Page images


the means of transferring from hands of British subjects or of place to place the labour of those foreigners. He estimated the whose labour was their only capi. assessable yearly value of the land tal. Gas light would fall within at 39,400,000l.; of houses at the same analogy, and ought to 25,000,0001.; of tithes, shares in retain the same exemption. After railways and mines, and other ridiculing the various suggestions similar property, at 8,400,0002.; of people who were constantly total, 72,800,0001. From this he sending him projects for taxes on would deduct one-fourth for the pianofortes, umbrellas, and other exemption which he proposed to articles, accompanied with claims give to all incomes under 1501., of very large percentages upon and then the tax thus far would the proceeds, he came to the ques give him 1,600,000). The occution raised by the late Govern piers of land ( assessed at half their ment, how far it might be possible rent,) would yield 120,000/ to obtain increased revenue from Next came funded property. The diminished taxation; a

dividend paid
paid in 1841

was which the fullest consideration had 29,400,0001., from which he would satisfied him, was wholly inade- deduct 1,000,000l., in respect of quate to the immediate

emergency, the Savings-banks; but he must That a nation's revenue was even add upon bank, foreign, and other tually increased by diminished stocks 1,500,0001., making a total taxation, might be quite true; of almost 30,000,0001., from which but the first effect was always a he would deduet one-fourth for fall of that revenue, and a long incomes under 1501. a-year; and interval was found necessary to then the proceeds of his tax would restore the amount. This prin- be 646,0001. He now arrived at ciple was illustrated by what had the incomes of trades and prohappened with respect to wine, fessions, a part of the subject attobacco, coffee, hemp, rum, sugar, tended with great difficulty ; the and other articles. A mere re produce he expected from this duction of duties, therefore, would source was 1,250,000k. From the not suffice to meet the present income of public offices, be caleuexigencies; and he would now lated upon 150,0001. The total state what was the measure which would be 3,771,0001. Wish reunder a deep conviction of its spect to the duration of this innecessity, he was prepared to pro- post, the view of Government pose; and which he was persuaded was, that it might probably require would benefit the country, not

to be continued for five years ; only in her pecuniary interests, unless in case of such a revival of but in her security and her cha- commercial prosperity, from the racter.

other measures, which he was He would propose, for a period about to propose, as might induce to be limited, an Income-tax of Parliament to take the opportunity not more than 7d. in the pound, of revising the subject; but he or about 3 per cent, from which would, in the first instance, prohe would exempt all incomes pose a continuance for three years under 1501., and in which he only. would include not only landed but In case of war, he should deem funded property, whether in the it reasonable that Ireland should

bear her proportion of this tax; of many countries claimed exempbut during peace, and for a limited tion on the ground of reciprocity period, and in the absence of all treaties : it would now be levied on machinery in Ireland for collection, all alike: Such a tax would probahe should prefer to raise the quota bly yield an income of 200,000l. ; of that country by other means. and would operate, unlike most He thought he could do so, con other taxes, as an encouragement sistently with the Act of Union, to native industry, by two methods, the first of which The aggregate revenue, then, would be a duty of 1s. per gallon from all these sources would be upon spirits. This approach to 4,380,0001. ; constituting a conthe equalization of the spirit duty siderable surplus, after covering in the three kingdoms would, ou the deficiency on the votes of certain fiscal grounds, which he annual expenditure. This surplus explained, be a great advantage he proposed to apply in relaxing to the nation at large, and to the commercial tariff

. He had Ireland in particular. For a long considered on each of the numerous while, the Temperance pledge in articles included, the proportion that country had been very effec. between the price and the duty, tual, but the consumption of His main principles had been, respirits there had of late been again moval of prohibition, and reduction upon the increase. He calcu in the duties upon raw materials, lated from this source to receive which should not, in scarcely any 250,0002. The other source to case, exceed 5 per cent. He should which he looked in Ireland was also considerably diminish the duthe equalization of the stamp-duty ties upon articles partially manuwith that of England, from which factured, the highest being 12 per he expected to receive 160,0001. cent. ; and even upon complete In Great Britain, however, as manufactures, he contemplated well as in Ireland, he proposed to that the maximum should not, in reduce the stamp upon char- general, exceed 20 per cent. He ter parties, and bills of lading. laid upon the table this With respect to regular absentees amended scale of duties, which had from Ireland, having no call of been distributed into twenty difpublic duty to fix them in Eng- ferent beads; for it was all preland, he proposed to require from pared. It would be found that in them the payment of the same about 750 articles, there had been property-tax which would be re an abatement of duty recommend. quired from other residents in this ed; and that on about 450 the island. Another resource would duty had been left untouched. be a tax of 4s. upon coal exported Treaties were now pending with in British vessels from this coun various nations, in which several try; a fair impost, when it was of these articles were the subject considered, that the article thus of discussion ; and such articles carried abroad was a most im- of course would not be included in portant material of our own in- the present reductions. The total dustry, and a great assistance to diminution of revenue occasioned that of rival nations. That tax was by all the reductions would probaalready imposed on coalexported by be not more than about in foreign vessels, but the vessels 270,000l. On sugar, he regretted



to say, the present Ministers could stage-coaches, the duty upon which, not offer any reduction : they in point of justice, as between could not consent to let in the them and railway-carriages, he sugars of Cuba and Brazil without proposed considerably to diminish. some securities upon the subject of These two heads of reduction slavery in those countries; and would produce a loss of 70,0001. they thought to reduce the duties On the whole, these reductions, on British


without a corre in addition to the excess of exsponding reduction on foreign su- penditure, would increase the degars, would be merely to give to ficit to somewhat more than the British planters a monopoly. 3,700,0001. ; but the estimated price, without advantage to the produce of the newly proposed British consumers. The present

sources of income would not only prospects as to the supply of cover this, but leave more than British sugar, were, however, of half-a-million sterling, applicable a highly satisfactory character. to the contingencies of our distant With respect to coffee, of which the consumption had lately de Sir Robert Peel concluded with creased, he would recommend a an earnest appeal to the House to great reduction of duty, bring support untarnished the name down the rate per pound to 4d., which the English nation had inupon British, and 8d. upon foreign herited from their forefathers, and coffee. The loss of revenue, after which they had maintained in this some allowance for increase of century throughout a protracted consumption would probably be war, and during twenty-five years 171,0001. On the subject of tim

He then moved his ber his measure would be the re first resolution, wbich was, to verse of that which was brought grant a duty on Irish spirits. forward by the late Ministry ; he No discussion followed Sir Ro. would advise a great reduction of bert Peel's speech. duty, which would benefit all Lord John Russell in a few classes, from the agriculturist to words, welcomed the liberal printhe ship-builder; but he would ciples of the measure, but hinted interpose protection to the interests that a relaxation of the duties on of the Canadas, which he would sugar would be better than of treat as an integral part of this those on timber.

A few excep island, by admitting their timber tions were taken by other Memat a duty little more than nominal. bers, but the discussion of so imAccordingly, while he would lower portant a measure was reserved the duty on foreign timber to 25s. for further consideration. The a load, he would let in the timber motion was then agreed to, and of Canada at a duty of ls. The the House resumed. loss on these reductions in the The first Parliamentary discustimber duty he estimated at sion which the propositions of the 600,0001. There were yet two Government gave rise to occurred other reductions he had to pro in the House of Lords a few days pose : one upon the export of cer after their announcement by Sir tain British manufactures,

Robert Peel. Lord Brougham which he proposed altogether to introduced a string of resolutions remit the duty; the other upon touching the Income-tax, by a

of peace.


speech of great length, in which income: “He would make the per he stated that his former opinion, centage less upon the professions respecting that species of impost and upon the lise estate than in remained unchanged, but, at the the case of the tenant in fee, even same time, he could not say that it though they should increase from was possible longer to refuse that 3 to 4 per cent, the amount levied mode of raising the supplies. He upon the one, and diminish from retraced nearly the same ground 3 to 2 per cent. the amount levied which Sir Robert Peel had trav upon the other.

If in the case of elled over a few days before, ar the professional man, the clergyguing that the deficiency in the man, the physician, the lawyer, the revenue could not be supplied by literary man, they lowered the per reduced taxation on consumption. centage to two, though they should He thought, however, that if an be obliged to increase it in the Income-tax must be imposed, the case of others who had capital to same rate of taxation ought not to deal with to four, he should still be imposed on all incomes equal in by all means counsel them to make amount, but varying in kind. The the reduction. But it was his injustice of such a principle became most confident expectation, that it strikingly exemplified, when ap- would not be necessary; but that, plied to incomes arising from pro- leaving 3 per cent. to be charged fessions.

upon the one, and lowering the He could not conceive anything other to two, and giving relief to more lamentable than the state to the tenants, occupiers of land, and which a professional man might professional persons, they would be reduced, from the state of his still have enough to supply the dehealth, from sudden weakness of ficiency in the revenue. mind, or from a debilitated frame After a compliment to the Queen - with distress falling upon him on volunteering to subject herself and premature decay, and with his to the Income-tax, and a regret income falling short of his wants, that so splendid a national resource and having no capital to fall back should not be reserved for a period upon

of war, he concluded by moving

the following resolution :"Optima quæque dies miseris mortalibus æyi

“1. That a direct tax upon inPrima fugit; subeunt morbi, tristisque come ought never to be resorted to senectûs,

unless in some great emergency of Et labor, et duræ rapit inclementia mor

public affairs, when an extraorditis,"

nary expenditure may become unThese casualties were of the num avoidable for a time, or in some ber of those which fell to the lot pressure upon the finances of the of the professional man; and these country, which can be sustained matters should be duly taken into by no other means. account, before it went forth that “ 2. That such a tax ought on you intended to impose the same no account to form part of the ortax upon his income as upon that dinary revenue of the State, but of the landowner, the fundholder, to cease with the necessity which or other capitalist.

alone could justify its imposition ; He suggested a graduated scale, inasmuch as, beside all the other applicable to the several sources of objections to which it is liable,

its inquisitorial operation being due share of a burthen which abso* equally vexatious whatever sums lute necessity alone could warrant are levied, the facility of increas the Parliament to impose. ing its amount, according to the " 5. That with the same view, real or supposed exigencies of the it is expedient to make a dispublic service, offers a constant tinction between income arising temptation to extravagance on from capital of every descripthe part of the Government; tion, and income arising from laremoving the most effectual check bour merely ; levying a smaller upon improvident expenditure, proportion of the latter income and dispensing with the necessity than the former. of seeking a revenue in retrench “ 6. That with the same view, ment.

it is expedient to make a distinc" 3. That although the actual tion between income possessed by deficiency in the revenue to meet persons who have only an interest the expenditure, amounting to in the same for their lives, or for about seven millions and a half some lesser term, and income posa in five years, and the estimated de- sessed by persons who have an inficiency for the next year, amount. terest in the capital from whence ing to above two millions and a the income arises ; levying a larger half, besides probable demands proportion of the latter income arising from the state of affairs in than of the former. the East, may render the tempo “7. That with the same view, rary recourse to an Income-tax ne it is expedient to make no distinccessary, after an attempt to in tion in favour of persons in the crease by one-twentieth the duties civil service of the State, or of of Excise and Customs had ended persons receiving pensions from in obtaining a two-hundredth part the State. only,--thereby proving the impose “8. That it is neither consiste sibility of drawing any further ent with justice nor with sound revenue from increased taxes on policy, to levy a greater proportion consumption, while the relief which of tax upon larger incomes than may justly be expected to com. upon smaller ; and that an exmerce and to finance from lower- emption of even the smallest ining those taxes cannot be made comes from the operation of the immediately available, yet it be tax can only be justified upon the hoves the Parliainent, as faithful supposition that their owners are guardians of the people's rights wholly unable to pay it. and interests, to take care that 9. That while it is the duty of during the temporary existence of the people to bear those burhens this tax, its pressure shall be dis- which are necessary for supporttributed in such a manner as shall ing the credit of the country, and make it most easily, most patiently maintaining the security of its be borne.

widely-extended dominions, it is “4. That, with this view, it is equally the duty of Parliament to first of all necessary to satisfy the afford them every procurable repeople that there shall be no in- lief, by enforcing the most rigorous vidious exemptions, but that the economy in all the departments of highest personages in the State public service, by discouraging all shall be permitted to have their proceedings which may endanger

« PreviousContinue »