mouthful, and being rather touched in the wind I can hardly get it out. I will not deal with what he said at Ashton, because it is more appropriate to keep the comparison between these drinks. He told us last year—I hear indifferently, and I could not believe myself when I heard it, but I have seen it in print since—he repeated it at Ashton, and he repeats it now—that the duty upon beer is 12½ per cent, and the duty upon Spanish wine, meaning sherry, is 29 per cent.


The right hon. Gentleman will find that I said it was 12½ per cent upon the retail price. If I had taken the wholesale price I should have said 15½ or 16 per cent. I gave the prices, and said such beer as was sold at 4d. per quart.


The right hon. Gentleman certainly spoke of the retail price of beer, because he went through a beautiful calculation giving the number of quarts and gallons, and told us that two bushels of malt would produce thirty-six gallons of beer, and that the duty would be 12½ per cent. I thought that he had worked out the figures for himself, but he has told us tonight that he derived them from the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds. If the figures which he gave were worked out, it would come, not to 12½, but to 11 and something per cent. As it is very mystifying to compare wholesale and retail prices, let us take the retail in both instances. We all know what a pot of porter costs—4d. And we all know what a glass of sherry costs—6d. My hon. and learned friend the Member for East Suffolk has worked it from the top downwards. I intend to work it from the bottom upwards, and we come to just about the same conclusion. A glass of sherry, as I tell you costs 6d. ["No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] You may get a glass at public-houses for 4d., but at the bar of the coffee-room of this House you may get a very good glass of sherry for 6d, and that is the common price. If you measure you will find that there are as nearly as possible seven of these glasses in a pint ["Oh, oh !"]—in an imperial pint, in the eighth part of a gallon. That is 28s. for a gallon of sherry. The duty upon that is 2s., and dividing it among the fifty-six glasses, it amounts to 71.7 per cent. That is how he mystifies us, you see Now we will go to gin, which is the next in order, and about which, before coming to the calculations, I will say a word. I have always heard it laid down by every one whose opinion is worth following that from spirits you have a right to get as much revenue as you can, provided you keep out the smuggler. Gin is sold at the public-houses for 5d. a quartern; if you want the very best you must pay 6d. There are four quarterns in a pint, and therefore thirty-two in a gallon. That at 5d. a quartern makes 160 pence. The duty is 10s. or 120d.; and that is a duty of 75 per cent upon spirits as sold at the public-house. That is assuming that people drink spirits at proof; but they do no such thing. The publicans are humane enough, they have sufficient consideration for people's interiors, by a well known process, to lower it a certain degree and make it less prejudicial than it would otherwise be. Taking the formula of the right hon. Gentleman, that two bushels of malt brew thirty six gallons of beer, and working that out at a duty of 2s. 8½d. a bushel, that would give something over 11 per cent instead of 12½. There are Gentlemen in this House connected with railways who know that you never get so true a level as when you try it backwards and forwards. Try it backwards and forwards, and you are pretty sure to get a level. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the duty upon wine at the wholesale price is 29 per cent, and I have shown you by the demonstration of the glass of sherry that on the retail price it comes down to 7 per cent, or a little better. Try the duty upon malt or on the beer produced from malt in the same way by a rule-of-three sum:—If a duty of 7 per cent upon the retail price of wine amount to 29 per cent upon the wholesale price, what will a duty of 11 per cent upon the retail price of beer give as the duty upon the wholesale price?—and you will find that it comes to about 45 per cent. Of course that 45 per cent takes in hops and other things; but my hon. and learned Friend proved by working downwards that the duty upon malt, taken as it is at 70 per cent at starting, even including the hops and other things, amounted to more than 30 per cent upon the beer as it goes down people's throats. I have never before, in these days of free trade, beard such a proposition as is laid down by the Treasury Bench, that you are to stamp a tax upon a raw material, and that it is to go through H the bother and worry of the Excise, and all the expense of manufacture, and then by some extraordinary process, the duty will come out almost as nothing. I cannot understand this sort of process. If that reasoning be sound, you might say that taxes upon raw materials are of no consequence at all. We have been going on for the last twenty years being enlightened, and I believe everyone benefiting by the abolition of these taxes upon raw materials; and when we are told that. a raw material taxed to the extent of 70 per cent is to go through the process of manufacture, and that when the manufactured article comes into the consumers' bands the duty will be only 11 or 12 per cent, that seems to me to be a monstrous proposition. I have tried it by the only way that I could—by the comparison of a glass of sherry and a glass of beer; and I believe that I have demonstrated, as my hon. and learned Friend proved, starting from another point, that the tax upon the consumer amounts to at least 30 per cent. I have looked upon this as a consumers' question, and no other. When you are dealing with so great a question as what may be the increase of the price of a particular article, having an almost unlimited field for the supply of the raw material, I do not mean to say that Gentlemen who take other views may not be right, but I have never seen any reason which proves to me that they are. It is a consumer's question—it is a farmer's question, because all the farmers, be they upon grass land, upon clay land, or barley land, are all, and must be, great consumers. It is eminently a labourer's question, because if beer is cheapened, in my humble opinion, there will be less intoxication. I have as strong a conviction of that as I can have of anything; because poor people who can now but rarely get beer, will not be so likely to think of indulgence when they can get their glass of it daily. An hon. Member talked of what a man with 100 acres of land would gain from the remission of the duty; but, I think, if the farmer were to attempt to get in his harvest with so small a consumption of beer as the hon. Gentleman seemed to calculate upon, he would find out the truth of the old proverb that, in these matters, "A wet great goes farther than a dry shilling." In farming operations you cannot light the gas lamp, but must make hay, as the saying is, when the sun shines; and you cannot get your men to work long in the sunshine without something to help them to push on. Good, wholesome beer, I believe, is what they really want, more than anything else. I have, besides, always been of opinion that since you have reduced the duty on wine for the upper and middle classes, since you have reduced the duty on brandy, the spirit drunk by the rich, the poor man has a claim to have the duty on his beer reduced. I have never asked for, nor do I mean by voting for this Resolution to express any opinion upon its total repeal. I know that it talks of ultimate repeal, which is a very vague term; but I believe there is a very strong claim in justice on the part of the beer-consuming class of the people of this country to have a reduction in the price of their drink, as the upper class have had a reduction in the price of theirs. The right hon. Gentleman touched towards the end of his speech on the difficulty there would be in regulating the import duty on malt. Well, he looked far ahead. The only answer I can give him to that is that if he will tell me how much his neighbour will take off, I will tell him at once what my opinion is about the import duty. But it is quite time enough to ask me what I think about the amount of the import duty when I know what you are going to take off the home duty. That I think is fair. I am not one of those who would wish—I believe it would be quite unreasonable—to keep any duty on foreign malt beyond the corresponding duty put on in this country. Now, with regard to a comparison between different duties, you know that in the case of malt a man pays the duty very often a twelvemonth before he can get his money back, whereas, with wine, he has it in bond, I believe he bottles it in bond, and does not pay the duty long before it is drunk. [Here an HON. MEMBER handed the right hon. Gentleman, who was suffering from hoarseness, a glass of water, of which he partook and proceeded.] Thank God, Sir, there is no tax upon water. We feel that you have relieved all other persons who drink, but you refuse any relief to those who drink beer. Now, I was very sorry to hear what was repeated last year, and an endeavour made to sow discord between England, Ireland, and Scotland. I do not think that is worthy of a Government. The tax upon spirits has always been maintained at a rate at which you can keep out the smuggler. You would have the Irish and Scotch Members say, "It would be as fair for us to be free from a tax on spirits as for the agricultural labourers to get rid of the duty on malt." But labourers might say in return, "Well, the cider counties pay nothing, and we do not raise any objection." We do not, however, say that, because we stand upon the justice of our own case. We believe there are many persons—myself among the number—who would be very glad to get rid of all taxes; but I know that the revenue must be kept up. Still that is no reason why it should be kept up in one direction alone. I ask for a moderate reduction, and if half the malt tax were taken off to-morrow, and especially if you took it off from October instead of from the present moment, of course in the latter case you would be relieved from a great deal of drawback, and I believe you would in two years not recoup the whole amount but probably all of it within a million. That has been the case with every other tax you have touched; why should it not be the case with this? No man will pretend that the labouring people of this country get anything like the quantity of beer they would drink, well and reasonable drink, in their families without anything like intoxication, if they could afford to pay it. And if you reduce the price, I believe it is a thing they all like so much—a thing so much used and liked by all classes in life—that you would get the bulk of your revenue back again. I thank the House for listening to me. I believe the claim urged by my hon. and learned Friend is founded on justice—I believe that we ought to have a remission of this tax, and if the prosperity of the country should go on increasing as it has done, so that we can get a greater and greater reduction on all other things, then in process of time we may come to what the Resolution indicates as the ultimate repeal of this impost. I do not expect myself to live to see that; and therefore I only go for that which is within my own hopes, and that is to get rid of a good portion of it.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


said, he would now move the Previous Question.

Whereupon Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."—(Mr. Hardcastle.)

The House divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 251: Majority 80.

Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Cobbold, J. C.
Adeane, H. J. Cochrane, A. D.R.W.B.
Anson, hon. Major Courtenay, Lord
Bailey, C. Cubitt, G.
Baring, A. H. Curzon, Viscount
Barrow, W. H. Dering, Sir E. C.
Barttelot, Colonel Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bass, M. T. Dodson, J. G.
Bateson, Sir T. Douglas, Sir C.
Bathurst, A. A. Do Cane, C.
Beach, Sir M. Duncombe, hon. A.
Beach, W. W. B. Duncombe, hon. W. E.
Bective, Earl of Du Pre, C. G.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Dutton, hon. R. H.
Bentinck, G. O. Elphinstone, Sir J. D.
Benyon, R. Fane, Colonel J. W.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Farquhar, Sir M.
Beresford, D. W. P. Fellowes, E.
Bovill, W. Filmer, Sir E.
Bowyer, Sir G. Fitzrov, Lord F. J.
Bramley-Moore, J. Fleming, T. W.
Bramston, T. W. Floyer, J.
Bremridge, R. Forester, rt. hon. G.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Foster, W. O.
Brooks, R. Gard, R. S.
Bromley, W. D. Gaskell, J. M.
Bruce, Major C. George, J.
Bruen, H. Gilpin, Colonel
Burghley, Lord Goddard, A. L.
Burrell, Sir P. Gore, J. R. O.
Cartwright, Colonel Graham, Lord W.
Cave, S. Greene, J.
Cecil, Lord R. Grey de Wilton, Visct.
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Griffith, C. D.
Clive, Capt, hon. G. W. Gurdon, B.
Hamilton, Lord C. Packe, C. W.
Hamilton, Viscount Packe, Colonel
Hamilton, I. T. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Hartopp, E. B. Papillon, P. O.
Harvey, R. B. Parker, Major W.
Hervey, Lord A. H. C. Patten, Colonel W.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Peacocke, G. M. W.
Hennessy, J. P. Peel, rt. hon. Gen.
Henniker, Lord Peel, J.
Hesketh, Sir T. G. Pevensey, Viscount
Hill, hon. R. C. Phillips, G. L.
Holford, R. S. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Holmesdale, Viscount Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Hornby, W. H. Powys-Lybbe, P. L.
Hotham, Lord Price, R. G.
Howes, E. Pugh, D.
Humphery, W. H. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Hunt, G. W. Rolt, J.
Ingestre, Viscount Rose, W. A.
Jervis, Captain Russell, H.
Jolliffe, rt. h. Sir W. G. H. Sclater-Booth, G.
Jolliffe, H. H. Selwyn, C. J.
Kendall, N. Shirley, E. P.
King, J. K. Sidney, T.
Knatchbull, W. F. Smith, A.
Knight, F. W. Smith, S. G.
Knightley, Sir R. Smyth, Colonel
Langton, W. G. Somerset, Colonel
Lennox, Lord G. G. Stanhope, J. B.
Lennox, C. S. B. H. K. Stanhope, Lord
Liddell, hon. H. G. Stracey, Sir H.
Long, R. P. Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.
Lowther, hon. Colonel Sturt, H. G.
Lyall, G. Surtees, H. E.
Lygon, hon. F. Taylor, Colonel
Lytton, rt. hon. Sir G. E. L. B. Thynne, Lord H.
Tomline, G.
MacEvoy, E. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Malcolm, J. W. Treherne, M.
Malins, R. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Vansittart, W.
Manners, Lord G. J. Vyse, Colonel H.
Miles, Sir W. Walcott, Admiral
Miller, T. J. Watlington, J. W. P.
Mitford, W.T. Welby, W. E.
Montagu, Lord R. Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Mordaunt, Sir C. Whitmore, H.
Morgan, hon. Major Willoughby, Sir H.
Mundy, W. Wyndham, hon. H.
Newdegate, C. N.
Newport, Viscount TELLERS.
Noel, hon. G. J. Kelly, Sir F.
North, Colonel Morritt, W.J. S.
Adair, H. E. Beecroft, G. S.
Adam, W. P. Bellew, R. M.
Agnew, Sir A. Berkeley, hon. H. F.
Andover, Viscount Black, A.
Angerstein, W. Blake, J. A.
Anstruther, Sir R. Blencowe, J. G.
Antrobus, E. Bonham-Carter, J.
Astell, J. H. Bouverie, hon. P. P.
Ayrton, A. S. Brady, J.
Aytoun, R. S. Bright, J.
Baines, E. Briscoe, J. I.
Baring, rt hon. Sir F.T. Bruce, Lord E.
Baring, T. G. Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.
Barnes, T. Buchanan, W.
Baxter, W. E. Buckley, General
Bazley, T. Buller, Sir A. W.
Beamish, F, B. Bury, Viscount
Beaumont, S. A. Butler, C. S.
Caird, J. Hartington, Marquess of
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Hervey, Lord A.
Carnegie, hon. C. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E,
Castlerosse, Viscount Henderson, J.
Cavendish, Lord G. Henley, Lord
Chapman, J. Hibbert, J. T.
Cheetham, J. Hodgkinson, G.
Childers, H. C. E. Hodgson, R.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Holland, E.
Clay, J. Hood, Sir A. A.
Clifford, C. C. Horsfall, T. B.
Clifford, Colonel Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Clifton, Sir R. J. Hubbard, J. G.
Clive, G. Humberston, P. S.
Coke, hon. Colonel Hutt, rt. hon. W.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Ingham, R.
Collier, Sir R. P. Jackson, W.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Cox, W. Johnstone, Sir J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Kekewich, S. T.
Crawford, R. W. Kinglake, A. W.
Crossley, Sir F. Kingscote, Colonel
Dalglish, R. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Davey, R. Lacon, Sir E.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Layard, A. H.
Dawson, R. P. Lawson, W.
Denman, hon. G. Leader, N. P.
Dent, J. D. Leatham, E. A.
Dillwyn, L. L. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Duff, M. E. G. Lefroy, A.
Duff, R. W. Legh, Major C.
Duke, Sir J. Legh, W. J.
Dunbar, Sir W. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Dundas, F. Leslie, C. P.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Leslie, W.
Dunlop, A. M. Lewis, H.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Locke, J.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Longfield, R.
Egerton, E. C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Egerton, hon. W. Mackie, J.
Elcho, Lord Mackinnon, W. A. (Lymington.)
Enfield, Viscount
Ewart, W. Mackinnon, W. A. (Rye)
Ewart, J. C. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Ewing, H. E. Crum- Martin, J.
Farrer, J. Merry, J.
Fenwick, E. M. Mills, J. R.
Fenwick, H. Mitchell, T. A.
Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W. Moffatt, G.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Moncreiff, rt, hon. J.
Forster, C. Montgomery, Sir G.
Forster, W.E. Moor, H.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. Morris, W.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. Morrison, W.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Murphy, N. D.
Gavin, Major Neate, C.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Norris, J. T.
Gilpin, C. North, F.
Gladstone, rt.hon. W. O'Brien, Sir P.
Glyn, G. G. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Goldsmid, Sir F. H. Onslow, G.
Goschen, G. J. O'Reilly, M. W.
Gower, hon. F. L. Owen, Sir H. O.
Greenwood, J. Padmore, R.
Grenfell, H. R. Paget, C.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Paget, Lord A.
Gurney, S. Paget, Lord C.
Hadfield, G. Palmer, Sir R.
Hanbury, R. Palmerston, Viscount
Handley, J. Pease, H.
Hankey, T. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hanmer, Sir J. Peel, rt. hon. F.
Hardcastle, J. A. Peto, Sir S. M.
Pilkington, J. Sturt, Lt.-Colonel N.
Pinney, Colonel Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Potter, E. Taylor, P. A.
Powell, F. S. Thompson, H. S.
Pryse, E. L. Tite, W.
Pritchard, J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Proby, Lord Tollemache, J.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. H.
Repton, G. W. J. Turner, J. A.
Ricardo, O. Tynte, Colonel K.
Robartes, T. J. A. Verney, Sir H.
Robertson, H. Vernon, H. F.
Rothschild, Baron M. de Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Vyner, R. A.
Russell, A. Waldegrave- Leslie, hon. G.
Russell, F. W.
Russell Sir W. Walter, J.
St. Aubyn, J. Warner, E.
Schneider, H. W. Waterhouse, S.
Scholefield, W. Watkin, E. W.
Scott, Sir W. Watkins, Colonel L.
Scrope, G. P. Weguelin, T. M.
Seely, C. Westhead, J. P. Brown
Seymour, H. D. Whitbread, S.
Seymour, W. D. White, J.
Seymour, A. White,hon. L.
Shafto, R. D. Wickham, H. W.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Smith, A. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Smith, J. A. Woods, H.
Smith, J. B. Wynn, C. W. W.
Smith, M. T. Wynne, W. W. E.
Smollett, P. B. Wyvill, M.
Staniland, M. Torke, J. R.
Stanley, hon. W. O. TELLERS.
Stansfeld, J. Brand, hon. H. B. W.
Steel, J. Knatchbull, Lt.-Colonel W.F.
Stuart, Colonel C.
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