§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."
§ MR. BLACKSTONE
rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the increase of ten per cent on the assessed taxes. He did not think the Motion, if carried, would embarrass the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or alter his financial arrangements. In bringing forward the proposition for this increase of ten per cent, the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor had stated that the national expenditure was 49,432,000l.; income, 46,700,000l.; deficiency, 2,732,000l. The right hon. Gentleman had proposed, by the increase of ten per cent on the assessed taxes, to raise 2,760,000l., and by the addition of five per cent to the customs and excise, to raise 1,895,000l.; whereas he only raised 206,000l., scarcely ½ per cent. instead of 5 per cent. The reason he had not encumbered his Motion with the repeal of the 5 per cent additional duty on the excise and customs was, that the complete revision of taxation made by the right hon. Member for Tamworth had remitted 4,000,000l. from the customs and excise; and since then excise duties had been remitted to the amount of 1,300,000l. on glass, and auctions, and bricks. Now, the House had readily imposed the 10 per cent addition on the assessed taxes when the revenue was in a state of depression, and he hoped would as readily remove the addition now that the revenue was prosperous. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward his budget this year, he stated—
312 But, in reality, the right hon. Gentleman understated the surplus, for from papers since received it appeared thus:—
The National Income £52,786,500 Expenditure 50,533,652 Surplus £2,251,848
Thus the surplus really exceeded that stated by the sum of 286,652l., which was about the amount of revenue he now asked might be remitted. He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman would say that the assessed taxes fell principally on the rich, and that there were other taxes which pressed more upon the labouring classes; but in some items, as that of male servants, this was not at all true; and the assessed taxes fell really upon labour. This was shown by a comparison between the number of male and female servants in Ireland, where the duty on male servants did not exist, and England. On the census of 1831:—
Income £52,916,918 Expenditure 50,378,418 Surplus £2,538,500
Thus, in this country, where there was a heavy tax on male servants, the proportion of females was 6½ to 1, in Ireland 2½ to 1. Moreover, it would be seen that since the 10 per cent was imposed, every item of the assessed taxes had fallen off. Thus it was with—the tax on servants:—In 1841, it was 204,321l.; 1842,203,816l; 1843, 194,064l.; 1844, 191,061l.; 1845, 191,700l.; 1846, 192,462l.; 1847, 193,836. Showing a falling-off of 44,000l. per annum. So as to another item of the assessed taxes, clearly pressing upon labour, and discouraging trade—
Great Britain. Ireland. Male servants 101,848 98,742 Female 678,451 252,155
So as to a similar item, that of the tax on horses:—In 1842, was 414,582l.; 1843, 388,181l.; 1844, 369,642l.; 1845, 374,657l.; 1846, 373,966l. Showing a loss to the revenue of 40,000l. per annum from the increase of duty. So as to the tax on dogs:—In 1841, it was 170,950l.; 1847, 148,413l. The fact was, all the duties were declining. Thus gentlemen were having two-wheeled carriages under the cost of 21l., or having their names put on them, and hence avoiding the duty, as appeared from the— 313
THE TAX ON CARRIAGES. Above Two Wheels. Two-wheeled ditto. 1842 £464,592 £140,067 1843 442,850 123,972 1844 428,904 118,878 1845 424,077 112,410 1846 420,127 167,773
There was one item on which there had been an increase, that of the window duty; but that was because in 1840 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ports-mouth when Chancellor of the Exchequer had a fresh survey. The result had been, that the window duty—In 1840, was 1,298,322l.; 1846,1,603,785. Thus the fresh survey in 1840 added 430,000l, He had stated these facts to show that the increase of 10 per cent on the assessed taxes had only diminished the revenue—and as the addition had only been asked to make up a deficiency in the revenue, he thought it should be removed when there was a surplus—and that it was the first duty of the Government to take it off before repealing any other duties.
NUMBER OF TWO-WHEELED CARRIAGES. For which duty was paid. Exemption claimed. 1842 £35,182 £25,743 1846 27,177 32,766
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'Leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal so much of the Acts 3 and 4 Vic. c. 17, as imposes an additional duty of 10 per cent on Assessed and Window Taxes,
§ instead thereof.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER
said, it had hitherto been his duty to resist every proposition of this kind, and he must admit that, in many cases, it had been a painful duty. On the present occasion, however, he had no great scruple in opposing the Motion of the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House. The hon. Gentleman had truly and correctly anticipated the answer which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was prepared to give to his speech and Motion. He had felt it his duty to resist the reduction of what were called the taxes on knowledge, and the taxes on air and light; and he could not now sacrifice the revenue derivable from the object of the hon. Gentleman's Motion by abandoning the additional 10 per cent which he sought to abolish. The imposts of which the hon. Gentleman complained, namely, the assessed taxes, were the most unobjectionable species of taxation, and the 10 per cent amounted to 290,000l. Surely, those who kept horses, dogs, and male servants in abundance, who used armorial bearings, and who used hairpowder, were more fair subjects of taxation than the poorer and industrious classes. It did not seem to him that it signified much on what ground the 314 tax had been originally imposed. Revenue to the amount of 300,000l. was derived from it. It was more consistent than any substitute that had been suggested for it with the well-being and prosperity of the great body of the people. He confessed that when the time for reduction came, the assessed taxes he should consider as the last species of impost that ought to be removed. There were many far more burdensome imposts than the assessed taxes. He hoped the House would concur with him in resisting the present Motion, and go at once into Committee of Supply.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had especially avoided the 10 per cent on the window tax, a matter that did not exclusively concern the rich. It was a subject that had excited public feeling very much; and, if some concession were made on that point, the public would receive it as an earnest of the intention of the Government to act with good faith in this matter, and as affording some hope that the whole of that odious tax would be eventually removed. He quite differed from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in considering the Motion now before them as one that merely affected the rich; on the contrary, he maintained that it very deeply affected the humbler classes of the community. One of the great advantages arising from the luxuries of the rich was, that they gave employment to the poor. Now, these taxes deprived many persons of bread who otherwise might be employed as servants. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he should not take into account the circumstances under which the additional 10 per cent was imposed; but surely the House would not sanction such a position. It was only imposed for a temporary purpose, and to make good a temporary deficiency. The Government now had its command a surplus, and the earliest opportunity should be taken to do that which was nothing more than an observance of good faith. At a future time, if a Chancellor of the Exchequer were to come forward and say that he wanted to impose an additional duty merely for a temporary purpose, the House would surely remember what they had that night heard from the right hen. Gentleman. Even upon sanitary grounds he thought the necessity for relieving the country from the window tax was most pressing. The right hon. Gentleman had a surplus, and seemed resolved to keep it; but he would not succeed in showing that the people who bore 315 the heaviest burdens had derived any advantage from that surplus of which the right hon. Gentleman was so boastful. The remissions asked amounted only to 200,000l. or 300,000l., and if granted they would certainly give great satisfaction to the country at large.
§ SIR G. PECHELL
supported the Motion. The House had already smashed the windows by the vote agreed to a few weeks ago; he hoped, however, that they would sooner or later reconsider their decision, for the window tax operated most unfavourably on building, as well as on human health.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 130; Noes 65: Majority 65.
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Knox, Col.|
|Alexander, N.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Arkwright, G.||Lennox, Lord A. G.|
|Bailey, J.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Meagher, T.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Bankes, G.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Bennet, P.||Mundy, W.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Naas, Lord|
|Buck, L. W.||Neeld, J.|
|Chatterton, Col.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Packe, C. W.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Cubitt, W.||Salwey, Col.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Sandars, G.|
|Disraeli, B.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Dundas, G.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Stanley, E.|
|Edwards, H.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Evans, Sir D. L.||Stuart, H.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Forbes, W.||Thornhill, G.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Halsey, T., P.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Williams, J.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Blackstone, W. S.|
|Hudson, G.||Vyse, R. H.|