Mr. V. Harcourt
wished to ask a question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would be in the recollection of the House that he had presented a petition from the Duke of Marlborough, complaining of certain deductions that were made from his pension on account of the land-tax, and of the shilling and the sixpenny duties (as they were termed) on pensions. That petition was referred to a select committee, to ascertain and state the facts of the case; but they were not authorised to report any opinion thereon. He thought however, that he was justified in stating that the committee were unanimously of opinion that at least a portion of the complaint was well founded, and that the parliamentary grant ought never to have be come liable to the shilling and the sixpenny duties. He begged to know what were the feelings of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject.
having been on the committee, wished to state what was the opinion he entertained respecting the Duke of Marlborough's claim. The question was divisible into two parts—first, whether the Duke was properly charged with a deduction in respect to the land- 725 tax; and, secondly, whether he was properly charged with a deduction in respect to the shilling and the sixpenny duties; the first imposed in the year 1757, and the other at a subsequent period? With reference to the first point, it was the opinion of the majority of the committee that the pension of the noble Duke was liable to the land-tax, and that no remission ought to be made on account of the deduction in respect to that charge. At the same time a sense of justice to the Duke of Marlborough obliged him to say that in a legal point of view the Duke ought not to have been charged with any deduction in respect to the shilling and the sixpenny duties.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
had on a former occasion stated, that the Duke of Marlborough was entitled to a remission of the deductions that had been made, as well in respect of the land-tax as of the shilling and sixpenny duties; and had voted in consonance with that opinion. But the decision of the House was adverse to his view. A committee was afterwards appointed to report the facts to the House; that report was now before them, and although it would be most agreeable to his own feelings to propose a measure making a remission on both points in favour of the Duke of Marlborough, yet, without abandoning his own opinion as to the abstract justice of the case, he thought that after the statement just made by his hon. Friend, and which statement he assumed met with the consent of the majority of the Committee, he should be better consulting his public duty, and also the interest of the Duke of Marlborough himself, by limiting the measure he intended to propose to the shilling and the sixpenny duties, upon the remission of which all parties appeared to be agreed.
§ House resumed.