§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the order of the day for going into a committee of Ways and Means, to which the account of the Surplus of the Consolidated Fund was referred.—The house having resolved itself into the said Committee, the right hon. gent. rose, pursuant to his notice, to submit to the committee the arrangement which he intended to recommend to parliament to adopt respecting the Stamp Duties, from which he proposed to derive a portion of the ways and means of the year. But, before he should enter into that part of the statement which he was to submit to the committee, he felt it necessary, in order to justify the vote with which he meant to conclude, to recapitulate the amount of the Supplies, which had already been granted in the course of the present session. By enumerating the different items of Supply already voted, and the Ways and Means available at present to cover them, he should point out to the gentlemen opposite, the ground upon which he brought forward the specific arrangement which he was to submit to the consideration of the committee. 12 The right hon. gent, here went through the various items of Supply which had been voted in the present session under the various heads of Navy, Army, Barracks, Commissary General's Department, Extraordinaries, Ordnance, Miscellaneous Services, and Swedish Subsidy. The whole of the sums voted amounted in the aggregate to 48,653,170l. from which was to be deducted the proportion that was to be furnished by Ireland, viz. 5,713,560l. which would leave a sum to be defrayed by Great Britain, of 42,939,604l. These sums he stated upon a rough estimate, which, however they might vary from perfect accuracy, would yet be found to correspond pretty exactly with the actual state of the accounts. — Having gone through the Supplies, it next became necessary for him to state to the committee the various Ways and Means which had hitherto been provided for covering these supplies. The house had already voted upon Malt and Pensions three millions. The sum usually voted was 2,750,000l.; but it was thought more expedient to take the amount of the tax at the round sum of 3 millions, which it produced, the effect of which would only be to reduce the surplus of the consolidated fund by the sum of 250,000l. the difference between the vote of three millions and the usual amount at which the Malt and Pension tax were usually estimated. The advances from the Bank amounted to 3,500,000l. The unappropriated surplus of the consolidated fund which his hon. friend would move in the present committee, was, on the 5th of April, 726,870l. Upon a rough estimate he was warranted in taking the war taxes at twenty millions. The committee would be aware, that the duties to be levied under the Orders in Council were applicable to the war taxes, and therefore he felt the more confidence in taking their amount at 20 millions. The Lottery he should take at the sum of 350,000l. which was undoubtedly less than it had produced in the present year, but he did not think he could estimate its produce higher than the amount he had stated. It would be in the recollection of the committee, that the sum of four millions of Exchequer Bills had been funded in the course of the present session, and that in submitting that measure to the house, he had stated that it was intended to issue 4 millions of Exchequer Bills in place of those funded, as part of the ways and means of the year. By adding to these different items the sum of 13 8 millions, which was the whole of what he apprehended would be wanted for the service of the present year, the aggregate amount would be 39,576,870l. To this aggregate was to be added the surplus of the Consolidated Fund, which he proposed to take at 3,500,000l. which would carry the Ways and Means to 43,076,870l. yielding a surplus of Ways and Means above the Supplies of 137,000l. The surplus of the Consolidated Fund, the committee would recollect, had been taken last year at 3,750,000l. but had produced a further sum of 726,870l. making altogether 4,476,870l. But as the increased vote upon Malt and Pensions would diminish the produce of the Consolidated Fund to the amount of 250,000l.; and, however sanguine his view might be of the state of the trade of the country, he could not but admit, that from the measures of the enemy, and the consequences of the course in which that trade was now to be carried on, some reduction might take place, though not to any material extent.—And here lie could not, in passing, abstain from adverting to the operation by which four millions out of the twelve, which were the whole to be borrowed for the year, had been obtained by funding Exchequer Bills to that amount. As far as could yet be judged, there was every reason to believe that the transaction was highly favourable for the public. There was a saving to the amount of the interest of the Exchequer Bills thus withdrawn from the market.— The Committee was aware, that subsequent to the transaction the funds had risen, and he entertained at the time an expectation that the contract for the future loan would be made upon much more favourable terms for the public, than if these four millions were to have been borrowed on a 5 per cent. fund.—Having stated the Supplies, and the Ways and Means by which they were to be covered, it was in the next place his duty to state by what means he purposed to provide for the interest, charges, and sinking fund of the exchequer bills funded, and of the proposed loan, which amounted to a sum of 750,000l. There existed at present a sum of 380,000l. applicable to that purpose, being the amount of the short annuities which had fallen in. There was likewise a saving upon the management of the public debt of 65,000l. By the new arrangement with respect to the assessed taxes, a sum of 1 25,000l. would be produced, and the arrangement which he meant to propose, for 14 an improved mode of collecting the duties on stamps, would be calculated to yield 200,000l. The whole of these sums would amount to 770,000l. being a small excess above the sum actually required.— He came next to state the view upon which he grounded the arrangement he had to propose with respect to the Stamp Duties. The committee were aware, that, in the course of the last year a principle had been recognised by parliament, founded upon the suspension of all taxation for 3 years, and for resorting to the war taxes to cover the necessary charges of loans. The policy of this principle had met with the concurrence of all sides of the house, though some of the provisions of the measure founded upon it had been canvassed. Having stated this, he was bound to explain to the house why he had thought it necessary to depart from the principle in the present instance, by proposing to lay on additional taxes, to the amount of above 300,000l. and it certainly was not because he had considered the principle laid down by the noble lord who preceded him unwise, he had felt how desirable it was to consolidate the different acts relative to the Assessed Taxes and the Stamp Duties, and considered that a good opportunity when making improved regulations for the collection of both, to make a small addition in certain items. He had already done so with respect to the Assessed Taxes, and he was now to propose a similar course with respect to the Stamp Duties. If by these means, without adding considerably to the burthens of the public, they could contrive to provide for the present year, they might in the next and following years resort to the principle, which had been so generally approved of, unless upon a review of the state of the taxes, whoever might fill the situation he occupied, should be of opinion, that by regulation or modification a supply could be obtained without increasing the pressure upon the public, and to relieve the war taxes. The committee would recollect that the Stamp acts had been consolidated in the year 1805, the new schedule of the Stamp Duties having been prepared in the year 1804, and containing within a short compass all the duties on Stamps. The number of acts relating to Stamp Duties amounted to 60 or 70, and those for the collection of them made the number on the statute book nearly 100. It was thought desirable to consolidate all the acts relating to the duties into one, as also those for the regulation and 15 collection of the duties. The former had been consolidated, but the latter had not, and notwithstanding the ability and industry exerted by the commissioners and other officers of the department, he should not be able to bring forward a proposition for that purpose this session; but the business was in such a train, that whoever might fill the office he held, would have it in his power to bring the measure forward. The amended schedule would be prepared in the present session, so that the different items might be open for consideration previous to the passing of the act. The manner in which the schedule was to be prepared was by disposing of the several duties under different heads, by a distinct arrangement, in alphabetical order, so as to afford a ready reference to any person who might desire to know what particular duty would be applicable to his case. There were various instruments at present charged under the name of deeds, which would be referred to their respective heads, though it was not deemed right that any addition should be made to the amount of duty at present attaching to them. Another alteration would be made in certain duties now levied in Scotland. Towards the close of king William's reign two Stamp acts had been passed, to provide for the interest of debts incurred. One was temporary, the other permanent. At the time of the Union with Scotland, it was stipulated that neither should ever be levied in that country. The temporary act had now expired, and the duties were now legally leviable in Scotland, but the duties under the permanent act could not be levied there. Much inconvenience was experienced in the collection of the duty, and by the persons upon whom it was levied, in consequence of the fractional differences between the amount of the duty there and in England. But this was not a ground for depriving the Scotch of the advantage of their articles of Union; and, therefore, in proposing to equalise the duty in both countries, he meant to remunerate Scotland, by a reduction of the duty on all instruments to be used in Scotland. The addition to the amount of the duty would arise from an application of the ad valorem principle to other instruments, than those to which it at present applied. It had on a former occasion, been in contemplation to apply that principle to all conveyances of real property, by making the instrument invalid if the stamps were not of the legal amount. But, as it would be hard to render an in- 16 strument of no effect merely because of the stamp not being of the legal amount, the design was abandoned. He did not mean to carry his provision to that extent, but that a specification should be made of the amount of the consideration, and the duty on the stamp should be in proportion. And he proposed to apply this principle, not only to all conveyances of real estates, but to the admission to offices of courts and government. At present the duty was 20l. upon all offices of the courts, without regard to the amount of the income. He should propose to reduce the duty upon the lower offices, and to raise it upon the higher offices. Upon all offices, the income of which should not exceed 60l. no duty should attach; upon all Over 60l. and under 150l. the duty would be 8l.; upon all over 150l. and under 300l. it was to be 20l., and so in proportion upon higher incomes. It was also proposed to make some alteration in the duty on indentures, but not to carry it higher than it was before the year 1804, and in some cases to reduce it lower. There was likewise some addition expected from the duty on Attornies indentures. The duty at present on articles of indenture, to an Attorney of the superior courts, was 110l. and of the inferior courts, 55l. The same duty which applied to indentures to solicitors in chancery should also apply to proctors, for he could not see why, when the advantage was equal, the parties should not be subject to similar duties. He proposed that the duty of 55l. should extend to indentures to the writers to the signet in Scotland. In the duty on collations and donations, a small alteration was to take place; for where they gave the right as fully as induction and institution, the duty which did not at present attach was to apply. With respect to enfeoffments, a small addition was to be made; the duty being at present only 1l. 10s. it was proposed to raise it to 3l.; the duty applicable to another mode of conveying real estates by lease and release. An addition was also proposed to the duty on the grant of honours and preferments. The duty was at present but 20l. in all cases. In Ireland, the duty on the creation of a duke, marquis, Or earl, was 200l.; on the creation of a viscount, 150l.; and on the creation of a baron 100l. and he could see no reason why this country should not adopt the same rate of duty which existed in that. Some slight alteration was to be made in the duty upon the grant of leases 17 of crown lands. At present it was 20l. and where the lease was beneficial, that was not an improper duty; but as under the present regulations, the leases of crown lands were no more beneficial than those of any private individual, the duty ought not to be levied unless where the lease was beneficial. The public would not be a loser by this reduction, because the party always paid less in proportion to the amount of the duty. Upon the grants of money and pensions, it was proposed that the duty should attach upon the ad valorem principle on the higher grants, though it would apply on a reduced scale to the lower. A duty was also to apply to policies of insurance on lives, which had been exempted in 1804, though there was no reason why they should be so exempted. Another head to which he wished to call the attention of the committee, was the case of Promissory Notes re-issuable, issued by persons calling themselves bankers. He proposed that every person issuing such re-issuable notes should pay 20l. a-year for a licence. The duty upon such notes was at present 3d. each, and he proposed to raise the duty upon all to 4d. each, but when the notes were payable only in one place, the duty was to be 6d. each. Another alteration was intended relative to the manner of transferring the shares of Joint Stock Companies. At present the duty was collected only in proportion to the nominal value, but it appeared to him that it should be in proportion to the real value. As to Law proceedings, they were already so highly burthened, that no addition could possibly be made to them. There were only some small instances, which could scarcely be considered but as omissions in the year 1804. Thus he proposed a duty of one shilling on all summonses before a master in chancery. With respect to probates of administration in Scotland, the duty was to apply in the same manner as in England. As to legacies, the duty applied on all above 20l., except a residue, and then the duty did not attach till the residue amounted to 100l. It was proposed that the duty should apply indiscriminately to residue and legacies. It remained for him only to explain how the principle he stated was to apply to conveyances. The duty at present was 30s. on all conveyances of land. This duty he proposed to lower on the conveyances of smaller property, and to raise it in a proportion to the value on the higher degrees of property. In all cases where the 18 consideration should not exceed 150l. the duty was to be 1l.; between that and 300l. 1l. 10s.; between 300l. and 500l. 2l. 10s.; between 500l. and 750l. 5l.; between 750l. and 1000l. 7l. 10s.; but in no instance to exceed one per-cent. upon the consideration. Upon these instruments and the re-issuable promissory notes, he calculated for the advance in the amount of the stamp duties to the extent of 200,000l. And he had brought this forward before the recess, in order that gentlemen might have the longer opportunity of considering the different parts of the measure by referring to the Schedule which they would have in their hands, if he had omitted any thing in the Schedule, he should be happy to avail himself of the suggestion of any hon. gent, to supply the omission. He was aware that it would have been more consonant to the usual practice to have kept back this statement till after the Loan should be contracted for, but it appeared to be much more for the convenience of the house, that they should be put in possession of the statement in time to afford an opportunity for mature consideration. The right hon. gent, concluded with renewing his first Resolution, stating the unappropriated surplus of the Consolidated Fund, on the 5th of April, 1808, to have been 726,870l.— On the question being put,
§ Mr. Biddulph
thought the arrangements for the service of the present year might and ought to be made without any additional taxes. He recommended the creation of a contingent fund by the sale of Crown-Lands, to which the public might become tenants. The sums for which Crown rents might be sold were almost inconceivable. One hundred pounds had been demanded of him for a rent of 8s. 9d. Such parts as might be sold to advantage might be disposed of, and the sum of 600,000l. might easily be created, so as to be available after the first dividend; the surplus of the Consolidated Fund to be brought in aid, whenever any deficiency should require it.—After a few observations from Mr. Tierney, Mr. Giddy, Mr. Vansittart, and Mr. Huskisson, the 1st resolution was voted, and the report was ordered to be received to-morrow.