§ WAYS AND MEANS considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Mr. Bonham Carter,—The financial year which has just come to a close has been by no means exempt from incidents and vicissitudes. We have had what I fear must be characterized as an unfavourable harvest. Two of the States which, together with us, formed the barrier of Europe against the Atlantic, are at this moment provisionally governed, and one of them seems to be in the throes of a civil war. If we turn in another direction, we find that the monetary world has been very much agitated, and that apprehensions have been excited by the very large remittances of money which have taken place from France to Germany; and, in addition to that, we have had at home the self-inflicted misery of strikes to contend. with, besides a great rise in the price of all the necessaries of life, more especially in that greatest necessary in our cold and damp climate—coal. But I think that any one who attends to the narrative which I am about to lay before the House will not be able to trace the slightest vestige of any ill effect which those different vicissitudes and misfortunes have had upon the revenue and finances of the country. Things which in former years would have produced the most active effect seem now almost powerless. It really looks as though the wind that could bow the sapling were harmless against the oak—as if our finances, our business, our commerce, our trade, by the immense expansion which has taken place, have gained in solidity, and are more difficult to be moved, just because they are larger than before. I trust it will prove so. At any rate, my task this year is a 655 very gratifying one—namely, to detail the financial results of a year of almost unexampled prosperity.
The first point to which I will draw the attention of the House is the comparison of the Expenditure of the year which has just elapsed—1872–3—with the total Grants within that year. By the words "total Grants," I understand the Grants which were made in the Appropriation Act, together with the Supplemental Estimates which were granted in the current year. Now, the total Grant of the year 1872–3 amounted to £71,881,000, and the actual Expenditure of the year amounted to £70,714,000. So that the actual Expenditure is less than the actual Grants by a sum of £1,167,000, and less than the amount granted in the Appropriation Act by £949,000, and less than the total original estimate in the Budget by £599,000.
I now proceed to mention some of the principal items of this saving. The first is a sum of £205,000 unexpended money—Charges on the Consolidated Fund. That arises in this manner:—By the Act of 1869, by which the Chancery and Bankruptcy balances were transferred and paid into the Exchequer, provision was contained to the effect that, in case the funds fell below a certain sum, a Grant should be made in aid of them from the Consolidated Fund. We have had to make such a Grant since the Act was passed, and a sum of £100,000 was put down for that purpose. Happily, however, the fund has been sufficient, and the Grant has not, therefore, been called on. Another cause is somewhat similar in its nature. By the Telegraph Act, also of 1869, it was enacted, that if the Telegraph revenue should show a profit, that profit should be expended in the purchase of stock, and £100,000 was put down to meet such an expenditure. The fact, however, was that this expenditure was only £11,000, and so far there is a saving of £89,000:—making a total saving of £205,000 on the Consolidated Fund. Again, the Civil Service Estimates show a very large reduction indeed—amounting to no less than £766,000. This arises principally on two heads—the one Education, the other Public Buildings. In respect of the first, the Education Department seem to have believed that the Act of 1870 would come more rapidly 656 into effect than it has done, and they made provision accordingly, which has not been called upon. That, I may say, in passing, is only in accordance with my own experience. An error which people are very likely to fall into is this—that because a change is made the change which is expected and desired can be at once brought about. According to my experience, it is a matter of great time, labour, and care, to bring a new system of any kind to maturity. Twenty years of excessive labour were devoted by able men to the old system, and I think we must not be too sanguine in expecting that the new scheme shall arrive at the point we should like to see it attain, until, at any rate, several years have elapsed.
Then, with respect to public buildings, there is a considerable amount—about £300,000—of unexpended money. The chief buildings on which this money has been saved are the Post Office and Inland Revenue Offices, and the Natural History Building connected with the Science and Art Department. On this subject the Committee on Public Accounts have made what I think is a very valuable suggestion. They point out that very large surrenders are often made in this Department—amounting in 1869 to £260,000; in 1870 to £279,000; in 1871 to £243,000; and in 1872 to £305,000. And they point out how this happens. They say that the necessity of repaying into the Exchequer the unexpended balance of each Vote on the Civil Service Estimates causes their framers in each Department to insert in the Estimates outside amounts beyond what are required. Experience, they say, shows that though each calculation may be specifically justifiable, the collective amounts are, from various causes, always more than is spent, and this suggests a system of transfer from one building to another, somewhat similar to that adopted in the Appropriation Act with reference to the Army and Navy. That suggestion is worthy of consideration, and to it we will endeavour to give effect. In the Post Office Department there is an excess of Expenditure of £24,000, and in the Telegraph Department of £172,000. The Public Accounts Committee report that the excess is due to the rapid and unforeseen expansion of telegraphic business during the year. I think that in future it would be better 657 that Supplemental Estimates should be moved for any excesses of this kind than that they should be allowed to run on to the end of the year.
I have now compared the actual Expenditure of the past year—1872–3—with the Grants of the year, and it may be worth while to compare the Expenditure of 1872–3 with that of 1871–2. The Expenditure of 1871–2 was £71,490,000; that of 1872–3 was £70,714,000, showing a decrease of £776,000 in the Expenditure of last year as compared with the year preceding it. There was a decrease of expenditure on the Army of £1,055,000; the Navy, £358,000; the Miscellaneous Civil Services, £187,000; the Consolidated Fund charges £222,000, and on the National Debt of £34,000; making in all £1,856,000. There has been an increase of expenditure in only two items—namely, for the abolition of Purchase £606,000—which I need hardly say, is quite out of the control of the Treasury—and in the Revenue Department £575,000, arising mainly from the great extension of the Post Office and Telegraph Departments; making the net decrease £675,000.
I now proceed to compare the Revenue of the year 1872–3 with the Estimate of that year. The Estimate was £71,846,000; the actual Revenue for the year has been £76,608,000, so that there was an increase of Revenue over Estimate of £4,762,000. The Expenditure, as I have stated, for the year was £70,714,000, and subtracting one of these amounts from the other, we find a surplus of Income over Expenditure for the year which has just expired of £5,894,000. Of this Revenue there were derived from sources other than taxes—from the Post Office, Telegraphs, Crown Lands, Fees, and Miscellaneous—£10,191,000, so that the residue alone was derived from taxation. The Customs have, I find, increased by the large amount of £953,000. In fact, there has been an increase in every item of Customs' revenue with the exception of coffee, chicory, Geneva, and molasses. Coffee produced, in the financial year to the 31st of March, 1872, £362,000; but in the year just expired, owing to the reduction of duty, it produced only £204,000; and chicory, which in 1871–2 produced £104,000, in 1872 produced only £73,631. In the month of May there was an enormous increase of con- 658 sumption, and every month except September shows an increase over the corresponding month of the previous year. The Returns are very gratifying; because it has always been said that coffee was an article which it was no use relieving from taxation, since the people of England could not make it, and did not like the trouble of having anything to do with it—and, in point of fact, it was not a national beverage. But certainly the result, so far as I can learn, has shown the contrary. The increase in the consumption of coffee was estimated at 7 per cent, but it has been 11.8 per cent. This is a little remarkable, because there was a rise in price in the year of 17 per cent. In the year before there had been a decline of 11 per cent in consumption. The loss on coffee was estimated at about £165,000; but in the face of these adverse circumstances it has proved to be only £157,000. The result of the change of duty, taking Customs and Excise, coffee and chicory together, may be stated thus:—the actual revenue for 1871–2 was £479,000, as compared with an estimated revenue of £495,000. For coffee and chicory the estimate for 1872–3 was £265,000, but the actual revenue was £273,000. It is pretty plain, therefore, that I was right in thinking that coffee was over-taxed with respect to tea, and that it only required to be placed on a level with it for the consumption to increase. The increase in Customs Duties has been—in spirits, £357,000; in tobacco, £258,000; in tea, £129,000; in wine, £37,000; and in sugar and molasses, £85,000.
I now turn to the Excise. The Revenue from Excise in the year just expired has been £2,475,000 in excess of the Estimate, spirits showing an increase over the previous year of £1,330,000, making the total receipts from spirits £13,600,000. The increased consumption has continued throughout the year, and at the rate of £25,000 per week. During the six months, April to September, it was at the rate of £30,000 per week, and in the last six months it was at the rate of £20,000 per week. It is impossible to make such a statement as this without very mixed feelings. On the one hand, we cannot help thinking to what much better use the greatest part of the money, only a small portion of which is represented by these enormous 659 totals, might have been put; on the other hand, we cannot but in some degree rejoice that the state of the working classes has enabled them to make this expenditure, although they might have spent the money in so much better a way. I now come to Malt, the increase on which is also very large. The increase of revenue in 1872–3 over 1871–2 is £866,000; but of this £400,000 is due to exceptional circumstances. It arises from a late malting in 1871–2, and an early malting in 1872–3. The real increase in quantity of malt made is represented by the respectable figure of £466,000. The licences, which have not been progressive lately, show an increase of £148,000. Stamps also show a remarkable increase over the estimate of £247,000, while as compared with last year's produce Deeds show an increase of £105,000—although you remember that the reduction on Stamps was very considerable—Bills of Exchange of £110,000, Receipts and Drafts of £40,000, Marine Insurance of £12,000, Probates and Administrations of £75,000, and Fee Stamps of £10,000, making altogether £352,000. But that has been compensated by a falling off in Stamp Duties which are not under the control, of the Government, and perhaps it is not desirable that they should be—I mean the Legacy Duties, amounting to £190,000. But it should also be remembered that the amount of Legacy Duty in the year 1871–2 was the largest on record— namely, £3,371,000. The Income Tax shows an increase over the estimate of £560,000.
I now come to the comparison of the Revenue in 1872–3 with that in 1871–2. In 1872–3 it was £76,609,000; in 1871–2 it was £74,708,000, showing an increase of £1,901,000; and this, though taxes have been remitted calculated to produce a loss of £3,240,000 within the year.
I have now to turn to another subject—the state of the Exchequer Balances. We are responsible for four financial years, from the 1st of April, 1869, to the 31st of March, 1873. On the 1st of April, 1869, the balance in the Exchequer was £4,707,000. There has been a surplus of revenue over ordinary expenditure during the four years of £16,079,000, and an excess of repayments of loans for public works over advances of £2,109,000, making together £22,895,000. Out of that sum there has been applied directly to the extinction of Debt £10,903,000, 660 leaving a balance on the 31st of March, 1873, of £11,992,000.
This brings me to the question of the Debt. Between April, 1869, and April, 1873, we have paid off Debt to the amount of £29,633,000; but during the same period we have incurred Debt for Telegraphs £8,668,000, and for Fortifications £1,285,000,making together £9,953,000. Subtracting that sum from the £29,633,000, there remains a net diminution of Debt of £19,680,000. The Committee should observe that the Debt incurred for Telegraphs—£8,688,000—is not money sunk, but represents reproductive expenditure, so that, in truth, we have not been far from reducing the Debt by the large sum I first mentioned. On the 1st of April, 1869, the total Debt of all kinds, Funded, Unfunded, and Terminable Annuities, was £805,480,000. On the 1st April, 1873, it had been reduced to £785,800,000, it being coin-posed as follows:—Funded Debt, £727,425,000; capital value of Terminable Annuities in Three per Cent Stock, £53,546,000 (42,000,000 of which I think I am correct in stating will drop in 1885); and Unfunded Debt—namely, Exchequer Bills—for we have no Exchequer Bonds out—£4,829,000, making a total of £785,800,000. The Debt has been reduced within the current year by £6,861,000. I will give a few figures showing what I may call our capital expenditure during the last four years. During that time we have spent in Fortifications and Telegraphs, £9,028,000; in the Abolition of Purchase, £1,286,000; we have diminished the Debt by £19,680,000, and we have increased the balance in the Exchequer by £7,285,000, making altogether a balance of capital expenditure for permanent objects of £37,279,000. During the same four years taxation has been remitted amounting to £9,166,000—which I hope will be an answer to those who accuse us of having devoted our attention wholly to the reduction of Debt and of having done nothing to alleviate the burdens of the people.
I now turn to the financial year on which we are entering, and compare the estimated, Expenditure for that year with the Grants of 1872–3. The estimated Expenditure for the current year is £71,871,000, and the Grants of 1872–3 were £71,881,000; showing a net decrease of £10,000. There is a reduction of charge 661 on Debt of £80,000, arising from the cancelling a large amount of stock, and a reduction of Exchequer Bills over £300,000. On the other hand, there have been loans raised by Terminable Annuities for Fortifications, and Barracks. The Charges on the Consolidated Fund are reduced by £210,000, which is a counterpart of the statement I made to the House at an earlier period of the Session. We have not thought it necessary to estimate the balance of the funds in the Courts of Bankruptcy and Chancery. There is no need to apprehend a call, and we have not estimated for them. On the other hand, we have not thought it necessary to place £100,000, or any other sum, in order to provide for profit on Telegraphs. The Army Expenditure, as the Committee have heard from my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell), is £407,000 less than in the past year, the chief decrease being £350,000 in warlike stores. There is an increase on fuel and provisions of nearly £400,000. On the Navy there is an increase of £341,000. There is an increase in the Dockyards through the increase of Wages of £136,000, also an increase of £144,000 in Naval Stores, and an increase on Steam Machinery of £132,000, making together with various other items £475,000. The increased cost of coal is estimated at £60,000. The Civil Services show an estimated increase of £127,000. There is a decrease in Class 1 on a number of buildings now in hand; but an increase on the Natural History Museum and the New Courts of Justice, both buildings which we are now seriously about to commence. We have only recently received the estimate for the New Law Courts, and I do not think that any time has yet been lost in that matter. In Class 2 there is an increase of £107,000, due to an increase in the Local Government Board estimate caused by the Public Health Act, and in the Home Office estimate caused by the Mines' Regulation Act. In Class 3 there is an increase of £131,000, wholly attributable to increase of pay to the police. There is an increase for the Dublin Constabulary, in consequence of the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry. There is also an increase of the Metropolitan and County police of England. Industrial Schools also exhibit an increase, which, I apprehend, will continue so long as those institutions are 662 conducted under an Act so loosely drawn as the present one. On the other hand, Criminal Prosecutions, Reformatories, and County Prisons show a decrease, which is, of course, gratifying. In Class 4 Education shows a decrease of £100,000; which is owing to the fact that I have already mentioned—namely, that the Act does not come so rapidly into effect as was anticipated. Science and Art and Education in Ireland show an increase. Class 5 is practically stationary. There is some decrease in the charge for Colonial Establishments, while for the Diplomatic Service and for the Zanzibar Mission there is an increase. In the Revenue Departments the Customs and Inland Revenue show an increase of £40,000, arising from the new assessment to the Income Tax. In the Post Office there is an increase of £135,000, attributable to the progress of the Service, and the Telegraphs exhibit an increase of £145,000, due to the same cause; the revenue being estimated to increase in larger proportion.
I now proceed to submit to the House the estimate of the Revenue for the year 1873–4, as compared with the actual Revenue for 1872–3. The actual Revenue for 1872–3 was £76,608,770. The estimated Revenue for the year 1873–4 is £76,617,000; so that there is an increase over the actual Revenue of last year of £8,230. We take the Customs at the same amount as they produced last year—namely, £21,033,000. The Excise we estimate to yield £25,747,000, or £38,000 less than last year. That decrease is, I apprehend, accounted for by what I have already mentioned about an apparent great rise in malt. The Stamps we take at £10,050,000, being an increase of £103,000. The Land Tax and the House Duty we take at £2,350,000, or £13,000 more than they yielded in 1872–3. The Income Tax we take at £7,000,000. It yielded £7,500,000 last year, the difference of £500,000 being, of course, accounted for by the relics of the higher rate we had before. The Post Office we take at £5,012,000, showing an increase of £192,000; the Telegraph Service we estimate to produce £1,220,000, showing an increase of £205,000; the Crown Lands we take at the same amount as last year—namely, £375,000, and the Miscellaneous we estimate at £3,830,000, being an increase of £33,230 over last 663 year. The total estimated Revenue for 1873–4 is £76,617,000, being an increase of £8,230 over the actual Revenue of 1872–3. The Customs, as I have said, are put at the same figure as last year. The Excise we estimate to produce a total of £25,747,000, divided under the following heads:—chicory, £7,000, licences, £3,880,000; malt, £6,980,000; racehorses, £10,000; railways, £520, 000; spirits, £14,200,000; sugar, £150,000;—total,£25,747,000. The estimate for spirits is taken at a considerable advance over last year, it having been observed that the revenue from this source has of late years advanced steadily and almost in the same ratio, or about £700,000 a-year. In 1866, when my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he called attention to the large yield under the heads of Customs and Excise, and stated that £13,955,000 from spirits was the largest sum ever raised in any period of our history by a tax on a single commodity. Well, the estimated income for the ensuing year from spirits under the heads of Customs and Inland Revenue is £19,000,000. The Income Tax we estimate will produce £7,000,000; that is, £1,750,000 for every penny. When the late Sir Robert Peel first imposed the Income Tax, he estimated, taking an average of years, that it would yield £728,000 for each penny. So that the result of 30 years of experience, and I hope of the improvement of the tax has been that it now yields £1,000,000 for every penny more than it did in 1842.
It now remains for me to balance the two sides of the account. The Income for the year 1873–4; as I have stated, will be £76,617,000; the Expenditure we estimate at £71,871,000—showing a surplus of £4,746,000. I have already informed the Committee that the Balances in the Exchequer approach very closely upon £12,000,000.
Now, the question arises, what are we to do with all this money? The first subject which must be in everybody's mind, and which, therefore, I will deal with first, is the damages in which we have been cast by the Arbitrators at Geneva. Their amount, as far as we can tell by reducing American money into English, is £3,200,000, which we are to pay before the 1st of October next in gold at Washington. [Mr. WHITE: The date in the Award is the 14th of September.] 664 It will have to be paid in gold. This appears to me, I confess, to be the service of the present year. Some people, as I have observed, have attempted to make out that, seeing the Arbitration occurred last year, it may be said in some degree to belong to last year. But I hold it to be an indubitable principle that nobody pays debts before he is obliged, and as we are not obliged to pay before the 1st of October next, it is in the year in which that fatal day arrives that our duties accrue in this matter. I, therefore, regard this as un-doutedly a charge not on the year that has gone by, but on the year that is now before us. But while I state this I am also quite free to admit that this does not necessarily settle the question of the manner in which this large sum is to be met. It is quite true that it is a charge on the year, but it is also true that it is a charge entirely sui generis, and that it has never happened to us before, although I am quite willing to say I hope it may happen again—["Oh, oh!"]—at least, I hope the chance of it may occur again by the reference of some future difference which may arise to arbitration. So large a payment, however, undoubtedly interferes with our ordinary finance; but it interferes with it not as a permanent payment, but as one that comes once and that may never recur. We have taken these matters into our consideration, and we are of opinion that, on the whole, it is our duty to place one-half of this payment upon the ordinary revenue of the present year. That will be the sum of £1,600,000. As to the rest of the sum—namely, another £1,600,000—we think that we ought to provide for its payment, without any further resort to the taxation of the year, by asking for power to give Exchequer Bonds or Exchequer Bills for the amount, in case—which I do not at all anticipate—of an unfavourable state of the finances. By that means we have disposed, therefore, of £1,600,000 of our surplus. There remains £3,146,000; and the question is, how are we to dispose of that sum? We have carefully considered the matter, and we have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to propose a remission of taxation on some articles which enter very generally into the food of the people, and in that way to give the greatest and most general relief. After having weighed as 665 well as we could the claims of different articles, we have come to the conclusion that the article on which it was desirable that we should fix was sugar. There were a great many taxes which one would be exceedingly anxious to reduce; but there was scarcely one which enters so widely into the comforts of all classes of Her Majesty's subjects—from the highest to the lowest—as sugar. It is a sweetener which enters into all sorts of food; it is the delight of children, and the solace of age. With all these admirable qualities, it is exceedingly nutritious and wholesome, constituting really and truly an article of food. We are also very much encouraged by the result of former reductions to proceed further in this direction. The sugar duty in 1872–3 produced £3,252,000, that being a very considerable recovery from the sum which was taken off in 1870. We are now asking you to make this reduction chiefly on one ground, but there are others on which I need not enlarge which may be taken into account. The reduction of the duty in 1870 has brought into more conspicuous view a set of questions with which I confess I, for one, was very little conversant before, and on which I would wish to be allowed to say a few words. Nothing, perhaps, has been legislate) about so minutely as sugar. It is divided into five different scales, the first being under the head of refined and the others of unrefined sugar. To each of these scales a different value is attached. Before 1865 the highest scale of refined sugar was, I think, taxed at 18s. per cwt, and the lowest at 12s. My right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Gladstone) in 1865 reduced the tax on the highest to 12s., and on the lowest, if I am not mistaken, to 8s. per cwt. In 1870 the House reduced the tax again to 6s. and 4s., so that as we reduced the tax we gradually reduced the range within which the five scales I have mentioned operated. In other words, we left the same number of stairs as before, but then they were not so steep. The effect of these reductions has been very considerable, and, so far as they have gone, I think that they have proved very beneficial. There are not only five different scales of duty for sugar, without counting molasses, but seven different scales of drawback for one class—that is, refined sugar. This drawback is not paid upon raw sugars, but it is paid on 666 refined sugar. The great object in estimating the drawback was to ascertain how the sugar was refined. This process gives rise to innumerable practices, which I will not call by any harsh terms, but which are called by harsh names by our lively neighbours across the Channel. Without going into details, I may say that the effect of these practices was that what Parliament intended to be given as a drawback became very different, and the Revenue was greatly injured. The effect of the change no doubt diminished this injury. The difference was not so great as to make it worth a man's while to dress the sugar up so as to make it look of a different class to what it really was in order to obtain the drawback. This tended very much to make the drawback what it was intended to be —a re-imbursement of duty instead of a bounty upon the exportation of the article. Gentlemen connected with the trade have come to me and complained very much of having been injured by the change—the bounty being so small there was not the same room for profit. I hold this to be an excellent result of what has been already done, and we think that matters in this respect may be further improved if the House will listen to our proposal to diminish the scale still further, leaving the scale itself as it exists; indeed, we have not the power of altering it, because we are bound to it by Treaty on that subject. But the several scales will be so near each other that it will not, probably, be worth the while of anyone to take much trouble in order to get more in the shape of a bounty than he would have to pay in duty, and the Revenue will thus be more fairly treated. The reduction, I may add, which we propose is, to take off again half the duty on sugar as before. The duty for the present year—1872–3—is £3,252,000, and the half of that sum is £1,626,000. We believe, however, that the increased consumption would give us £1,822,000, and that the loss to the Revenue, therefore, would be only £1,430,000. I may mention, while on this subject, that we propose the reduced duty should not come into effect until the 8th of May, so that time may be given to those who hold stocks of sugar to get rid of them. [Mr. CRAWFORD: Hear, hear!] We have no inclination to enter into another discussion with my hon. Friend the Member for the City of 667 London, and after the cheer with which he has just received my proposal, I hope he will not come forward again as one of those evil counsellors who may be disposed to contend that further time should be given. The precise rates of duty will be found in the Resolution which I will propose, and it will be sufficient to state now that the highest rate on refined sugar will be 3s. per cwt; on the first class, 2s. 10d.; on the second, 2s. 8d.; on the third, 2s. 5d.; on the fourth, 2s.; and on molasses, 10d. Well, we have still something left, and I will not keep the House in suspense one moment on the subject. What we propose to do is to take a penny off the Income Tax. There has been considerable agitation against this tax, to which, however, we have felt it to be our duty to offer the firmest opposition. The fact is, we are in no position to get rid of the tax—at least in the present state of our finances. Nor are we in a position, as I have often argued, to break down the integrity of the tax by treating one Schedule in a different manner from another. We have no choice but to retain it; but we are anxious to act as fairly as we can towards all parts of the community; and having given great remissions in the shape of indirect taxation, we wish also to relieve, as far as possible, the large classes that come under direct taxation. There is also another reason for the proposal which we make which is not quite so obvious. When Sir Robert Peel imposed the Income Tax in 1842, the tax, which was then 7d. in the pound, yielded, I think, £7,100,000, or about £100,000 more than the present amount. [Mr. DISRAELI: Without Ireland.] At present a tax of 3d. in the pound would yield as much as a tax of 7½d. would yield in the clays of Sir Robert Peel, and we are therefore maintaining the amount of the tax as nearly as possible at its original level, while we are diminishing the number of pence in the pound. In consequence of the proposed reduction there will be a loss this year of £1,425,000. I have also to mention another small matter—I allude to a reduction of £30,000 which we propose, by extending the exemption for servants to persons employed by hotel keepers, and persons keeping houses for the sale of intoxicating liquors. They have made out, I think, a good case, because they have 668 hitherto been charged for their servants under circumstances which have caused other trades to be exempted. I had no sufficient answer to give to their argument, and therefore I give them this £30,000. I may also observe that the reduction of the duty on sugar will cause an increase of £30,000 to the Excise, because the Excise demand a large sum for a certain amount of sugar used for the purpose of protecting malt, and the lower duty now paid to the Customs would be paid to the Excise. Setting that sum against the £30,000 by which the Excise will be diminished by the remission of the tax on the servants of hotel keepers, the amount of the Excise duties will remain unaltered.
I will now state to the House the result of these changes. The Customs will be diminished, by the remission of half the sugar duties, to £19,603,000. The Excise will remain as it is, having lost £30,000 and gained £30,000. The Income Tax will be reduced from £7,000,000 to £5,575,000; and the Expenditure will be augmented by £1,600,000 on account of the payment of the Alabama Indemnity. Thus the estimated Revenue will stand at £73,762,000, against an Expenditure of £73,471,000, leaving a surplus Income over Expenditure of £291,000.
To sum up briefly what we have done, I may say that we hope to pay during this year the amount of the Alabama Indemnity, £3,200,000. [An hon. MEMBER: Half that amount.] No, we hope to pay—in fact, we must pay—the whole of that amount during the year; we hope to reduce the National Debt by £6,000,000; we shall lend £1,000,000 in excess of payments in respect of Public Works, and we shall remit taxation to the amount of £2,835,000.
I trust these Estimates will be satisfactory to the Committee and that hon. Members will think that the Government have acted in a spirit of fairness and equality to all parties. We have been anxious to hold the balance as evenly as we could between direct and indirect taxation, and to consult, as far as we could, the wishes and interests of every portion of the community. We believed that we could not listen to the request to take off the Income Tax altogether, but we have endeavoured to make the burden more tolerable; and we believe that in reducing the tax upon sugar, we shall 669 not only largely relieve the consumers of that article, but also strike a vital blow at a very objectionable system that has grown up of giving bounties under the form of drawbacks. While they have done their best to relieve the taxpayers, the Government have not been unmindful of the duty resting upon them to reduce the Debt as far as they were able. During the present year we have paid off £6,800,000 of Debt. There are, I believe, some who murmur at our having devoted such a large sum towards the payment of the Debt. I hope, however—and indeed I believe—that those who hold that opinion are in a small minority, and that they will continue to be in a minority, for I am perfectly satisfied that whenever this nation shall arrive at a point when it shall lose its feeling for the corporate unity of the nation, and shall come to regard individual comfort as of more importance than the welfare and the well-being of the State, and shall consult merely the wishes and the convenience of the present generation; when we shall adopt the witty and worthless maxim—"That as posterity has done nothing for us, it is our duty to do nothing for posterity"—we shall not be far from the edge of that abyss into which so many States and Empires have been precipitated by self-seeking and sordid purposes. It only now remains for me to move the Resolution, fixing the Income Tax at 3d. in the pound.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged, collected, and paid for one year, commencing on the sixth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, for and in respect of all Property, Profits, and Gains mentioned or described as chargeable in the Act passed in the sixteenth and seventeenth years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter thirty-four, for granting to Her Majesty Duties on Profits arising from Property, Professions, Trades, and Offices, the following Rates and Duties (that is to say):
For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of all such Property, Profits, and Gains (except those chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act), the Rate or Duty of Three Pence;
And for and in respect of the occupation of Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, and Heritages chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act,
For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value thereof;
In England, the Rate or Duty of One Penny Halfpenny; and
In Scotland and Ireland respectively' the Rate or Duty of One Penny Farthing;
Subject to the provisions contained in section twelve of the Act of thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth Victoria, chapter twenty, for the exemption of Persons whose whole Income from every source is under One Hundred Pounds a-year, and relief of those whose Income is under Three Hundred Pounds a-year.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We hope that we shall not have to make use of the Exchequer Bills at all; but if we are compelled to have recourse to them they will only be for short dates, and in that case the operation would have the practical effect of deferring the payment of the remaining half of the Indemnity until next year.
said, it had been for some years his practice to follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer on these occasions, and to make certain stringent, although not ungenerous comments, upon his Financial Statement. On every former occasion he had ventured to point out that the right hon. Gentleman had systematically under-estimated the incoming Revenue—as its out-turn uniformly proved—to the extent of some millions per annum. This year, however, it was quite otherwise, so all he could do was to express his satisfaction at the speech to which they had just listened, and which, he believed, would be generally approved. The Income Tax had lately attracted rather a large share of the odium which was inseparable from direct taxation; but he believed that this display of opposition in certain localities had been caused, thanks to the right hon. Gentleman, in a great degree—as the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue alleged in their last Report—by its having been suddenly raised in 1871 from 4d. to 6d. in the pound. In dividing his available surplus between direct and indirect taxation—reducing the Income Tax to 3d. and taking off half the sugar duty—the right hon. Gentleman had adopted the fairest and wisest course under existing circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman must, however, forgive him if he could not join with him in exulting over the large reduction that had been made in the amount of the 671 National Debt during the past year. In thus reducing the Debt £6,000,000, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had in some degree trespassed upon the domain of Parliament, without whose consent, by means of his under-estimating the accruing Revenue, this large sum had been surreptitiously appropriated for that purpose. The question of the propriety of permitting any Chancellor of the Exchequer to exercise such a power as this was one that well deserved the serious and early attention of Parliament. That distinguished and enlightened statesman, the late Lord Grenville, had said in 1827—To determine whether any or what portion of national wealth shall at any time be withdrawn by taxation from private use for the reduction of the National Debt is not a question of abstract science. No decision can more essentially depend upon the contingent and fluctuating considerations of ever-varying circumstances. None, therefore, can be fitter to be reserved for the annual consideration of a wise and cautious Legislature.In 1855 the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government—questioning the policy of any Parliament dictating or uniformly following some proscribed or anterior rule for the appropriation of public moneys in liquidation of National Debt—used these words—Upon what principle was the Parliament of 1855 to say that £1,000,000 a-year must be applied in a particular way by the Parliament of 1860 or 1870? They were there to find supplies and money to meet the national exigencies for our own times, and not for the time of our children. That was not their business.… Parliament would do much better to rest satisfied with the performance of its own duty, and not undertake to lay down a particular policy for a future Parliament."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 1634.]The Public Accounts Committee had recommended that the whole system of the appropriation of any accruing Surplus of Income over the Expenditure to the payment of the National Debt should now be revised. The right hon. Gentleman was himself aware that the present system was obviously delusive. The large amount in the past year of the Excise Duties might be attributed to a great increase of the expenditure of the people. Many of the working classes now received higher wages, which enabled them to increase their comforts. If the agricultural labourers were paid at a reasonable rate we should see a still greater augmentation of the Excise Revenue. If their wages were increased 672 3s. per week he believed that would lead to an annual increase in the Excise returns of quite £2,000,000. Our financial prosperity was intimately associated with the earnings of the working classes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had talked exultingly of the diminution of our Debt. What was the amount of that National Debt? Why, it was £786,000,000; but if it were now as much as £800,000,000, it would still be less than the total amount of the National Income. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer did abolish £25,000,000 of the National Debt, the interest that would be saved by that abolition amounted—it should be remembered—to less than a half-penny in the pound of the Income Tax at present. He (Mr. White) need not say that if £25,000,000 had been appropriated to the further remission of taxation on tea, sugar, coffee, and other articles of domestic consumption, it would have led to an enormous increase of our foreign trade and home industry, and, moreover, must have diffused increased enjoyment and comfort in every household, however humble, throughout the land.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he would have abstained from offering any remarks on the Statement of the right hon. Gentleman if he had not on the Paper a Notice of Motion with regard to the malt tax. Upon a former occasion he had "run Malt against Sugar," that was the term popularly applied to it. That was when the present Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer that he brought forward that Motion; but he had not the sympathy of the House with him then, for he was beaten by something like 3 to 1 in the division which took place upon the question. He understood that the amount of duty which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to take off sugar was £1,430,000. Although that was a considerable sum, yet, having regard to the amount that was now raised by the malt tax, he (Colonel Barttelot) did not think it would be wise or prudent when the Resolution to effect that reduction was put to the House to run malt against sugar. This much, however, he would venture to say—that, although no Chancellor of the Exchequer of late years had ever attempted to deal with the question, except his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), yet no hon. Member had ever asserted in 673 his place in that House that the malt tax was a fair and a just tax. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to deal with the malt tax as he dealt with the sugar duty, the result would be exactly analogous—there would be a better class of beer throughout the country, and the revenue would not be diminished. Therefore, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to have passed by in silence the claim with reference to the malt tax. Notwithstanding the influential deputations which had appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not vouchsafe to say a word on the subject on this occasion. He was afraid the agricultural interest was not one which much interested the right hon. Gentleman, because on previous occasions it had been entirely ignored by him. As to the income tax, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman had fairly dealt with it. No doubt, he said, he would take off 1d. That would be a most popular remission of taxation. But he had not entered into the question of the collection of the tax under Schedule D, and that question had been raised throughout the length and breadth of the land. He (Colonel Barttelot) well recollected that he went with a deputation on that subject to the right hon. Gentleman, and that he was the only man who ventured to tell him that he was perfectly right in maintaining the tax, and also in maintaining Schedule D; but that the way in which the collections were made under that Schedule deserved some consideration by him. Schedule D pressed most severely upon the lower branch of the middle-class, and upon the larger class of trades-people; and the tax was raised in a very arbitrary manner, and to an amount, in the case of small tradesmen especially, which was unfair and unjust. No doubt the assessors thought they might gain favour at headquarters by raising a large amount from the tax.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed that the assessors were not the parties to whom the remark of the hon. and gallant Gentleman applied.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
It was a mistake on his part to say it was the assessors. It was really the Government surveyors that were to blame in the matter. The assessors had a most difficult task to perform in doing what was 674 right and fair. He had never as an Income Tax Commissioner, when he thought the assessment had been raised arbitrarily, entertained it; but, on the other hand, if he thought that the assessment ought to be raised, and it was clearly shown that a man was doing a better business than he himself returned, then it was for him to prove that he was not earning the money upon which he was taxed. The class, however, to which he had referred felt the tax exceedingly. Their complaint was that the tax was arbitrarily imposed upon them without any proper justification. They went further than that; they looked at the upper classes—at the large bankers and at the large brewers. They looked east of Temple Bar, and saw the enormous incomes which were being made there. ["Oh, oh!"] He might be wrong in his statement; but looking at the enormous incomes which were realized in this country, and the enormous profits which were made in large businesses, and then looking at what the returns for income tax were, the classes to which he had alluded thought that the richer classes did not pay anything like the same proportion as the smaller men who could not so well afford to appeal, and who did not, perhaps, care to prove that their business was not so flourishing as was believed. One of the great grievances of the income tax was that it was not meted out evenly between the higher class and the lower middle class, and that many of the former were exempted from paying on the enormous incomes which they were making. Large incomes were never made so easily as they had been made of late years; and although the income tax had largely increased, it had not grown in the proportion of the incomes that had been made during the last 20 years. He had no doubt that this remission of 1d. in the income tax would be most popular; but he wished that the right hon. Gentleman had made some little concession in regard to Schedule D, so that it might have been collected in a fairer and easier manner. He did not advocate the repeal of the income tax, because he thought it was necessary that its machinery should be preserved. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did right in reducing the tax, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to reduce it again; but 675 if he would repair the defects of the machinery he would confer a great benefit on the people. With regard to the remission of sugar duty, he understood that the right hon. Gentleman would take care that it should be kept at such a rate as that it would not interfere with malt. The use of sugar in brewing would largely increase, and it should be fairly taxed as compared with malt.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, that they must all view the great increase in the revenue from the consumption of drink with mixed feelings. Now, any man of common humanity who had any regard for the wellbeing of the people of this country must look upon this enormous increase with feelings of unmixed regret. It had been said with great force that they had drunk themselves out of the Alabama difficulty. That might be a very clever proceeding, but was it right? There was only one man who wished his countrymen should drink more—the senior Member for Derby (Mr. M. T. Bass)—and his wish was not that they should drink more spirits, but that they should drink more bitter beer. They ought not to discuss this question in a hard-and-fast way, as though they were a set of tax collectors, rejoicing at every method of raising revenue. They should take a more comprehensive view of the subject, and study the happiness of the whole people. Was there anything to rejoice at in the Prosperity Budget which had been introduced that night? A former Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, being told that a certain tax was bad for the morality of the country, said—"Thank God, I have nothing to do with the morality of the country!" He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) hoped the House would not endorse that opinion. The officers of the Inland Revenue did their duty ably and well; but if they were asked which they conceived to be the great end of Man, they would answer—"to consume the greatest possible amount of duty-paid spirits between the cradle and the grave." If the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymple), dealing with habitual drunkards, passed, what would become of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? There were 33,000 habitual drunkards in England, and if they were all shut up what would be the conse- 676 quence to the revenue? The habitual drunkard was the sheet anchor of the British Constitution. The Government and the Legislature of the country had allowed 150,000 tax gatherers to be commissioned to collect taxation through the means of selling drink. In short, Cowper's lines were still as applicable as ever—Ten thousand casksFor ever dribbling out their base contents,Touch'd by the Midas finger of the State,Bleed gold for Ministers to sport away.Drink, and be mad then; tis your country bids!Gloriously drunk obey th' important call!Her cause demands th' assistance of your throats;Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more.The system of collecting a large proportion of their revenue by sending out these tax gatherers was a system which was mean, cruel, and short-sighted, and fraught with evil to the State. They had an enormous revenue to raise, and the Government of the country, finding that there was something which was very injurious to the people, and which they were very fond of drinking, proposed to check its consumption by putting upon it high duties, and they sent the tax gatherers to whom he had alluded to all parts of the country, especially the poorest, to collect the revenue for them. In his Budget speech of 1865 the Prime Minister said—Now, if you want to mark your high moral indignation at the use of spirits through the imperfect, yet not by any means wholly ineffective medium of fiscal arrangements, I think you cannot well go further than a rate of taxation under which, whenever a man is disposed to lay out 5s. in this commodity, he only gets at the outside 1s. worth of spirits for it, while the other 4s. go into the Exchequer."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 1119.]It was said that this was voluntary taxation. ["Hear!"] But if the hon. Member who cried "hear" set a trap and a rat walked into it, was that step quite a voluntary one on the part of the rat? The State enticed these people to drink, taking advantage of their vicious habits, and then thought it could satisfy its conscience by talking of the voluntary taxation incurred by the people of this country. They could not say that this increase had arisen from prosperous well-to-do people. The increase on foreign wines had been 3½ per cent, the increase on foreign spirits 1½ but when they came to British spirits, gin included, the increase was 11 per cent, and on beer 13 per cent, showing clearly 677 that the very great increase had arisen from the poorest of the people. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had given them when considering the Education Bill the result of a tour through the slums of London; he graphically described the wretchedness and raggedness of the children, and asked where their parents were. He told the House they were in the gin and beer-shops which their legislation had put up. There was too much truth in this. The leading journal had accurately characterized public-houses as instrumental in degrading, brutalizing, and demoralizing a large portion of our people; our increased revenue, therefore, meant increased degradation and demoralization among our poorer fellow-countrymen, and no one anxious for the welfare of the people could regard this increased consumption of intoxicating liquor without pain. The high wages which had been received were a curse rather than a benefit to those who received them. He did not wish, however, to have the duties on spirits raised to a large extent. He hoped that the Committee would look into the matter and find some means of removing the vice which existed in the country.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, that he must remind his hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that so far as the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was concerned with respect to the evil complained of, the result was to repress the consumption of spirits. He had not heard anyone in the House advocate the reduction of the duty on spirits. If they advocated more drinking they would come and ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take the duty off spirits. But he would venture to submit to his hon. Friend that the proper time to discuss the question was when he moved the second reading of his Bill. Since the period during which the right hon. Gentleman had been in office, the country had been in a state of great prosperity, and he thought this was the time when they ought to take an opportunity of reducing our National Debt. He was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to pay off one-half of the Alabama Claims out of the surplus. He wished he had proposed to pay off the whole. The next year and the year after the right hon. Gentleman might find himself compelled to ask for an in- 678 crease in the income tax, as he thought it was not certain that the present prosperity would continue, and that therefore the revenue might diminish. Let them look to what had been done on the other side of the Atlantic. He was no admirer of American institutions, but in one respect they set us a great example, and that was in the great efforts which they had made to pay off their Debt created by the civil war only a few years ago. They were rapidly paying off that Debt, while we, having had nearly 60 years of peace, had gone on making infinitesimal efforts to reduce our National Debt.
§ MR. J. B. SMITH
said, he did not concur in the censure passed upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), on account of his efforts to reduce the National Debt; on the contrary, in his (Mr. J. B. Smith's) opinion, there were circumstances in their present position which gave rise to grave reflections as to the course which it would become their duty to pursue in the disposal of any future surplus revenue. The Prime Minister, in a recent remarkable speech, observed that "we live in a wealth-making age," and he expressed the opinion that they had accumulated more wealth since the commencement of the present century that in all the preceding ages from the time of Julius Caesar. Assuming that to be a reasonable estimate of the marvellous increase in their wealth, and he (Mr. J. B. Smith) did not see any reason to question it, it became an interesting and important inquiry how it was that they had been able to accumulate that enormous wealth. There could not be a doubt that their extraordinary prosperity during the present century had arisen from the possession of vast supplies of coal and iron, which had given their manufacturing skill and industry advantages over all other countries. In fact they had up to the present time enjoyed a comparative monopoly of those important minerals. It would be folly, however, to shut their eyes to the progress of other countries, and to flatter themselves that they could for ever retain that monopoly. Already they saw the dawn of a rivalry which they must meet as best they could. Sir Charles Lyell stated that the coal fields of America extended 700 miles from east to west, and covered a larger surface than all England. Hitherto 679 America had chiefly devoted herself to the development of her agricultural resources, but with the enormous increase of her population by immigration—which now exceeded their own, and was calculated by the close of the century to reach 100,000,000—she was turning attention to the development of her other resources, and the progress she had made in wealth, was even more extraordinary than that of the Old Country. That progress would be best exemplified by the consideration of a few facts. Not a mile of railway was made in America until after railways in England had become an established success, but on the 1st of January last, America had 70,000 miles of railway in operation, and 7,000 miles more in course of construction, which would be in operation this year; while England had only 16,000 miles of railway in operation. The American cities were formerly lighted with gas made from English coal, and when railways were first built there, they were worked with English coal or with wood; now they were all worked with American coal. The produce of coal in America last year was 42,000,000 tons, but great efforts were now being made to work mines in different parts of the country, but especially in Virginia, which was said to possess the richest coal mines in the world, and railways were in course of construction to bring coals to the outports. At the present moment coals were cheaper in America than in England, and it was hardly an exaggeration to say that they were "sending coals to Newcastle," since they had the extraordinary spectacle of the depôts of the Royal Navy in the West Indies, South America, and Ceylon being now supplied with American coal, because it could be bought at a less price there than at Newcastle. There could be no doubt that the same causes which induced manufacturers in this country to settle in the neighbourhood of coal would equally operate in all other countries where coal existed, and those would become the greatest manufacturing countries, as population increased, where coal and iron most abounded. Now, seeing that that which had hitherto been the chief source of their wealth had nearly doubled in price within a year, was it not time to ask themselves—"Was their coal supply approaching exhaustion?" If so, ought they not, in considering how they should dispose of the present or any future sur- 680 plus revenue to remember that they bad still a National Debt amounting to £800,000,000? But, at all events, if their coal supply should yet last for some generations they were now for the first time exposed to competition—a competition, too, with an energetic and enterprising English race, and would it not be the height of folly, so long as their wealth was enormously increasing, not to reduce burdens, the relief from which would the better enable them to meet the inevitable competition which awaited them. With these views he (Mr. J. B. Smith) would have been better pleased if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, instead of taking one penny in the pound off the income tax, had increased it by two pence. There never was a period in their history when taxation bore so lightly upon the people in proportion to their means as at the present moment, and he therefore deprecated any reduction in taxation which would diminish the means of reducing their enormous National Debt. Let them remember and follow the good example of their fathers, who, in spite of the exhaustion arising from a long and expensive war and a debt of £900,000,000 in 1815, were so impressed with the moral obligation of those who contracted debts to make some efforts towards discharging them, that they resolved to set aside an annual sum for the reduction of the National Debt, which was reduced in the following 15 years by £60,000,000. Upwards of 40 years had since passed, and notwithstanding in that period the nation, according to the estimate of the Prime Minister, had accumulated an incalculable amount of wealth, it had nevertheless allowed the National Debt still to amount to the enormous sum of £800,000,000. Let them contrast that with the noble efforts of their race in America, who, since the 1st of February, 1866, had paid off upwards of £161,000,000 sterling of their National Debt, being at the rate of £23,000,000 per annum, whereby they had saved upwards of £9,000,000 a-year in the annual charge for interest on their debt. If, since the war of 1815, they had paid off their debt at half the rate the Americans had done, their National Debt by this time would have been nearly extinguished. He knew that that line of argument would not be popular with the unthinking clamourers for reduction of taxation out-of-doors, and it 681 might be even with some of his own constituents, but the time had arrived when they could no longer safely delay the reduction of their National Debt, and the question was one which hon. Members ought not to avoid for the sake of a little temporary popularity; it was one on which he felt it his duty freely to speak his mind, and to pursue the course which he deemed best suited to the permanent interests of their country.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, he had watched Budget after Budget, but had never heard one proposal from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in favour of any remission especially in favour of the agricultural interest. The Committee had been told that the past year was one of unexampled prosperity, and so it might have been for trade and for drink, but not for the agricultural classes. The loss from foot and mouth disease throughout Great Britain amounted to not less than £12,000,000, and this had fallen entirely upon agriculture. There had been a season of unexampled wet weather last summer, which had caused a bad harvest, and it had been impossible to get in the seed last autumn for the harvest of the coming year. There had also been an enormous rise in the wages of labour, and although that might have been a fortunate thing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in causing a rise of £5,000,000 in the Excise, chiefly in the article of drink, still it was anything but an advantage to the class he had the honour to represent. All these losses combined had made the past year a most disastrous one for the agricultural interest, and there was at present no hope of improvement. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the malt tax was a grievance, and yet, although his surpluses during the last four years had exceeded in the aggregate £16,000,000, and although the Chancellor of the Exchequer had admitted that he had taken off £9,000,000 of taxes during the last four years, and was now going to take off upwards of £2,000,000 more, he had made no proposal to take off the malt tax. That matter ought to be seriously pressed on the attention of the country when the proper time arrived. In the year 1870 the Chancellor of the Exchequer ad- 682 mitted that that tax pressed heavily on the agricultural classes, and yet, notwithstanding he had during the last four years remitted taxes to the amount of £9,000,000, he had done nothing to relieve the agricultural classes. He trusted that these things would be borne in mind at the next General Election, and that the farmers and the agricultural classes generally would mark their sense of the neglect under which they were suffering. He could not understand why the Alabama Claims should all be paid in a single year, when the new Rules could only be for the advantage of posterity, if indeed they ever proved to be for the advantage of anybody. He considered it a great shame that such a course should have been taken.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he thought there must be an entire revision of the income tax by any Government who wished to administer the finances of the country with fairness and justice. It was most unjust to maintain Schedule D in its present relation to Schedule A, treating terminable income depending on health and strength as equal to an estate in land. When a man who had an income of £1,000 a-year from landed property died, his widow and children were left as well off as before; but when a professional man, earning £1,000 a-year from his own exertions, died, his income died with him. To say that those two men were in the same position, and that they ought to be taxed equally, was a perversion of everything that was morally just. If there could not be an entire revision of the principle on which Schedule D was framed, that was no reason why when there was a reduction in the tax some further reduction should not be made, perhaps of an extra penny in the pound in the case of those who paid under that Schedule. That would perhaps be a rough mode of meeting the difficulty, but he thought it would only be just.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, he had no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer had more money than he knew what to do with, but he had one means of getting rid of it that he had not contemplated when he last submitted his Budget to the House. No one would dispute the entire appropriateness of devoting a portion at least of his surplus in payment of the Alabama Claims. It was difficult to challenge the Budget of the 683 right hon. Gentleman, for he stood on the very apex of prosperity. He had every right to be generous with the money which belonged to him—he had every right to take advantage of miscalculation; but before a man was generous it was usually convenient to be just. There had been a considerable increase in the malt duty, and what he asked was that there should be a restitution of that increase before the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to distribute his favours in the remission of other taxes. He had reduced the duty on sugar, and there was a close relation between the tax on sugar and the tax on malt. The right hon. Gentleman should not have disturbed that relation; at all events, his having done so established a very considerable claim in respect to malt. The right hon. Gentleman had shown in regard to coffee that the remission of part of the duty was attended with no loss to the revenue. Why had he never applied that principle to the malt duty? The right hon. Gentleman might gain a certain amount of popularity by taking a penny off the income tax; but, after all, that tax fell on those who were not more deserving of sympathy than the agricultural classes, for whose benefit no relief was proposed.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he would not detain the Committee by referring to the various questions introduced into this discussion by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith), but would come at once to the principal matters brought before them in the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would therefore say at once that if one thing more than another struck him with regard to the Budget it was this—he could not help thinking and fearing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken too sanguine a view of the income of the coming year. It was impossible for any one to observe what was going on in the country without bringing his mind to the conclusion that we might not have during the coming year such a season of prosperity as during the past financial year. We could not expect to see our iron manufactures exported on so large a scale so long as coal continued at so high a price. He could not understand how any one could at present anticipate that we should have such a season of prosperity as we had recently passed through, and all he 684 could wish was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might see his expectations realized. Assuming that they might be, he approved of the proposed method of disposing of the surplus. He was also of opinion that the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to the Alabama Claims was wise and prudent, and that he had acted judiciously in relieving the country of a portion of the burden in respect of the sugar duties. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the reduction of the income tax was a sop to the rich, because it had always been held that the middle classes were the principal sufferers from the income tax. He must join in the warning given to the Chancellor of the Exchequer against the increasing dissatisfaction of the public with the income tax, and especially with the manner in which it was assessed under Schedule D. The income tax had served a great purpose, and he hoped it would be retained as a part of our system of taxation; but many representations had been made to to him of the manner in which persons engaged in trade, and others not in trade, but possessed of small incomes, had been persecuted in relation to Schedule D. As an illustration, he might refer to one of the cases which had been described to him. In this instance a man who had been a captain of a ship in the employment of the owners of several vessels, being desirous in his old age of leaving the service, was provided on shore with an appointment to look after the vessels of his employers. For this he was paid £150, and on receiving the tax-paper he entered his income fairly and truly at that amount. He was assessed at £300; he appealed to his employers, who assisted him, and got him taxed at his real income of £150. The next year, however, when he made a return of £150, as before, he was charged at £400. This, he held, was simply a piece of tyranny, and the case was one of many which had been brought under his notice. Unless something was done to make the levying of the tax under Schedule D less obnoxious, the growing dissatisfaction would lead to something serious. He had many brewers among his constituents, and some of them had asked him to represent the unfairness of the brewer's licence. It was originally imposed as a substitute for the hop duty, 685 but it produced much more, and the brewers felt that it was unjust that after a lapse of 20 years they were still made to bear the whole burden of the remission of that duty. It was 3d. a barrel, and represented about 3 per cent of the value, so that it was an income tax added to that which the brewers paid. He did not mean to represent the brewers as a long-suffering and ill-used race. No doubt they were prosperous, but it must be remembered that although the House had experience of those brewers to whom fortune had been kind, there was a large number engaged in the same occupation to whom this was a grievous burden. Another objection to the tax was that it was in the nature of a trade licence, which existed in hardly any other business. As to the National Debt, he was in favour of its gradual and continuous reduction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had wisely named a distant day for the operation of the new sugar duties; but he feared inconvenience would result to refiners, who were now without stocks of raw material, and who could not, of course, buy in at present rates.
§ MR. GREENE
feared it was impossible to create any sympathy for that ill-used class the brewers, upon whom the shilling tax was imposed in the hope that the reduced price of hops would enable them to recoup themselves; but hops had been dearer since the repeal of the duty. Why the brewer should pay a licence for the repeal of that duty any more than other manufacturers he could not conceive. The brewer held no monopoly, and any one could enter the business. He could not recoup himself by putting the price on the beer, because the least addition which could be made to the retail price was a farthing per pint, which, of course, would be an injustice to the consumer; and, with the increasing cost of commodities, this shilling duty was becoming more and more burdensome. There were taxes which pressed much more heavily on the people even than the taxes on sugar; and he thought that if the Government had possessed more discrimination and determination we should not have had to pay the Alabama Claims. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had left to his successors in office, from whichever side of the House they might come, a task which they would find it difficult to execute. Undoubtedly, we had enjoyed great prosperity, and there had been a 686 large increase in the Excise; but his opinion was that the people had spent their money readily, on the "Easy come, easy go" system, and he did not believe the revenue of the coming financial year would at all approach the estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A more dangerous calculation he had never heard made on either side of the House. Instead of reducing the sugar duty, the right hon. Gentleman had much better have taken another penny off the income tax, which weighed heavily on people with small incomes, or a shilling a barrel off the brewer.
§ DR. LUSH
remarked that on an occasion when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made great remissions of taxation it was rather an ungracious thing to criticize the mode in which that object had been attained; but his experience during the Recess convinced him that the question of the income tax would require in that House a better answer than had been given to it by the right hon. Gentleman, or by any of his predecessors in the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. To-night the right hon. Gentleman had assigned no reason whatever why the different Schedules of the income tax should be maintained in their integrity, but simply declared his intention of maintaining that integrity. Belonging, as he did, to a class of men who derived their whole incomes from the efforts of their hands or brains, he felt bound to enter a protest against the the continuation of that system under which the earnings of a professional man were assessed at the same rate as realized property. It was impossible for any one who had had experience of the matter to feel otherwise than that the tax was unjust and improper. Assuming that an income of £500 a-year was derived from the Funds, it might be assumed to be worth 30 years' purchase; but, in the case of a man who earned a professional income, it was impossible that he could be sure of more than two or three years' purchase. This circumstance was in itself sufficient to show that there existed an essential difference in the value of the two incomes, and that to assess them both at the same rate was unjust. Moreover, this argument was strengthened by the consideration that a professional income was dependent on the good health of the person earning it. Years ago the income tax was as high 687 as 1s. 2d. in the pound, and at such a period it would doubtless have been very difficult to remit the tax; but now, when the tax was so low that it really was a matter of sentiment rather than of pressure, an investigation might be suitably made. He believed that a grave dislike existed to this tax apart from the mere dislike of taxation, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the arguments which had been brought to bear against the present system.
§ MR. CLARE READ
said, they had heard of various reductions of the sugar duty. In 1870 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after announcing his intention to reduce the duties on sugar, stated that as far as he was concerned there was an end of the reduction, and that the proposal then made might be regarded as something like finality. Yet after a lapse of only three years the right hon. Gentleman actually proposed to reduce the existing duty by one-half. For his own part, he wished the Chancellor of the Exchequer would try his hand at malt. These constant reductions of sugar might be very good, but surely the time had arrived when something might be done on behalf of malt. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown that while the duty on spirits had increased £1,300,000, the duty on malt had only increased £400,000. Now, when it was considered that the latter increase was made up principally by a very large proportion of sugar being used in brewing, rather than barley, and that, in consequence of the bad harvest in this country, the duty had been chiefly paid on foreign barley, he thought he was justified in saying that the British farmer had not received fair treatment at the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He represented an essentially barley-growing county (Norfolk) where the duty on malt came to something like 25s. on every acre of arable land. It was very astonishing that the right hon. Gentleman had made no provision for any reduction or remission of local taxation, considering that last year a majority of 100 in that House declared it to be the duty of Government to make some provision for the expenses paid by local authorities. It appeared to him extraordinary that with an abundant Exchequer and the most fruitful revenue ever known, and after so 688 deliberate and determined a vote of the House of Commons, no remission of local taxation had been made.
§ MR. GRIEVE
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his Budget, as a whole. He thought, however, that the whole question of the income tax ought to have been considered before a reduction was made, and that if any remission were granted it ought to be under the head of Schedule D. With regard to the reduction of the sugar duty, he quite approved it, but thought it would scarcely reach the large consuming classes, because it would be impossible for the retailers to split up a farthing. The reduction would certainly surprise the trade, and the fact that it was not to take effect until the 8th of May must throw the whole trade into confusion. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would, in this instance, follow the course taken on a former occasion, allow the law to take effect immediately, and give a drawback on the stocks as before.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, as he understood the Report received from the Committee of Public Accounts, it was by no means clear what was the actual amount taken from Post Office revenue for the payment for telegraphic services, and what had been taken from the money due to the Savings Banks Commissioners. If that was still a matter of uncertainty, it was far from clear what was the actual revenue of the Post Office for the present year, and, if so, the total revenue of the nation for the year was also uncertain. As they were told this evening by the Postmaster General that the question to which he had referred could not be at present cleared up, he should like to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the best explanation of the actual state of the case. They had heard a good deal to-night about the existence in this Budget of over-estimates of revenue with regard to the future. Well, he came down to the House prepared to find fault with the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the contrary error, and for having drawn from the people of this country a far larger amount than he really required. He, for one, would rather see the Chancellor of the Exchequer occasionally compelled to borrow a small sum than habitually taking out of the pockets of the people a very large 689 sum which he did not want. During the four years that the right hon. Gentleman had been Chancellor of the Exchequer he had had an average surplus of from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 a-year, and he was not prepared to blame him for a change of proceeding in this respect. And now as to the mode of collection adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which might be said to be a peculiar and private invention of his own. It had been the custom of this country for a long time past to endeavour to make the collection of the taxes by the Government as even as possible by spreading it over different periods of the year, and various processes had been invented by different Chancellors of the Exchequer to avoid the great inconvenience of having vast sums heaped up doing nothing at particular seasons, and the Government short of money at other times of the year. A few figures which would throw light on the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer might be interesting. In the year 1869 he told the right hon. Gentleman that his mode of collecting the income tax and the assessed taxes in a lump not only bore heavily on the taxpayers, but was exceedingly inconvenient as a matter of finance. From the first Return of the Bank of England in the month of April for the different years it would be found that in the year 1868 the Public Deposits for this period of the year were £6, 900,000, the other Deposits of the Bank which represented its ordinary business were £20,200,000, and the other securities which represented the investments of the Bank, other than Government securities, were £20,600,000. In 1869 the Public Deposits were £7,800,000, the other deposits £17,400,000, the other securities £20,000,000. Then came the new mode of collection, and under it the Public Deposits rose in 1870 to £11,200,000, the other deposits were £17,100,000, and the other securities more than £21,100,000. In 1871 the Public Deposits were £10,500,000, the other deposits £20,000,000, and the other securities £22,800,000. In 1872 the Public Deposits were £12,700,000, the other deposits £19,200,000, and the other securities £25,900,000. This year the Public Deposits were £15,800,000, the other deposits £19,700,000, and the other securities reached the enormous sum of £28,800,000. Now, making 690 every allowance for the great development of business in the country, the Committee would observe that while the other deposits, representing the ordinary deposits in the Bank, remained almost stationary, the Public Deposits had become enormous, and had taken with them the other securities. As far as he was concerned, this state of things was a source of emolument to him; but, nevertheless, he held that it was a most inconvenient system of finance that there should be these enormous sums taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the country and heaped up in the Bank of England, doing nothing except adding to the profits of the Bank. The Bank of England, as the House was informed last year by the hon. Member for the City (Mr. Crawford) was absolutely indifferent about the matter; but a mode of collection which left so large a sum of money absolutely unused, so far as the Government and the public were concerned, involved a very unsound system of finance, and with a machine so delicate as the Money Market such a plan would one day or another produce very inconvenient results. Another point which had a great claim on their attention was the manner in which the railway interest was taxed. He thought that that interest had not received the justice from the House to which it was entitled, because not only were the shareholders heavily taxed as owners of real estate during their lives, but when they died their property was treated as personal property, and made to pay taxes from which heritable property was exempt. In the taxation of railways, the vast amount representing rails and sleepers was treated as part of the freehold for purposes of assessment, and the companies were not allowed to deduct anything in respect of them, although they were unquestionably as little part of the land as rolling stock. That would never be altered, except by a Vote of this House, and it was time that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should see that something should be done to lighten their burdens, as a large share of the stock was held by poor people. The income tax ought not to be dealt with as a question affecting rich people only; it affected the very poor as well, and therefore the most anxious consideration ought to be given with the view that the rich should not be let off lightly and 691 the poor unduly taxed. An hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Barttelot) had charged people east of Temple Bar with giving in deceptive returns, as if those who lived on that side were rogues and scoundrels. But he defied the hon. and gallant Gentleman to prove it. He was aware that the Returns to be found in the Library gave most extraordinary instances of fraud; but that was not confined to the east of Temple Bar, and he ventured to say that some professional gentlemen to the west were not immaculate. He wished to say a few words as regarded the reduction of the National Debt, and the payment of the Alabama Claims. He thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adopted a wise course. He (Mr. Fowler) was not one of those who felt intense anxiety as to the reduction of the Debt. It might be perfectly true that when people were prosperous they should reduce their obligations; but in national matters they must not forget whom it was that they had to charge. They had to tax poor people as well as rich, and this being so it became a question whether the rapid reduction of the Debt was a sound and true policy. He did not say that at present they were going too fast in this direction; but if asked to go much faster he should hesitate. He believed that the savings of the country were so enormous that those who lived 20 years hence would be far more able to pay the Debt than those of the present time were. He agreed with the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the maintenance of enormous military establishments was incompatible with a large diminution of taxation, and if these were necessary we must go on spending £70,000,000 a-year. He did not agree with the hon. Member as to the Permissive Bill, for he believed legislation could not prevent indulgence in intoxicating drinks, but the Imperial revenue accruing therefrom could not be matter for congratulation, and he would remind hon. Members opposite that the existence of a great revenue from this source must involve an increase in local taxation because rates were largely affected by the vast expense caused by pauperism and crime. He was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer had altered his mind respecting the sugar duty since 1870, and, on the whole, he could congratulate him on his Budget.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
agreed that it was impossible to make men sober by Act of Parliament; and he was glad to hear so sound a statement made upon the other side of the House. The hon. Members (Mr. Clare Read and Mr. Corrance) had naturally enough lamented the total indifference that the Chancellor of the Exchequer exhibited in the case of the malt tax. The whole tendency of legislation for the last 40 years had been in favour of the urban as against the rural districts in reference to taxation: and the finishing blow was the Reform Bill of 1867, which placed political power in the hands of the town population. He (Mr. Bentinck) did not look forward with any sanguine hope to the repeal of the duty on malt, and certainly not if the present Chancellor of the Exchequer continued to hold his office. He regretted the off-hand tone in which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Alabama Indemnity, for he could recollect a time when an example of human folly and national degradation unparalleled in history would not have been treated as a mere matter of financial arrangement; but he would not then discuss that subject, as there would be another opportunity of doing so—and, he trusted, in a fuller House—when the right hon. Gentleman proposed to take a Vote for the payment of the damages. His main object in rising was to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it was one of vast importance, if his figures were correct? It had recently been stated by a high financial authority in the House that the almost fabulous sum of £6,000,000,000 changed hands in the Clearing House during the last year. He (Mr. Bentinck) did not assert that this sum represented the amount of capital employed in commercial transactions. He said it did not represent the amount of capital embarked in commercial occupations in this country; but it represented an amount of capital such as was not to be found in any other country in the world. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would inform the Committee what was the amount of capital embarked in commercial enterprise which was represented by the sums of money that passed each year through the Clearing House. Whatever the amount of such capital might be, two things were certain with respect to it—namely, that it was only subject to 1d. 693 stamp duty on transfer, and that it did not contribute in any other shape or way to the rates or taxes of the country. If that were so then he contended the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bound to tax that property in proportion to the burdens which were laid on other descriptions of property. The malt duty at this moment paid 100 per cent and tobacco 500 per cent, and these, he might say, were necessaries of life to the working man. Why, then, was the enormous amount of capital to which he had referred, and which was employed in commercial operations, allowed to escape taxation altogether to the prejudice of the labouring population, who contributed so heavily and in so many ways to the Customs revenue of the country.
§ MR. MACFIE
agreed with those who had expressed the opinion that in a time of prosperity like the present it was our duty to reduce the National Debt. That policy was advocated warmly by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and he only regretted that it had not been carried out on the present occasion. Another objection to the Budget had come from what he might call the temperance interest; but he would remind the hon. Baronet who spoke on that subject (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the Budget did a great deal in support of the principles which he advocated by cheapening those necessaries of life which came into competition with strong drinks. Another objection had been urged on behalf of the agricultural classes; but their interests had not been overlooked, as they would be considerable gainers by the reduction of the duty on molasses, which was largely used in the preparation of food for cattle, and also in the reduction of the sugar duties, which would stimulate the cultivation of beet, for which end he should have preferred to see the whole of the duty taken off sugar, rather than that 1d. should be taken off the income tax. Rather than miss entire removal of the sugar duty, he considered it would be good policy to add 2d. to the duty on tea, if that were the only condition on which so great a a boon could be obtained; for to consumers at the breakfast and tea-tables it would be much the same thing. He also contended that some steps should be taken to prevent foreign refiners from obtaining in the interval of four weeks and a half before the duty on 694 sugar came off advantages of which our own refiners would be deprived, otherwise we should find the market overstocked with large quantities of refined sugar, greatly to the loss of home manufacturers. He suggested that there should be a difference in the time at which the duty should be taken off refined sugar as compared with unrefined, unless the proposition of the hon. Member for Greenock were assented to.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, great complaints had been made of the inequality of the income tax; but he was inclined to believe there were still many who paid less than the law required of them. He did not however dispute that a great improvement in its collection might be made. With regard to what had been said of bankers east of Temple Bar, he would remind the House that they not only paid under Schedule D, but also on the amount of the investments they held. He agreed, also, with the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) in his objection to the collection of so large a portion of the revenue in the early part of the year. When the system was introduced he addressed a letter on the subject to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the name of the Committee of Bankers, pointing out the inconvenience which would result from it. The committee suggested that some of the taxes should be collected in the latter half of the year, otherwise they feared that some derangement of the Money Market would result. Easy times had been the rule since, and as long as they continued nothing very serious would occur; but in a difficult year this system of pressing so much of the year's taxation into the first three months might cause serious embarrassment. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Cambridge that it was undesirable to reduce Debt because the people were not all rich. It seemed to him that the poorer the country the more desirable it was to regulate the taxes with economy and discretion. He had been much pleased to hear so many advocate a greater reduction of Debt than had been proposed. The Government also had in theory expressed the same feeling. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had thrown most heart into that part of his speech which dealt with reduction of Debt, but his actual proposals were very meagre. He had said, indeed, that the Debt 695 would be decreased by £6,000,000 during the year; but a considerable proportion of that reduction would be produced by the surplus revenue of the year just closed, and the total actual reduction of this year contemplated by the arrangements the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed would be under £1,000,000. The remission of taxation he proposed and the half of the Geneva Award would swallow up almost the whole surplus estimated revenue; and the hon. Member for the City (Mr. Crawford) had expressed the opinion that the revenue of the year was over-estimated. Still, the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer might be taken with some confidence, considering his uniform caution in the past. Our position with regard to debt in the year just opening was, upon the basis of the figures supplied by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, simply this:—£2,500,000 would be paid off by the Terminable Annuity scheme; but then it was proposed to borrow £1,600,000 to pay one-half of the Alabama Indemnity. Deducting one from the other, the net reduction of debt during this current year would be only £900,000. Such a result was unworthy of the House and the country. If it was wise to reduce the National Debt, it ought to be done annually, and on a larger scale. One great element of the nation's strength was its financial position, and he regretted most deeply that it was to go forth to the world that in a period of unexampled prosperity we could not bring ourselves to pay a sum of £3,250,000 without borrowing. How could we expect foreign countries to realise our financial strength if we would not face so small a payment without borrowing £1,600,000? No doubt the Budget would be popular in the country; he had no objection to offer to the proposed reductions, except that he believed the country expected the Alabama Claims would have been satisfied out of the revenue of the year, and it would have been better if that expectation had been realized. It would be better for trade under any circumstances if fewer changes were made in taxation. The hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Grieve) had stated that the change in the sugar duties would derange the trade in sugar for some time to come. All such changes deranged trade, and it would be a very good thing if the Budgets of the next four or five years 696 were stereotyped, that surpluses might accumulate for the reduction of the National Debt and the permanent burdens of the country.
§ MR. WHALLEY
regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had disregarded the remonstrances which had been urged in many quarters against Schedule D, and had not explained the grounds upon which he proposed to continue to tax precarious incomes and incomes from property upon the same footing.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, the question repeatedly asked during the past week had been whether they were to have a self-sacrificing Budget or a popular one? That question had been answered by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening. They had undoubtedly had produced to them what they looked upon as a popular Budget. For his part, he did not grudge the Government any advantage which might be derived from the popularity thus obtained; but he was bound to confess that many in that House and out of it who placed faith in the financial wisdom of the Prime Minister, and who viewed his enunciation of financial principles as the greatest achievements of a distinguished life, felt no little disappointment. Until they heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night they had confidence that there was one thing, at least, on which the Prime Minister would stand firm, and that was that in a year which they heard constantly described as one of exceptional prosperity, if a claim for £3,250,000 was made upon them, they would not resort to what he would call the almost cowardly financial expedient of paying a portion of that money by borrowing. It was all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say he hoped he would not have to issue Exchequer bonds for that purpose. That was the language they were certain to hear. If a man had a bill presented to him he said, "Oh, I won't pay it all now; I will only pay half of it. I will wait six months and see—like Micawber—what will turn up." Of course, he hoped he would not have to pay it, and that some fortuitous piece of good luck would fall to him. Now, some reasons might be adduced to show that, considering the estimates which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made of the revenue, the odds decidedly were 697 that those Exchequer bonds would have to be issued. What was the nature of the Alabama Claim? An analogy could not be drawn between it and a charge incurred for some prospective advantage to be conferred on the country. If they were about to carry out some great public work for the benefit of future generations as much as of the present, they might, if necessary, fairly distribute the payment over a series of years. But the Alabama Claim was a sum they had to pay for a great wrong done some years ago to another nation. Who were responsible for that wrong? People who were then living, and, he was sorry to say, many men who now occupied a prominent position in political life. It having been decided that this money was due from us as a nation, all he could say was that those who lived in 1873–4 were more responsible for its payment than those who might live in 1874–5, or in any succeeding year. Therefore, the honourable and straightforward thing for them to do was to pay the sum at once out of the revenue of the coming year. What a position they would occupy in the eyes of the world! They had been boasting about their extraordinary prosperity; they had exhausted all the language of panegyric to describe their glowing trade, their marvellous exports and imports; and did it all come to this—that they could not pay £3,250,000 without recourse to borrowing, as if they were a half-bankrupt and seriously-embarrassed country? He did not wish unnecessarily to bring a single accusation against the Budget. If they were to have remission of taxation, he was bound to say the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adopted a wise principle in saying that one half of that remission should go to direct, and the other half to indirect taxation. But if the income tax was to be reduced, relief might have been given to the payers of that tax in a somewhat more satisfactory way; and he doubted whether the reduction of the sugar duties was the most advisable mode of remitting indirect taxation. First, as to the income tax, no one could doubt that a very serious agitation was arising against that tax, and no small part of the discontent expressed in regard to it resulted from the unnecessary amount of worry and annoyance caused to the people in collecting it. But the income tax appeared to 698 him to be based on a sound financial principle; and he would venture to offer those who were agitating against it out of doors this piece of advice—that their agitation would prove much more effectual if they confined themselves to attacking the salient points of injustice about the tax, without demanding anything so violent as its total and unconditional repeal, or anything so monstrous as the entire exclusion of Schedule D. Was there ever anything short of expunging the National Debt, or going in for wholesale confiscation, so unjust as a proposition that the poor man, who had saved, perhaps, after a hard struggle, a couple of thousand pounds, with which, in his old age, he purchased an annuity of £200 to protect himself against dependence, should be liable to an income tax, and that the wealthy banker, stocker, or merchant who came under Schedule D, with an income of £20,000, should altogether escape scot-free? Unless all idea of financial justice had died out in this country, such a demand as that could never be conceded. At the same time, he felt that a very conclusive ease had been made out for giving some relief to the possessors of temporary incomes. There was undoubtedly a great difference between the possessor of a permanent and the possessor of a temporary income. The former with £600 a-year was really, for all practical purposes, a far wealthier man than the latter with nominally the same annual income. Now, he was not so presumptuous as to suppose that he had found the solution of one of the most difficult financial problems; but he would suggest a way in which relief might be given that would reconcile the people far more to the income tax than would ever be the case as long as Governments persisted in saying there should be no difference whatever in the amount levied from temporary and from permanent incomes. He would propose that a certain proportionate amount, say one-third, should be deducted from all temporary incomes, and that while the possessor of a permanent income of £600 a-year, for example, should be taxed on the whole £600, the possessor of a temporary income of £600 should be taxed as if he had only £400. Then another kind of relief might be granted. At the present time, considering the high wages earned by many 699 classes of artizans, there was no class so heavily burdened with taxes as persons with incomes between £100 and £150 who were liable to income tax. Considering the great increase in the cost of meat, the minimum income on which the tax was levied might fairly be raised. They might start with £150; and then they should not do what was now done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—namely, deduct £80 from incomes of £100, which created the injustice that an income of £99 was not taxed at all, whereas the man who had £1 more was taxed on £20; but they should deduct that £150 from all incomes on which the tax was levied. He did not say that his two suggestions were the best which could be offered; but if something were done in the direction he had indicated the people would feel that an injustice had been recognized, and much existing dissatisfaction would cease. With regard to the proposed reduction of the sugar duty, it was scarcely worth while to have touched it until they were in a position to have remitted it altogether. This remission of the duty would cheapen sugar about one farthing a pound. It was well known that of so small a reduction of duty a considerable proportion went into the pocket, not of the consumer, but of the dealer. There was, moreover, the disadvantage that all the expensive machinery for the collection of the tax had to be kept up. An hon. Member had, in conversation with him, suggested that if they were going to reduce indirect taxation, it would have been much better instead of tampering with the sugar duty to have remitted some duty such as that on coffee altogether. There was another point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee. It seemed to him that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had greatly over-estimated the revenue of the coming year. He would not be presumptuous enough to express this opinion as an individual opinion of his own; but he ventured unhesitatingly to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not find a single London banker, a single merchant, a single Lancashire or Yorkshire manufacturer who would say that it would be prudent even to bet that the prosperity of the coming year was likely to equal the prosperity of the last year. Every sign by which they could judge seemed to indicate that the last year was one of 700 exceptional prosperity. The Excise duties were beginning to ebb; the advanced price of coal must greatly affect industry; and the disputes between labour and capital, daily assuming increased significance, were beginning to tell on the prosperity of the country. Seeing how that prosperity had been used, the tide, if it once turned, would ebb with remarkable rapidity. The figures which had been adduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought out this fact—that unhappily the great prosperity which had been enjoyed had only been to a small extent utilized by the working classes. It had been marked, not by a greatly increased or proportionate accumulation of wealth, but by a prodigious consumption of spirits and intoxicating liquors. What did that mean? It meant that the working classes had little reserve to meet adverse times, and that when these adverse times came, they could not live a month without support from others. They had seen that men who had been striking to obtain higher wages were obliged to claim assistance from others, and to maintain themselves by parochial relief. They might, therefore, depend that if the tide once began to turn, it would ebb with great rapidity. There would be no reserve fund on which the working classes could support themselves; hundreds would be thrown out of work; a powerful force antagonistic to the prosperity of the country would be brought into operation; and, viewing all these things, he thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been over confident in calculating the revenue of the coming year as equal to that of the past. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have neglected another most serious consideration. Last year a Motion was carried by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), in favour of transferring certain local charges to the Consolidated Fund. He (Mr. Fawcett) hoped that they might derive this consolation from the Financial Statement that the Government were going to stand positively firm against this demand. But if they did not do so—if in the Bill on Local Taxation there was any proposal to transfer local charges to the Consolidated Fund, then the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be thrown into confusion, for there might be a serious change in the coming year, for which 701 the Government had made no provision. Frequent reference had been made to the efforts which they should make to pay off Debt. What they were doing in the present year was simply a repetition of the blunder of Mr. Pitt's Sinking Fund. They were paying off Debt in the form of Terminable Annuities with the one hand, and borrowing with the other. When those Terminable Annuities were created he expressed a fear that a day would come when Ministers would not have the courage to carry out the scheme consistently; but he did not expect that the Ministers who would show the want of courage would be the Ministers who brought these Terminable Annuities into existence. A financial fact could not be got rid of by a hocus-pocus, and whether called a temporary loan or Exchequer bonds it was borrowing all the same. If everything favourable happened, the money might be paid off next year; but in case of a bad harvest, financial disasters and panics, extended trade disputes, there would be no surplus with which to do this, and the bonds would have to be renewed. While paying off £2,600,000 by Terminable Annuities, they were about to adopt a course which would probably necessitate the borrowing of £1,700,000. The vice of Mr. Pitt's Sinking Fund was this—that he indulged himself in the meaningless but costly amusement of creating Debt with the one hand and paying it off with the other. He (Mr. Fawcett) had hoped that this financial policy was exploded. He did not expect from any protest against the Budget much if any effect. It was no doubt a popular Budget, and a General Election, perhaps, being imminent, it would probably produce its effect. He felt bound, however, to protest against a policy unworthy of a great country; for if Parliament had confidence in the prosperity of which it was boasting, it should have had the courage of its convictions, and should not have hesitated to pay at once out of the resources of the time the debt of the not very large amount of £3,250,000.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE
said, that complaints had been made that this Budget was against the agricultural interest. Now, with regard to the malt tax, he denied that it was paid by the agriculturists. It was paid by the consumers, who were the inhabitants of large towns. The landed interest 702 would get the advantage of the 1d. which was to be taken off the income tax. He thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no alternative but to take off this 1d. If he continued the present mode of collection, the odium thereby created would jeopardize the existence of the tax. The number of persons surcharged was extraordinary, and it did not answer the purpose of a man surcharged to the extent of £100, £200, £300, or £400 only, to appeal, and he rather submitted to the annoyance of paying the improper amount. The Chancellor of the Exchequer should have raised the exemption from £100 to £150. At the proper time, he (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) would take the liberty of bringing the subject under the notice of the House. He did not share in the anticipations of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White). Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer took the power to borrow next year £1,600,000 to pay America, he thought that he might fairly assume, as he had done, that he would be able to pay the money from the ordinary income of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, on his last Budget, promised to exempt from the inhabited house duty tenements used only for business purposes, and occupied only by a servant for the purpose of taking care of the premises, provided they did not exceed £20 a-year in value; but he had not redeemed his promise. He should, on a future occasion, call attention to the incidence of the probate duty, from which at present freehold property was exempt.
§ MR. LAING
said, he thought that, on the whole, the Budget was a good one. The main point at issue undoubtedly was, whether the whole of the Alabama Indemnity should be paid out of next year's surplus, or whether the whole of the surplus should be appropriated to the remission of taxation. Although he rather favoured the latter view, he still thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in charging half of the amount of the Indemnity against the surplus, had come to a wise and satisfactory compromise between the extreme views. Some hon. Members appeared to think that a great effort ought to be made towards the reduction of the National Debt; but such a course would be contrary to the principles which had been 703 enunciated by our greatest financial statesmen, who had always acted on the plan of appropriating surplus towards relieving the people from taxation. In this way the resources of the country had been increased to an extraordinary extent. Everyone had the same object in view, and that was to produce the greatest prosperity of the country, and to raise its credit as high as possible. He challenged anyone to show that during the last 40 years it would have been wiser for us to burden our industry and keep up an excessive amount of taxation, simply for the purpose of reducing our National Debt, than to pursue the policy which was inaugurated by Sir Robert Peel and followed by his successors. Take the case of two gentlemen who had each an estate worth £100,000 encumbered with a mortgage of £50,000. Suppose that one of them pursued the policy of laying out nothing for the improvement of his estate, of living economically and paying his debts, and that in the course of 20 years he paid half of his debt; he would have an estate worth £100,000 encumbered with a debt of £25,000, leaving a margin of £75,000. Suppose the other proprietor by a judicious expenditure doubled the value of his estate, but left the debt stationary; his estate would be worth £200,000 minus an encumbrance of £50,000; the margin in that case would be £150,000. The result in the latter case represented the beneficial effects of the policy which this country had pursued for the last 40 years. He believed that it was far better for posterity, whose interests found such zealous advocates in some persons, that we should pursue that policy instead of an opposite course. He admitted that the question of paying off National Debts must depend upon the circumstances of the case. In the case of the United States, there were special considerations which made it a very prudent policy to impose taxes in order to reduce the National Debt. The interest upon the Debt was 6 per cent; it was therefore wise to impose taxes to reduce it. Again, at the termination of the war there was a question, whether a repudiation or an honest policy should be pursued. A policy of repudiation became discredited. Therefore, the United States had a palpable motive for the policy they pursued. He should have been the very 704 warmest advocate for that policy if he had been a member of the American Legislature; but he protested against the adoption of such a policy in this country. The plan for paying off our National Debt was simply the taking of money out of our pockets to invest it at 3¼ per cent. Could anyone doubt that if the reduction on the sugar and tea duties had not been made, and if the money they remitted had been applied to the reduction of the National Debt, the revenue would have been in its present flourishing condition? And was there any reason to doubt that the reduction of the sugar duties would, in the course of two or three years, be followed by increased consumption? Again, sugar could not be exported into this country without increasing its commerce. He did not deprecate a wise and moderate reduction of the National Debt. He did not say that, under ordinary circumstances, £1,000,000 a-year might not properly be devoted to that object. If any sudden emergency should arise, we, by having pursued the policy of the last few years, could borrow £200,000,000 at 3½ per cent, when other countries would be unable to borrow half that amount at less than 5 per cent. He admitted that when a large reduction of taxation was proposed to be made in consequence of the large surplus of this year, it was not for particular interests such as that which he advocated the other night to stand in the way. If one-half the duty was taken off sugar a corresponding reduction ought to be made in another direction, and that was done by the proposed reduction of the income tax. With regard to the taxes on locomotion and the grievances of railway passengers, they must wait for a more convenient season. He hoped that another year would find the right hon. Gentleman in possession of a considerable surplus, and that it would be applied in a wise and fruitful remission of taxation. There was one point on which he wished a little more specific information. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to deal with the Alabama Indemnity in this way—one-half to be borne by the revenue of the current year, and the other half to be paid out of the balances, and he proposed to raise Exchequer Bills or Bonds in case of need. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER assented.] He thought, on the whole, that the Budget 705 was one which would give considerable satisfaction.
§ MR. GREGORY
agreed in the opinion which had been already expressed that the agricultural interest had been somewhat neglected by the right hon. Gentleman. He appeared to have given the go-by to a Resolution which was come to by a large majority last Session, which distinctly pledged the Government to a certain transfer of the local taxation of the country by which the agricultural interest would be benefited. It could only be supposed that he ignored that proposition on the present occasion. The right hon. Gentleman proposed a further reduction in the sugar duties which was little calculated to benefit the consumer. Instead of the proposed remission of duties, he thought it would have been far better to have appropriated the money to the payment or the remainder of the Alabama Claims. When an honest man owed a debt he provided for the payment of it as soon as he could. The mode adopted by the right hon. Gentleman in this respect was very much like paying off one obligation by contracting another. When Exchequer Bills were issued they were an obligation upon the Government, and had to be liquidated at some future time. With regard to the income tax, if the remission of the tax altogether had been extended to incomes of under £150, many hardworking, frugal, and deserving people would have been benefited, and they were a class who were worthy of the consideration of the House.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be in the peculiar position of pleasing no one entirely and very few partially. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the middle course he had taken for the payment of the Alabama Claims. It was a course which secured our finances for next year, and left no reasonable prospect that the right hon. Gentleman's calculations for the future would be disturbed. We could not expect that the prosperity we had lately enjoyed would continue for long. There was sure to be a reaction, when high prices and high wages would have had their day; but due allowance had been made for any temporary reverse. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for taking a penny off the income tax. It was only those who knew the masses of the poorer classes who 706 could tell how heavily this tax pressed upon them. The rich did not feel it; but the poor shopkeeper in a country town, and the struggling clerk who made only £150 or £200 a-year, and who had to suffer from bad debts, felt its pressure most grievously. The right hon. Gentleman extended the exemption last year from £60 to £80, and he (Mr. Muntz) regretted that he had not now extended it to £100. Such a course would be a great boon to the poor, and the revenue would not lose very much by it. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would try to adopt some better means of collecting a tax which, through its inquisitorial character, had really become a positive nuisance. A plan which had some advocates was one for capitalizing incomes, and making this the basis of assessment. Another plan, which had been successfully carried out in two of the American States, was that of collecting the tax on declared property, each taxpayer declaring the value of his own property. The assessment might be made on property in that way, and to guard against unfair valuations, a preemption right might be given to the Government to take the whole of a man's property if they chose, paying him off according to the value he had put upon it, with 10 per cent advance, as was the case formerly with the Customs duties. A man who was worth £200,000 would hardly return himself at half that sum under such circumstances. At any rate, the income tax could no longer remain as it stood, for there was an intense feeling on the subject in the large towns. On the whole, the Budget was one which the country would accept favourably.
§ MR. BARNETT
asked the right hon. Gentleman what course would be taken respecting the dividends which had that day been paid upon a proportion of the public funds. From those dividends income tax had been deducted at the rate of 4d. in the pound, though the tax itself expired yesterday. There was an impression in the City that those dividends should receive the benefit of the change; and, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman would state how he proposed to deal with this and with another question, which would arise from day to day respecting the tax accruing upon dividends and coupons.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
deprecated the dangerous though plausible doctrine enunciated by the hon. Member (Mr. Laing). When a gentleman said he was prepared to adopt an heroic course in another country under other circumstances, but was not prepared to adopt it in his own country under present circumstances, such advice was always to be distrusted. In America, according to the hon. Gentleman, there was a certain danger of repudiation, and therefore he was prepared in America to repay debt. But if in this country our present prosperity did not continue, and we had a succession of adverse years, was there not also some danger of repudiation here? ["No, no!"] Hon. Members were more sanguine than he was, for even in these prosperous times he had heard suggestions of repudiation. The right hon. Gentleman, who did not succeed on a former occasion in finding "light," had now found sweetness in sugar. There seemed to be a little too much sugar on the Treasury Bench, and measures were framed rather to please and conciliate than to do what was right. We ought at once to have discharged the Alabama Claim. The right hon. Gentleman was too straightforward to claim credit for the reduction of the National Debt by £6,000,000, because he knew that he had nothing to do with it, and that it was done under an Act of Parliament. He was glad a reduction had been made in the duty on sugar, and thought we were throwing away many great advantages by not carrying out the free-trade policy to its furthest development, and making this country the free port of the world. But such a policy could not be carried out by avoiding obligations or indulging too sanguine anticipations of revenue. The only course was to adopt the shorter and nobler method from which the Government had shrunk, of making large reductions in our expenditure. It was said that the Government stood with one foot in the grave, and he would call upon them before the other foot followed to repent in this matter of expenditure, and try to show the country that they were willing to redeem the pledges they had given.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he was of opinion that the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was incomplete in so far as it made no allusion to 708 those matters which, as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, he had been obliged to take cognizance of during the last two months. The Committee was aware that a large amount of revenue due to the country had been taken for the construction of telegraph extensions; that the subject was the more interesting as a matter of revenue since they had been informed that the moneys due to the National Debt Commissioners had been paid over. It would seem that a sum approaching £700,000 or £800,000 must be due to the revenue by the Post Office in some form, and he should be glad to know whether in his estimate the right hon. Gentleman had taken that sum into account. It must be obvious, in the next place, that a sum approaching, if not actually amounting to, £1,000,000 would have to be borrowed in order to replace the money which had been so abstracted, and the right hon. Gentleman would perhaps give some information on the point.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I regret that I cannot give the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth) any accurate account on the subject of which he has spoken, as the accounts are now under investigation. As I myself have not escaped a certain amount of blame and accusation, it would be very improper if I were to use my position in proposing these Estimates to say anything which would in the least prejudice whatever decision the House might come to when all the facts are before it; but I may say this with great confidence—that I have not the slightest idea that anything that can possibly happen will in the least affect the Estimates that have been laid before us on the authority of the Post Office. I will not detain the Committee many moments, and after the long and interesting discussion we have had, they will not expect me to attempt to do so, or to enter into any long discussion; in fact, if I began to reply to the points raised I should have to enter into an animated defence of every tax that has been imposed. I certainly have great complaint to make of the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Lawrence), who accuses me of using him very ill; because, when he seduced my simplicity into following his advice, he led me on until I have sustained a severe and lamentable defeat under his auspices. 709 He now accuses me because I did not persevere in the same disastrous course. I am accused of over-sanguine Estimates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer never hits the golden mean in that respect. The future is unknown to me, although some other hon. Gentlemen seem to have a clear apprehension of it. At present, I believe, we are said to be in the full tide of prosperity; but the Estimates we have taken show no increase on the £800,000 we took last year. That, I think, is not an unreasonable prospect. Of course, circumstances may happen either way. There may be an additional flood of prosperity, and I might have to stand in this House before the bar of public opinion next year to answer for not having been sufficiently sanguine. On the other hand, there may have been a great crash and catastrophe, when I may be severely blamed for having put the Estimates too high. That is the position which belongs to persons in my situation, and I accept it freely. I do not think there is anything else for me to answer. Hon. Gentlemen connected with the agricultural interest consider themselves neglected because they have been only treated as part of the community. When I consider the large amount the agricultural interest contributes to Schedules A and B, and when I consider the interest they have in the general prosperity and in the increase of trade which re-acts indirectly on those commodities which they produce, I cannot think they will believe themselves to be unfairly dealt with because I have not addressed myself to any of their pet grievances, or because they think they have been deprived of large sums of money in taxes which really fall on the consumer. Nothing is farther from my wishes than to treat them with any unfairness. The same thing I will say about brewers, who seem to think themselves very ill-used because we have not attended to their recommendation to take off the licence duty. It appears to me they are in a dilemma, from which there is no mode of extrication. If that licence duty falls on the consumer it does not injure the brewer. If it falls on the brewer it is a large payment exacted from him out of his own resources before he is allowed to commence the exercise of his trade. That creates in his favour a qualified monopoly, which tends to diminish the 710 number of competitors, and so to keep up the price of the commodity he sells, and therefore in one way or another it appears quite certain that the brewer must get value for his outlay. On the whole I have reason to be grateful to the Committee for the manner in which they have received this Budget. I hope they will allow me to pass the Resolutions through Committee to-night, and as they will not be reported until after the Recess, the House will have full time to consider them. As to the question of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Barnett) I apprehend that the income tax incurred under the late Income Tax Act, although that Act has now expired, will have to be paid at the rate fixed by that Act, and all income tax that has accrued since the expiration of the Act should be paid at the reduced rate which is intended to be imposed by the new Act. I think, therefore, that if the Committee should please to pass the Resolutions to-night, those who have to make the reductions will be justified in making them in accordance with the lower scale.
§ (1.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged, collected, and paid for one year, commencing on the sixth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, for and in respect of all Property, Profits, and Gains mentioned or described as chargeable in the Act passed in the sixteenth and seventeenth years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter thirty-four, for granting to Her Majesty Duties on Profits arising from Property, Professions, Trades, and Offices, the following Rates and Duties (that is to say):
§ For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of all such Property, Profits, and Gains (except those chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act), the Rate or Duty of Three Pence;
§ And for and in respect of the occupation of Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, and Heritages chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act,
§ For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value thereof;
§ In England the Rate or Duty of One Penny Halfpenny; and
§ In Scotland and Ireland respectively, the Rate or Duty of One Penny Farthing;
§ Subject to the provisions contained in section twelve of the Act of thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth Victoria, chapter twenty, for the exemption of Persons whose whole Income from every source is under One Hundred Pounds a-year, and relief of those whose Income is under Three Hundred Pounds a-year.
§ (2.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, on and after the eighth 711 day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, in lieu of the Duties of Customs now charged on the articles under-mentioned, the following Duties of Customs shall be charged thereon, on importation into Great Britain or Ireland, viz.:
|Candy, Brown or White, Refined Sugar, or Sugar rendered by any process equal in quality thereto, and manufactures of Refined Sugar the cwt.||0||3||0|
|Sugar not equal to Refined:—|
|First Class the cwt.||0||2||10|
|Second Class the cwt.||0||2||8|
|Third Class the cwt.||0||2||5|
|Fourth Class (including Cane Juice)the cwt.||0||2||0|
|Molasses the cwt.||0||0||10|
|Almonds, Paste of the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Cherries, Dried the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Comfits, Dry the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Confectionery, not otherwise enumerated the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Ginger, Preserved the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Marmalade the cwt.||0||2||4|
|Succades, including all Fruits and Vegetables preserved in Sugar, not otherwise enumerated the cwt.||0||2||4|
§ (3.) Resolved, That on and after the eighth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, in lieu of the Drawbacks now allowed thereon, the following Drawbacks shall be paid and allowed on the undermentioned descriptions of Sugar refined in Great Britain or Ireland on the Exportation thereof to Foreign parts, or on removal to the Isle of Man for consumption there, or on deposit in any approved warehouse, upon such terms and subject to such regulations as the Commissioners of Customs may direct for delivery from such warehouse as ship's stores only, or for the purpose of sweetening British Spirits in Bond (that is to say):—
|Upon Refined Sugar in Loaf complete and whole, or Lumps duly Refined, having been perfectly clarified and thoroughly dried in the stove, and being of an uniform whiteness throughout; and upon such Sugar pounded, crushed, or broken in a warehouse approved by the Commissioners of Customs, such Sugar having been there first inspected by the Officers of Customs in Lumps or Loaves, as if for immediate shipment, and then packed for Exportation in the presence of such Officers, and at the expense of the Exporter; and upon Candy for every cwt.||0||3||0|
|Upon Refined Sugar unstoved, pounded, crushed, or broken, and not in any way inferior to the Export Standard Sample No. 2, approved by the Lords of the Treasury, and which shall not contain more than five per centum of moisture over and above what|
|the same would contain if thoroughly dried in the stove for every cwt.||0||2||10|
|Upon Sugar refined by the centrifugal or by any other process, and not in any way inferior to the Export Standard Sample No. 1, approved by the Lords of the Treasury for every cwt.||0||3||0|
|Upon other Refined Sugar unstoved, being bastards or pieces, ground, powdered, or crushed:—|
|Not in any way inferior to the Export Standard Sample No. 3, approved by the Lords of the Treasury for every cwt.||0||2||10|
|Not in any way inferior to the Export Standard Sample No. 4, approved by the Lords of the Treasury for every cwt.||0||2||8|
|Not in any way inferior to the Export Standard Sample No. 5, approved by the Lords of the Treasury for every cwt.||0||2||5|
|Inferior to the above last-mentioned Standard Sample for every cwt.||0||2||0|
§ (4.) Resolved, That, in lieu of the Duties of Excise now chargeable on Sugars made in the United Kingdom, the following Duties of Excise shall be charged thereon (that is to say):
|On and after the eighth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, Candy, Brown, or White Refined Sugar, or Sugar rendered by any process equal in quality thereto, and manufactures of Refined Sugar the cwt.||0||3||0|
|Sugar not equal to Refined,—|
|First Class the cwt.||0||2||10|
|Second Class the cwt.||0||2||8|
|Third Class the cwt.||0||2||5|
|Fourth Class the cwt.||0||2||0|
|Molasses the cwt.||0||0||10|
§ That, on and after the eighth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, in lieu of the Duties of Excise now chargeable upon Sugar used in Brewing, there shall be charged and paid upon every hundredweight, and in proportion for any fractional part of a hundredweight, of all Sugars which shall be used by any Brewer of Beer for sale in the brewing or making of Beer, the Excise Duty of Nine shillings and Six pence.
§ (5.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Duties of Customs now charged on Tea shall continue to be levied and charged on and after the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, until the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-four, on importation into Great Britain or Ireland (that is to say):
|Tea the 1b.||0||6|
§ (6.) Resolved, That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury be authorized 713 to raise any sum of money not exceeding One Million Six Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling, by an issue of Exchequer Bonds.
§ (7.) Resolved, That the Principal of all Exchequer Bonds which may be so issued shall be paid off at Par at any period not exceeding Twelve Months from the date of such Bonds.
§ (8.) Resolved, That the Interest of such Exchequer Bonds shall be payable Half Yearly, and shall be charged upon and issued out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, or the growing produce thereof.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Thursday 24th April;
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday 21st April.