§ Resolution [February] 15 reported.
said, he did not rise to offer any opposition to the proposal; but there were two points upon which he desired to receive an explanation on the part of the Government. The present duty was 12s. on every dog. It was, however, found that this duty was too high to be levied with the uniformity and strictness which policy and justice alike required, and, therefore, in the policy of the proposed reduction he fully concurred. But then the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) had stated that it was the expectation and desire of the Government to raise from the new tax an amount not less than that now levied. Whether this expectation would be realized turned upon the question whether the new duty of 5s. could be strictly and uniformly levied. He hoped it would; but this was a point on which the Government of the day would be better able to form a conclusion. The first assurance he wished to receive was that the Government had fixed upon an amount which, in their opinion, might be charged alike upon all members of the community and obtained from them. The second point—which was of a different nature and of some importance—was that although this was not a financial measure of very great importance, yet it was the commutation of a duty that yielded £180,000 a year, and which independent of any increase under the duty would not yield half that amount—perhaps not more than £70,000 or £80,000. Primâ facie such dealing with the revenue ought to be treated as a portion of the financial measures of the year, and form part of the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had always held that there was nothing more closely connected 475 with the constitutional control of the House of Commons than the principle that, except under special circumstances, all the financial measures of the year ought to form part of the same plan. Of course, in some cases where strong practical reasons existed it might be desirable to depart from this rule. The cause of this departure probably was that the duty, instead of being, as before, a part of the assessed taxes, would now be an Excise duty. The assessed taxes were levied each year on the number of dogs kept in the former year; while the Excise duty was payable beforehand, and the commencement of the financial year would be fixed as the period at which the tax must be taken out. If he were correct in this supposition he had no objection to the proposal.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he would answer the second Question first. It was desirable that, as the duty on dogs was hereafter to be a duty of Excise, the change should be arranged to take place at an earlier period of the year than the Financial Statement, as otherwise a great number of the owners of dogs would escape the tax this year altogether. The assessed taxes for 1866–7, although due this year, were not chargeable until April 5 next. Under the new duty it would be necessary for those who wished to keep dogs this year to take out an Excise licence. For this reason it was desirable not to defer levying the tax until the usual financial arrangements of the year were made. In answer to the first Question of the right hon. Gentleman, the Government were of opinion that the tax of 5s. on every dog was one that could really and uniformly be levied. The Government proposed that there should be no exemptions whatever. When the Resolutions were in Committee his hon. Friend the Member for East Norfolk (Mr. Read) stated, that although he understood it was intended to levy the tax on sheep dogs, he considered it so important that the proposal of the Government should be carried that he was willing to waive the exemption which that description of dogs had hitherto enjoyed. If the owners of sheep dogs were ready to give up their exemption, that was a test of the duty of 5s. being one which the community would bear to see universally levied on dogs. As the present duty of 12s. was only levied on a very small number of those who now kept dogs, the revenue would not, in his opinion, suffer from the reduction. He rather looked forward, on the 476 contrary, to some increase of the proceeds of the tax under the new duty.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. DODSON, Mr. HUNT, and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.