§ Lord Monteagle
rose to bring under the consideration of their Lordships, the resolutions of which he had given notice, and which had been printed. He would make no apology for undertaking the duty he was now about to discharge, of endeavouring to show the necessity and expediency of a general revision of our finance; although he would have been much more gratified had this task been undertaken by an individual better qualified than he was to discharge it efficiently. At the same time, connected as he had been with the 590 finances of the country, he might naturally be expected to take a great interest in the question, and he hoped that some indulgence would be extended to him, if he endeavoured to bring the subject fairly before their Lordships. Besides ordinary motives which ought to induce, and he had no doubt would induce their Lordships to consider the finances of the country, there were at the present time peculiar circumstances which he thought rendered it especially fitting and expedient that some attention should be devoted to this subject. It was in the recollection of their Lordships, that last year the Parliament was induced for the first time, he believed, in the history of the country, to pass a property-tax in time of peace. It was far from his intention at the present moment to revive the discussion which took place upon that occasion. He was willing to assume it to be right and fitting that such a measure should be adopted. But, having passed that bill, having taken a step not only without precedent, but on the admission of the noble Lords and their colleagues by whom the measure was introduced, a step open to considerable objection and requiring special justification, he thought it was only right and becoming that, at the expiration of a year from the passing of such a measure their Lordships should pause to review the effects which it had produced. He had after some reflection not only hesitated in bringing this question forward, but he had postponed it to a late period of the Session, though he was aware that, by so doing, so far as the effective discussion of the matter was concerned, he had prejudiced his own cause. But he had adopted this course because he thought it advisable that the whole of the financial arrangements of the other House should be completed before their Lordships undertook to discuss the subject. He was far from saving that cases might not arise, as had been the case on the first proposition of the property-tax—which would warrant their Lordships in undertaking a preliminary discussion on financial subjects; but he considered that, generally speaking, it behoved their Lordships to consider the financial affairs of the country when they were in a state of completeness, rather than while the committees of supply were still open, and while there was a doubt as to the ultimate decision of the House of Commons. Before he went more immediately into the question, he wished to relieve their Lordships from any apprehension that he 591 was about to digress beyond the limits of the resolutions of which he had given notice. His intention merely was to refer to the present condition of the public finances, and ask their Lordships, and through them to ask the country, to consider the financial position in which we were now placed. Their Lordships would remember that the change of Government which took place in 1841, was effected mainly upon financial grounds. He did not mean to say that noble Lords opposite might not have objected—and did not object—to the general policy of the late Government; but he meant to assert that the specific motion by which they were successful in effecting a change of Government was a motion specifically relating to the state of the finances of the country. In referring to that motion and to the principles which were laid down at the time of its proposition, he did so—not for the purpose of exciting a party discussion—but for the purpose of bringing before the House the relative condition of the public finances in 1841, and at the present time. The motion brought forward on the 24th of August, 1841, specifically stated apprehensions were that the want of confidence in the Government rested on the circumstance that the public expenditure had, of late, in each of several succeeding years, been allowed to exceed the annual income. On that occasion it was directly and repeatedly asserted by the proposer and supporter of the amendment to the address, that apprehensions were felt by them that the Ministers of the Crown were pursuing a dangerous and ruinous course as to the finances of the country, and that in consequence of their mismanagement in this respect both Houses were called upon to declare that her Majesty's Government did not possess the confidence of Parliament. It was stated that some most decided, vigorous, efficient, and certain scheme ought to be proposed for the purpose of extricating the finances of the country from the immense difficulties in which they were involved. That for the last four years the revenue had been annually diminishing; and in the course of that time the expenditure had exceeded the income by not less than five millions. It was stated, further, that the financial difficulties had been met on the part of the Government principally by tampering with the savings banks, by borrowing money from them, or at least what was equivalent, by converting part of their stock in Exchequer bills, in addition to the permanent funded debt of the 592 country. Such a proceeding was said to be, if not contrary to law, at least highly objectionable, and that resorting to this system year after year, of propping up a fallen revenue without the knowledge of Parliament, was an unconstitutional proceeding, and one which no Government ought to have recourse to. It was further stated, as a charge against the Government, that the balances in the Exchequer had been greatly reduced, with a view of meeting their financial difficulties. This was described to be a very improvident mode of dealing with the difficulty against which they had to contend, and if it were resorted to upon every such emergency as had then recently occurred, the result would soon be that there would be no floating balance at all. It was also stated that during the course of the last few years additions had been made to the annual charge of the public funded debt of the country, for which no provision whatever had been made by Parliament. It was further stated, that the Government had acted injudiciously by the too hasty adoption of the Post-office scheme. All these things together, it was added, showed a mismanagement and want of arrangement on the part of the Government which was quite unpardonable, and that the finances of the country ought not to be entrusted in such unskilful hands. He referred to these statements in order that their Lordships might compare the charges then urged against the then existing Government, and the relation of facts contained in the resolutions he was now about to submit to the House. He would take upon himself now, as he did then, the duty of condemning the means adopted to produce an impression of danger in the public mind as to the finances of the country, by adding up year by year, the amount of the deficiencies, although on some occasions the annual amount of the deficiency in the revenue had been provided for during the ensuing year; but there was then, as there had been since, a want of correctness in dealing with the question, as several of the deficiencies of previous years, whether provided for or not, had been added together, and the whole amount of apparent deficiency was given in the last year. It thus appeared that the amount of deficiency which it was necessary to provide for was larger than it really was. Their Lordships might as well have been told that the accumulated deficiencies produced year by year by extravagance, or even by proper expenditure, during the war, formed one 593 great deficiency, which they were bound to provide for in any one year. If, however, this mode of stating the question as to the increase of deficiency, in four successive years, was to be taken as it had been by the noble Earl who proposed the motion in 1841, the rule was equally applicable to the present Government. If the argument was good in 1841, it must be equally good now. He found, then, the deficiency for the financial year ending April 1842, was 2,354,000l., and in April 1843, it amounted to 2,421,000l.; which deficiency, according to the rule laid down and the mode of argument adopted by the noble Earl showed an amount of 4,775,000l. Now, if to this amount were added the probable deficiency of the present year, there would appear a sum as a deficiency of a most alarming kind. He did not state this to show that the House and the country had to deal with a deficiency of this amount; but he thought that mode of stating the question was a fallacy then, as he thought it now. The next statement to which he would allude in the speech of the noble Earl, in 1841, was his condemnation of the practice of funding Exchequer bills belonging to the savings banks. Now, this practice had taken place as well since as before the accession of the present Government to power. It so happened that this power was vested in the Government and trustees of the savings' banks by statute. By an act of Parliament which passed in 1828, and which was framed by as ingenious and as able a man as could be on financial subjects, he meant Mr. Herries, the commissioners of the savings' banks were enabled to deliver up to the Government any Exchequer bills they might possess in exchange for stock. They had, therefore, the full power of doing that which had been made a ground of censure in 1841, and he now contended, as he did at that time, that the question of law or the legality of the transaction could not be disputed. In addition to this, by a bill which had recently passed, the present Government had taken an increased power of the same kind, enabling them to convert Exchequer bills for public works into funded debt. This power, however, was perfectly safe both in the hands of the present and of the late Government. The power was to enable an amount of the unfunded debt to be changed into funded, and provision was made for this under the act he had alluded to, in the same way that similar powers were conferred under other 594 acts of Parliament of the like nature. The next point which was formerly alluded to and censured and to which he should now advert, was the practice of diminishing the balances in the Exchequer, and which, it was alleged was done with the purpose of evading the financial difficulties. It was then stated that this diminution of the balances in the Exchequer was a most improvident mode of proceeding. The reduction of these balances had however still gone on, and the balances had diminished to a degree never known before. In April, 1843, the amount of the balances in the Exchequer was 1,390,000l., while, in 1836, the amount of those balances was 6,069,000l. The present balance in the Exchequer was less than one-fourth what it was in 1836, and two fifths less than it was in 1841. He did not attribute any blame to the Government for this, but the very circumstance which gave rise to that deficiency now, also occasioned it when the political opponents of the present Government were in office. There had also been a large increase in the deficiency bills, which in July 1843, amounted 8,560,000l., this being the largest amount of deficiency that had occurred under this head during the last twelve or fourteen years. It was also urged against the late Government that it had added greatly to the permanent debt of the country. He did not deny this, but it had been a necessary increase, involving blame to no person. If blame were to attach to the Government for that which arose from necessity, the least that could be done was to go into the consideration of the causes which led to the increase of the funded debt. He recollected that during the time he was in office a charge was brought against the Government of having increased the funded debt to a large amount, and this increase, it appeared, arose from the charge of twenty millions for slave compensation, when slavery was abolished in our colonies. This charge was made altogether with the view of making an attack on the Government most unfairly, by those who wished to show that, while the public charges had augmented, the resources of the country were diminishing. This uncandid and unfair proceeding, had been adopted by those who wished well neither to one course nor the other. It had also been objected to the late Government, that it has needlessly sacrificed the revenue by the two hasty adoption of the Post-office reform. He had nothing to reproach himself with on this point, nor had he done any- 595 thing, when he brought forward the plan of the change in the Post-office, to deceive the public or either House of Parliament. He had always contended that in adopting that plan they must calculate on a large deficiency in the revenue; and he always refused to consent to it, and, above all, to bring it forward, unless accompanied by a pledge that Parliament would make good to the revenue any deficiency that might arise from the change. Though it had been suggested, that such a pledge was inoperative and of no avail, he had had the satisfaction of hearing that very pledge referred to by the Government which succeeded that of which he was a Member, and made the foundation of a claim upon the House and upon the public to support the measures for increased taxation. It was gratifying to him to find that he had augured rightly of the House of Commons, as well as of that House of Parliament, in declaring he was sure there would be no hesitation on the part of Parliament, having given the pledge fully to redeem it. He had stated the objections, as shortly as he could, that had been urged with respect to the state of our finances in 1841; and he felt that the objections which were applicable to the Government of that day, on financial grounds, were as applicable to the Government—if they were urged, though he had no wish to urge them, of the present day. An Address was moved to her Majesty, and was carried in both Houses of Parliament, involving the objections which he had stated to the financial proceedings of the then Administration, and a change in the Government was the consequence. It should be recollected, that in the Parliament just then called together, the party of noble Lords opposite had obtained the great support of the constituencies of the country, and they had obtained the largest majority in the other House, that any Government had secured since the passing of the first Reform Bill. The new Government appealed to the House of Commons, and made a request which, under the circumstances of the case, could not be regarded as unreasonable—namely, that they should have time to consider the measures which they might deem expedient to bring forward. The new Government being placed to power by the vote of a large majority of both Houses, asked for time to prepare their measures; and Parliament, in addition to acceding to this request, gave them as great a proof of its confidence as had ever been given to any 596 previous Government. He indeed believed, that there was no similar instance of such a case in the history of England, and certainly not an instance of such power as he had alluded to being given at the instance of a political opponent—he meant the power of raising money by selling stock in the open market whenever they thought it requisite for the public service. Some proposition of this kind might appear necessary at that time; but it was an ingenious suggestion on the part of a right hon. Friend of his, who was a political opponent of the Government. He thought, that he was not going at all too far in saying that this was an instance of as great confidence as he ever recollected to be placed in a Government. After time had been given to the Government to mature its plans, a day was fixed for submitting and explaining to the other House the financial scheme of the Government, and never on any occasion of this kind was greater anxiety shown to know what that plan was. Anticipations were most anxiously expressed to ascertain what course the Government would pursue, and measures of the largest importance were naturally looked for. He was not at all surprised that the public anxiety was so great on the 11th of March, when it was known that the propositions of the Government were to be laid before the House of Commons. He did not wish to refer more than was necessary to what occurred in the other House; he therefore would observe, that his noble Friend (the Earl of Ripon), whose absence he much regretted, made, on the 19th of July last year, nearly a similar statement to that made in the other House in March. He would now proceed to allude to the financial statement then made, and he would not detain the House by going into any details of the income and expenditure for a series of years; but would merely refer to the balances. They were told, that the Government by its financial arrangements calculated that there would be a surplus revenue of 520,000l. on the 5th of April, 1843. Now they had passed that time, and instead of finding a surplus, as Ministers anticipated in both Houses, there appeared to be unfortunately for the country, a deficiency of 2,421,000l., which showed a deficiency between the anticipations or calculations of the Government, between July 1842 and April 1843, of not less than 2,940,000l. This was a singular discrepancy between the estimate and the receipts. But in looking to the result, the 597 Government were enabled to take into their account more than half a million which they received from China. They never could have expected or calculated on such an increase in the revenue of the year when they made their estimate, but it was a perfect God-send to them. In addition to this, they received not less than 1,300,000l. for duties on corn, which amount also could not have been anticipated by her Majesty's Government. Indeed, both that and the other House had repeatedly been told by her Majesty's Ministers, that they disclaimed taking corn into calculation as a matter of revenue or taxation. But if a calculation were taken on the average amount received in the shape of corn duties, it would appear that there was an excess of revenue last year from this source of upwards of 800,000l. Taking these amounts and the balance sheet, as prepared to the 5th of April, it appeared that there was a difference between the receipts and the estimates of not less than 2,900,000l. This showed a discrepancy of revenue as compared with the anticipations of the noble Earl in that House, and the right hon. Gentleman in the other House, most frightful to contemplate. It was quite right to say on behalf of the Government, that they had taken an estimate of the property-tax on the produce of the whole year. Of that they had only received a part, and they were entitled to take credit for the sum which constituted the balance due, and deduct it from the deficiency to which he had alluded. The difference was 1,290,000l. between the actual and the estimated amount of the property-tax; but there was a deficiency of 2,900,000l. in the course of the year, which would give 1,610,000l. as the deficiency of the year. He had delayed bringing forward this motion until they had before them the balance sheet of the July quarter, and he trusted, that the noble Duke and their Lordships would see that there were reasons connected with the public service which had rendered it expedient that he should do so. If they had discussed the question in January, it would have been to the great advantage of the Government; and if he had selected April to bring forward the subject, the country would not have seen the question in its proper light; he had selected the present period, in order that the Government might obtain the advantages derivable from the improved quarter which had just terminated. It was true, that upon looking at the balance-sheet of 598 July, an improvement was observable, for the deficiency was apparently reduced to 651,000l. But that calculation included the sum of 1,100,000l. of money received on account of China, and the sum of 1,300,000l. of corn duties; so that, although the amount of the balance against the country was greatly diminished, it was by no means extinguished, and an excess of expenditure was shown over the receipts. But it might be said, that there had not been such an improvement as had been anticipated. He, however, was far from bringing this matter of deficiency forward as a subject of accusation against the Government, but at the same time he must say, that so large a deficiency as appeared—a deficiency measured by millions upon millions—had never yet come under his observation. It was of more importance to consider from what the deficiency had proceeded than its amount, and whether they could trace it to any definite cause, for until they were able to do that, they could not estimate their future prospects, nor learn where the remedies should be applied. He found that deficiency was not in any one particular branch, but that it ran through the whole of the various items of receipts of the year now just past. In the Customs, the anticipated receipts were 21,500,000l. The result, although 1,300,000l. had been received from corn duties, showed a deficiency of 746,000l. In the Excise there was a deficiency of 1,200,000l., though the addition—the unfortunate addition he would call it—had been made of 250,000l., by the increase of duty on spirits in Ireland. The sum of 283,000l. was deficient in the stamps, though 160,000l. was expected to be derived from the new stamp laws in Ireland. There had been a falling-off, too, in the assessed taxes. The causes of these results were pretty obvious. When the Government had introduced the bill for the addition to the duties on Irish spirits, a friend of his had asked him whether he intended to have a song of triumph on that occasion. He said that he thought of no such thing, because that was unwise which gave undue elevation to one's friends, and gave great advantages to one's opponents. He had that objection, besides, to do so which was suggested to Henry 4th by the burgomasters of a town, who, when asked why they had not fired a salute, had answered, "Sire, nous n'avons pas de canons." He thought, however, that the Government had made an error in not reducing the duty to its original low 599 rate. They had had the experience of twenty years, and all he asked them to do was, to see what was the amount of duties which had produced the greatest return to the revenue. They had not done so. He hoped that they would succeed in the course which they had now taken; but he thought, that after the experience which they had had, they would have done well to have taken the smaller amount of duty in preference to the larger. Then with regard to the stamps last year, had the produce augmented? The measure on this head had been a failure in its results; it had been most injudiciously conceived. The law was this; that when in a conveyance another conveyance was recited, a double duty was imposed—a duty not only upon the new deed, but on that also which was recited. He thought that the application of this law to Ireland was most injudicious. He did not wish to use harsh words, but there were persons abroad who talked of fixity of tenure, and he thought it was most injudicious to hold out any inducement to effect merely verbal agreements instead of leases, considering the difficulties which might arise in respect of the rights of the tenants under them; and therefore he thought that the Government would do well to take into consideration the necessity for reducing the duty. He was not disposed to be a party to any charges against the Government for the commission of mistakes. He could not help remarking upon this, because there never had been any error of the late Government, however unimportant, even the mistake of the clerk at the Table in passing a bill, which was not held up to public view as a proof of their utter incompetency. He felt that such a course was most unjust, and so considering it, he deemed that he was doubly bound not to imitate that course in respect of the present Government. He had shown the failure of the calculations in respect of the return to be expected from Irish spirit duties. From Irish stamps a gain of 160,000l. had been expected; the actual increase was only 46,000l. He would come next to the coal duties; but he would not discuss this question further than to say, that the increase of duty on coals exported, was defended on the ground, that it might be politic, at least, to avoid facilitating the measures of our manufacturing rivals, by providing them with this means of entering into effectual competition with this country; and he referred to this point, because he should have occasion to refer to 600 the principle so enunciated when he came hereafter to discuss another part of this subject. The coal tax had proved a failure, at least it had not produced the amount which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had anticipated. But he feared that it would prove to be altogether a failure, because, if the House remembered that the competition which was to be apprehended was of a nature which could not be at once produced—that time must be allowed to afford the opportunity for the application of capital abroad, they must admit that they had not yet arrived at the final results of the measure: for that sufficient time had not been given for the opening up of those resources of our continental neighbours which time and capital would bring into operation. He regretted this for many reasons. There were no more important political results than might arise from making foreign countries dependent on England for coals. He did not want to interfere with the independence of other countries, but he could not help observing that the mutual dependence of nations, by reason of their mutual wants and their mutual means of supplying the wants of each other, formed the real foundation and the best security for the peace of the world. The next subject of revenue to which he should refer was timber. The Government had taken a large step in reference to timber, but was it a wise one? They had made as their witness, by adopting his opinion in reference to this subject, one of the wisest, most rational, and most sensible, and, he must add, most experienced official men that he had ever known—Mr. Deacon Hume. He had told how greatly to the advantage of the consumer, they might add to the revenue an amount of some millions. But not only had the Government not done this, but they had sacrificed 600,000l. per annum. That was the calculation which had been made by the Government, but the result was, in fact, even less satisfactory, because the loss was not 600,000l. only, but 680,000l, But under what circumstances had they sacrificed the whole of the colonial duties on timber? Had they taken that step solely with a view to the interests of Canada; and had they obtained their object? Those who represented the Canadian interests had deprecated this reduction. The necessity of the case would have been shown if the colonial timber trade had been found to be diminishing year by year. But from 1838 to 1841, 601 the colonial timber duties of England had risen from 346,000l. to 465,000l. per annum. Therefore there was an increasing duty and a thriving trade, and yet they had selected that trade above all others to be the object of experiment, and of a reduction of duties. But if they were right in taking this step, they had done it after a most improvident manner. They had done it by stages; there were two steps to be taken in two years; but every one who was acquainted with the nature of trade must know that when there was an anticipation of the reduction of duty, after the expiration of an interval, the whole trade was paralysed—men lived from hand to mouth, and the whole system of trade became suspended and deranged. That was the objection which he entertained with respect to the timber duties. But he wished to call the attention of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington) to a point which was incidental to that of the timber trade, and to which it was most desirable that the Government should give their most serious and mature consideration. Their Lordships were aware that, at the present moment, and when the reduction of the timber duties would be ultimately carried into full effect, the duty on colonial timber would be only 1s., while that on foreign timber would be greatly higher. What was proposed to be done by a bill on the Table of the House, in respect of that portion of the territory of the state of Maine lately in the possession of Great Britain, or at least lately claimed by this country? First of all by treaty, and then by act of Parliament, they agreed to make a reduction in the duties on all the produce coming from that territory, reducing the duty to that receivable on colonial produce. That was one of the objects of the Ashburton treaty in the first instance, and of the Customs' Bill now before the House in the second; therefore, when that bill was passed into a law, all timber, the produce of Maine, would come into this country upon paying the duty imposed on colonial timber. They had entered into reciprocal treaties with various countries—with Sweden, for instance; and in those treaties they had agreed to give to those countries the privileges of the most favoured nation. He wanted to know whether, if the Swedish minister in this country came with this treaty in one hand, and the act of Parliament in the other, and said, "You have covenanted to give me the privileges of the most favoured nation 602 —you have given to the United States of America, or at least to a part of it, the right to introduce their timber at a merely nominal duty, I demand from you the rigid fulfilment of this treaty, let in the timber of Norway and of Sweden," or if Sweden have a surplus amount of corn, "Let in our corn at the colonial scale of duty," could such au appeal be rejected? He was persuaded that the matter was well worthy the attention of her Majesty's Government, for in such a case as he had suggested, they could not, consistently with good faith, reject the demand made upon them. It might be said, that this was a privilege given to only a part of the United States; but suppose we gave to the wine of the Garonne the privileges conceded to the wine of Portugal by the Methuen treaty, would not that be a violation of the treaty? It might be said likewise that this territory was formerly British territory, and that when it passed into the hands of America, it carried with it the interests of British territory. If that was true, Normandy and Aquitaine carried with them all the advantages of British territory; the United States themselves would possess the same privileges. He dwelt on this, because there was no doubt that it was matter of no small importance, and before they proceeded with the bill, he might venture to ask the noble Duke that there should be laid on the Table of the House the papers with respect to the reduction of these duties, and of those on Carolina and African rice, which would throw great light upon the subject. If, however, any difficulties should stand in the way of their production, he would not press the point; but he now wished to call the attention of the noble Duke to the point in dispute. In the cases to which he had already alluded, the anticipations of the Government had not been realized. He would now refer to one in respect of which their expectations had been more than fulfilled, he alluded to the article of coffee. Her Majesty's Government had reduced the duty on coffee, and in doing so they had acted wisely. They had approached the case with a bolder spirit than any of the other questions; and what had been the result? Where they had made the nearest approach to what was ordinarily called the free-trade principle, they had sustained a loss of only 48,000l. instead of 170,000l., which they had anticipated. The peculiar circumstances of the times had tended to render this case even less strong than it otherwise would 603 have been. The people were in distress, and were labouring under the severest pressure; they had high prices to pay for bread, they were unable to command even the necessaries of life; but if there had been abundance of wages, abundance of employment, and a good demand for our manufactures, depend upon it there would have been a gain by the reduction of the duty on coffee, instead of a loss to the revenue. But that which was more material for present consideration was the prospect afforded by the year into which we had just entered, and there were circumstances connected with the financial arrangements of the country which were so peculiar and so extraordinary, and which struck so deeply into the principles upon which the finances of the country ought to be administered, that he must call their Lordships' attention to them. The total income estimated for, during the present year, was 50,150,000l.; that was, including the full amount of property-tax, which was taken at 5,100,000l. The Government had made a considerable reduction in the public expenditure, and he was disposed to give them full credit for their exertions in this respect; that reduction was very nearly 1,000,000l. The total expenditure as it was estimated, was 49,387,645l., leaving a surplus, therefore, of 763,000l. He was sorry to say, that this supposed surplus would prove as delusive as he had shown to their Lordships that of the previous year had been; and he asked their Lordships to see whether they had any chance of this anticipated surplus of 763,000l. He was told that this surplus was to be applied in reduction of that deficiency which was left last year unprovided for. That of itself was not very satisfactory. There was an admitted deficiency of 2,400,000l., and all that was to be applied to its reduction was this sum of 763,000l. But was it certain that they should get even that sum? It was, he thought, more than doubtful. To make up that amount of surplus revenue, there had been taken into account the whole of the money which there was any chance of receiving from China. The Government had already received 1,300,000l. up to July, all of which they had applied to the public service; and in the estimates which had been laid upon the Table, they had calculated the miscellaneous receipts at 1,120,000l., including the Chinese money. But what was to be done with the claimants on that money? One would imagine that when 604 money was received on one hand, and there were persons entitled to receive it on the other, the natural course would be to hand it over to them at once. But the Government did no such thing; but they took the whole of the money—applied it to their own use—called it income—and then entered into new debts, in respect of the claims which were brought forward. He would illustrate his meaning. Let them suppose that a man sold a portion of his estate which was subject to a mortgage, and that he received 10,000l. or 20,000l. for it; but that instead of paying off the mortgage with that amount, he paid it into his banker's hands, and spent it as income and gave a bond to the person who was entitled to receive the mortgage money; it was obvious that that would be a very improvident proceeding. But that was exactly what was done in this case by the Government. They had 1,200,000l. to provide for opium; 800,000l. to provide for the East India Company; 600,000l. for the Hong merchants; and then there was that which he was sure neither the noble Duke nor the country would wish to see overlooked or forgotten, such reward as should be thought fit and just for the distinguished army and navy which had been engaged in recent operations in China. But this was all forgotten—the Government had spent the money—it was all gone, and they had to provide for the consequent deficiency, either by creating a new debt, or by leaving matters to chance and accident. When such duties arose, however, accident ought not to be trusted to; but when the money came from a particular quarter, the duties properly belonging to it should be discharged by its appropriation to them. The estimates of the income, at 50,150,000l., however, were also drawn up upon a consideration of the prospects of the year, and of the on-coming harvest. He hoped that we might still look for the blessing of a good harvest; but was it wise to trust to the chances of fine weather; was it fit to depend upon the state of the barometer, the certainty of the winds of heaven, or the stability of the clouds? He should not dwell longer on this subject; but he would take the liberty of asking their Lordships whether, if matters remained unchanged, there could be any chance of the repeal of the property-tax? He was far from attributing to the Government any design, in respect of their financial measures, to make it absolutely necessary that that tax should be conti- 605 nued; but he must say that if they had wished to take such a course as would render the removal of that tax difficult, if not impossible, they could not have taken one snore fitted for such a purpose than that which they had adopted. The effect of the measures which they were taking would be that of raising money at three years' date; a course which in the commercial world would produce reflections upon their credit; these three years would just overlap the time for which the property-tax was passed; and then how unjust, but how strong, would be the argument that there were demands on the Government which must be satisfied, and that grounds existed, therefore, for the continuation of the tax. He would hope that there would be at no time any reluctance on the part of the country to contribute any amount of taxation which the good faith of the country and the public service might require; and he trusted also that no Government would ever be found to continue a property-tax one single hour, without showing the clearest necessity for so doing. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack (Lord Lyndhurst), who had opened this question to their Lordship's consideration, and whose resolution now stood on the Journals of the House, had put that argument forward as the justification of the proposition—that it was not sustainable upon any other grounds than that it afforded a certain means, when no other available means existed, of meeting the public wants. Nor had the Government any excuse for the continuance of such a tax. Because, at what amount had they estimated the property-tax? They had estimated it at 3,700,000l., while it had produced 5,100,000l. There would be, therefore, an increase upon the estimate, in the course of the three years during which the tax was proposed to continue, of no less than 4,200,000l. But could the difficulties which now existed be surmounted? He should be extremely sorry that any observations of his should lead to the supposition that there would be any great difficulties which the country had not the full means of overcoming. Economy was one of the means which might be adopted. By economy he did not mean that paltry, cheese-paring, miserable economy, of which men would be ashamed; but that wise and liberal economy which was, as compared with the other, as a diamond is to a piece of broken glass. And he thought that he could show that there was ample scope for 606 the application of such economy. In 1835 the right hon. Baronet who was now at the head of her Majesty's Government was First Lord of the Treasury, and he proposed the estimates, he was bound to assume, in such a manner as best suited the exigencies of the public service. In that year they were calculated at 14,123,000l.; in the present year the same estimates, even after the deduction which had been made, amounted to 18,779,000l. showing that there was an excess of expenditure in this year over the one he had referred to, of no less than 4,600,000l. It must stand to reason that that which could be done in 1835—although he did not mean to say that it could be accomplished at once—could be done in 1843. They had made a beginning by the reduction of a million, and for that reduction he gave them full credit. They must go further, or they might depend upon it the Government would fare worse. He did not think that if the present Government, strong as they were, had made Parliament fully aware of what they would do when they came into power, they would have been strong enough to get there. [Lord Wharncliffe: "It was your own Parliament."] Would they try their own Parliament now? If they were to declare plainly now to all what they intended to do, he did not think that their own Parliament would be very different from what they would have found the Parliament of the late Government. The next step was to extend, in all possible ways, the industry of this country. He asked the Government to act on their own principles, which they propounded when they framed the tariff of last year, when they went as far as the most earnest free-traders could desire: he could not, indeed, believe that they did not mean to go the whole length, because of all those who had studied under the political economist, whether it was Adam Smith or Mc Culloch, he had never seen such promising pupils as noble Lords opposite. Indeed, he had never seen greater progress made than in the present over the last Session. There was a bill now in progress, which he would support, allowing the exportation of machinery from this country to all other countries, free from all restrictions as to duty. A more startling proposition than this would have been a few years back could not have been anticipated: few things would have more alarmed the country. He thought the noble Lords were right in their measure, but of all the mea- 607 sures of free-trade which had ever been devised, whether of Corn-laws, of the tariff, or of excise, the repeal of the export duty on machinery was by far the most extensive and startling. They had been told last year with respect to the coal duties, that a duty ought to be imposed on the exportation of coal to check the manufactures of other countries, and in the very next year, such had been their progress in economical science, noble Lords opposite had been so successful in their studies, that though last year they would withhold the exportation of coal to stop foreign competition, they would this year send out the machinery which would be worthless unless it were worked by this very coal. Indeed, noble Lords were more bold in proposing measures than he could have been, because if he had proposed such a measure he would have been held up to the whole country as having sacrificed its interests, just as if the late Government had held their hands idly before them, like the present Government, in relation to Ireland—in which he thought they had acted wisely—the late Government would have been said to be accomplices of O'Connell in Ireland, and they would have been charged with wishing to encourage Repeal. That was precisely the difference between the two sides of the House with respect to commercial questions. Before he closed his remarks he desired to clear himself from making the charge, or from wishing to suggest to others anything like a despondency at the present state of the resources of this country. He had stated that the accounts of the last year were unfavourable, and that the prospect of the present year was not promising, but he did not doubt the power, the resources, or the wealth of this country, or its power of bearing taxation. He believed that the taxation in this country was less in proportion to its capital than other countries, and that in comparison with them it was lightly taxed, and, moreover, that the taxation was less than in former times. He did not think that there could be a greater proof of the progress of wealth in this country than the difference between the assessment to the property-tax and the estimate made by the Government. That estimate being 3,700,000l., and the produce rising to 5,100,000l. The following was the comparison between the estimate and assessment of the property-tax:— 608
A paper on the Table showed likewise the great resources of this country. It was a paper showing the amount of the terminable annuities, and the time of their expiration, which would add most satisfactorily to the income and resources of the country; 3,923,000l. a-year of these annuities would expire in or before the year:—
Estimate. Amount. Excess. Schedules A, Land, &c. 1,600,000 2,333,000 633,000 B, Tenements 150,000 330,000 180,000 C, Funds 646,000 800,000 154,000 D, Profits of Trade 1,220,000 1,496,000 276,000 E, Offices 155,000 248,000 93,600 3,771,000 5,100,000 Not including Scotland.
[Lord Brougham: "We shall all be gone before then."] The noble Lord's enjoyment would begin in the present year, and he would have an advantage in reversion as well as in possession. There would be a reduction in the present year of 100,000l., and nearly 700,000l. would fall in during the next five years, during which he hoped the noble and learned Lord would live to enjoy the advantage. When they recollected the amount of capital which was covered by that amount of interest, he did not think that the capitalists of this country, or of any foreign country although the present difficulties of the country might be pressing, could believe that they were worth material notice in estimating the national power and resources. The noble Lord apologized for the length at which he had addressed the House, having only made his statement, he said, with the view of calling the attention of the country to the facts embodied in the following resolutions, which, in conclusion, the noble Lord moved:—
TERMINABLE ANNUITIES WHICH FALL IN BEFORE 1864:— £. s. d. Annuities for terms of years 2,506,529 4 2½ Ditto lives 831,665 10 3 Add Annuities to Bank of England falling in in 1867 585,740 0 0 Total which will fall in in 1867 3,923,934 14 5½
- "1. That this House observes with much concern and disappointment that the expectations held out of a surplus revenue, exceeding 500,000l. for the year ending 5th April, 1843, have not been realised; but that there has been an actual deficiency of 2,421,000l., notwithstanding the imposition of a tax on property, the application to the public service within the year of 511,406l. obtained from the government of China, and a receipt ex-
609 ceeding 1,300,000l. as duties upon grain imported.
- "2. That the charge for the permanent debt has been increased during the last two years, the Exchequer balances have been reduced, and upwards of one million in Exchequer Bills held by the trustees of the savings' banks have been converted into stock.
- "3. That, under these circumstances, it is most peculiarly the duty of the Legislature and of her Majesty's Government to enforce the strictest economy which is consistent with the public service, and to adopt all such measures as may increase the ordinary revenue, by insuring to British industry, whether agricultural, manufacturing, or commercial, its widest and freest extension and its largest reward, thus averting from the country the calamity of the re-enactment of a tax upon property in time of peace, and promoting the well-being and prosperity of all classes of her Majesty's subjects."
§ The Duke of Wellington
I am sure my Lords, if it were necessary for the noble Lord (Lord Monteagle), who has been so long accustomed to the superintendence of the finances of this country, and who has so frequently discussed the subject in this and the other House of Parliament, to apologize for drawing your Lordships' attention to the subject, it is still more necessary for me to apologize for venturing to follow him after the able speech he has made to your Lordships. My Lords, I regret exceedingly that my noble Friend the President of the Board of Control, who equally with the noble Lord has had the management of the finances of the country in his hands, is not able to attend here, in order that your Lordships and the public might have had the advantage of hearing from him his views and the views of the Government upon the question which the noble Lord has submitted to your consideration; and that this duty should have fallen to one who has comparatively but little information on the subject, and only such as he could obtain during the short interval between the period at which the noble Lord gave notice of his intention to bring forward this question and the present moment. My Lords, I confess I wish that the noble Lord had limited his address to the subject-matter of the resolutions which he has laid on the Table. The noble Lord has adverted likewise to bills upon your Lordships' Table which you will have to discuss in the course of the present Session, to questions of commercial and international policy which must come under discussion, and 610 to the financial budget of the present year, which certainly forms no part of the resolutions upon which it was understood the noble Lord intended to address you. I admit the budget of the present year may be deemed a part of the subject; but still, considering that the noble Lord was aware there was nobody in this House who could be prepared to state details and answer the objections he has made with reference to the budget of the present year. I think he might as well have limited his address to what is distinctly the subject of discussion, namely, the accounts of the year which elapsed on the 5th of April last. With respect to the budget of the present year, I hope it will be deemed satisfactory. What has been stated has been an estimate. I admit that the last estimate stated has proved to be fallacious, and it is possible that this estimate may be so likewise. The noble Lord is aware that Chancellors of the Exchequers are liable to such mistakes. But, as far as I can have any knowledge of it, I believe that the estimate will be found correct, and that the surplus expected will be produced on the face of the accounts. If that should not be so, it will be for the Minister of the time to come forward with a proposition to Parliament to make good the deficiency, and it will be for the Parliament of that day to decide what shall be the mode adopted of meeting that deficiency. All I can say is this—that there certainly is no plan, there can be no plan now for propoposing any particular tax, and most particularly there can be no plan for proposing a tax which it was the intention of the Government, and their engagement at the time, that it should not be continued one day longer than was necessary for the public service. That was what was stated at the time, and I have never heard of any intention to continue it one day longer than it was intended, excepting it should be absolutely necessary for the public service. With respect to the other matters to which the noble Lord has adverted—the effect of the American treaty, the Customs' Bill, and the exportation of machinery, these are points on which I will not follow the noble Lord, leaving those subjects to be discussed when they come regularly before your Lordships. I now come to the question more immediately under consideration—the first resolution moved by the noble Lord. It is certainly true that the esti- 611 mate taken in the course of the last Session of Parliament for the finances of the year has proved fallacious. The Customs have not produced the sums at which they were estimated, notwithstanding the receipt, under the head of Customs, of a large sum from the duties on corn, which was not included in the estimate. But there has been a failure in certain duties which were estimated—such as the wine duty, which paid about 600,000l. a year—the duty on foreign spirits, to the amount of 200,000l.; and there have been the various reduction made with the view of relieving commerce. There has been a failure in the various small articles, which have not produced the amount of revenue expected; while on the other hand, the loss upon some of the reduced duties has been less than was expected. On the whole no doubt, there has been a very considerable diminution of the sum expected from the Customs. In the same manner, the Excise has not produced the sum expected. The sum expected, including what was expected from the Irish spirit duties, was 13,500,000l. There was the total failure of the duty on malt, to the extent of 880,000l.; but I do not complain that the noble Lord, who has been Chancellor of the Exchequer, and accustomed to these discussions, should not have stated that in general it was considered that the large amount which was the produce of the corn duty was by way of compensation for the failure of the excise on malt. I have taken some pains to acquire correct information on this subject, and the result of my inquiries is, that the high price of corn, from the scarcity of the season, was the cause of the great receipt of duty in the Customs, while the same misfortunes of the season had affected barley, and there had been a considerably smaller receipt in the excise from malt. The one compensated the other, and on the whole the produce has been pretty nearly what might have been expected in an ordinary year of both. But there has been a very large decrease not only in Ireland, but in England and in Scotland, in the amount of the spirit duty—in Scotland to the amount of 400,000 gallons, in England to the extent of 200,000 gallons; this also has caused a considerable reduction in the amount of the Excise; so that taking all these together, I think I have shown reason for a very considerable reduction in the amount of the revenue; not owing at all 612 to any alteration of duty, but to the greater habits of temperance throughout the country, the consumption of spirits had decreased very considerably, and it has shown itself not only in the diminished revenue derived from foreign spirits, but also in the revenue derived from home-made spirits. The deficiency upon the estimate arises also from another circumstance to which the noble Lord has not averted; namely, the credit taken in the estimate for the full amount of the property-tax was calculated as between April and April. It was calculated that we should have received the sum of 3,700,000l., as between April and April, whereas the sum collected was only 2,400,000l. The remainder has not yet been all collected. A portion was collected between April and July, but that amount was not collected up to the 5th of April, that is to say, between April and April. That, therefore, is another reason for the deficiency the noble Lord has referred to, as between our estimates of income and our actual receipts. But the expenditure, my Lords, notwithstanding one additional source of expense which the noble Lord did not advert to, has been less than the estimate by the sum of 228,000l. There was, however, a payment on account of the China war, which is stated in the accounts as being more than the estimate by the sum of 300,000l., and likewise a payment on account of a certain forgery of Exchequer-bills, which has been a good deal discussed in this House of Parliament, which, my Lords, I suppose is the reason why the noble Lord did not mention it. That sum, my Lords, formed a large item in the account up to the 5th of April, 1843. If you put all these things together you will find that, after all, the state of the accounts up to 5th of April, 1843, is not quite so bad as the noble Lord wishes to represent it. One of the noble Lord's resolutions, however, has reference to the balances. I beg him to observe that his statement, as far as regards the month of April, 1843, is not correct on the face of the papers. I speak of the balance from the month of April, 1842, to the 5th of April, 1843. On the face of the account the balance in the Exchequer, up to the 5th of April, 1842, was 857,291l. The balance on the 5th of April, 1843, was 956,599l. Therefore the balance in April 1843 exceeded the balance in 1842. But the noble Lord 613 has referred to another sort of balance. He has taken us back to the year 1836, when, he says, the balance was four millions and some odd hundred thousands. With respect to the statement of that balance I have nothing at all to say, but I would remind the noble Lord that between the year 1836 and the year 1842 several years elapsed, during which there was a deficiency in the income that was necessary to cover the public expenditure. Those successive years of deficient income were necessarily followed by the practice of applying the balances in the Exchequer—of clearing the Exchequer of every thing that might be found therein. By this means those balances became reduced in April, 1842, to the sum stated already. The balance now, my Lords, is, as I have said, considerably more than it was in the last year. Now, I don't say, my Lords, that it would not be desirable to have a larger balance in the Exchequer than there is, but when we come to talk of matters of this sort we must found our arguments and statements upon official documents, and not look to other matters that may be found elsewhere. My Lords, I have now adverted to the subject of the state of the Customs' duties, to the balances in the Exchequer, and to the state of the property-tax—the subjects in the first resolution of the noble Lord; and I have likewise observed on what the noble Lord stated as to former balances in the Exchequer. I admit that they have been larger than they are now, but I confine myself simply to the papers on your Lordships' Table and the resolutions, and I deny that the balance in the Exchequer has been diminished between the two periods I have referred to; that is to say, between April, 1842, and April, 1843. I now come to the next resolution. The noble Lord has stated that the charge for the permanent debt has been increased during the last two years; that the amount of Exchequer-bills has been reduced, and that upwards of 1,000,000 of Exchequer-bills, then in the hands of the trustees of savings-banks, have been converted into stock. I have already stated, my Lords, what is the fact as to the Exchequer-bills, and I now beg leave to call your attention to the statement of the noble Lord's, contained in his resolution, that the funded debt of the country has been increased. Now, the fair way of considering the question is not merely to consider the amount 614 of the funded debt, but also the amount and charge of the unfunded debt, because, in point of fact, this funded debt has been increased in order to take out of the market the securities of the unfunded debt. Now, the fair way of discussing this subject will be for you to consider the amount of the charges on the funded and unfunded debt previous to and subsequent to the formation of the present Administration, and at the present moment. I will refer to the facts on this subject. The amount for the interest and management of the public funded debt was on the 15th of January, 1841, 28,256,324l.; on the 15th of January, 1842, it was 28,701,458l.; on the same day in 1843, it was 28,609,708l. Now, what was the unfunded debt at the same time? for that is the fair way to consider it. The unfunded debt was for the years 1840–41, 21,626,315l., at an interest of 2½d.; for 1841–2, it was 18,293,000l., at 1¾d.; and for 1842–3,it was 18,182,000l., at 1½d. The annual interest on the first sum (21,626,315l.) was 740,000l. 2s. 6d.; for the third amount (18,182,000l.) it was 414,779l. The charge for the funded debt at the commencement of the present year was 28,609,708l.; for the unfunded debt it was 414,779l., making together 29,024,487l., a reduction of the annual charge upon the funded and unfunded debt since 1841, of 2,071,863l. But there is an addition to this reduction on account of the charges incurred on stock created to supply the deficiency as estimated for 1841–2, being the last budget of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. That amount was 85,815l. The income for that year was 48,310,000l. The estimated income was 50,777,432l., leaving a deficiency between the estimated and the actual income of 2,457;433l., which was made a debt at an expense of the sum I have just named—85,815l. per annum to be added to the annual interest of the funded and unfunded debt. The noble Lord, therefore, will see that it is not exactly the fact to state that there has been an augmentation of the funded debt, at least in the point of view stated in his resolution; but it is true to state that there has been an addition to the expense of the funded debt, caused by the arrangement made by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide for the deficiency between the estimated and the actual income of the last budget of the late Administration. The other charge in 615 the second resolution relates to the alleged reduction in the amount of Exchequer bills, and states that upwards of 1,000,000 of Exchequer bills, in the hands of the Trustees of Savings Banks, has been converted into stock. Now let us look to the history of this. It appears, in the first place, that there was a practice of making advances in Exchequer bills for public works, and that certain of those Exchequer bills which had been issued for that purpose, had come into the hands of the Trustees of Savings Banks, and no provision had been made for their being paid paid off. But it was deemed expedient to make provision for the paying off of those bills, and Parliament passed an act. It was not done on the mere authority of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but an act was passed for the purpose, requiring first, that advances for public works should be made, as they ought to be made, in cash, and not in Exchequer bills; and further directing that provision be made for the payment of these Exchequer bills, to which I have just referred, for which no previous provision had been made; and this is what the noble Lord has come and compared with what passed before; and talks of the two transactions as being of a similar description; whereas the difference is just the difference between a course taken by a Government on its own authority, and a course taken by a Government under the sanction and direction of an act of Parliament. The debt was incurred to pay off those Exchequer bills; but how did the noble Lord make out that the value of these bills comes into the account? I think, my Lords, that I have now shown you, that the two first resolutions of the noble Lord are not borne out by the papers or by the facts. I hope your Lordships will concur with me in giving a negative to these resolutions. I don't think it necessary to follow the noble Lord further than I have done through his statement with respect to the budget of this year. We were, of course, liable to error as to that budget, as it is proved our predecessors were with respect to former budgets. I concur, however, entirely with the noble Lord in feeling the utmost confidence in the resources of the country. I think I have shown you that some of the causes which occasioned the deficiency of this year may not exist in the coming year; and I hope, my Lords, that we 616 shall have the means of fulfilling all the engagements the public have entered into.
said, however irksome and tedious this subject of figures and finance might be, it was one that ought gravely to be laid before Parliament and the country. Therefore his noble Friend on his right required no apology for introducing the subject; but he could not in all respects—nor, indeed, in almost any respect—agree in the resolutions which his noble Friend had proposed. He had examined with all the lights he possessed this most difficult subject, and coupling the facts stated by his noble Friend the noble Duke opposite, with the results which he saw, he felt bound to take a course which he he felt imposed on him by the views he took on the subject of the property tax. He felt bound to support that tax; but to support it with a qualification—that qualification being that it should exist only so long as it was absolutely necessary. But while giving the tax that support, he at the same time felt bound to inquire and see whether there might not exist a reasonable prospect of getting rid of that grievous and almost unjustifiable tax. He felt how unequal he was to enter into this question with his noble Friend; first, from his long experience in finance, and having held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer; and secondly, from the attention he had bestowed and continued to bestow upon this dry and thorny, and somewhat slippery, subject. He remembered Mr. Tierney's saying, "There was no subject which abounded so much in mares-nests as finance." Whether his noble Friend had that night discovered any of those curious structures he would presently inquire; but, notwithstanding the dry and thorny and slippery nature of the subject, he felt bound to go into it with his noble Friend, whose long experience, however, made that congressus Achilli still more unequal. Though his noble Friend was not in office, and now sat on the Opposition side of the House, yet, in fact, as far as this subject went, he was as good as if he were in office, because he was an officer of the Exchequer, with this material superiority over the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the one was moveable, holding his office during pleasure, whereas his noble Friend was immovable, holding, happily for him, his office for life. His noble Friend, therefore, could make the attack 617 with all possible safety and security, whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bound to adopt one particular line of conduct he being in a moveable position. That gave his noble Friend an advantage over the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but then his noble Friend had also another advantage over him, for his noble Friend could go to the Treasury and Exchequer, and obtain all manner of information; the doors of the Treasury were barred against all unfortunate individuals not in office; and they were left to fish as best they could, and grope their way through the papers which his noble Friend had caused to be laid upon the table of the House. Such being the great inequality of terms upon which they stood, he hoped it would be a sufficient excuse for him in case he fell into any of those errors to which Mr. Tierney alluded, and which his noble Friend had somewhat exemplified that night in his own proper person. His noble Friend who had last addressed them had really afforded a most important and useful practical answer to a very large portion of his noble Friend's speech, when he said that his noble Friend had laid down resolutions respecting the revenue in times past, but that, not contented with that, he went away into a totally different question—the state of the revenue in the next year, which was no part of his resolutions. And certainly his noble Friend had called their attention to the state of the budget this year—to the revenue since the 5th of April. Had he been aware that his noble Friend's speech would have been of a de futuro character, and not of times past only, he should have made himself acquainted with the details, as he had endeavoured to do with those details that were connected with the motion his noble Friend had submitted to the House. And though his noble Friend who spoke last was master of those details, and had answered his noble Friend head by head in his various statements, yet both his noble Friend opposite and himself were left to sink in the budget and estimates of this year, because they had no notice that those subjects were to be brought on. Now, how did the matter stand with respect to the property tax, of which he had already said a little, and of which he should say something more, of which he was a humble but public supporter last year, on account of the inevitable necessity of the case? His noble Friend took 618 the first half-year, and said, that instead of a surplus of half a million, there was a deficit of nearly five times as much, that is to say, of 2,421,000l. If his noble Friend had been advised to bring forward his motion on the 14th of April instead of the 14th of August, he might have contended to that effect, and endeavoured to show a deficit to that amount, because at that time the deficit upon the year arising from the arrears of the income tax not collected, did amount to something like 2,421,000l.; but his noble Friend, unfortunately for their Lordships, because they were now sitting in the dog days instead of in April, and unfortunately for his argument, because it shook his case and cut away the ground from beneath his feet, had deferred his motion to the 14th of August; and how stood the case now? He found that, to the 5th of July, there had been collected 2,421,000l. arrears of the income tax which ought to have come in on the 5th of April, and which if it had so come in would have filled up the deficit, and made the calculation precisely correspond with the result; but, delaying it until now, there had been got in 2,421,000l. of arrears. He was very glad that it had not been got in before; for it would have produced a great pressure on the people, and would have been a greater cruelty upon the taxpayer. If no money had been got in, then no deficit could have been made up. But, what was the consequence of getting in the 2,421,000l. now, on the 5th of July? He asserted most positively, for he knew it to be true, that the deficit was reduced from 2,500,000l. to 650,000l., and no more. But then it was said by his noble Friend, that that included 500,000l. of opium money, and 1,300,000l. of duty upon corn. His calculations were quite independent of the general state of the balance sheet. He merely spoke of one subject, the property tax collected between the 5th of April and the 5th of July. "But then," said his noble Friend, "the last was a very flourishing year, on account of the God-sends of the opium money and the corn duty." He would only allude to the very clear statement of his noble Friend who spoke last, which explained the calculation of the 500,000l. money as a God-send; but were there no other things sent from Heaven during the same time? He rather thought it was a mixed operation of angels, black as well as white. 619 But suppose that Heaven had been moved to bestow a God-send, had not Acheron and Styx been moved to get a something more—something as unexpected as a Godsend—some devil's-send, or fiend's-send, as a set-off against that God-send? Surely there was first 300,000l., the extra expense of the Indian Chinese war—that was a fiend-send. The estimate was 800,000l. the actual expense was 1,100,000l. But that, said his noble Friend, left 200,000l. more to be accounted for. But he had got something more. The fiend was actuated to something more than the Indian Chinese war. The fiend instigated sundry forgeries of Exchequer bills, and more than 200,000l., he believed 262,000l. was the actual amount, as his noble Friend had stated, was that fiend-send of forgeries of Exchequer bills, making altogether 562,000l. fiend-send, to the set-off against the 500,000l. God-send. Therefore there was an end to that part of his noble Friend's calculations; for if there were an accident upon one side of the account there was a greater amount of accident upon the debit side of the same account. But then said his noble Friend, "There is the corn duty of 1,300,000l. that is not accounted for;" and "Oh!" said he—for his noble Friend was very figurative and fanciful upon the subject, "are you to trust for your revenue to the barometer, to the seasons, to water, rain, or temperature—to things so fickle as the elements, so inconstant as the winds?—God forbid!" That was just what he (Lord Brougham) had always said. He had always argued in that way; but then unfortunately he always argued against his noble Friend, because formerly his noble Friend trusted to the perfidious winds, the unstable waters, the fickle elements. That was their budget of 1841, which, however, they never recovered. It was the fixed duty of 8s. which was to be part of their revenue: and he maintained, as did certain great political economists, that there was nothing so bad a subject of revenue as one which made them depend upon the winds and water and fickleness of the elements, whether they had that revenue or not. When his noble Friends on that (the Opposition) side of the House revisited Downing-street in an official capacity, and when they, according to their own account, would have nothing to do but to dissolve the present Parliament, though they had better not lay that flattering 620 unction to their souls, nor allow it to enter into their imaginations that they had any such proximate chance of again coming into office,—but should that be the case, and his noble Friend then brought forward his 8s. duty on corn as a means of revenue to support a failing exchequer, he should remind his noble Friend of the 14th of August, 1843—of what had passed that evening—of the fickleness of the winds, which his noble Friend would then have forgotten—and when his noble Friend nailed his weather-cock to the mast, and said that it should never change, he should remind him of that night, that his weather-cock would change, and that he could not trust to the winds or the rains, and that it was, therefore, a bad source of revenue. But his noble Friend said that that 1,300,000l. ought not to be taken credit for, because it came from corn. He said quite the reverse; they ought to take credit for it; or, if they were not, then they ought not to debit themselves with a million upon the malt duty. In the same proportion that they lost upon the one, did they gain upon the other. The two were connected, precisely as were the two counterpoises one against the other at the end of a balance wheel. When corn was cheap they did not import. When the weather was favourable, they had a good harvest and cheap grain—a great blessing, as they all knew, to the people, but not greater to the people than to the revenue, because in the same proportion as corn was cheap, malt was cheap, and spirits were cheap; and in the same proportion as food was cheap, the consumption of the people, their luxuries and comforts, were increased; and, therefore, it stood demonstrated, that in proportion as the harvest was good and grain was plentiful, the consumption of malt was increased, and the tax upon malt rose; but in the same proportion as malt was cheap and the tax upon it rose, in the same proportion came down the importation of corn. Therefore, they lost the 1,250,000l. upon which his noble Friend relied, as the duty upon the importation of corn, for the same reason that they increased their home consumption and increased their duty upon malt. One balanced the other; and, therefore, instead of cutting out the million and a quarter of the corn duty from this calculation, he would not cut out the one or the other, either the surplus of the corn duty or the 621 deficit of the malt duty—or he would take out both, so that he might not fall into one of those singular structures, more curious than valuable, to which Mr. Tierney referred, when he said that persons were very apt to find mare's nests in finance. That disposed of the main point in this question—of all that was material—and he might save himself the minor details, the mere fringes of the case; nevertheless, he must detain their Lordships, just in referring to the income-tax, to add that they who supported it were not so wrong as his noble Friend seemed to think. If last year he had felt it necessary to look for any arguments in favour of the income tax, and his noble Friend had at that time delivered the speech he had just addressed to the House, it was to that speech that he should have looked; because the whole of that address, the gloomy prospects he held out, the necessity he urged for examining our financial difficulties in their details—there being a deficiency of 2,500,000l. in one point of view, and somewhere about 5,000,000l. or 6,000,000l in another—the whole of that statement, he said, or even a half or a quarter of it, was the most peremptory conclusion that could be drawn in favour of the property-tax, and the greatest support ever given of the only ground upon which every one said the tax was bareable—viz. its absolute, its paramount necessity. The more was the difficulty shown when all they were able to do barely brought them out of it. But his noble Friend said, that even with the income-tax there was a deficit. Then what would it have been without? If with a property-tax there was a deficit, what would it have been without it? The inhabitants of the three kingdoms might have been consuming slave-grown sugar, and a bounty might thus have been offered upon every negro torn from his native land, exposed to all the horrors of the middle passage, and sold to the planters of Cuba or Brazil. That was part of the project of the late Government, and for the purpose of enabling people to obtain sugar at a penny (he believed it would only be a farthing; but he was willing to state it at a penny), a pound cheaper, the result would have been that 80,000 more slaves would have been seized and sold this year than last, a consequence to which he could not look without absolute and utter abhorrence. It was his earnest hope that during the three 622 years to which the income-tax was at present limited, the finances would so improve as to enable the country then to escape from this grievous and almost intolerable burthen. He had a very confident hope of that. But, said his noble Friend, what they had done was to increase the funded debt 3,000,000l. To be sure they had, but that was by funding Exchequer bills; and, if they had done that, they had decreased the unfunded debt in the same proportion. Now, his noble Friend on the woolsack was senior or second wrangler at Cambridge; but, eminent mathematician that he was, he did not know more accurately than his noble Friend the noble Duke, who was no wrangler, that the shortest line between two given points was a straight line, and the noble Duke always took it, and had done so on this occasion, and said his noble Friend the noble Duke—"Don't talk about 3,000,000l. being added to the funded debt, I will shew you by the returns the true calculation. Take all the expenses of the funded and unfunded debt; add the two together, before the period in question, viz., July, 1841, when we came into office, and then add together the expenses of the funded and unfunded debt for the corresponding period since, and see which sum is the greatest. That is the way to try the expense." He would put a case to illustrate the matter. Their Lordships were probably none of them in debt, or if by chance any peer were involved, of course he intended to pay all demands upon his purse; but what would be thought of the prudence of a man who selling an estate for 20,000l., and being 10,000l. in debt, proceeded to spend the whole 20,000l., and to pay no part of his debt? Yet this was the course his noble Friend recommends as regards the funded and unfunded debt. The incumbrance, as well as the income, must be duly considered. The man who sold the estate for 20,000l. must recollect that his debt of 10,000l. would require 400l. a year at an interest of only four per cent.; and besides that, had he signed no bonds? had he no judgment creditors? had he no simple contract debts? Had he put his name to no bills of exchange? The party replied, O yes, a creditor had taken out judgment, but he thought he was only to mention the mortgage. Instead, therefore, of talking of 10,000l., the party ought to speak of 14,000l., because the bond debts and judg- 623 ment debts amounted to 4,000l. What then did this matter turn out to be? In the early period mentioned by his noble Friend, the whole yearly expense of the funded and unfunded debt was 29,296,000l. The whole expenditure now after funding 3,000,000l. of Exchequer Bills, was 29,024,000l., making a difference of 272,000l. The expense, therefore, of the debt was less now than it was before the 3,000,000l. was funded. Nor was there any mare's nest—any hocus pocus—in all this. The reduction had been effected in a manner most benoeficial for the public though not so for the public creditor; and, as any old Chancellor of the Exchequer well knew, there was no debt more popular than the Exchequer Bills. He did not, therefore, much pity the holders for the results of the operation, which had certainly been the greatest reduction which he ever remembered in the interest of any part of the public debt—funded or unfunded. In the first instance the a mount of interest was 2½d.; it then fell to 1¾d.; and it was now down to 1½d. Thus, two-fifths of the interest was reduced on Exchequer Bills. Yes—his noble Friend would say—but they must, of course, be at a great discount! No such thing. They were at the former period mentioned by his noble Friend at 15s. and 16s. premium, whereas they were now at 59s. premium. This, he thought, was the greatest proof that could be afforded of the vitality and strength of public credit in this country. It showed the abundance of capital, the strength of credit, the vitality of our commercial system, and of the system upon which the country's finances reposed. But this evidence was not confined to the case of Exchequer Bills. What was the price of stocks two years ago, the period with which all these comparisons had been made by his noble Friend? In 1841, the price of the three per cents. was 89—they were now 94. That was also a favourable circumstance. It was a proof that there was nothing suspicious, or jealous, or timid, in the mind of the fundholder, or else the inevitable consequence would have followed—that of the falling down of the funds. His noble Friend, in the beginning, middle, and conclusion of his address, had exclaimed, "Far be it from me to make a party speech!" He declared that he was not going to make a factious 624 speech—but a calm calculation connected with figures. He (Lord Brougham) was, however, unable to say, that there was anything less unreal in these self bestowed praises of his noble Friend than in his noble Friend's arguments themselves. For, whether or not his noble Friend's speech were free from faults of prolixity and obscurity, it was not entirely free from party; on the contrary, a great deal of it was full of party. Indeed, the whole was more or less of the nature of party, as the comparisons carefully instituted between the late Government and the present, as financiers, and the attempts to show, that the present had failed altogether to realize their calculations; and that there was likely to be as signal a failure in that prophetic spirit with which it seemed all former Chancellors of the Exchequer had been endowed above all the sons of men. All this was somewhat in the nature of party—not the worse for that perhaps; at least his noble Friend could not be blamed for it; but then, comparing the speech as described by his noble Friend, with the speech as delivered, the promise with the performance, there was as great a failure and "falling off" as in any of his noble Friend's "estimates." Some portions of his noble Friend's speech he exceedingly regretted, for the manner in which they alluded to certain principles in which he concurred with his noble Friend. The whole speech had been somewhat in the tone of a "song of triumph," which his noble Friend had affected to deprecate; and it had been a peculiar sort of selfpraising—that of the Pharisee when crossing his arms complacently upon his breast, he said, he thanked Heaven he was not as other men, "extortioners;" and had his noble Friend stopped there, he would not have been any the less a pharisee than in adding a laudation of himself; and there was this feature in the ordinary and open species of self-praise, that it was straightforward and candid, exalting of ourselves, not unamiably and artfully depressing our opponents, as was the course adopted by his noble Friend, who had devoted his pharisaical efforts to contrasts unfavourable to his successors. For his part, he preferred the more open and direct sort of self-laudation. However (Continued the noble and learned Lord), my noble Friend referred to the great questions with which more or less his party have sought to identify themselves, and took credit for 625 the support (more or less limited) which those principles have received from the present Government; and, of course, there was nothing of party in all that! Nothing like party in the use he attempted to make of these topics! "You, of all men," (was the tone of my noble Friend's taunts) "you of all other men, to adopt these principles! to take a leaf out of our book! to favour the policy we projected! we, the consistent and courageous supporters of liberal and enlightened measures we, who have all our lives been advocating and expounding the views you have ventured, presumed, thus to plagiarize." Why, my noble Friend should rather have thanked the Government for what they have done. Had he as sincere an attachment to his principles as he apparently was in supporting his party, I should suppose my noble Friend would have been happy to find his principles forwarded, by whatever party, and have said "I will not impute it to you as a fault; I will say nothing which might discourage you, or induce you to relax in your course;" instead of which, his speech was one continuoustaunt against the party in power, for at all following out the principles recommended by the party out of power. This it was that raised his noble Friend's bile, and excited his choler, and led him to point his sarcasms for the benefit of those who happened to be displeased with the advance of Government in that direction.Quod petiit, spernit: repetit quod nuper omisit,Æstuat, et vitæ disconvenit ordine toto;Diruit, æedificat, mutat quadrata rotundis.This was the spirit in which my noble Friend seemed to speak on this subject: the capricious and selfish spirit which appears accustomed to the use of principles as a sort of cloak to cover party projects. Far otherwise one should suppose would be the tone of a man chiefly desirous of seeing his principles forwarded, who would say, "The smallest donation thankfully received" "But then," said my noble Friend, tauntingly to the party opposite, "why did you not show your principles before you get into office? if you had you never would have got there!" And then he sarcastically asked, "Will you dissolve now?" Why, I dare say, my noble Friends opposite, are not desirous of dissolving, because they are very well contented with Parliament as it is. Probably they might be rather disposed to 626 say, in answer to my noble Friend's sarcastic appeal—"We like the Parliament you elected for us very well, I have no wish to trouble another." Your Lordships know that there is seldom "much love lost" in these cases; and that, as the present Government appear to like the Parliament pretty well, the probability is, the present Parliament does not very much dislike the Government. I give the Government due credit for their discernment on this head, and their correct notions of their own interest. But, then, my noble Friend wrought himself up to the delusion, that as (happily, I should say—unhappily, as he would express it) the Government have gone a certain extent in liberal commercial policy, a dissolution would replace his party in power! My Lords, I don't believe a word of it! I conscientiously believe there is no foundation for it. It is one thing to feel a little sore on account of unexpected measures on the part of the Government, and another thing to be prepared to seat their opponents in power; particularly when those opponents are principally crying out against their successors for having at all followed them in the course, which they at the same time affirm has not been followed out to a sufficient extent; and just so long as my noble Friend's party adhere to this practice of attacking the Government for adopting their predecessors' principles, so long will that party find the country indifferent, or opposed to them. My noble Friend fell into the same course as to Ireland. "Some say, the Government are pleasing nobody there," said my noble Friend, and I should certainly think that better than displeasing everybody; "others that they are doing nothing;" and that is not the worst charge that might be made against an Irish Administration, though there was hardly a just foundation for my noble Friend's taunt. (Lord Monteagle—no taunt.") Oh, yes! my noble Friend said, "if Lord Normanby or Lord Fortescue had adopted the same course, what would have been said?" But, my Lords, at all events, no one says of the present Government that they are aiding and abetting sedition—that they are patronising and encouraging agitation—that they are the friends of covert traitors. Some, indeed, say, they "might have been" more active (though I see not how they could, or that they could have done more than they have); all that they are 627 accused of, however, is mere error of judgment; they are not suspected, as others have been, of a desire to truckle to traitors, and a design to foster agitation for the purposes of party. These, then, are the main features of the case that has been brought forward. And as to the anticipations expressed by my noble Friend of utter failure in future financial calculations, I have only further to say, that the single practical question is, what is our position at present?—not what it was four months before. Therefore, I take the year ending the 5th of July, and there has been since the 5th of April, a making up of the deficit to the extent of 245,000l. nor is that the whole of it, for between the 5th of July and the 14th of August, the deficiency was, in all probability, further reduced. Now, as to the money in the Exchequer at two different periods (I have taken some pains to ascertain): it was in July, 1841, 1,004,000l.; July, 1843, 1,830,000l. showing a very considerable increase—nearly twice as much as it was only two years ago, when the present Government came in. My Lords, I see no reason whatever to despair of the financial prospects of the country. I hope and trust the saving effected by the Government will be continued and increased, and that above all, there may be an utter discontinuance of these detestable wars, of which we have of late years had much deep reason to complain. (Lord Monteagle, "Scinde.") And, as I am put in mind of Scinde, I may, perhaps, mention (which otherwise I should not have adverted to) that my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bath, who, but for professional avocations, would have this Session brought forward this subject, has communicated to me, that his intention would have been to advocate the occupation of that country on account of its necessity; and from the sources of information he disclosed to me, I gather—what amounts nearly to demonstration—that Scinde, if well managed, would supply a large surplus revenue; so that here is another item for the favourable side of the account. But, at all events, I hope that the Government, by reducing all unnecessary expenditure, and, above all, by avoiding execrable, if useless wars, will justify our looking forward to a period when we may get rid of the income-tax. I supported the income-tax for no other reason than because of the deplorable state of 628 our finances, which exhibited a deficiency of 2,240,000l., and having got over that, we may, and in no long time, look to have the tax expunged from the statute-book.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that however anxious his noble and learned Friend might be to get rid of the income-tax, yet he hoped, when their Lordships came to consider the transactions which had taken place in Scinde, they would not find a justification of the conduct of Lord Ellenborough in the mere circumstance that the territory of Scinde was capable of yielding a surplus revenue. He trusted that it would not, on that account, be held that there was the slightest reason for our taking possession of that territory. He was not about to blame the Government, as the noble and learned Lord by some unaccountable mistake supposed his noble Friend had done, for having taken one step in common with the course laid down and advocated by the late Government. On the contrary, he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) wished to express his approbation, as his noble Friend had done, of the course so taken by her Majesty's Government. This his noble Friend did in most precise and distinct terms. His noble Friend had said that the adoption of the Exportation of Machinery Bill was a strong step to be taken by those who were not in the habit of going so far in the way of free trade. But he certainly added, that as compared with the present Government, he, if in office, would go a league in the same direction in which they had only gone one step. His noble Friend had spoken of the coal duties. He trusted the Government would seriously re-consider that subject. The tax had not raised near the sum it was contemplated it would yield, while it completely put down one-third of the shipping employed in that trade. Great fault had been found with his noble Friend's calculations with regard to the deficit of the year. But not only did his noble Friend make allowance for the payment of any sum on the 5th of July on account of the property tax, but he even took the same estimate which Sir R. Peel himself adopted. Sir Robert Peel—the Prime Minister—did not attempt to deny that, on the whole, there was a deficiency, even after taking into account the payment from China. But, although the prospect was now amended, still there was a great deficiency. That deficiency was allowed by Sir R. 629 Peel to be between 500,000l. and 600,000l. whereas he had calculated to have a surplus of 500,000l. It was said that if these resolutions had come immediately after the 5th of April, they might have been more fairly adopted. But this, at best, only showed that the thing was only one of degree; the argument would remain the same, though the figures might not exactly correspond. It was, however no fault of his noble Friend that the financial year was made up to the end of April. It was quite true that, in finding fault with the financial measures of her Majesty's Government, his noble Friend was only touching upon the estimates. But there were circumstances which sometimes made the estimates of very great importance. He never recollected to have heard or read of so great a change of language as that which was used to night, from the language which had been used in 1841, when an exactly similar subject was then brought under discussion. In 1841 a discussion was raised upon the estimates of the then Government, and that Government was turned out of office for making false estimates, as far as their Lordships were concerned, The charge, in 1841, was, that the Government had gone on for three or four years with a deficiency increasing, instead of there being a surplus; and the argument was, that the then existing Government were not fit to be trusted with the management of the public affairs. What was the language on that occasion of the Earl of Ripon, who was not at this moment in his place? When he moved their Lordships to censure the Government of that day, the noble Earl said:That in the matter of finance the country was in the greatest possible state of mismanagement, and that he felt himself bound to state that he could not think their Lordships could do otherwise than express an opinion that her Majesty's Government did not possess the confidence of that House.What was the excuse offered for imposing the property tax? It was said—We want certainty; we must have recourse to a property-tax, because you have gone on for years and not fulfilled the estimates you have made.Now, if it appeared that those who imposed this great burthen—a property tax—upon the country for the sake of certainty were totally in error in their calculations, and had still a deficit instead of a surplus, it was a strong reason why their 630 Lordships ought to vote for the very moderate resolution now proposed. He should be glad if he could share in the hope expressed by the noble and learned Lord, that in the course of the next two years the property-tax would be taken off. He did not, however, see one shadow of a foundation for such a hope; because it had been argued that if there had been no income tax there would have been a greater deficiency than at present existed. If there was a deficiency now, what would it he if we were without a property-tax? Such was the argument used; how then, when there was this great deficiency now, could any one say there was a chance of seeing the income-tax taken off at the end of two years? The budget, of which the country had heard so much, as the great achievement of a great statesman, was in fact founded upon error and miscalculation. The income-tax had kept the Government in office, but the people felt that it was not likely to be repealed in two years, and that the tariff was no compensation for it.
§ Lord Monteagle
Before I reply generally to the arguments which have fallen from the noble and learned Lord, I must remove one very erroneous impression which appears to have been made on the mind of the noble and gallant Duke opposite. He seems disposed to complain of having been taken by surprise, because my arguments have been directed against the Budget of the present year, and our future prospects, whereas, the resolutions of which I have given notice, were pointed exclusively at the past. My Lords, those resolutions were proposed for the object of bringing on this discussion in a more convenient form than if it had been introduced, as it might have been, and, as it would have been, but for my wish to accommodate the Government, as a discussion incidental to any one of their financial measures. But in giving my notice I expressly stated, that my intention was to bring under the consideration of this House the whole state of our finances. Therefore, the noble Duke has not any possible right to complain of being treated unfairly or being taken by surprise. Having disposed of this objection, I must as distinctly contradict an insinuation of the noble and learned Lord. He seems to think, that in bringing forward my statement, I have profited by the official means of access to facts and documents, 631 which my appointment as Comptroller General of the Exchequer, affords me; I have done no such thing. I have carefully abstained from so doing. The documents on which I rely are all public, are all Parliamentary, they are all on your Lordships' Table, and I have never been guilty of what I should consider the unworthy act, of making use of my official station to harrass the servants of the Crown with whom I am acting. On the contrary, as Comptroller General, I have acted towards them precisely as I should have done to my own political friends. The noble and learned Lord has asserted, that I have made a strong party attack on those whom he now protects. I have not sought to do so, further than was the necessary result of my reference to facts, and to the conclusions which were inevitably deducible from a comparison between the state of things in 1841 and 1843. Indeed, I have omitted and avoided many obvious topics lest I should deal too much in crimination and attack. For instance, the decreased receipt of the duties on wine and foreign spirits. This for the most part is attributable to the unsatisfactory mode in which the negociations for commercial treaties with France and Portugal have been conducted by the Government, and the failure of those negociations on the part of that Government which promised so much success in its diplomacy. An important and industrious class, the merchants concerned in the wine trade, have been kept in a state of uncertainty and have at length been subject to enormous losses by the acts of the Government. To that class I might if I pleased have appealed, and I might have excited their indignation against the Ministers, from whose acts they have suffered. In like manner I passed over the question of the sugar duties altogether, I resisted a very great temptation, had I been inclined to a mere party attack. I did not make that attack because I understood the negotiations with Brazil were suspended only and not closed, and I therefore was unwilling to make any statement which would embarrass the Government; this could hardly have failed being the case had I contrasted their propositions as made by Mr. Henry Ellis, with their conduct on the Whig budget of 1841. I may, however, warn my noble and learned Friend, not to commit himself too strongly by any very unqualified declarations 632 against the admission of foreign sugar into consumption here. I warn him that he will find this to be very inconvenient in respect to himself and to his Tory allies hereafter. A renewed commercial treaty—we shall probably conclude with the Brazils, and it is obvious that no such treaty can be accepted by the people of England, unless it shall admit of a much more extended intercourse with Brazil, creating a much freer commercial intercourse between the two countries and a more enlarged consumption of the articles of colonial produce of which sugar is the chief. But had I made a party speech as my noble and learned Friend has suggested, would the offence have been one so entirely unpardonable? My Lords, I acknowledge myself to be a party man brought up and attached to the principles of the old Whig party of England. Bound too, in affection and in confidence to the leaders of that party my former colleagues, to those principles I still adhere. From that party I will not separate myself. From me they shall receive the same support while sitting at this side of the House which they would have received from me in office. I do not change my political opinions in any respect. The noble and learned Lord has been pleased to refer to what Mr. Tierney, called the "slippery questions" of finance, and he has attributed to me the discovery of those curiosities in natural history, which he designates as mare's nests. I apprehend that an amateur financier runs as much risk of making these discoveries as any professional workman like myself. For a young naturalist like the noble and learned Lord entering on his course of observation for the first time and without experience, I must say that his success has been this evening pre-eminent; his discoveries of mare's nests could not have been rivalled even by the most veteran financier. Let us see whether this proposition can be clearly made out. But first let me dispose of a preliminary charge. He says that I selected the date of the 5th of April, as the basis of my calculations in order to strike a blow at the Ministers. I did no such thing. I selected the 5th of April, because I was bound to do so, because it was the close of the financial year, and because it was the very period to which the calculations of the Government exclusively applied. But in order to give to that Government the benefit of any subsequent improvement in the revenue, I 633 myself moved for the balance sheet to July, thus giving them the means of illustrating their arguments by reference to the subsequent traces of more favourable events. My noble and learned Friend, however asserts, that if I had given credit to the Government for the receipts of property-tax in the July quarter, the April deficiency would have been effaced. Let us bring this assertion to a test. The deficiency in April exceeded 2,400,000l.; therefore, if his assertion be well founded, the receipt of the property-tax in the July quarter ought to have exceeded this sum. Was this the case? So far otherwise was it that the receipt of property-tax was but 961,000l., thus showing an error, or a mare's nest of more than 1,400,000l. in the calculations of our amateur Chancellor of the Exchequer. A second mare's nest is to the full as great as the first. He refers to the reduction of the interest on Exchequer bills as a conclusive proof of the successful administration of his friends in the Government. My Lords, they might as well claim merit for the changes in the atmosphere. The variations in the interest of Exchequer bills are determined by the general state of the money market, and in the demand which exists for profitable investments. If the general state of commerce is stagnant, as unfortunately has been the case, if there be no active tendency to energy and speculation, capital is ever thrown back on the public securities, the prices of stock and the premium on Exchequer bills must advance, the interest of money falling. But I think of all mare's nests, this discovery will be considered in the city the most stupendous; and the good citizens who frequent Lombard-street and the Stock Exchange, will be indeed astonished when they hear that my noble and learned Friend refers to the low interest of Exchequer bills as the proof of prosperity, and to the stagnation of the money market as evidence of financial success. Again, he has charged me with unfairness, in referring to the interest on the permanent funded debt only, excluding the floating securities. I did so because I compared the charges brought against the late Government with the charges which might be made against the present Cabinet. We were condemned for an increase of the permanent debt, even when that increase was attributable not to any Ministerial extravagance, but to that great act of national virtue and justice 634 which added 20,000,000l. to our debt for negro emancipation. For this no credit was given. Neither was any reference made to upwards of 7,000,000l. of Exchequer bills, either funded or paid off. My argument was therefore thoroughly logical, being founded on data furnished by my opponents. My Lords I think this third and most monstrous mare's nest is to be found in these unfounded charges of my learned and noble Friend. He charges me with ingratitude for receiving with a taunt the proposal for allowing a free exportation of machinery. Such was not my argument. I contrasted, and called on the Government to reconcile the free exportation of machinery with the grounds laid down by themselves to justify their increased export duty on coals. Let us tax the coals of the foreigner, it was said, to prevent his competition with native and home industry. If this argument stands good, why facilitate the export of machinery to render foreign competition more effectual. These two propositions cannot stand together. I will ask by which of the two is the Government disposed to abide. I call on the House to notice one most important and remarkable omission in the replies attempted to be given to my argument. No one noble Lord has ventured to deny that we have carried to the public account every farthing received from China, whilst we have contracted a new and postponed debt to the Opium merchants and the East India Company for claims with which the Chinese remittance was previously chargeable. We spend the money justly applicable to the satisfaction of our engagements, and we meet those engagements by an issue of bills payable three years after date. I ask whether this course could have been adopted by any merchant or commercial firm solicitous of maintaining credit. To this inquiry no answer whatever has been given, or has even been suggested. My Lords, had I desired to make a party speech, I might have endeavoured, however ineffectually, to rival those abilities which during the late Government were so ably but so very bitterly employed in reviewing each Session of Parliament. I might have described the Legislative budget of the Government, I might have pointed out their Legislative deficit, at least as stupendous as the deficit in their incomes. I did not do so, and yet abandoning those party advantages, 635 I am now to be held up as making a party speech. I leave this task to another time and to abler hands if it should be found necessary hereafter. I am contented with proving the utter failure of those financial calculations which we are called upon so greatly to admire, and so very gratefully to acknowledge. I cannot do the one any more than the other.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, the noble Lord's resolutions stated positively, with respect to the year ending with the 5th o April, 1843, that there had been a reducftion of the balance in the Exchequer in respect of that year. He did not pretend to reply to the noble Lord as to the year 1836. He had made no comparison with the balance of 1836. He took the words of the resolution; those words were, "the balances have been decreased." The balances had not been decreased in that year, was what he (the Duke of Wellington) said.
§ Lord Monteagle
referred to the balances on the 1st of January, 1841, and the 1st of January, 1843, to show a deficiency in the latter year as compared with the former.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, what he called upon their Lordships to do was to vote on the resolutions as they were before the House.
said, he understood his noble Friend had, during his short absence, been pharisaically, as before, crossing his hands on his breast, and praising himself at the expense of others; and he himself was the person at whose expense the self-eulogy was this time performed. He was by implication taunted with not being a good party man—a praise he was not over anxious to earn, seeing the conduct of your good party men in so many cases. He was by like implication charged with quitting his party. Now, this he peremptorily denied, at least in the noble Lord's sense. He had from Lord Melbourne, and under his hand, dated in April, 1835, a most full and most ample discharge from all remains of all party obligations—a positive avowal from the noble Lord's chief, and then chief of the Whig party, that he (Lord Melbourne) or his colleagues, or the party, had thenceforth not the smallest vestige of a claim upon him (Lord Brougham) and that they would at all times be ready to confess that be (Lord Brougham) violated no party duty and broke no party 636 tie, in whatever course he might choose hereafter to take with respect to the Whigs. He was to be at perfect and absolute liberty. This he had never before mentioned, either in public or in private; though he had been unceasingly assailed by the despicable and desperate adherents of the Whigs out of doors, and chiefly in the press, with having estranged himself from their masters and employers. It is true that no one of the party in Parliament had ever ventured upon the perilous experiment of saying a single word on the subject, and he now defied them all to say one word on it or to deny his statement in any one particular. If they did, he had some other things to state which also he had hitherto withheld, and which might prove less palatable. Let them ask Lord Melbourne whether or not his statement were at all exaggerated—whether it were not below, and much below the truth. However, he appealed not to Lord Melbourne, but to the whole of their Lordships, whether he had availed himself of his, discharge from the Whig army—whether he had acted upon the principle so justly avowed in 1835 by Lord Melbourne and his Cabinet, though to-night forgotten by one of them, that protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties—whether, when protection was withdrawn, nay, changed into proscription, he had withdrawn his allegiance. He appealed to the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) and his noble and learned Colleague (the Lord Chancellor), whether he had not manfully and strenuously, though it might be feebly, stood by the Whig Government and Whig party in the time of their utmost need, after they came into place in 1835, without anything like power. Who carried through all their measures in the stormy and important Session 1835? Who fought for them throughout, and successfully, their Municipal Reform Bill? On that he gave, as on all other measures, his hearty, and daily, and hourly support. But not only his conscientious support, he gave them a party, nay, a factious support, which they were as thankful for at the time as they were forgetful of it ever after. So passed the Session of 1835, and in the vacation he never having on anyone occasion left them, or done other than support them, was assailed all through that vacation, as his reward, with the most foul and unwearied abuse and even ribaldry, by the supporters 637 of the Whig Government, both in the English press and in the field of Irish intrigue and agitation. He did not blame the heads of the party for the proceedings of those most despicable calumniators. He knew that some of his noble Friends had expressed extreme disgust with their base proceedings. They only took the benefit of those proceedings while they relieved their consciences by blaming them freely, and, in some instances, rewarding their authors. So ended 1835. In 1836, he never had been a day in London during the Session, being confined by illness to the country. But the Whig abuse of him continued in all quarters, not appeased by his silence, or relaxed by his absence. In 1837, he resumed his place in Parliament, and he continued to support the Government, nay, to receive the usual party summonses to attend the House, and the usual invitations to party meetings out of doors; the former he obeyed, the latter he declined attending to. But except on the Canada Bill, he never offered one word against any of their measures; nay, he defended them all: even on that bill he only made a single statement of his objections, and as inoffensively as it was possible, rather confining himself to a protest on the journals, than giving rise to any great discussion in the House. Next Session showed a material difference. He had warned them openly of his views on the Reform Bill, and his advocacy of the rights of the working classes; and the finality declaration of Lord John Russell came forth, in which he never could agree. He still less agreed with them on slavery; and, above all, on their oppressive and unconstitutional measures of appointing dictators in Canada. This led to much difference of opinion; but he never went with any marked and regular opposition to them, till their conduct in May, 1839, made all further party alliance utterly impossible. When he found them turn their hacks upon all constitutional principle—abandoning the old Whig and Liberal principle of looking for support to the Parliament and the people, creeping and sneaking back into place on a petticoat intrigue, a bedchamber quarrel, content to hold office against the two Houses, one of which they never had had, the other of which had now rejected them—standing against Parliament on the mere personal favour of the Crown, and con- 638 fessing their belief that the people were against them, by not daring to dissolve and appeal to the country,—when, above all, he found them bent upon cleaving to place, without the vestige of power to carry any one measure, and sacrificing to the most sordid views their whole principles and their duty to the State, then, indeed, he felt that his alienation was converted into hostility, and he had ever since been much more their adversary than their supporter. But he defied any one of them to point out either the instance of his opposing them, before 1838, or the single instance of his throwing any personal spleen, or gratifying any desire of vengeance against any one of them. Above all, he openly, and in their presence, defied all and each of them to show the single instance in which he had abandoned one principle, changed one opinion, or shown the least inconsistency with his known principles and opinions, by him held during the thirty or forty years of his now somewhat long public life.
§ Resolutions negatived.
§ House adjourned at half-past ten.