Page images
PDF
EPUB

CMENTS.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

N. B.-The Records of this Office do not furnish the information required as to the particular

Bar to which the Judicial Officers in the Colonies respectively belonged.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

FOUR AND A HALF PER CENT. DUTIES.

(WEST INDIES.)

RETURN to an Address to His MAJESTY, dated 6 February 1832 ;--for,

COPY of a Note addressed by the LEGISLATIVE AGENTS for the COLONIES,

paying the Four AND A Half per Cent. Duty, to Viscount Goderich, dated 23 January 1832, praying for an abolition of that Tax.

Colonial Department, Downing Street,

27 June 1832.

HO) WICK.

To the Right Honourable Viscount Goderich,

&c. &c. &c.

60, St. James's-street, 23 January 1832. THE Undersigned, Agents for the West India Colonies paying the Four and a Half per Cent. Duty, respectfully submit, for Lord Goderich's consideration, the grounds on which they earnestly pray that those Colonies may be relieved from this partial and oppressive Tax.

Lord Goderich is not unaware that this Tax has long been a source of grievous complaint in this Country and in the Colonies, and as well within as without the walls of Parliament, that its repeal has been advocated in former times, when the West India interest was in a comparatively flourishing state, by more Members than one of the present Government, and that the distinguished Individual now holding the Great Seal has characterized it “as a Tax beyond others the most “ injurious to the subject, in proportion to the benefit it produces to the Government, of any recorded in the history of Taxation.”

That it has been most injurious to the subject, Lord Goderich will readily believe, when his Lordship is informed, that a sum exceeding Six Millions, being three times more than the fee-simple value of the Lands, has been levied and raised under this Tax from the old Islands, where it is admitted a far greater amount of distress prevails than in those Islands which are happily exempt from its operation.

And that the benefit to the Government is disproportioned to the injury of the subject is apparent, from the fact, that out of this sum of Six Millions, only Three Millions have reached His Majesty's Exchequer.

Well, therefore, does it deserve the character given of it by the present Lord Chancellor !

Without entering into the question of the misapplication of this Fund, in direct contravention of the very letter of the Grant in the case of Barbadoes, and the liberal and fair interpretation of the terms of the Grant on the part of the other Islands, the Undersigned would observe, that the Tax presses exceedingly on the industry of all classes, Whites, free People of Colour, and Slaves, and places the old Islands, with exhausted lands requiring increased culture, in an unfair position, compared with the virgin soil of Demerara and Berbice, from which no quit

[ocr errors]

rents were demanded, and where, from local causes, the cost of production is infinitely less.

The Tax is inquisitorial in principle; it places the Planter at the mercy of the Revenue Officer, who may draw a sample from every cask which he receives as a perquisite, and unites the vexatious characters of Excise and Customs Regulations with a tithe-in-kind collection the most objectionable, as combining capital with income and paralizing industry.

In November 1830 His Majesty was graciously pleased to announce to His Parliament, that he had abandoned all claim to the West India Duties, viz. the Four and a Half per Cent. Duty, and those raised under Acts passed previously to 18 Geo. Ill. c. 12. The Four and a Half per Cent. Colonists hailed with feelings of gratitude and devotion this declaration of His Majesty's benevolent disposition, and felt convinced that it emanated from the kindest feelings on the part of His Majesty, arising from a recollection of those associations of his youth connected with that period of his life, not perhaps the least happy, spent among His West India Subjects; and they the more willingly indulged in this conviction, as His Majesty had seized the earliest opportunity of expressing those sentiments, by publicly abandoning his right to the West India Duties.

Bitter indeed has been the sorrow and severe the disappointment felt in the Four and a Half per Cent. Colonies, on finding the delay in carrying into effect His Majesty's gracious intention. The Planters, however, are convinced, that the spirit which animated their Sovereign, has infused itself into the hearts of His Majesty's Ministers from their benevolent interposition on the recent occurrence of the hurricane in Barbadoes, St. Vincent and St. Lucia; and they cling to the belief that this act of grace and favour on the part of His Majesty towards the Four and a Half per Cent. Colonists, will form a part of their next financial arrangement.

The Undersigned, perceiving that a financial Statement is shortly to be laid before Parliament, conceive that this opportunity will then present itself, and they earnestly implore His Majesty's Ministers not to let it pass without affording to these Colonies this earnest of their good will. This proceeding has been much simplified from recent arrangements. The Pensions on the Four and a Half per Cent. Fund, as well as the available amount of the Duty, not now exceeding £. 17,000 per annum, has been transferred to the Consolidated Fund. Even the small sum of £. 17,000 per annum would be a great boon to these distressed Colonies; and while its insignificance in amount to the national Revenue of millions must be evident, it also forcibly and lamentably shows to what an extremity of despair these Colonies must be reduced, when from this sum, comprehending nearly one-twentieth of their whole produce, they must pay the proportion applicable thereto of the cost of production, and endeavour, without incurring debt, decently to maintain themselves and their families, and feed and clothe their negroes, and keep them contented and happy (as far as the excitement produced by societies here will enable them to do so,) out of their capita

The amount of the Four and a Half per Cent. Duty was a few years ago more than double what it is now, and has been four times that sum,

The Undersigned confidently trust that His Majesty's Ministers will not suffer their minds to be influenced by any apprehension of derangement to the financial circumstances of the Country, by the remission of a Tax (producing, as before stated, only £. 17,000 per annum), but will allow themselves the high satisfaction of removing, while in power, an evil which some among them ineffectually endeavoured to remove while out of office.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is estimated that there are 215,000 Acres of cultivated Land in these Colonies, which in the wild uncleared state could not be valued at more than £. 10 per acre, being three times the fee simple of the Land sold by the Government, and paid for by this ruinous annuity.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »