§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee of Ways and Means; Mr. Wilson Patten in the chair.
Question again proposed—
That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, from and after the 5th day of April 1853, the Duties granted and made payable by the Act 11 &15 Vict. cap. 30, upon Inhabited Dwelling Houses in Great Britain, according to the annual value thereof, shall cease and determine, and in lieu thereof there shall be granted and made payable upon all such Dwelling Houses the following Duties (that is to say)—
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he wished to ask the opinion of the Chairman with respect to a point of order which appeared to him to be of great importance. He noticed the other night that there was considerable difficulty in assertaining what was the precise meaning of the question 1571 read by the Chairman, and, on referring to that question, he found that it was part of a Resolution, and not a distinct and separate portion of that Resolution. It was, in fact, part of a Resolution disjoined from the other part. If he (Lord John Russell) was not mistaken, the reason why the Chairman read that part of the Resolution only was, that early in the proceedings an Amendment was moved when the Chairman arrived at the words "that is to say;" but he (Lord John Russell) conceived that, according to the regular order of proceeding, the Chairman should read the whole of the Resolution, and if no Amendment was proposed upon any part of the Resolution, the whole Resolution would then be put to the Committee, and not a single portion of it. It was true that an Amendment had been proposed upon the Resolution; but he wished to submit to the Chairman whether, as there was now no Amendment before the Committee, it would not be more regular that the Chairman should proceed to read the whole of the Resolution, and to put the question, so that they might have before them—as he thought was the wish of the House—the exact proposition of the Government in the terms which they had themselves selected.
said, he had no difficulty in answering the question of the noble Lord, who had stated very correctly the custom of the House. He (the Chairman) thought it was advisable that he should state the exact circumstances under which the Resolution came before them. The Resolution was put as a whole; but there stood upon the notice-paper an Amendment of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) who proposed that, instead of considering the House Duties, the Committee should proceed to consider the Duties upon Legacies. It was necessary that that Amendment should he taken at the point at which it was proposed, because, if that had not been done, they would have precluded other Members from proposing any amendments. After that Amendment had been discussed for some time, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), he believed, suggested to the hon. Member for Lambeth that he should withdraw it, that the Committee might say "Ay" or "No" upon the main question. That suggestion received the general assent of the Committee, and he (the Chairman) then put the question "Ay" or "No," and from that period to the present moment the matter had been discussed upon the 1572 Proposition "Ay or" No." The noble Lord was perfectly right in stating that the practice was for the Chairman to read a Resolution from beginning to end, until he was stopped. Now, that was the course which he (the Chairman) had taken in this case until he was stopped. He then put the question, and the discussion would proceed until he received the directions of the Committee to the contrary, or until some hon. Member proposed an Amendment.
said, he wished to state what part he had taken in the matter. When the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) moved his Amendment, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) told him that if he persevered he could not take the opinion of the Committee upon the whole Resolution. He (Mr. Hume), therefore, begged the hon. Member for Lambeth to withdraw his Amendment, in order that the question might be put upon the whole Resolution; and he suggested to him that he might propose the Amendment when a Bill was brought in. When the Amendment was withdrawn, he (Mr. Hume) apprehended that the discussion went on upon the whole Resolution, as if no Amendment had been proposed.
said, he would observe that there were other Amendments on the paper besides that of the hon. Member for for Lambeth. It was therefore necessary, in his opinion, that they should keep to the question before them, "Ay" or "No."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought there was something more important than even technical propriety, and that was that they should conduct their proceedings with the utmost candour and fairness. He had been informed on the highest authority that it was necessary they should take the Resolution paragraph by paragraph. He himself was perfectly willing, and was, indeed, most anxious, that the Committee should come to a single vote, and that as soon as possible, which would be decisive as to the general policy recommended by the Government. Representations had been made to him by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House—and more by hon. Gentlemen opposite than by those on his own side; and when he appealed to them to facilitate the decision of the Committee, assuming that the first paragraph of the Resolution sanctioned the increase of the house tax, and that the second paragraph sanctioned its extension, he certainly undertook that he would not call upon the 1573 Committee to decide upon the question of the amount of the tax. But, in making that agreement, according to what he conceived to be the feeling of hon. Members, the Committee would understand, that when they came to consider the amount of the tax, he should feel it his duty, not having touched on the subject, to place fully before them the views which had induced the Government to recommend this policy, and to show the effects of the taxation upon the different classes of the community. As it was his object to induce the Committee to come to a decisive vote before the holidays, he felt bound in honour not to press the amount of the tax. He conceived that, with the opportunity which the Committee had of determining whether the tax should be increased or extended, they were fully able to decide upon the policy recommended by the Government. He trusted that the Committee would give its decision as soon as; possible upon what was called the Preamble of the Resolution, which involved a most important and vital question, He thought the Committee must be satisfied that there: was no desire on the part of the Government to avoid discussion, and his object had been to facilitate a decision, and to meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, he was surprised to hear the statement of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, that communications made to him privately from that side of the House, and from the other, should he taken without any public discussion as to the general wish of the Committee. He thought those communications and explanations showed that there had been a departure from what must be the intention and general understanding of all parties in that House. The right hon. Gentleman said some communications wore made to him, giving him the impression that it would suit the convenience of certain individuals, if the vote were taken in a particular manner, and that he assented, through his friends, to that proposition. Surely that conveyed to the Committee, that a departure was proposed and assented to from the under-standing which up to that time generally prevailed in the House. Now, the understanding of the Committee was surely this —that they were going to vote on that which appeared on the paper; and his impression of what had been stated by the Chairman was entirely different to that 1574 which appeared to have been impressed on the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He understood the decision of the Chairman to be that, as no Amendments were proposed, when the time came for taking the vote, he would read the whole Resolution as it stood on the paper, and that the vote would be taken on the whole Resolution, and not upon any single or separate paragraph of that Resolution. The impression of the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be different; and he ventured to appeal again to the Chairman whether, in the event of no Amendment being moved, he should not consider it his duty, in conformity with the general practice of that House, to put the Resolution as an entire Resolution to the Committee?
said, the noble Member for the City of London had stated most correctly what was the usual practice— that the Chairman of the Committee should read through the Resolution until he was stopped by an Amendment. He (the Chairman) was stopped by an Amendment, which was subsequently withdrawn, and he then understood that it was the general wish of the Committee to take the decision upon the words before them. [ Cries of "No, no!"] That certainly was his impression of the wish expressed by the Committee at the time; but if the Committee chose, they might direct him to pursue a different course. He could not do so, however, without an expression of the opinion of the Committee on the subject.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Malton (Mr. E. Denison) entirely misconceived his wishes, if he supposed that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was at all desirous either of evading the discussion of his proposal, or the expression of an opinion upon it. Appeals had been made to him, not merely privately but publicly, and he had the other night stated to the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) that be was anxious to have the decision of the Committee upon the first proposal of the Government for increasing the tax, and upon their second proposal for extending it but, with regard to the amount of the rate, in consequence of what had occurred, he reserved to his friends the right of taking such a course as they thought proper. The noble Lord then said that he considered the explanation which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) gave was perfectly satisfactory. If the noble Lord had 1575 not expressed that opinion, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would have been in a different position.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that when the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was understood to express his satisfaction at the answer given to his inquiries by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he (Mr. Gladstone) expressed his dissatisfaction at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, he was met by the imputation that certain persons were disposed to be captious on the subject. Having been dissatisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, and being desirous that the Committee should come to a clear and unembarrassed decision, he (Mr. Gladstone) was anxious to see how this could be accomplished. He apprehended the usage was that the Chairman, unless he was interrupted, should read through either the whole Resolution submitted to the Committee, or a complete paragraph of the Resolution. Now, in his opinion, what the right hon. Gentleman called a paragraph was no paragraph at all. The Resolution was printed in a particular manner for the convenience of hon. Members, so as to catch the eye; but his belief was, and the Chairman would correct him if wrong, that if no Amendment was proposed, or if no negative was moved, it was not competent for the Chairman to stop, nor was it competent for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make arrangements with any hon. Members until the Chairman came to the end of what might be called the first paragraph of the Resolution, which set forth the complete proposition that there should be charged for every 20s. of annual value of certain dwelling-houses the sum of 1s. There were, as he understood, two ways in which the Chairman might be stopped. The first was by any hon. Member who wished to move an Amendment; the second was by a Member who wished to negative the words read; but it was not, he believed, competent for the Chairman to stop, or for any hon. Member to call upon him to stop at particular words, that they might be affirmed. The Chairman could only be stopped by the proposal of an Amendment, or by a proposition to negative certain words. He (Mr. Gladstone) conceived that the position in which they stood was this: At the time when the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) withdrew his Amendment, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) was understood to call for a distinct and simple negative, not upon the en- 1576 tire Resolution, but upon the words which had been read. In consequence, the question was put upon those words; and he was anxious to know from the hon. Member for Manchester whether it was his wish to take the negative upon those words, or whether he was content to take a negative —and had intended to take a negative— upon the whole proposition? If so, he apprehended there was no question virtually before the Committee, and the Chairman must read on in the Resolution until he came to an Amendment, or some one desiring a negative. He did not know whether he had contributed to darken or enlighten the Committee. That was his view, and he ventured to put that question to the hon. Member for Manchester.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he was afraid he would not be able to throw much light upon this knotty point. He did not hear the Resolution read, and he did not know, to this moment, whether the Chairman read the Preamble, the first paragraph, or the whole Resolution. He had taken the liberty of asking the hon. Member for Lambeth to withdraw his Amendment, that they might discuss the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The proposition he understood to be the policy of Government with regard to the question of the house tax. He (Mr. Bright) had, however, no knowledge whatever as to the precise words, and all he could say was that he had no idea of taking any part beyond suggesting the withdrawal of the Amendment. He did not feel himself competent to offer any opinion as to the mode of proceeding, but he thought they ought to pursue such a course as was in conformity with the forms of that House.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, it ought to be clearly known on what the Committee were about to decide. It was impossible to know what was before the Committee, except it was in the shape of a Resolution. He thought private arrangements ought not to take place in such cases. The question would be simplified if the terms of the Resolution were read to the Committee.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he apprehended the object of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in having raised this question was to facilitate the convenience of the Committee with regard to the particular subject upon which they were going to vote. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) had said, that only a portion of one paragraph 1577 of the Resolution had been read, instead of the entire Resolution; but he (Sir J. Pak-ington) wished to point out to the Committee, that though it might be, in point of form, one Resolution, it embraced four distinct propositions. The Preamble stated, in fact, the principle of the Government proposition—namely, that the house tax should hereafter be extended in area and increased in amount. There they had the principle of the Government proposition. Then there were in the Resolution three other distinct propositions. The first was, that the house tax should be extended to houses of a rental of 10l. a year; the second, that houses of a certain class should pay 1s. in the pound; and the third, that houses of another class should pay 1s.6d. in the pound. Now, he submitted that these were propositions upon which a great difference of opinion might fairly be entertained, and he thought, therefore, that the fair course was not to enter into the discussion of those three different proposals at once, but to divide upon the Preamble, which involved the principle of the Government proposition.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, he entirely agreed with the Chairman and other hon. Members who had spoken as to the practice of the House. He thought it was evident that they could not vote upon a principle in Committee of Ways and Means, but only upon the details of the particular measure submitted to them. This Preamble, in fact, would form no vote whatever. The House was in Committee of Ways and Means to grant a supply to Her Majesty, and this Preamble merely stated "that there be granted the following duties upon inhabited houses, that is to say." It was clear that "towards raising the supply granted to Her Majesty" that proposition was nugatory. It might involve a general principle; but if it did, a Committee of Ways and Means was not the proper place to raise it.
§ MR. HINDLEY
said, for his own part, he was quite willing to pass the Preamble; for he held, as a free-trader, that direct taxation was one of the necessary and inevitable consequences of free trade. He was certain that the good of the country would be promoted by it. But if the whole of the Resolution was to be put, he was not going to double the house tax.
said, the hon. Member was out of order, for there was no such question before the Committee.
§ MR. HINDLEY
said, he would move, then, "that the Chairman report progress." He apprehended he should now be in order.
§ MR. T. S. DUNCOMBE
said, he wished to say a few words with regard to what had fallen from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Preamble contained the principle of an extension of the area, and an increase of the amount of the house duty. He could find no such words in the Preamble. There were, in fact, no such words in the Preamble. Really, the Government themselves did not know what they were about. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer must put up some one else besides the Secretary of State for the Colonies to explain more satisfactorily the meaning of the Government. Last Monday week the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) asked why the Government took the house duty and the tea duties first, instead of the income and property tax, seeing and believing as he did, and as the public did, that the income tax was the corner-stone of the whole Budget. The answer of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer was not very clear, but subsequently it had been explained by the noble Lord at the head of the Board of Works that they took the house and tea duties together, because in the first year the sum derived from doubling the house duty would make up for the deficiency of the tea duties. That showed that the principle of the Government proposition was to double the house duty; but now they were told this evening by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer that the amount of the house duty was no part of the question; he should leave the House to deal with that afterwards. That certainly was not leaving the Committee to pronounce an opinion on the measure as a whole. The fact was the whole issue had been changed — at whose suit he did not know. He did not know who these mysterious individuals were —he supposed his hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Hindley) was one of them. It suited his convenience to vote for the Preamble, but it did not suit his convenience to vote for the double house duty. If the vote had been taken, as he (Mr. Duneombe) originally proposed, on the question that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair, the Committee would not have been in this confusion, in which, after three 1579 nights' debate, they did not know on what they were going to divide.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that no one, was more anxious than he was to go on with the debate, and take the decision of the Committee upon the Resolution. Certainly he did say, with a view to bring the debate to a close, finding that many Gentlemen wished to speak upon the house tax, that he did not think it would be necessary to take their opinion upon the subject, but of course he should bow to the order of business. Personally, however, he should consider no one, by voting for this Resolution, bound as to the amount contained in it. A Bill would have to be brought in, and any hon. Member who had not an opportunity of expressing his sentiments now, would have the opportunity then, notwithstanding his vote now, of proposing any Amendment he thought right. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) regretted extremely that he should have misled any Gentleman, through his own misunderstanding of the influence which he thought the noble Lord opposite exercised over his friends. He had thought the words of the noble Lord were words of authority. He regretted very much that he had misinterpreted what took place. He could only, after all, express his desire that the debate should proceed, and the opinion of the Committee be taken upon the Resolution.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he was only anxious to proceed in what appeared to him to be the regular course. On the last evening the Budget was debated, in answer to a question put late at night, as to what the Government comprehended as the question before the Committee, the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, for the first time, that he under-Stood the Resolution to mean an increase as well as an extension of the house tax. The right hon. Gentleman had that evening repeated that statement; but there was a question whether it was possible, according to the forms of a Committee of Ways and Means, to take the Preamble alone. The fact was, the Resolution was drawn in rather an unusual form. Instead of positively repealing certain duties, it should have been shaped to the effect, that in lieu of duties now payable certain other duties should be payable, and that would obviously prevent the Preamble from being treated as a simple sentence. The effect of the Preamble, if passed, would be to repeal the existing duty and substitute no- 1580 thing. They did not go into Committee of Ways and Means to repeal duties. Unless they voted a grant of some duties, they were not performing the function of a Committee of Ways and Means. The clear course for the Chairman was to read the Resolution until he came to the positive end of a sentence, unless interrupted by an Amendment. The Chairman was interrupted by an Amendment, and that Amendment was afterwards withdrawn. It seemed to him, with all due submission, that the Chairman ought now to proceed to read the Resolution from the beginning, unless interrupted by another Amendment, until he came to the positive end of a sentence. For his own part, he was perfectly ready, if according to form, to take a discussion on the house tax, but no one surely would repeal the house tax in order to extend it any more than a person would pull down a wall to make it higher. The simplest course would be, that the whole of the Resolutions should be read, and upon them a vote should be taken, ay or no.
said, it appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax had stated the practice of the House most correctly to be, that the Chairman ought to read on with the Resolutions till he was stopped by an Amendment. He must repeat, however, what he had already said—namely, that he was stopped by an Amendment of the hon. Member for Lambeth, and that Amendment was withdrawn on the suggestion of the hon. Member for Manchester, who expressed a wish that the question should be taken, ay or no. He believed he acted in accordance with the general wish of the Committee.
said, he thought it necessary, in consequence of what had been said, to observe that he had expressed himself entirely satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday night; as far as he was concerned, in the second speech he made, he thought the right hon. Gentleman took a perfectly fair course in declaring that both the extension and increased amount were involved in the preliminary words. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) suggested a different course, thinking that, whatever might be the value of the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Committee ought to proceed according to the 1581 regular form and the obvious intent of the words. He (Lord John Russell) said, with respect to the suggestion then made, that he would not give a positive opinion at the moment, but would reserve his opinion; and upon considering the subject, and making inquiry, he had found that the proper course, according to the forms of the House, would be, that the Chairman should read the Resolution through, or until stopped by some Amendment. There appeared to have been some misunderstanding between the Chairman and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), because the Chairman had stated that he stopped where he did conceiving it to be the wish of the hon. Member and of the Committee that he should put that as the question; and the hon. Member had declared that he had no wish upon the subject, whether part of the Resolution or the whole should be read, but that he was willing to defer to the Chairman's authority. So that, while the Chairman was anxious to conform to the hon. Member's wishes, the hon. Member was willing to conform to the Chairman's decision. He (Lord J. Russell) would repeat that the declaration made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was satisfactory as far as the Government was concerned. But by far the most satisfactory mode, and that which would most meet the wishes of the Committee, would be, that the whole Resolution should be read.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) had found fault with the Resolution, and said it was not drawn in the usual form. It was copied totidem verbis from the Resolution introduced by the right hon. Baronet himself on a former occasion. All that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) wished, however, was, that the debate should go on; but he must make one observation, because none of us could be too strict with ourselves, and indulgent to each other, in reference to anything like an engagement. He had made representations, to which reference had already been made, to friends of his. He begged it to be distinctly understood that, if any Gentleman thought this first decision one of policy and general confidence in the Government, and voted on the same side with himself, he should consider, after the representations he had made, that they were perfectly free, as far as the Government was concerned, on a subsequent occa- 1582 sion to oppose the reduplication of the house tax.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, he understood now that the matter of form was settled, and that the Chairman would put the whole Resolution. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed a great desire not to mislead any Gentleman; but though, in point of form, he had accommodated himself to the wishes of the Committee, he (Mr. Denison) was afraid, in point of substance, some mystification might be left. For it seemed that when in Committee of Ways and Means, Gentle- men were asked to vote 1s. to Her Majesty, every one was to be at liberty to interpret that "shilling" to mean 6d., 10d., or 4d., or any sum he pleased.
§ MR. KENNETH MACAULAY
said, that if the question was, that the house tax of 1851 should be repealed, and a new tax imposed, he was inclined to say ay, I but until he had considered the details of the proposition of the Government, he! could not say that the duty ought to be 1s. 6d. on one class, 1s. on others, and 9d. on another class of houses. He objected, therefore, to being driven to the necessity of saying ay or no on the present occasion, unless there was something in the forms of the House which compelled them to vote. His own impression was, that on Friday last the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), when the Amendment was withdrawn, interposed his negative to the proposal before them. It was remarkable that hon. Gentlemen opposite had sat quietly since Friday on the subject. Neither the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), nor the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), was deficient in vigilance, yet both of them had misled him, for until to-night he had always considered that he should have an opportunity of voting on the main question of repealing the late and of imposing a new duty. As yet he could not state how many pence he could vote for in lieu of the present duty of ninepence, and he should, therefore, interpose an Amendment to prevent any vote being taken at present on any words below the Preamble.
§ MR. PHILLIMORE
said, he believed, that as the Amendment had been withdrawn, it was the right of any hon. Member to call upon the Chairman to read the 1583 Resolution from beginning to end. The Chairman said, that the question before the Committee was, that he report progress.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that the observations of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. K. Macaulay) were a protest, not against the Amendment, but against the whole forms of the House. If it was true that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not in a state to give his decision on the details of the question, and did not feel himself competent to pronounce an opinion on one amount or the other, he ought to have voted with the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) against Mr. Speaker's leaving the Chair, and to have had a discussion on the whole subject. But as the question stood now, the Committee were compelled to limit the discussion, and to vote on the details. The question they had to vote upon was this: what extension of the house tax might be voted for the future? The Committee could not escape from that question, difficult though it might be for them to make up their minds upon it. Therefore it was that he said that the protest of the hon. and learned Gentleman was a protest again the forms of the House, and that the vote of the Committee must be given in accordance with those forms.
§ SIR THOMAS ACLAND
said, it appeared to him that he was asked at this stage of the proceedings to say how far he would go; and if he had made up his mind that under no circumstances could he agree to a tax of 1s.6d. upon houses and 1s. upon shops, he did not think that he could vote for the affirmative of the proposition. But if under any circumstances he could vote for this particular addition to the Budget, he might, according to the usages of the House, vote for the higher sum now, reserving to himself the right of voting for a reduction of that sum on a future occasion, should he deem it necessary. At present, therefore, he would vote for the higher sum, as the only mode in which he should have the whole subject before him.
§ MR. MALINS
said, that as a new Member of the House, he had been much perplexed by what had been recently going on, but he rejoiced to find that they had at last arrived at something like a rational 1584 understanding. To an uninstructed mind there seemed something extraordinary in the importance which the various parties opposite attached to having the question proposed to the Committee in such a way that Members must either vote a house tax of 1s. 6d. or nothing. He saw no reason why hon. Members should be tied down to vote at this moment that the tax should be exactly 1s. 6d., and he was delighted to hear the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer say that Members who might vote for the Resolution would be at perfect liberty to decide hereafter whether the tax should be 1s. 6d. or any other sum. He had entered the House as an upholder of moderate Conservative principles, among the supporters of which he expected to find Gentlemen whom he saw opposite, one of whom, distinguished for his eloquence and ability, was the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). He expected other things from those Gentlemen, and deeply regretted to see them uniting with men from whose political views they had always dissented, to attack a Government on the question whether a house tax of eighteenpence, fif-teenpence, or a shilling should be imposed. He resembled the hon. Baronet who had last spoken in this debate, that his mind was not made up as to the amount of the duty necessary. Hon. Gentlemen opposite no doubt thought themselves, every one, qualified for the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he had a more humble estimate of his abilities, and could not pretend to decide difficult financial questions in this off-hand manner. Hon. Members on the other side of the House wished the Committee to come to a decision on the question in a sense which they thought would enable them to outvote the Ministry —a Conservative Ministry; but what would the country think of a Government which possessed its general confidence being turned out of office in such a manner? The tactics of the leading men opposite betrayed themselves in this—that their speeches, instead of being addressed to the arguments of their opponents, were framed, with a view to overcome the seruples of their own supporters. For his own part he would not be driven to give his vote in a way to drive from office a Government in whom he had confidence, in order to replace them by men, who were not agreed among themselves on any single question. He warned parties opposite that 1585 if, by an artfully contrived combination, they should succeed in destroying the Government, the hour of their difficulty would arise. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), who, he supposed, would be the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, might find that he would not be able to get on very smoothly with his Budget. In conclusion he expressed a hope that Members on the Ministerial side of the House would, to a man, support the Government, and place in safety a Budget which, whatever difference of opinion might prevail as to its details, had, as regarded its general principles, obtained approbation from all quarters.
§ MR. G. H. MOORE
begged to suggest to hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial side of the House, that the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had relieved them from all difficulty whatever on this question, for he had told them that they could first vote for the whole of the Resolutions as they stood, and that there was nothing to prevent them from voting afterwards precisely to the contrary. Now, that suggestion appeared to him (Mr. Moore) to be entirely consistent with the course which Her Majesty's Government had hitherto pursued; and he, therefore, ventured humbly to recommend hon. Gentlemen opposite at once to adopt it.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had suggested none other than the course usually taken on such an occasion as this. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the Committee was altogether mistaken in the construction which he had put upon his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) suggestion. The sum mentioned in the Resolution meant—and the Chairman would correct him if he were wrong—any sum "not exceeding" the sum specified. In his opinion, there was no reason whatever that should prevent hon. Gentlemen from voting in favour of the figures in the Resolution before the Committee, although it might be their intention hereafter to vote in favour of less sums. The Resolutions before the Committee were only intended as the foundations of a Bill, and, of course, during the discussion on such Bill, it would be perfectly competent to any hon. Gentleman to vote for an amendment of it with the view of reducing the amount of the tax. All that the Committee would pledge itself to now by voting for this Resolution would be to this, that in the Bill embodying the whole of the Resolutions no sums ex- 1586 ceeding 1s.6d., and 1s., as the case might be, should be imposed upon houses.
Motion made, and Question put—That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, from and after the 5th day of April, 1853, the Duties granted and made payable by the Act 14 &15 Vic. c. 36, upon Inhabited Dwelling Houses in Great Britain, according to the annual value thereof, shall cease and determine, and in lieu thereof there shall be granted and made payable upon all such Dwelling Houses the following Duties (that is to say),—For every Inhabited Dwelling House which, with the household and other offices, yards and gardens therewith occupied and charged, is or shall be worth the rent of Ten Pounds or upwards by the year,—Where any such Dwelling House shall be occupied by any person in trade who shall expose to sale and sell any goods, wares, or merchandize in any shop or warehouse, being part of the same Dwelling House, and in the front and on the ground or basement story thereof;And also where any such Dwelling House shall be occupied by any person who shall be duly licensed by the Laws in force to sell therein by retail beer, ale, wine, or other liquors, although the room or rooms thereof in which any such liquors shall be exposed to sale, sold, drunk, or consumed, shall not be such shop or warehouse as aforesaid;And also where any such Dwelling House shall be a Farm House occupied by a a tenant or farm servant, and bona fide used for the purposes of husbandry only,There shall be charged for every Twenty Shillings of such annual value of any such Dwelling House, the sum of One Shilling.And where any such Dwelling House shall not be occupied and used for any such purpose and in manner aforesaid, there shall be charged for every Twenty Shillings of such annual value thereof, the sum of One Shilling and Sixpence.
§ MR. SPOONER
moved, "That the words 'not exceeding,' should be inserted before the words 'eighteen pence.'"
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he would not object to the Amendment, but he must protest against the course proposed as unusual.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, that he had no J objection to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner); but the effect of it would be this, that the house tax, which was intended to supply a deficiency which would be occasioned by the reduction of other duties might, in fact, be made under this Amendment to yield even less than it did at present, As his objection to the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was founded upon the fact that it would run a great risk of occasioning a large deficiency in the revenue, that objection would, of course, be necessarily doubled by the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
begged to ask Her Majesty's Ministers whether it was not possible that there might be some practical difficulty, in consequence of the unusual course proposed to be taken in framing the Bill on which these Resolutions would be founded.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that he did not think there would be any difficulty in the insertion of these words in the Resolution. The Resolution came before them in a Committee of Ways and Means, which was to fix the maximum of the duties granted, and that amount could not be exceeded when the Bill was brought in. When that was done, it would be in the option of any hon. Member to move to insert a different sum. The object, as he understood, of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire in moving the Amendment was, that it might be clear to the Committee, that the sum mentioned in the Resolution was the maximum to which the Government could go. He thought the words were superfluous, but they explained to the Committee what the effect of the Resolution was.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he thought there could not be the slightest doubt that anybody might move the reduction, though not an increase of the sum granted by the Resolution of a Committee of Ways and Means; but he really would put to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the mischief of altering the ordinary form of granting the taxes, unless some clear advantage was derived from it. He thought that by this concession, though nothing was gained, something might be lost. Unless some better reason were assigned for the change than that suggested on the part of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to the usual form.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he was quite ready to adhere to the ordinary form, but he would remark that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goul-burn), had observed that the Resolution would have no effect whatever, if the sum specified in it were liable to be reduced. That he entirely disputed, but as had been said before, the Resolution did nothing more than fix the maximum, and therefore he was ready to adopt it as it stood.
§ MR. SPOONER
consented to withdraw the words. He proposed them only in consequence of what had fallen from hon. 1588 Members on the other side, namely, that all who voted for the Resolution as it stood were bound to vote for doubling the duty on houses. He (Mr. Spooner) was not prepared so to do. He considered, that by voting for the Resolution, he only agreed to the principle of the extension of the house tax, and that when the Bill was brought in for the purpose of carrying out the Resolution, he did not consider himself bound, or that any hon. Member was bound to vote for doubling the house tax, but that all were quite at liberty to vote for such reduction in the proposed tax as they thought proper. It was with these views he voted for the Resolution.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he thought there was not a single Member in the House who did not deplore the proceedings which had been going on for the last hour and a half, and every one must feel that the scene they had just witnessed was discreditable to the character of their discussions. They were now resuming a debate which had occupied their attention during three long nights, and it was very difficult to determine the question they were discussing, and upon which they were required to decide. And whence did that difficulty arise, which had interrupted the progress of business? It arose from one cause—the shifting and vacillating policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government. It was now almost a fortnight since the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had laid before the House the financial scheme of the Government. In a speech, commensurate with the importance and gravity of the occasion, he brought before the House the great features of his financial scheme, which he showed consisted mainly of two parts. In the first place, he proposed to remit taxes which he considered impolitic or unjust; and in the second he proposed, inasmuch as the financial surplus which he had at his disposal was not sufficient to make up the deficiency occasioned by such remission of taxes, to supply the deficiency by the imposition of new taxes, partly by increasing the area of taxation in reference to the income tax and house tax; and as those two sources were not themselves sufficient for the purpose, he proposed further to increase, not only the area of taxation, but the amount which persons should be called on to pay. Nothing could be more clear and explicit than the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. 1589 At the same time he invited the House to consider the Budget, not in its parts, but as a comprehensive whole. When the period arrived for discussing his measures, he laid on the table certain Resolutions which were limited to the house tax; but he intimated that the decision upon them would apply to the whole financial scheme of the Government. The debate continued for two nights, and during that period the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman had to sustain some very serious and able assaults from various Members of that House. It had to encounter the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), in a speech of which he would say that he believed he was expressing the opinion of every one when he described it as the most masterly speech he ever heard. It was next met by the close reasoning of the hon. Member for the West Hiding (Mr. Cobden). It had also to submit to the admirable logic of the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe); and to stand the ordeal of the long experience, the tried ability, and the matured judgment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member fur the University St Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). He (Sir A. Cockburn) wished to assume no tone of arrogance or presumption, but he thought he was justified in saying, that the result of these two nights could not lead any one to believe that the Government had acquired any strength in the debate, or any accession of supporters. On the contrary, ominous whispers and rumours passed from one side of the House to the other, and the Government began to feel that they were in a position of very great difficulty; several hon. Members who were in the habit of supporting them having intimated their intention of voting against doubling the house tax. It was perfectly well known that many hon. Members who were anxious to support the Government were not disposed to inflict on their constituencies a double house tax, not being in a position to face them after a vote of that nature. So the matter stood on the second night's debate. Afterwards it became a matter of great political expediency on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to get rid of the first Resolution for doubling the house tax by proposing to take a vote solely on the question as to the extension of the area of taxation, in order to avoid the inconvenience of having his supporters against him. This manoeuvre, for he could not call it by any 1590 lighter term, of the right hon. Gentleman succeeded to a certain extent, and many hon. Members who were before in doubt, were now in a condition to vote in favour of the Government, for not only young Members but old birds had been caught in the trap which had been set for them. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had approved of the course suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for after making a long speech, in which be criticised the right hon. Gentleman severely, and appeared to find much matter for reproof, he ended by saying he should vote for the Budget. He declared in emphatic terms that he objected to ail increase of taxation, and yet declared he was ready to vote for the extension of the area of taxation. Matters went on smoothly and pleasantly till the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) rose. That right hon. Gentleman repeated an inquiry put in an earlier part of the evening by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne), whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to limit the question to the area of taxation? The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he did not intend to take the sense of the Committee on anything further than the area of taxation; twice in the same evening the right hon. Gentleman declared expressly and explicitly that he limited the Resolution to that one branch. What was the course pursued by the right hon. Member for Carlisle? He proceeded to show the Committee, as clearly as figures and demonstration could do, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on his own showing, would, in two years, if his financial existence lasted so long, have a considerable deficit; and he called on the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) the Nestor of finance in that House, to state whether he had sanctioned by his authority a Budget which granted a remission of 2,500,000l. on the malt duties, without first having some security for the imposition of the house tax, without which the result would be that the Minister would find himself, at the end of the second year, with a financial deficit. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, feeling that difficulty on the self-same evening on which he made the two declarations already referred to, changed entirely the issue before the Committee by stating, in reply to a question from the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell), that he proposed to include in the 1591 question as to the extension of the area of taxation, the question whether or not the house tax should be doubled. Now he (Sir A. Cockburn) would ask whether such a course of conduct reflected on the credit or authority of the House, in reference to the proceedings they were called on to adopt? Was that a course of proceeding which reflected credit on the Government? When hon. Gentlemen said that they could not vote for the Government, though anxious to support it if possible, but that they would excite the wrath of their constituents by increasing the area of taxation, or at least by doubling the house tax, it might well be asked whether, to meet the exigency of the hour, and for the sake of catching a few stray votes, it was a worthy course for the Government to change the whole tenor of their conduct? The whole difficulty in which the Committee had been placed was the result of the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman; but there could be no longer any doubt that the Committee were to express their opinion by their votes, not only on the question whether the area of taxation should be increased with reference to the house duty, but on the question whether that duty should be doubled. That he understood to be the question for decision; for unless they assented to the twofold proposition it would be impossible to remit the duty as proposed by the Government. He perfectly agreed that it was right to put the house tax prominently forward, for as the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had truly said, it was to form the key-stone of his whole financial fabric. He at once met that proposition, as far as his humble voice went, with a clear and decided negative. It was not enough to maintain that direct taxation was a legitimate form of taxation; they must show more, namely, the necessity and justice of increasing the area of taxation, and doubling the amount of the house tax. Now, what were the arguments on which they were called upon to impose these new taxes and increase the area of taxation; to impose new taxes on the occupiers of houses which were hitherto exempt, and, furthermore, to extend the income tax to persons who formerly did not pay it? The favourite argument urged over and over again in the course of the debate was, why should persons, possessing an interest in household property below a certain amount, be exempted from contributing a fair share to a particular form 1592 of taxation? He freely admitted that when the question was put in that naked and abstract way, it was extremely difficult to give a satisfactory answer. But the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) had placed the matter in a clear light. He said, that before an answer could be given, they must take into consideration the surrounding circumstances of our complicated system of taxation as it existed at present in the country, and to adjust or rectify its startling irregularities —he had almost said its iniquities—in reference to the poorer classes of the country, before they thought of including those classes under a direct system of taxation. Perhaps hon. Members were not fully aware of the extent of the inequality which existed with respect to indirect taxation between the upper and poorer classes of the country. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), pointed at the startling fact, that the indirect taxation of the country, which was paid by the great mass of consumers, amounted to no less a sum than 35,000,000l. The great majority of those consumers spent almost all, if not the whole, of their resources on the absolute necessaries of life, and it was on those necessaries that indirect taxation was imposed with such great inequality. It would therefore be gross injustice to impose additional taxation on persons who were oppressed by the burden of indirect taxation, until the inequalities were remedied. He would take first the article of tobacco, which was very much consumed by the poorer classes, and afforded comfort and solace to them after the toil of a hard day's work. The Committee would see the proportion of indirect taxation which was paid on this article by the labouring classes. The lowest return of the current price of manufactured tobacco was 3¼d. per lb., the highest 1s.4d.; on this there was a uniform duty of 3s. on the lb., so that on the cheaper sort, the consumer had to pay a duty equal to 1,125 per cent, while on the more expensive quality the consumer did not pay more than 225 per cent, the difference being 900 per cent between what the poor man and the rich man had to contribute in the shape of indirect taxation. Then as to cigars, the lowest price was 7.s.6d. per lb., and the highest 19s.; and as the duty on each was at the rate of 9s., it followed that the purchaser of the one paid 120 per cent, and of the other only 47. On wine the difference was enormous, the per- 1593 centage as regarded indirect taxation being 676 on the inferior article, and only 22 on the higher class of wines, which were consumed by the wealthy classes. Then as to spirits, the inferior class of brandy paid 310, and the higher class 118 per cent of indirect taxation. So he might go through a long series of articles. These facts, it would not be denied, afforded a strong argument against the extension of direct taxation to the class who paid such a disproportionate amount of indirect taxes. As a general proposition he should say, that on the whole of those articles consumed by the great mass of the community, the difference was enormous between the percentage in the shape of taxation taken from the poor man as compared with the rich. He always understood that the reason why the late Sir Robert Peel limited the income tax to 150l. a year, and the right hon. Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) did not extend the house tax below houses of '20l. a year was, that, by drawing such a line, the working classes, who consumed a lower-priced article, and therefore paid more in indirect taxes, should he exempted from any additional burden by an extension of direct taxation. Unless a corresponding amount of indirect taxation was taken off, it would be the height of injustice to make the rich and the poor alike liable to the same rate of direct taxation. There was a manifest fallacy in the argument that that House was justified in imposing direct taxation, because it was a good form of taxation. It might be very eligible and convenient, but they had no right to adopt it unless they conferred some corresponding advantage in another shape on the payer of indirect taxes. All taxation was a very bad thing per se, and was only justifiable by the corresponding benefit which was given to the taxpayer. He had no doubt if a time of emergency came, when it was necessary to increase the amount of taxation, the poorer classes would readily and cheerfully submit to additional burdens on account of the protection which they derived; but until that hour arrived, the question as to the extension of taxes to these classes ought to be treated with the greatest caution, and reserve, and delicacy, and not with any haste or rashness. On this subject they might imitate the example of the Athenians, who deposited their riches under a statue, to be there kept until the last day of the national emergencies. Had the right hon. Gentleman made out a case of State necessity, or 1594 had he shown corresponding advantages to those classes? As to State necessity, there was avowedly none. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that he had already a surplus for the ensuing year; and, looking forward to another year, he stated that he should have a surplus of very nearly 1,500,000l. That surplus was not intended as a provision for any increased expenditure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman; therefore State necessity there was none. What object could he, then, have for increasing the taxation of the country? With regard to the tea duty, he believed that great benefit would result to the consumer from the remission proposed. But that remission was not to take place all at once; it was to be extended over six years. That circumstance showed that there was no necessity for hastily imposing new taxes with a view to make provision for the deficiency which would be caused by that remission. He (Sir A. Cockburn) did not himself believe that there would be any serious falling-off in the amount of revenue; for it was his opinion that in the case of tea, as in many other instances, a diminution of the tax would lead to increased consumption; so that, in the result, there would be very little or no deficiency. At all events, it would be quite time enough to extend taxation to the poorer classes when a deficiency had actually arisen. But admitting that a deficiency did arise, why could not the right hon. Gentleman meet it out of the surplus, and afterwards it would be time enough to call upon the House to sanction increased taxation? The right hon. Gentleman then proposed to remit one-half of the duty on malt, repudiating at the same time the idea of making the remission a compensation to the agricultural interest. If the remission was not to be viewed in the light of compensation, he did not know how else to view it, seeing how often the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues and supporters had argued in favour of compensation to the land for the injuries it had sustained by the infliction of free trade. After all those arguments, the right hon. Gentleman was scarcely justified in accusing the Committee of suspecting that it was now his intention to bestow that relief which he and his party had always advocated. Let the Committee remember the tone which had been held by the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues on the hustings and at agricultural meetings, and the manner in which they had told their supporters that com- 1595 pensation was due to them for the injuries entailed upon them by the free-trade legislation of the last five years. The language held on the hustings by the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues was, that, as protection was now laid aside for ever, compensation was to be sought by some new adjustment of the entire system of imperial taxation, by which conflicting interests, amid rival classes, should be brought into harmonious action, and by which the agricultural interest would find the means of relief from the burdens it had sustained. Such being the case, the very first measure which the Government brought forward was the partial remission of a tax which had long been described as pressing heavily upon the agricultural interest. How, then, could the right hon. Gentleman be surprised if the Committee considered the remission of this particular tax as a species of compensation? and how could he wonder that the humbler classes, who now found themselves exposed to a species of taxation which had "never been inflicted upon them before, should charge the Government, in their resentment and vexation, with ministering to the interests of a particular class at their expense? It might be very well to admit compensation yesterday, and disown it to day—to advocate protection one day, and to disavow it to-morrow—but let not the Members of the Government be blamed if the Committee imputed to them intentions which they themselves had deliberately expressed their intention to carry out. But would the remission of half the malt tax be of any appreciable advantage to the class whom it was proposed to benefit? Would it be of the slightest use to the agricultural interest? He did not believe there was a single hon. Gentleman on the opposite (the Government) side of the House who would rise up and avow his conviction that the remission of half the duty on malt would be of the slightest appreciable advantage to them. Would it have the effect of increasing the breadth of barley grown? No. They all knew that the lands capable of producing barley were of limited extent, and that such was the demand arising from the consumption of malt liquor, and from the prohibition of the importation of foreign malt, that the lands capable of producing malting barley were cultivated to the utmost extent. ["No, no!"] He could only say that he had been assured that the fact was so, both by Gentlemen in the House 1596 and out of it. There was no one who had listened to the conversation of groups of Members in that House, or in the lobby, who did not well know the general opinion to be, that the agricultural classes would derive no benefit whatever by the proposed remission of part of the duty. If the proposition of the Government was to repeal the whole of the tax, then he could understand that they had a case to go upon? When the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary the other night taunted Gentlemen on the Opposition benches with having on former occasions expressed an opinion that the malt tax ought to be repealed, he forgot to observe that that opinion was not with reference to the interest of any particular class, but that it was with a view to serve all classes equally. The right hon. Gentleman also forgot to notice that the total abolition of the tax was a very different thing from a partial remission of it. He complained of the partial repeal of the tax, on the ground that while all the evils incidental to the tax were continued, no benefit whatever would accrue to the producer or the consumer. The present costly mode of collection would be maintained. The system of fiscal police and domiciliary visits were also to be retained, while the cost of collecting the tax would obviously be doubled. And this was what was called a boon to the agricultural classes. Let them next consider what good would be done to the consumer, whose interest, after all, was the most important. They were about to double the house tax on the rich, and to extend it to the poor who had never paid it before. No hon. Member on the other side of the House had ventured to contend that the amount of diminution in the price of beer would be of the slightest benefit to the consumer at large. An argument had been made use of by a speaker at one of the metropolitan meetings (the Marylebone, he believed), against the increase of the house duty, which struck him as very much to the point. The speaker said that he was going to be taxed, although he had never been taxed before—that his house was to be taxed for the first time, but that he was to have a set-off in the shape of a reduction in the price of beer. That reduction would amount at the very outside to one farthing per pot, and reducing the number of pounds which he would have to pay as a house tax (3l.) to farthings, the result was that he would have to drink a great many thousand pots of porter before 1597 he could derive the smallest possible benefit. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary entered upon a scientific argument on the subject of direct taxation as contradistinguished from indirect taxation. Now, he (Sir A. Cockburn) contended that they ought not to impose a new tax because it happened to be a direct tax, unless some countervailing benefit to the payer of that tax would accrue from it. He had himself spoken the other day to a gentleman engaged in agricultural pursuits, and who was a stanch supporter of the Government, and he had asked him what he thought of the Government project of relief, and what was his opinion of the partial remission of the malt tax. His reply was, "It is very had, but we must grin and hear it." He (Sir A. Cockburn) contended that the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had no right to call upon Members to tax their constituencies unless he could clearly show a corresponding benefit to be derived. If the consumer and the producer alike declared that they could sec no appreciable benefit by the proposed changes, where was the merit of this new scheme of finance? They had all heard it said that the Government was about to introduce a new policy of finance which was to reconcile all classes in the country, but surely this financial scheme was not the fulfilment of that high-sounding promise. The fact was, the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Colleagues had made such promises as the political expediency of the hour required; promises which neither he nor any other man could perform. Having denounced protection, it was necessary to hold out to the agricultural classes something which should insure to them a prosperous future, and give to them compensation for the past. It was also necessary to do something else. The candidates must be furnished with topics on which to address the constituencies. It was therefore very grandly proclaimed that there was to he a new system of taxation; something that should bring the interests of the inhabitants of the towns into perfect harmony with the interests of the inhabitants of the rural districts. Well, after all, what had the right hon. Gentleman done? Literally nothing. He had not satisfied either party, and why? Because he had made promises with reference to the subject of finance which he could not possibly realise. He (Sir A. Cockburn) owned that he had expected great things from the right hon. Gentleman. It 1598 had been the fashion among those with whom he was associated in politics to cry down the Budget, and to say that it would come to nothing. He (Sir A. Cockburn) had always entertained a contrary feeling, having the fullest confidence in the genius and unbounded ability of the right hon. Gentleman. He had indulged in the hope that the country was about to see a new financial Prometheus, who would bring the fire of genius to illuminate the dark and dreary waste of finance, and before whose presence poverty, misery, and privation would he driven away, and all the conflicting and jarring interests of society be blended together in harmony and peace. But what had been the result? Instead of those happy realisations, the half of the malt tax was to be taken off, and the constituencies of the country were to put their hands in their pockets and pay double house tax. For these boons the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had received a dose of praise from his light hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which would make him sick of adulation for the rest of his life. That laudation seemed to him to savour very much of a funeral oration, and to resemble the eulogium pronounced upon a departing friend—Sic ubi fata vocant, udir abjectus in herbis.Ad vada Mæandri, concinit albus olor.Now, he put it to the House whether it was wise or statesmanlike, at such a moment as this, to meddle with the financial arrangements of the country? He asked whether it was prudent, in a time of perfect peace, to impose direct taxation upon a class of persons who had previously been exempted from taxation, and to create a mass of heartburning and strife, unless it was possible at the same time to confer a great political boon upon them. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was placed in the unfortunate position of having made promises to meet the purposes of a moment which even his great genius could not possibly enable him to fulfil. He (Sir A. Cockburn) declared himself disappointed with the whole financial scheme of the Government. Still he had some consolation even in this disappointment. One was always unwilling to admit that one's confidence had been misplaced, and was naturally anxious to apply the flattering unction to the mind that one was not altogether in the wrong. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer took the whole vacation to ponder over 1599 and develop this new scheme of finance. The time and the hour at length came when it was to be made known to the world. Now he (Sir A. Cockburn) did not believe the right hon. Gentleman was capable of producing such a pitiful abortion as that Budget which had been placed before them. He believed that the veritable Budget had been stifled in its birth by certain respectable financiers and political economists of a bygone day, who were so astonished and frightened at the gigantic proportions of the infant Hercules, that they strangled it forthwith, and substituted this wretched, puling, ricketty changeling, whom the mother, in a moment of maternal forgetful-ness, had accepted, thinking it was better to have it than nothing at all. He believed, however, that the time would yet come, though the right hon. Gentleman had much to get rid of in the meantime, when he would show the great genius he possessed, and prove that he was not only a consummate debater and politician, but an accomplished financier. There was one portion of the subject which he had not yet touched, and that was, the effect of the increased house tax upon the representation of the country. This was a subject which ought not to be lost sight of. One great argument urged in favour of an extended area of taxation was, that taxation and representation should go hand in hand together; and that if a man was represented he ought to be taxed. Now nothing was more convenient than to take a leaf out of an adversary's book; but if hon. Gentlemen did so they must take it with all its incidences and consequences. The right hon. Gentleman who had urged that argument forgot that when he (Sir A. Cock-burn) and those on the Opposition side of the House adopted it they did so in maintenance of the principle that representation ought not to stop at the 10l. householder, but should include everybody that contributed to the taxation of the country. Were hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches prepared to go that length? They knew they were not. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew that his party would make no such concession; and while urging that argument they knew that they were putting forth a hollow and frivolous pretence, and that they meant nothing by it. He would test them by putting a practical question. They were going to impose a duty on the 10l. householders: would they extend the right of voting in counties to the 10l. householders?
1600 If he could only obtain a confession that they were ready to do so, then he should not have spoken in vain this night. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had expressed an opinion the other evening, that, merely for the sake of escaping a tax of 15s. a year, the 10l. householders would not relinquish their right to the franchise. He (Sir A. Cockburn) dared say that a sum of 3l., which was the amount of the income tax and house tax together upon a 10l. householder, would appear to be a very small sum in the eyes of hon. Gentlemen in that House; nevertheless it was of considerable moment to those upon whom it would fall. It would influence the amount of schooling which their children would receive; it would make a difference of a suit of clothes to every man in the course of a year; it would force them to yield up those little luxuries and comforts which formed almost their sole enjoyments in life. It was all very well to tell him that the electors of this country did not care about the franchise. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole) had tauntingly observed that a very limited proportion of the enfranchised exercised their rights. But why was this? It was not because they did not value the franchise, but because an immense amount of intimidation was brought to bear against them which deterred the electors from using their privilege. He was very glad to hear the fact recorded by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, that a large portion of the electors did not exercise the electoral franchise, which they were supposed to do by the spirit of the constitution.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
It was exceedingly possible that he did not remember the hon. Gentleman from whom the observation came, but fallen from some hon. Gentleman on that (the Government) side of the House it certainly had, and he recollected perfectly well turning round to his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) to attract his attention to it. Nevertheless, if a great proportion of the constituency of the country were prevented from exercising the franchise already, why further limit and diminish their number, by cutting off the 10l householders? He did not mean to affirm that if it was a matter of public necessity or expediency, he would hesitate in calling upon those classes to contribute to the tax- 1601 ation of the country; but that unless a strong and powerful case of this kind were made out, it would be impossible to justify the imposition of a new tax of the kind. Well, if taxes were to be removed in order to enable the Government to add to the direct taxation of the country, he would ask—have you selected the most eligible tax? It had been already shown that by the reduction of one tax which was proposed, benefit would neither accrue to the landed nor consuming interests. In the case of the tea duties, the remission might have proceeded to a much greater extent. Look again to the soap duties, an article of paramount importance, not only as regarded the comforts of the poorer classes, but as regarded their sanitary condition, their health both of body and mind; for he (Sir A. Cockburn) believed that observation of the philosopher to be a sound one, which asserts that cleanliness is one of the first conditions in morality. Again, let them take the wine duties. The present tariff on the import of wines drove the poorer classes to those distilled spirits which were alike destructive both of mind and body, for the present duties bore with undue pressure upon the cheaper descriptions of wine in such a manner as to render their importation a matter of commercial impossibility. There was also the tax upon paper. He had hitherto been speaking of articles which merely affected the physical condition of the people, but here there was one which had retarded their moral and intellectual advancement. Why had they not proposed to take off the duty upon paper, which would confer a benefit upon the poorer classes, and retain the duties upon beer, the reduction of which would rather injure than advance their condition? If he (Sir A. Cockburn) excepted his proposal to reduce the duties upon tea, the whole Budget of the right hon. Gentleman was superlatively bad. Certainly, there was one point on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was entitled to the best thanks of the industrial classes—he alluded to his proposition to graduate the income tax. The right hon. Gentleman had therein recognised a principle upon which the common sense of mankind had long been at direct issue with the subtle and perverse projects of financiers. He (Sir A. Cockburn) had always maintained that it was most unjust to tax precarious incomes in the same proportion as incomes derived from landed or funded properties. For this the right hon. Gentleman was en- 1602 titled to the acknowledgments of the industrious classes, and, as one of these, he (Sir A. Cockburn) proffered his. On the whole, however, he discerned nothing but mischief, nothing but evil, in the taxation which he proposed to impose upon one class, for no corresponding benefit would accrue to any other. He felt that, let them call it as they would, class legislation or not, whether it had its origin or not in such motives, the people upon whom, for the first time, they were imposing new taxes would have no doubt upon the point; it would have the effect of stirring up class against class, and create bickerings and heartburnings difficult to terminate, and they would de-all this without any addition to the prosperity and comfort of the great mass of the people.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
begged permission to remark, in return for the admonition addressed to the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Davison) by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) on a former occasion—that the best course for a representative from that part of the kingdom to pursue on a subject of national interest was to maintain silence—that on every question of Imperial policy the representatives of Ireland had as full a right to form and to express an opinion as their Scotch or English brethren. No question could be raised affecting England which did not affect every good Scotchman and every good Irishman also. The hon. Member for the West Riding had shown, by that admonition, that in the multifarious occupations of his busy life he had not been able to study the principles of Parliamentary representation. He suspected, however, if the hon. Member for Belfast had sat on the other side of the House and condemned the Budget, the hon. Member for the West Riding would have approved the spirit of his observations. The question the House had to deal with was partly of a fiscal, and partly, and perhaps more properly, of a constitutional character. One consideration raised by the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) had forcibly arrested his attention, and it was that in which he understood the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford to sustain him— namely, that the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with incomes arising from Irish funded property was a gross breach of national faith, and a fraud on the public creditor. He admitted, that if that argument could be established, 1603 there was, as an hon. Member had observed, an end of the Budget, and that it ought to be rejected by the House with scorn and contempt. But was it so? The answer to the question lay in the narrowest compass. The 5 Geo. IV. assimilated in substance and effect the funds in Ireland to the funds in England, and provided that they might be transferred and the dividends paid in the same way, without cost or expense. The 5 &6 Vict. — the Income Tax Act — which must be right, as it was passed by Sir Robert Feel, who was the great authority quoted in the House on all matters of finance, and to which the right hon. Member for Cambridge University was a party, exempted the land of Ireland; but it taxed—not the funds, but the dividends arising from funded property, whether in Ireland or in England; but, by a subsequent section, it exempted persons who resided in Ireland, and by section 90 it explained what residence in Ireland was, and provided that any one who could endure existence in that country for six months in the year, was within the exemption, and would escape any reduction of his dividends. By sec. 25 the governors and directors of the Bank of Ireland were appointed to act as commissioners for adjusting the assessments on annuities and dividends to persons not resident in Ireland. What was the practical result of that legislation? An English gentleman having property in the funds in England and in Ireland, was taxed on the dividends received in each country. A person holding funds in Ireland received the same dividends en the same day, and with all the same advantages, as the English holder; but he was not taxed if residing in Ireland, and yet there was no other difference between the two, for the Irish fundholder could transfer his stocks to the English funds when he pleased; and the owner of English funds could do the same with regard to the Irish funds. The rule laid down by Sir Robert Peel was, that no deduction was to be made from the dividends of the Irish fundholder when in Ireland; but when the fundholder crossed the Channel a deduction was to be made. It was with that exemption the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to deal. Bid it rest on any characteristic of the income? No. On any quality of the fund? No; it rested on the single fact of residence in Ireland, and it was an exemption indefensible in principle and mischievous in practice. It was mischievous 1604 in practice, because the fundholder in England might fairly say, "You make me submit to a deduction from my dividends, because my portion of the fund is in England; but if I go across the Channel I escape." Was it to be said that a proposal to remove such an exemption involved a breach of national faith and of the public credit? There was no one respected the right hon. Gentleman who made that observation more than be did, for his moderation of sentiment and his knowledge and experience; but the right hon. Gentleman ought to remember, that the weight of an accusation was in proportion to the gravity and station of the person who made it. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman when he sought to prove his charge; but he must say he bad had the misfortune not to be able to apprehend the argument by which he proved that this breach of faith had been committed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer further proposed to apply the same rule to salaried officers in Ireland as in England; they were paid alike out of the Consolidated Fund. The Treasury could remove the officers so paid from Ireland to England, or from England to Ireland. But in England the salaried officer was compelled to submit to the deduction—if he went to Ireland he escaped. Ireland was, however, the cheaper country of the two, supposing that, as was likely, the officer was not exposed to the poor-rate; and he could not see how the removal of this exemption would have the effects imputed to it. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) had discussed the question in a luminous speech; but, with great respect for the right hon. Baronet, he must say he fell into an error in the ease which he adduced as an illustration of his argument. He said the Attorney General for Ireland had a certain income, which might be considerable; his clerk had, perhaps, 100l. a year. And then, said the right hon. Gentleman, your legislation will exempt the Attorney General, but you will inflict this tax on his clerk. Now, that was exactly the reverse of the fact. [Sir JAMBS GRAHAM; I beg pardon—I did not allude to the official income of the Attorney General. I expressly said I alluded to his professional income, and I did not speak of him as Attorney Genera), but as an advocate in possession of a large income.] That did not alter the case. The salaried officer contemplated was an officer paid by the Consolidated Fund, and 1605 every person paid out of that fund would be taxed. And thus the Attorney General, who has a salary from the Consolidated Fund, would be taxed, and the clerk would not be subject to any deduction whatever of this kind from his salary. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM again said be had referred solely to the income derived by the Attorney General for Ireland from his professional exertions.] The Attorney General for Ireland would not be liable to the payment of the tax as regarded his professional emoluments; but neither would his clerk be subject to the tax, because the proposal to extend it to salaries had reference solely to salaries paid out of the Consolidated Fund. He was not arguing for the policy of this taxation at present, but meeting the extraordinary argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge—because he was quite ready to admit, if hon. Members opposite pleased and insisted on it, that residence in Ireland for a certain time might justify an exemption. The existing income tax operated in some respects in a very anomalous manner as regarded Irish property. Let them take the case of the absentee—a class for whom he had no manner of respect, and to whom he desired to show no measure of mercy— and sea how he was treated by this Act of Parliament, which was said to be of such sense and wisdom. If a nobleman drawing 50,000l. a year from Ireland paid it in to his banker in this city, he paid the income tax on it; if he went to Paris, and the money was sent over to his banker's there, he did not pay any income tax; and even if he lodged his money in an Irish bank, and lived here, and paid his bills by checks on that bank, he escaped payment of the tax. That was a point which he thought it would be necessary for them to consider when they came to a Committee on the Bill. It might be observed, in reply, that his argument on this point went far to prove that the land of Ireland should pay the income tax as well as the fundholder and the salaried Government officer. That was a very fair question, and one to which he would attempt to give an explicit answer. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to exempt the land, and he (Mr. Whiteside) submitted he did so on principle, and very properly. The hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall) had proposed to extend the income tax to the landed property of Ireland; and that question was to be met, not by taunts against 1606 the hon. Baronet for introducing such a proposition, but by convincing his Judgment that a tax on the land of Ireland would be injustice on injustice. It was not necessary for him to enter upon the history of the fiscal arrangements between the two countries at the time of the Union, or to remind the House bow Lord Castle-reagh declared at the time that the taxation of Ireland would henceforth be much less than it had been; bow the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge had frankly stated his belief that the burdens on Ireland were more than she could bear; or bow Lord Sydenham had exclaimed on one occasion that the taxation of Ireland was enough to bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of every British Minister. Just let the House consider the subject of the poor-rates alone. He was not appealing ad misericordiam. He scorned such an appeal to that House. If it was just that Ireland should pay this tax on her landed property, let them apply it at once; but he asked them to see how the matter really stood on that ground. Before the noble Lord the Member for London inflicted his Poor Law on Ireland, he sent over a Commissioner to report on her social condition. A Commissioner was generally a person who knew nothing of the country he was sent to before he set his foot on its shores, and very frequently gained but little knowledge of it after, or mistook what he saw; but Mr. Nicoll was a man of ability, and his opinion was entitled to respect. He was sent over to examine into the whole social system of Ireland to make out a ease for taxing that country, and to tax it with moderation for the introduction of a poor relief system. The result of his labours had been given to the House. That gentleman drew up a very able report—having persuaded himself that most persons he met in that country were in favour of the necessity of a poor-law—in which he said that a poor-law might be framed for Ireland, excluding external relief, and allowing only workhouse relief, except in cases of famine; and he estimated that that poor-law might be worked for a very moderate sum indeed. In the first year he calculated that if the workhouses were quite full, the cost would be 312,000l.; if they were three-fourths full 260,000l.; and, if only one-half full, 208,000l. On the faith of that statement the poor-law was introduced into Ireland; but what was the fact? What had been the tax upon the land, 1607 which neither the fundholder, nor the mortgagee, nor the annuitant paid? In the first year it was below Mr. Nicholl's estimate, and was only 37,000l.; in the second year it was 110,000l.; in the third year, 1842, it had increased to 181,000l.; in the fourth year it was 244,000l.; in the fifth year, 271,000l.; in the sixth year, 316,000l.; in the seventh, 435,000l.; in the eighth, 803,000l.; in the ninth, 1,835,000l.; and in the tenth year, 2,177,651l. Now, it was on that state of things that he (Mr. Whiteside) grounded his opposition to the extension of the income tax to the landed property of Ireland. He objected to the land of Ireland being subjected to any further tax when Parliament had, by its previous legislation, rendered it impossible for the landholders to bear it. Again, the corn laws had been unconditionally repealed, and the Irish landlords had said least about it, although they suffered most; and then to that abolition and the imposition of the poor-law had been superadded the Encumbered Estates Act, which sold out the landowners after their ruin had been completed. Now, he submitted that there was a clear, strong, plain ground upon which they ought not to extend this income tax to the land of Ireland, whatever might be thought proper in the case of funded property and salaried officers. Upon the general question it appeared to him that the very masterly arguments addressed to the House by the distinguished Gentlemen who, from time to time, had furnished the House with the opinions which they were so competent to give, had very much cleared the way and lessened the points of dispute. All were agreed that the relief to the shipping interest contemplated in the Budget was highly commendable. In the next place, all appeared to be of opinion that the duties on tea ought to be reduced; so much so, indeed, that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, it seemed, was, when in office, on the very point of framing a measure to accomplish the same thing, but the hurry of recent events disabled him from executing his plan. He was very much gratified to hear the eulogium pronounced by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir A. Cockburn) upon the system of graduated income tax; therefore upon that point, also, it was clear they were agreed. He (Mr. Whiteside) had endeavoured to satisfy the House upon other points. What, then, remained to which objections were urged? Two very 1608 important questions—one, the increase of the house tax, and the extension of its area? and the other, the proposed diminution of the malt duty. Now, of all the speeches to which he had listened upon the financial scheme of the Government, that of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) had certainly made most impression upon him for the clearness and fairness with which these questions were argued. The hon. and learned Member, whose meaning it was impossible ever to mistake, said, and said fairly, that the duty on malt was not desirable or defensible on economical grounds; but he argued that, as a matter of revenue, the duty could not be given up, and that if it were it would be no benefit to the consumer, in consequence of the monopoly enjoyed by the brewers. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman, by his admission in words that a tax upon raw material was not defensible upon principle, justified the attempt at least to deal with the malt tax. But scarcely had the hon. and learned Gentleman concluded his other argument, that no benefit would result to the consumer by the remission of this tax, and scarcely had he finished descanting upon the monopoly and exactions of the brewers, than up started the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass)—the practical manufacturer against the ingenious theorist— and he controverted every word the hon. and learned Member had spoken. The hon. Member for Derby showed the House, in shillings and in pence, what would be the benefit to the consumer by the contemplated remission; from which it appeared that the 10l. householder would gain between the reduction in the malt and tea duties very much more than was to be imposed upon him by the extension of the house tax to his tenement. Moreover, the hon. Member stated that there was a debt due by the brewer to the public consequent upon the reduced price of barley, and that if this proposed remission were carried, it was probable that both the original and the present debt would be paid largely and liberally to the public. If, then, he were to believe the statement of the hon. Member for Derby, the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman ought not to prevail with the House. Upon what principle was the malt tax justified? It was said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that a tax upon the people's food was wrong. Now, he wanted them to prove that the tax upon malt differed from other 1609 duties upon articles consumed by the people. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), in one of his ablest speeches spoken during the Administration of the late Sir Robert Peel, had given all the weight of his authority and the force of his arguments to the view of the case at present adopted by the Government; and he had said that if Parliament dealt with the corn laws the malt tax was so connected with them in principle that, if the tax upon corn were taken away, it would be impossible to retain that upon malt; in a word, the right hon. Baronet said that the repeal of the one tax must be followed by the repeal of the other. But notwithstanding that the prophecy remained unfulfilled, the value of the argument still remained; and he (Mr. Whiteside) would avail himself of the argument of so great a master of the subject—an argument which nobody had succeeded in answering during the whole of the present debate. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers) had distinctly said the same thing, and had admitted the connexion between the corn laws and the tax on malt; and he had told the farmers that if they would join with him in abolishing the one, he would help them to get rid of the other. It was then not to be wondered at that country gentlemen should be mistaken in the matter, considering the thickness of their understandings, much less the Boeotian farmers and labourers — especially when they found that superior authority the hon. Member for the West Riding positively and distinctly declaring to the farmers that he had a sympathy with them on the subject of the malt tax, and that he would undertake, if the corn laws were repealed, to get that tax abolished also. And, now, what did the hon. Gentleman propose to do for the farmers? Why, to his (Mr. Whiteside's) great surprise the hon. Gentleman discussed the subject now on sanitary grounds, and brought forward a certificate signed by fifteen doctors to the effect that malt liquor was not good for the stomach. The hon. Member had given the people bread, and he appeared to wish now that they should have bread and water. He (Mr. Whiteside) must say that, recollecting the hon. Gentleman's former argument, urged as it was with "eloquence unadorned," he could not help thinking his present language contrasted remarkably with it, and he could scarcely preserve the gravity becoming a deliberative assembly when he heard the hon. Member, 1610 on the authority of a trashy medical certificate, giving over the people to pills and physic, instead of allowing them to drink the beer and ale to which they had for centuries been accustomed. There was only one other point, and that was the constitutional question referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken. His argument was, that indirect taxation pressed heavily upon the working people and small householders. Agreed. And what was the reason it was now proposed to reduce the duties on tea and malt? Because it was an indirect taxation. And how were they to repeal these duties, and to mitigate the evils of indirect taxation, if they did not take the course proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and substitute a direct tax? Although hon. Members were right in saying that it would have been better to abolish the whole of the malt tax, they would find it difficult to convince the farmer and the consumer that one-half was not better than none. But then came the interesting and constitutional question of whether they ought or ought not to subject the 10l. householders to the tax paid by the 20l. householders; and he had been unable to discover a shadow of argument during this debate to justify the Parliament of this country in exempting that class from the operation of a tax which was admitted to be a just one; which was established because it was a wise mode of obtaining revenue, admitted of no evasion, and was easily collected. No clear or satisfactory argument had been offered to show that it was a constitutional thing that some 350,000 electors, holding political power, should not contribute to the direct taxation of the country. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir A. Cockburn) had said that they contributed something to indirect taxation. Well, but so did the 20l. householders; and upon what principle were the 10l. householders to possess the franchise, and outvote the former, when they did not pay direct taxes? Upon what principle was a large body of men holding supreme political power enabling them to tax other people not to be equally taxed themselves? Mr. M'Culloch had been quoted upon this subject, and this writer, in the course of his observations upon the house tax, made a reflection bearing upon the very point before the Committee, recording an opinion, from which no unprejudiced man in this country would dissent, that he was unable to apprehend why or wherefore the political 1611 franchise was to be given to the 10l. House holders while they were at the same time to; be exempt from contributing to the house tax. No authority could be quoted against this opinion; and if this, as he believed!, were the great question now before them why should the hon. and learned Gentleman imagine that he would argue the Committee "out of their convictions by telling them that the 10l. householders, were so averse' to the proposition, and certain boroughs. so objected to it, that the- Member for those' places- would be afraid to. look their constituents in the face if they voted for the increase and extension of the tax? This principle, if carried out, would be a deadly blow to Parliamentary representation.; but he trusted that such representations, would not influence the Committee, and that, if they were of opinion that the tax were a, just one, they would vote for extending it, and would net be affected by other considerations than by a sense of what was due to their own judgment, their own self-respect, and to the good of their country.
§ VISCOUNT DRUMLANRIG
said, he. would remind the Committee that the Scotch agriculturists, at least, had not been in the habit of publicly asking for relief in consequence of legislative changes; and he weald appeal to hon. Members; whether Scotland deserved to be singled oat in order to he. victimised by this Budget, for the purpose of allowing the right hon. Gentleman to extend to some few and favoured localities the remission of the malt tax? In his opinion the farmers of Scotland had not once entered into the minds of Ministers in the course of the last ten months, for their exclusive attention had been given to the English farmer. But, though he did not wish invidiously to contrast the conduct of Scotch farmers, daring the last six years, with the conduct of the English agriculturist, he might at least be permitted to say, that in Scotland there had never been any suing in forma pauperis for assistance from the Government. The Resolution which the Committee was now discussing, must, he supposed, be taken as the results of the promises of relief held out to the agriculturists by the right hon. Gentleman as "looming in the future;" and, as a representative of a constituency which was one of those spoken to, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he wished it to he believed that he had redeemed those promises, or whether he bad not 1612 been guilty of a cruel and a heartless hoax? They had been told that the British farmer was a primitive sort of person, who would believe anything he was told; but he (Viscount Drumlanrig) said they (the Ministerial party) had rashly and recklessly misled the British farmer. ["Oh, oh"] They had rashly and recklessly misled him by false hopes and by impossible promises, and they had made him a laughing-stock to the whole, community at. large. There was in this world a knowledge which experience alone could give, and he trusted, if ever the British farmer should be again in similar circum! stances, he would profit in the future by his knowledge of the past, and not trust these who had made political capital of him; and, though the. hon. Member who spoke last threw a taunt at the hen. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) on this subject, he (Viscount Drumlanrig) had not the slightest hesitation in saying that the farmers, of England could tell by their own knowledge who were their best friends. The Resolutions contained in the Budget, after all, were nothing very startling, or, at all events, nothing very novel — all thing were to he put right by taking off some old and well-known taxes, and other equally old and equally well-known taxes were to be increased; hut he regretted it would not, as had been predicted of it, "put an end to the war of classes." His complaint against it was this, that in Scotland, while it would cause an in-crease of taxation in some respects, there would be no deductions whatever. The Scotch farmers would tell them that a remission of half the malt tax, so far as it went, would do them no good, for they consumed little or no beer; and he believed that any Gentleman who had ever tasted the hospitality of the Scotch farmers would confirm him in saying that be never saw beer on their tables. As far as the propositions respecting the house tax went, it depended on what principles the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the Committee to consider them. The principle of a house tax was a good principle; but this time it was only proposed to enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to confer a sham benefit in lieu of protection on certain agricultural constituencies; but, as regarded the malt tax, there was no agitation for its repeal, nor had there been any petitions for its repeal presented to that House. He had never before heard of such an unwise piece of 1613 legislation as voluntarily to throw away 2,500,000l. of revenue which no one complained of, and which was so easily collected. All he would say was this, that nothing could be more injudicious than that it should go forth to the world that they gave up this revenue for the express purpose of benefiting the farmers and landed proprietors, when, neither directly nor indirectly, would the agriculturists, as a body, benefit by it at all. The principle of the house tax might be just, and he thought fairer, after all, than an income tax; but that was not the point. It was very different when they (the Government) came to ask a repeal of the malt tax on true free-trade principles in the interest of the consumer, because they had a surplus to enable them to do so, and then ask for an increased house tax and income tax. The farmers of Scotland had not looked for much from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had never deluded them. They knew that protection meetings and speeches three days a week had been very inimical to high farming, and to the payment of rents: self-reliance had been their motto, and they looked for nothing in the way of compensation; but they did not expect that in the very first Budget of the right hon. Gentleman they would find their burdens greatly increased. In Scotland, down to the present time, there was hardly a farmer who ever paid house tax; but now, if this Budget passed, almost every farmer would have to pay it. When the late Sir Robert Peel introduced the income tax in 1841, it was his intention to assess the profits of farms in England and Scotland at half the rent; but some one—he believed it was the Earl of Aberdeen—clearly showed that would be unfair, because the rents in Scotland were collected on a very different principle to what prevailed in England. As the law now stood, no farmer paid income tax on any farm of less than 450l. rent; but if this Budget passed, all farms of 300l. rent would have to pay the tax; and the practical result would be that the farmers of Scotland would be much worse off than they are now. On these grounds he (Viscount Drumlanrig) should decidedly oppose the Budget.
§ COLONEL BLAIR
said, he should not have risen but for the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Dumfries (Viscount Drumlanrig); but he begged to state that, as far as respected the county he had the honour 1614 to represent (Ayrshire), the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, as a whole, had been favourably received by his constituents. With regard to the house tax, he thought that those who would have to pay it would receive more than an equivalent from the remissions contained in the other parts of the Budget. Scotland, he believed, would particularly benefit from the reduction of the tea duty. They did not, to be sure, drink much beer, but that was no reason why we should not have our beer cheaper. The effect of the readjustment of,] the income and property tax proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be, that while the Scotch farmer at present paid 2½d. in the pound on his profits, he would in future only pay 1¼d. Those engaged in trades and professions in that country would also unquestionably benefit by the modification of the income tax proposed in the Budget; an assertion in which he felt sure that he must be correct when the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) said that he was astonished the late Government had omitted to bring forward such a proposition in their Budgets. The hon. Member for the West Riding, instead of being proud of the victory he had gained for free trade, seemed only to wish to taunt hon. Members on that (the Government) said of the House, and said they were "looking down." He (Colonel Blair) begged to say, he thought that hon. Member did not understand what were the feelings of hon. Gentleman on that side of the House, if he thought they were "looking down." That hon. Member, who had now had the opportunity of agitating against a grievance, threatened us with a renewal of that war of classes which every honest man in that House rejoiced was now terminated, because hon. Members on that side of the House did not "look down," as he said they ought to do, after the defeat they had sustained. He would tell him, however, that they treated his threats with scorn— if that was a parliamentary term. And with respect to the word "compensation" which he had ferretted out in these Resolutions, and upon which he threatened to agitate, he would tell him that there was in the Budget no more compensation than the farmers had a right to expect in the adjustment of a new system of taxation, and indeed he was afraid that many of them would not be satisfied with it. He had, however, that opinion of the farmers 1615 of this country that he believed they would not follow the example of the hon. Member for the West Riding; if there was agitation, it would not be commenced by them.
§ MR. G H. MOORE
said, that the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, in the elaborate argument which he had addressed to the Committee, had, although he quoted various Acts of Parliament, failed to convey to his mind the slightest idea as to whether he approved of the extension of the income tax to Ireland, or whether he conceived that the present Budget contained that liberal and generous policy towards that country which was promised in the Speech from the Throne. He had heard, with more curiosity than edification, the elaborate mystifications which had been introduced into this debate, and which tended both to embarrass and discredit their proceedings. He wished now, however, to call their attention to another "misapprehension." "Misapprehension" was, indeed, the palladium of Her Majesty's Government; their whole existence depended on it; in time it extended over two Parliaments, and in area over the whole Empire. If everybody had not always and everywhere misapprehended everything they said, where—and above all, what—would the present Ministers and their supporters have been? If the people of England had not misunderstood the issue on which they went before God and their country, what would have become of many of those hon. Gentlemen whom personally he was very glad to see on the benches opposite? If the Irish landlords had not misapprehended the promises that were made to them before the elections, and the policy which was to be contained in the Budget, where would have been the exclusive support which the Government had received from that united and disinterested body? But he would ask those hon. Gentlemen—above all, he would ask an eloquent countryman of his—where now was that "liberal and generous" cooperation which, but a very short time ago, in the innocence of his heart, the exuberance of his fancy, and, as he (Mr. Moore) believed, in the sincerity of his convictions, who had taunted hon. Members on his (Mr. Moore's) side of the House, with delaying them; he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, was that "liberal and generous" spirit to be found in the present extension of the income tax to Ireland, which 1616 necessarily involved its future extension to the landed property of that country? Was it in the contemptuous refusal of the Government to accede to the recommendation of the House of Lords on the Consolidated Annuities?—a Committee fraudulently set up for electioneering purposes, and audaciously disregarded as soon as those purposes had been served. With regard to the extension of the income tax to Ireland, he would recall to the Committee a little incident which occurred at a previous period. On the eve of an important division, on which the existence of the late Government was supposed to depend, and upon the issue of which they actually tendered their resignation, a rumour was circulated in the lobbies that the Earl of Derby had expressed an opinion that it would be necessary to extend the income tax to Ireland; and that report was found to operate so prejudicially on Irish Members on both sides of the House, that it was found necessary for a right hon. Gentleman of considerable importance in the then Opposition to rise and deny the rumour indignantly. That avowal was received in the sense in which such avowals were usually received amongst English gentlemen. In another sense—in that of the "juggling fiend that lies like truth"— it was no doubt capable of a facile explanation; but it was received in the natural sense that the words conveyed—that it was not the Earl of Derby's intention to extend the income tax to Ireland—and the Irish Representatives then voted in full reliance on that avowal. He maintained that with respect to the Consolidated Annuities a great fraud and political deception had been practised upon the people of Ireland, either by the Government or by the candidates at the late elections; and it was his opinion that that imputation did not rest upon the latter. He called upon them as honourable men, and as men accustomed to speak the truth in the old sense in which the truth used to be understood and spoken, to say whether they did not tell their constituents, the landlords of Ireland, that they had good reason to know that the recommendation of the Lords' Committee on this subject would be acceded to by the Government, and to convince those constituents, not only by word, but deed, that the deception which had been practised did not rest with them. He denied that in the course he was about to take on this question he was actuated by party motives. He believed the people 1617 of England looked deeper into this question of taxation than a mere readjustment of burdens; and that they regarded such schemes as the present in the same light as that of the Irishman who proposed to lengthen his blanket by cutting a piece off the bottom and sewing it on at the top. They looked to the expenditure, both home as well as colonial, which they desired to see reformed, nor would they be satisfied with these financial fencing matches between rival Chancellors of the Exchequer, as to who should have the honour had profit of overtaxing the public. And if he believed that the expulsion of the present Government from power would lead to the establishment of a Government of progress in their place, nobody would enter into this contest with more hearty party spirit than he. But if they were to be succeeded by a Government like the last, or one constituted on equally do-nothing principles, he believed that such a contingency would be infinitely more fatal to the cause of progress and liberal government in this country than even the continuance in office of the present Administration. In the vote he was about to give, he should be actuated by no motive except a sincere and earnest sense of the duty he owed to his countrymen, who—and especially Gentlemen professing Conservative opinions— were filled with an unanimous sense of indignation at the manner in which Ireland was deserted, assailed, and betrayed in the present Budget. He told hon. Gentlemen opposite that the landlords of Ireland mainly concurred with him in the opinions he had uttered, and that if they allowed themselves on this occasion to be the dupes of exhausted frauds and exploded fictions, they would neither represent the feelings of the masses nor the landowners of Ireland. If by their votes they contributed to impose the income tax on Ireland, or surrendered the interests of that country at discretion, as they seemed prepared to do, he hoped they would never again canvass an Irish constituency under false pretences, or Irish Gentlemen with false promises; and, above all, that they would never accuse any other men of deserting the interests of their country for the purposes of faction.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, that he must disclaim the idea that he was committed by the vote he should give on the present occasion to the details of the Budget, which he reserved to himself the fullest right of canvassing when they were sub- 1618 mitted to the House. He agreed with the hon. Member in regretting that the income tax should have been partially extended to Ireland by the Budget; if it was to be so extended it should have been imposed on the land of Ireland as well as on funds and salaries. He was sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should in this case have departed from his own apothegm, that a system of direct taxation could not be based on exemptions, and he thought that, considering the small amount he would gain by the proposed extension — only 60,000l.—and the great amount of vituperation, obstruction, and hostility that it would excite, he would find the gain to the Exchequer remarkably dear at the price. The hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne), to whom the House was much indebted for the labour and time which he bestowed on his Parliamentary impromptus, and who drew upon his memory for his jokes, and upon his imagination for his facts, said the other night that the Budget was framed in a spirit of compensation to the land—although the landed interest had to bear its share in the additional burdens to be imposed; and he added that it was framed in a spirit of revenge against the 10l. householders, although half the Members on the Ministerial side of the House were indebted for their seats to that portion of the constituency. With respect to the Government proposals on the malt tax, he should oppose them if ever they came before the House. An illustrious predecessor of the Chancellor of the Exchequer used often to say that he had three courses open to him; but the right hon. Gentleman was more fortunate, for he had three courses besides the one he adopted—he might have treated the malt tax as he did the tea duties; he might have totally repealed it, or he might have left it as it was at present; and he (Mr. Peacocke) thought that any of these would have been preferable to the course which he had actually adopted. By that course the cost of the collection, as compared with the receipts, would be doubled; and the inquisitorial character of the tax, and its interference with the use of malt for agricultural purposes, would still remain undiminished. With regard to the relief to the consumer, he thought that every one who had watched the price of beer would observe that it formed an exception to all the rules of political economy, in not—like all other manufactured articles—varying with the cost of the raw 1619 material. Either, then, it was a popular delusion that the component parts of beer were malt and hops, or the present licensing system gave the brewers a virtual monopoly against the consumers; and he could not consent to sacrifice two and. a half millions of revenue without a searching investigation into the present system of licensing. The highest estimate that had been given of the benefit that would be derived by the consumer from the repeal of half this tax was a farthing a quart on the wholesale price; and he would ask the House what possible benefit could be derived by the great mass of the consumers, who purchased their beer in pints and half pints, the proportionate diminution in the price of which could not be expressed in any existing coin? Then as to the farmer: it might benefit the barley-growing districts of Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, and perhaps the hop-growers of Kent; but it could not be any advantage to the clay lands of Northamptonshire, the eider distriots of Worcestershire, or the grazing districts of Somersetshire. As a measure of agricultural relief, it must be partial in its operation, and local in its nature. And indeed, in order to show that it would not benefit the farmer, he might refer to the authority of the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Ball), who told the House that the benefit he would derive from this measure would be more than counterbalanced by the admission of foreign malt. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) said the other night, with great apparent regret, that he regretted the local burdens had been thrown over on the present occasion. It was delightful to be able to sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, and he would fain mingle his regrets on this point with those of the right hon. Baronet, although perhaps in a different spirit. Though he (Mr. Peacocke) had always been a free-trader, yet he had always held, and did so still, that the land of the country was subject to an unequal amount of taxation from local burdens. He admitted the difficulty of legislating on the subject, and he objected to the transfer of the poor-rates to the Consolidated Fund, which was nothing more than communism, or to dispensing with local assessment and with local self-control; but still the fact was flagrant, when two men residing in the same parish, and having an income of 5,000l. each, the one who derived it from the funds or from a mortgage was not 1620 even assessed to the poor-rate, while the other, who derived it from land, paid 300l., he did not see how it could be maintained that poor-rate was a national burden, and not one falling on a particular class. When they started the farmer in the race of unrestricted competition, they ought to have seen that he was equally taxed with his competitors: the whole subject should have undergone a full investigation, for so long as the land was exclusively saddled with the poor-rate, the cry of protection would never be stifled, nor would that for justice to the British agriculturist be terminated. He could most cordially support the propositions of the Government with respect to the house tax, not only with respect to the principle of the tax, but also as to the propriety of extending it to 10l. houses, and of limiting it at that amount. He thought it was desirable to extend the area of the tax to those houses, because representation and taxation should, as nearly as possible, be co-extensive; and he thought it should not go lower, because the houses of less rent were chiefly inhabited by the labouring classes. It should be one of the first principles of taxation that the necessaries of life should be exempted from taxation; and what was a greater necessary than a house? The Member for the West Biding said that this tax was one which would fall exclusively on the towns; but the fact was that it applied to houses wherever it found them, whether in town or country. This tax was, moreover, as he believed, a sound one in principle; it did not raise the price of any article of food, and it had these advantages over the income tax, that it was a tax on expenditure, and one, therefore, tending to induce economy instead of diminishing consumption. No tax could be pointed out more fair, or less oppressive and inquisitorial. It was said the other evening by the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done wrong in attempting to repeal the malt tax, having to propose other taxes of a direct nature to supply the deficiency. But the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten that the late Sir Robert Peel had found a deficit of two millions and a half (thanks to Gentlemen opposite), and yet, notwithstanding, had set about large remissions of duties; while, on the other hand, be was compelled to resort to the income tax to make it up.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
That was the same thing. [Laughter.] The principle was the same. The course pursued by the late Sir Robert Peel in this respect was substantially the same as that now proposed. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, found imposts pressing on consumption, and he proposed, like him, to take them off, and to impose a tax to make up the deficiency. But they were told that the extension of the house tax would tend to disfranchise the 10l. householders, because they were so indifferent to the suffrage that they would never consent to pay a few shillings a year extra to preserve it. This was not the language the House had been accustomed to hear from hon. Gentlemen opposite. They used to allege that all the intelligence and patriotism of the country was concentrated in that class; and that all who did not possess the franchise were serfs beyond the pale of the constitution; while, according to the hon. Member for the West Riding, such we their eagerness to possess the suffrage that they were investing all their savings on the very questionable security offered by freehold land societies. Now, however, they said they did not think the suffrage worth even a few shillings. It was not for him to reconcile these conflicting statements of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) had, however, threatened them with an agitation on this subject from the 10l. householders. Now, Bath was a very dull place, and no doubt its inhabitants might be glad of a little excitement; but he hoped that, however terrible the agitation of the Bath householders might be, hon. Gentlemen would not be deterred by it from upholding the present measure, and supporting the principles they had themselves laid down. He (Mr. Peacocke) should support it, because it was founded on the principles of economical science, and because it was a continuation and extension of that policy which the House had already recognised when they declared, in the language of the Resolution of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), that to it we are indebted for the improved condition of the labouring classes, consequent upon the diminished price and increased abundance of the principal articles of consumption.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
begged, before entering on the general question to 1622 say something with respect to the part of the Budget which peculiarly related to the department which he formerly had had the honour of filling, and with regard to which, in fairness to those who had acted with him, it was right that some explanation should be given. He would refer more particularly to that part of it that had relation to the shipping interest; and he begged to remind the Committee that within a very short period the shipping interest had been relieved by the late President of the Board of Trade for charges to the amount of 120,000l. by the operation of the arrangements of the Trinity House, which were carried out under his superintendence. On that subject, therefore, it would appear that no great neglect was attributable to the late Government. It was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to relieve the shipping interest by altering the arrangements which allowed the merchant sailor to enter into the service; but he did not believe that the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would be of great importance. He believed that, in point of fact, it would leave things very much as they were before; but he begged leave to say that the subject had not been neglected by the late Administration. The strictest orders had been sent out by them to prevent any abuses on that score, and every officer was called upon to report distinctly every case in which a sailor was admitted under that peculiar clause; and if the order had been looked after with attention, he did not believe that abuses could exist. Lastly, with regard to salvage, the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to state what had been done by previous Governments; and on that point he (Sir F. Baring) had to thank the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) for doing justice to the late Government. The subject had been looked into by the late Board of Admiralty, and an arrangement made by which the demands of the Navy were limited to cases where great and important service had been done, and where risk of life had been incurred; and no claim would be recognised except in those cases which had been submitted to the admiral on the station, and which had received his sanction. He admitted that claims had been made which ought not to have been set up; but in many cases that arose from the claims having been placed in the hands of agents, who were naturally anxious to do the best for their 1623 clients. Undoubtedly there had been abuses in the system; but those abuses, by the circular from the late Board of Admiralty which was laid upon the table, had been in a great degree corrected. He quite admitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer went further than the late Government, and had abandoned the claim for salvage; but that was not the demand of the shipping interest. He had a memorial in his hand, with which he should not trouble the Committee, in which the shipping interest did not desire that the claim should be abandoned, but put upon a proper footing. Let the Committee recollect that the claim was a legal claim, not established by an order of the Admiralty, but by the law of the land; and when property was saved, the salvor had as much right to his salvage as the party had to his property. He must say that where the merchant received very large benefits at the risk of the life of the sailor, it would be a hard case entirely to deprive the sailor of all claim for salvage. Let them regulate it as much as they pleased, and see that the service was fairly done; but it would not be worthy of the merchants of England to deprive the sailor of his salvage. The claim now existed by law, though the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was to be got rid of by an order from the Admiralty. He (Sir F. Baring) hoped that would not be attempted, and that they would not place the head of the Naval Department in such a position. The law of the land gave the sailor the claim, and the sailor knew it, and if he were deprived of it by Admiralty order would say that though the law gave it to him, the Admiralty would not allow him to receive it. If they wished to get rid of the claim entirely, let them get rid of it by law, but let them not throw the responsibility on the Admiralty, or cause them to issue directions distinctly contrary to law. He should now turn to the Budget, but would not repeat what had been urged by Gentlemen at that side of the House. He would not go over the figures of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, but would leave them in the hands of his right hon. Friend (Sir C. Wood), and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). He agreed with them in their opinion as to the arrangement with regard to tea; he agreed with them that in touching the hop duty the right hon. Gentleman had not 1624 shown much wisdom in touching it and leaving one half; he agreed with them that if he touched only one half of the malt duty, it was likely to produce but little benefit; he agreed with them also that the right hon. Gentleman's surplus was one of a very doubtful nature; for example, the saving he calculated upon with respect to the Kafir war, the termination of which was rather "looming in the distance," was not one for a financial Minister to rely upon; he agreed with them that his arrangement with regard to the Irish funds was a breach of the public faith; and he entirely concurred with them in thinking that the right hon. Gentleman's Budget had left the finances of the country in a state that was neither secure nor satisfactory. He was especially anxious to call the attention of the Committee more particularly to the proposition now under consideration, namely, the house tax. It was very easy for an hon. Gentleman to say, "I am for an income tax—I am for a house tax;" but what they had to consider was, the house tax and the income tax proposed to them. The right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland had stated that it was a constitutional principle that a 10l. householder having a vote should pay direct taxation. He was rather astonished that such a constitutional principle should come from such a high authority. If it were correct that direct taxation and the right of voting should be coextensive, then why should not the 10l. householders in counties have the franchise? Let that constitutional principle be established, and there would be also something "looming in the future" for Ireland; and Irish Members, by supporting the theory of the right hon. Gentleman, would be preparing the way for the introduction of a house tax into Ireland. Was that the reason which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in his opening speech for extending that tax? On the contrary, the right hon. Gentleman intimated that he had no particular fancy for 10l. He (Sir F. Baring) was of opinion that it was not wise to strain direct taxation too far, and he warned hon. Gentlemen that if they attempted to include too large a body, either in the income tax or any other tax, they would cause so much dissatisfaction that they would risk the public credit for a time. With respect to the house tax now under consideration, he confessed he was not one of the new-fashioned admirers of 1625 it. A great many philosophers argued that the duty on bricks and glass ought to be repealed, and that the taxes should be taken off timber, tiles, and slates; but when the bricks were built into a wall— when the timber was cut into rafters— when the roof was covered with tiles, and when the light was admitted by windows, then they said that, although they would not on any one of those articles demand duty, they would on the aggregate levy upon them the house tax. These philosophers also said, "Don't tax the necessaries of life—above all, the necessaries of life should be free from taxation." It was said that sugar, tea, and beer, were necessaries of life, and he read somewhere that a newspaper was a necessary of life; but was not a house a necessary of life also? He should like to see one of the purest of those political economists without a house, and then ask him whether he thought that a house was a mere luxury or a necessary of life? It was said that a tax on houses did not interfere with trade; but, if the agricultural interest were to have a tax placed on their farmhouses, would they say it was no interference with agriculture? Was not a house tax placed on an inn held by lease an interference, and a very severe one too, with trade? It was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the house tax was an income tax, and varied according to a man's income, but was better than an income tax, because it was more easily collected. Now he (Sir F. Baring) utterly denied that such was the fact. To take the figures of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when a man with 50l. a year paid 10l. for rent, did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that a man with 5,000l. a year paid 1,000l. a year for rent; or that a man with 10,000l. a year income paid 2,000l. a year rent? Was there the slightest degree of proportion between what was paid for house rent by the lower classes, and what was paid for house rent by the higher classes. The case of the house at Knowle, near Sevenoaks, which was mentioned on a previous occasion, was well known. It was a large house, almost a palace, and did the Committee know the rent at which it had been valued? The rent was only 50l. a year, and bore no proportion to the means of the occupier. He might be told that that was a single and accidental case; but he believed, on the contrary, in respect to very large and enormous houses, not only that no rent of importance could be 1626 got in many cases, but that, generally speaking, the proprietors were obliged to persons for occupying them, and keeping them in repair. In 1833 and 1834 there were an immense number of returns, showing the unfair working of the house tax. For example, there were resident in Hampshire two Dukes, one Marquess, three Earls, six Lords, and several Commoners. Of their houses, one was rated at 240l. a year, and only two rated at 200l. a year; and he asked if that amount were by any means in proportion with their incomes? He would next call attention to the state of circumstances in this respect in Portsmouth and Winchester. He would take three inns, the highest of which was rated at 350l. a year, whilst the highest of the country gentlemen's houses was rated at 240l. The next highest of the inns was rated at 300l., the second highest of country gentlemen's houses being 200l. It was now proposed to double the house tax, and it was said that men would pay it according to their income; but this he denied; and, taking the case of a person having two houses, one in the town, and one in the country, it was plain his income was the same in whichever he lived; but when he shifted his residence from Bel-grave-square to the country, he found that he was paying a very different amount of rent. He wished hon. Members would call for returns and see what was really the fact. He admitted there were great objections to the window tax, of a sanitary nature; and facts which had recently come to his knowledge led him to believe that the greatest benefit had resulted from the change. But the relief was mainly given to the great houses of gentlemen in the country. His right hon. Friend (Sir C. Wood), when arguing the question the other night, had exposed himself to a lecture from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary for the mode in which he had commented upon the proposition of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer; but it should be recollected that the right hon. Gentleman, on whom his Colleague passed such a high panegyric, was not free from the charge of using similar language himself, when from the Opposition benches he attacked the Ministry, or when, as a Minister, he assailed his opponents. He now came to a question on, which he was very anxious to say a few words. He had formerly expressed opinions with regard to the income tax which were different from those 1627 that were generally prevalent. He said that if they continued the income tax, he thought they must reconsider it with the view of making it fairer. He then said that he did not think it would he a breach of the public faith if they taxed the fundholder in the same manner, and at the same rate, as they taxed other incomes of a similar nature. Holding those opinions he had felt it his duty to consider the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to see whether the plan of taxing industrial incomes less than other incomes was carried out in a fair way. He admitted the extreme difficulties of imposing a fair income tax; but if you could not effect precise accuracy in the arrangement, you should at least aim at an approximation to accuracy; but this approximation was by no means manifest in the schemes before the Committee. There seemed, in fact, no principle whatever recognisable in that scheme. It purported to draw a distinction between realised property and precarious property; yet classes of property which came rightly within the one class were placed arbitrarily within the other. There was no principle in the distinctions of Schedules A, B, C, D. They were of use in collecting the income tax; but when you received the income tax it must be revised, not according to the Schedules A, B, C, but some principle. The right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions were all about the alphabet—he had not yet got beyond the alphabet; but let him abandon his schedules and look to principles. There were incomes from land that descended, and from the funds; there were the incomes of professional men that ceased with life, and might even cease during life from the chances of ill-health and the want of professional success; there was another class with mixed incomes—bankers, merchants, and other traders—where the income did not cease entirely with the death of the party, for when a party died, the son frequently succeeded to the business, or, if the whole were wound up, there was a property remaining. It was impossible to arrive at perfect accuracy in fixing the amount of income tax to be paid by each person; and the utmost they could do was to make some approximation to justice. But was it an approximation to justice to tax the lawyer, the medical man, the brewer, the banker, and merchant at the same rate? There was as much difference between the personal income and the mixed income as there was between an income 1628 derived from landed property and from other sources. But, take the Chancellor of the Exchequer's principle, was it carried out by the proposals he had embodied in his Resolutions? If a man held property in land in England, he paid 7d.; if he had realised property in Ireland, and did not reside there, he paid 5¼d.; if he resided in Ireland, he paid nothing at all. If he had property in the English funds, he paid 7d. in the pound; if he had property in the foreign funds, he paid 5½d. If he had an income derived from railways in England, he paid 7d.; if he had an income derived from foreign railways, he paid 5½d. If he received 50l. out of the funds in England, he paid 7d.; and if he received it from the foreign funds he paid 5½d. They were so set down in the Schedule A, B, or C, and that was the only explanation given with regard to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Dividends in the public funds above 50l. paid 7d.; and he must say it was worth consideration whether such property in England should be subjected to a tax of 7d., when money in the foreign funds was only charged 5½d. For the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer to make such an arrangement, whose business it was to look after the funds of the country, was committing suicide. On looking to Schedule D, in what the right hon. Gentleman called precarious incomes, though it was difficult to arrive at an understanding of his application of the term —the person who had an annuity charged on land, down to 50l. a year was to pay 7d. in the pound; whereas the person who had an annuity charged on land in Ireland, under 1002., paid nothing at all, the property being equally real property in both cases. In point of fact, out of the exemptions allowed by the right hon. Gentleman in respect of precarious incomes, no fewer than ten were upon incomes derived from realised property in the clearest sense of the term. He thought he had proved to the Committee that if they really intended to carry out the true principle in this case, the Resolution could not pass, and must be withdrawn. He thought they had a right to know how the right hon. Gentleman was to carry out his principle. It was no satisfaction to be told, "Vote the Resolution, and by-and-by I will bring in a Bill that is totally different from the Resolution." He always considered, when a Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to repeal any tax, that it was his duty to 1629 state how he would raise a sufficient amount to meet the deficiency that might be created; that is to say, that he should be prepared to balance accounts. But the supporters of Government were now told they might reduce the tax in Committee, and were now only called upon for a vote on the principle of the Budget. But if hon. Gentlemen voted against the amount of the tax, what became of the Budget? If they voted for the whole Budget as it stood, he (Sir F. Baring) could understand that they would have something to say to their constituents. They would be able to say, that true enough they voted for the increase of the house tax, but then they (their constituents) had got cheap beer. But if they voted for a small house tax, what became of the beer? It would be impossible to reduce the duty on malt. What would be the answer of hon. Gentlemen in such a case? They would say that they voted for the principle; but he (Sir F. Baring) did not think that would satisfy their constituents, who would very likely say that principle was rather at a discount in the present day.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, after four nights of criticism, conducted by some of the most considerable reputations in this House, on the financial propositions that I have laid on the table of the Committee, I now rise to vindicate those propositions. If in the observations, which I will endeavour to condense as much as I can, I omit noticing any of the objections which have been urged against those propositions, I hope the Committee will ascribe that negligence to inadvertence, and not to design. Having listened with the respect and attention naturally due to such words from such lips, I can conscientiously say that I have heard nothing that, in my opinion, has successfully impugned the policy which, as the organ of the Government, I have recommended; and I am prepared to meet the objections which have been urged, and to show to the Committee that they are unfounded and illusory.
When, with the great indulgence of the House on Friday week, I attempted to make a general exposition of the financial policy of the Government—when, exhausting, I am conscious, the patience of the House, as well as myself, I endeavoured, in the fulfilment of my duty, to give—I will not call them estimates—but to give such information as was necessary as to the effect of the alterations that we proposed on the re- 1630 venue of the next year and the year immediately following—I did not then attempt to substantiate that statement by details. I felt that at that moment the House was too exhausted to listen to those details; I felt that the general statement would undergo the scrutiny of persons competent to invalidate its accuracy, if inaccuracy could be proved to exist; and I felt that I should have the opportunity, with the permission of the House, of answering such criticisms in due time. I will now, therefore, in the first place, address myself to the statement which I made generally as to the effect of these alterations on the revenue of the two years under discussion; and I will apply myself, in the first instance, to the two important arraignments of the policy which we recommend, made principally by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood).
And, first, I will address myself to that sum of 400,00l. which, under the name of repayments, I recommend to the Committee to adopt and to sanction as part of the Ways and Means of the impending year. That proposed course was at once denounced by the Member for the University of Oxford, and afterwards assailed in language and in a tone somewhat unusual —certainly not very Parliamentary—by the right hon. Member for Halifax; for, instead of addressing his observations to you, Sir, he addressed, throughout his speech, his observations to myself. On a subsequent occasion, another right hon. Gentleman—a great authority in this House (Sir James Graham)—entered amply, and with the advantage which days of meditation on the subject gave him, into the same topic, enlarging upon it with a minuteness which was not observed in the attack of the Member for the University of Oxford, and which was scorned by the Member for Halifax. These three great authorities have combined to influence the opinion of the Committee on the subject. I am not sure whether a third ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer has touched on it, for, unfortunately, I was absent from the House during part of the time he was addressing the Committee— probably, however, he did not spare me any more than his right hon. Friends have done. It is for me now to show—if the Committee will, as I have no doubt, after these attacks, it will, give me its kind and patient attention—that the propositions I made bear a very different character and 1631 complexion from those which these authorities have so strenuously sought to induce the Committee to believe. There are two points in this subject before the Committee: first, was I justified in recommending that the establishment in question should be abolished? secondly, if I was justified in that recommendation, was I justified in also recommending that the repayments should take their place in the Ways and Means? These are the two issues in this matter before the Committee; I trust I have stated them fairly. I must advert briefly to the origin of this department of the Public Works Loan Commission, which on the former occasion I alluded to cursorily. I observed, then, that this department had its origin in circumstances exactly the reverse of those under which it now exists, and that it was occasioned by causes which now no longer operate. At the peace, there being surplus population and deficient capital, the labour market throughout the country being suddenly disturbed, and unexpected hands let loose on society, the amount of unemployed labour being increased and aggravated by a body of 200,000 seamen and soldiers all at once disbanded, the Government of that day felt it necessary to take some artificial means of employing that surplus labour in a state of society where capital was deficient. It is not necessary for us to enter into any discussion as to the policy or impolicy of such a proceeding. Probably mere political economists might not approve of it — probably statesmen under circumstances so urgent, though they might not have abstractedly approved of it, might have been forced to have recourse to such a measure. However this may be, a department was established which, by the credit of Exchequer bills issued by the State, raised money and employed that money in what is called "public works." That system went on for, I think, nearly fifteen years. Nearly 3,000,000l. of Exchequer bills had been issued, and those which had been so issued for that purpose were not of so favourite a character in the market as the usual Supply Exchequer bills; and it was found necessary or convenient to terminate the issue. In the year 1842, the point from which we depart, the account was taken of that fund. It appeared at that time that in round numbers the sum of 3,000,000l. had been raised by Exchequer bills thus issued; that of that sum 2,000,000l. had been paid off, and that 1632 1,046,000l. remained at that time unsettled, if I may use the expression; and to close the transaction they were funded. From -that period, by Act of Parliament, it was arranged instead of loans raised on Exchequer bills, the same Commissioners, for the same purpose, should receive a sum of money to the amount of 360,000l. a year from the Consolidated Fund. The sum which we have actually to deal with is 300,000l. per annum, for by a subsequent arrangement 60,000l., a portion of that sum, was transferred to the use of Ireland only for public works; and with that we do not propose to deal. Well, now, Sir, the Member for Carlisle has dilated in almost moving terms upon the benefit of the loan fund, especially to the country gentlemen. He has eulogised its good administration by the unpaid Commissioners, whose respectable and respected names he read to the Committee; nor should he have forgotten—though he omitted it I am sure only from inadvertence—to have recorded, also, the names of the respected officers connected with that fund, whose performance of their duties should not, I think, be overlooked at this moment, whatever our opinion may be upon other subjects. I am willing to admit that so far as those unpaid Commissioners and those sedulous officials are concerned, there are few blots in the administration of that fund during a long period by them. On the contrary, I think I may say that they have conducted themselves with unimpeachable assiduity and care. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, passing on, has dilated upon the importance of this fund, especially to the country gentlemen. With this fund, according to him, bridges have been erected, union workhouses built, lunatic asylums and public gaols have risen—
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Well, enlarged; the right hon. Gentleman may have the benefit of the correction. Certainly, he talked of this fund circulating to the constant advantage of the landed interest, and he asked, "If that assistance is withdrawn, what are they to do?" "Why has he touched it," said the right hon. Gentleman with indignation, "not a single shilling has been lost—why has he touched it?" Now, Sir, of funds of this nature there is one general observation to make, which, before we enter, into the consideration of its particular man- 1633 agement, should not be omitted. This fund proposed to lend money at a higher rate of interest than the rate prevailing in what is called "the money market." According to the Member for Halifax, that was in order that the money market should not be disturbed. The rules of the Loan Fund were these: that for all undertakings in which profit was concerned, 5 per cent was to be charged; and for all undertakings in which profit was not concerned, 4 per cent only was to be charged. The first and natural consequence of any department lending money at a higher rate of interest than the natural rate of the money market is, that first-rate securities will not apply to them; for first-rate securities will not pay 5 per cent or 4 per cent if they can get their money at 3½ per cent; and if your funds are employed, the chance is that your security is second-rate. Well, now, Sir, I have here ample information as to the manner in which those funds were employed as regards the country gentlemen; but I have no wish to enter into any details to show that in many instances those advances need not or ought not to have been made. At this moment the country gentlemen are not applying for any great amount of that fund, for the reason which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department adverted to the other evening, namely, that they cannot afford to pay so high a rate of interest for the loan which is afforded them. But, Sir, the objection to this department has nothing to do with the circumstances on the surface, to which the Member for Carlisle has adverted, and to which he confined himself. The question is one of a much deeper character; and now, perhaps, the Committee will permit me to inform them under what circumstances and by what reason my attention was drawn to this Loan Fund. Sir, I found in revising the public accounts of the country a department, and a department, of no great mark, with a very large balance of the public money unemployed, amounting, when it first attracted my attention, and I believe at this moment, to upwards of 380,000l., lying perfectly idle. It is no doubt a rule, which I should think no Gentlemen opposite will impugn, that large balances of the public money lying idle is a circumstance which ought not to be encouraged, and which ought to be inquired into. But I found that with that large amount of balance there was a law in existence that peremptorily every quarter of 1634 a year increased it by the sum of 90,000l., less the amount paid to Ireland; and it became, therefore, my duty to inquire why so large a balance remained unprodactive —what was the object of that balance— what had been effected by that fund, and what might be the consequences of its remaining in its present state? The right hon. Baronet said, in a manner which he did not in any way qualify—which, in fact, was almost the basis of his appeal, if not of his argument—that not a single shilling I had been lost; that under the innocent management of those respected names which he appealed to, and those worthy officials whose services I have presumed to notice, the simple country gentlemen have been benefited; that that revolving fund had raised our gaols and enlarged our unions, and, after thirty or forty years' experience, not a single shilling, mind you, has been lost—"Why does he touch it?" Now, I must inform the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman, in the minute statement which he gave with respect to this department, omitted all the most important facts. I doubt not, Sir, that if a fund had been intrusted only to respectable unpaid Commissioners of such habits of life as were referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, devoted only to the worthy and laudable purposes which the right hon. Gentleman described as the sole object of its investment, I doubt not that though there might have been an occasional job unconsciously perpetrated, and an occasional bad security inadvertently taken, yet that no very serious consequences would have accrued. But, Sir, with so convenient a fund at their disposal, there was another party to interfere beside the respectable Commissioners, and the fund has been employed for purposes very different from those of my hon. Friends near me—the country Gentlemen of England. With these large balances and funds another influence has interfered, very briefly alluded to by one of those right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken upon the subject. "We all know how convenient it may be to the Minister," said the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood), "to have at a particular moment such a fund at his command;" and I will show the Committee how convenient it has been to the Minister to have such a fund at his command; and I will show to the Committee what flagrant misappropriation there has been of the public funds of this country, and how vast an amount has been squandered away, virtually without the 1635 cognisance and control of Parliament, and entirely by the machinery of this Public Works Loan Fund. Now, Sir, "it is excessively convenient," says the right hon. Gentleman: there are moments when even I, with my brief experience of office, which seems so much envied—when he says even I may have experienced the convenience of such a fund. Well, I don't know what I may come to; but certainly, during the short period that I have had the honour of presiding over the Exchequer, I had not the slightest idea that I was to avail myself of such an opportunity. This, now, is the way in which my predecessors have availed themselves of such opportunities. I shall then put the question simply to the Committee, whether they think that such a department ought to be maintained for the reasons urged by the right hon. Member for Carlisle, or whether I have taken a judicious course in attempting to terminate its existence. That is what I shall leave to the decision of the Committee. Now, Sir, let me explain how the Minister of the day—I make no charge on any Minister of any period—my observations are general—how the Minister of the day has availed himself of the public funds, virtually, as I shall show you, without the cognisance of Parliament, and how vast sums have been squandered without even the hon. Member for Montrose, I believe, being aware of it. Now, I take one among many illustrative instances. I take the case of the Thames Tunnel. There was a body of ingenious men who resolved to make a tunnel under the Thames. Well, it was a great triumph of scientific enterprise, and much to the honour of the English character that such an undertaking should have been entered into without, of course, the slightest chance of ever getting the smallest interest for their money. It is only in England that such things are undertaken, and such enterprises encouraged. However, there are moments when even the most enthusiastic in such enterprises begin to think that public assistance is required. Appeals are made to the Minister. Those appeals are strengthened and supported by powerful Parliamentary influence. A Bill is brought into Parliament on a subject which interests nobody, and it allows the undertakers of that public enterprise, the members of a public company, to raise money. Who of the 650 Members has an eye on a Bill of that kind? Probably not five men in the House, unless they are directors of the company, are aware of it. That 1636 Bill contains a clause permitting the Lords of the Treasury to advance from the Public Works Loan Fund a, sum by way of loan to carry out the projects of that company. The Bill is passed. Being passed, the promoters go to the Treasury —I am now speaking of the Thames Tunnel Company—they go to the Treasury. By virtue of that clause, the Lords of the Treasury advance, by way of loan, through the machinery of the Public Works Loan Fund, no less a sum than 250,000l. to the Thames Tunnel Company, not a shilling of which has ever been repaid, or can ever be repaid, and on which, I believe, only ½ per cent interest received probably as an admission fee into the tunnel, has ever been paid. Now, what I say with regard to the system is this: It is perfectly open to the House of Commons to do that which all assemblies and individuals have a right to do—to commit a great folly. If a Minister comes forward and asks the House of Commons to vote 250,000l.to make a tunnel under the Thames, if we assent to his proposal, we have at least the glory of voting 250,000l. for the object; and though some may think that 250,000l. might be employed for a more useful or elevating purpose, at least an opportunity is given of appealing to the reason of the House, and dissenting from the measure. But under this system no one is in the least aware that 250,000l. is advanced. It is lent. Yes, but how lent? It is a grant in the shape of a loan. Now, this is one of the cases by which 250,000l. and its accumulated interest, have been lost to the country. I will give one more instance of the operation of this Loan Fund, and it is one of recent interest. I am ashamed to say that I have been a Member of Parliament during the time in which this instance occur-ed, and I dare say a vast majority of those now in the House were. Its date is from 1847 to 1850, and it makes me blush even at this moment. Now, this case is well deserving the attention of the Committee, because there is no reason why almost this very night, or the next night, the same operation may not be going on—there is not the least reason why under this machinery we may not every week be voting 100,000l of the public money without a single Member being cognisant of it. The case which I will now call your attention to is that of Battersea Park. Now, Sir, I am far from saying that it may not be the duty of the Government to establish parks 1637 for the health and enjoyment of the community. I do not want to enter into that question now; though perhaps I may observe, in respect to the establishment of a park, that it may fairly be considered whether the inhabitants of the district should not at least contribute their quota, and in that case whether it may not be perfectly legitimate, in a great metropolis like this, that the central authority should aid in a purpose which contributes to the ornament of the capital and the health of the general population. It is perfectly legitimate for the Minister to come forward and propose a vote of 150,000l., or more, if necessary, to make a park at Battersea, or anywhere else. The House, in such an event, has the question fairly before it, and may consider it in all its details, and if it sanction it, al- though the speculation may be improvident, and the object not worth the investment, yet no one can complain of the result. Let me inform the Committee what occurred in the case of Battersea Park. A Bill was brought into Parliament, as usual, empowering certain individuals to buy land at Battersea, and to make a park. A clause was put into the Bill—not compulsory, mind you, but permissive — to enable the Lords of the Treasury, if they thought fit, to advance from the Public Works Loan Fund such a sum as they might think proper for the advancement of the object in question. The projectors of Battersea Park, with that Bill which nobody had ever seen, and that clause— [Sir C. WOOD: It was a Public Bill]— yes, a Public Bill, of course, but it does not follow that five persons in the House knew of its existence — they go to the Treasury, and what occurs? They obtain an advance from the Treasury of 150,000l. I don't ask who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer that sanctioned that advance: notwithstanding the recent interruption, of all the speculations that man ever engaged in, no speculation was ever so absurd as that of Battersea Park. The persons who undertook the enterprise were ignorant of all the circumstances with which they had to deal. They purchased a great deal of land, and made arrangements by which twenty years must elapse, even if they are successful, before they receive any rents; and the margin reserved for the Government is so slight, that instead of repaying the principal, it will probably never defray the sum that is already due for accumulated interest; for, mind you, 1638 they are in theory paying 5 per cent to the Public Works Loan Fund all this time, The interest is debited every half-year, and the arrears now amount, I think, to 12,000l. Now, Sir, I will not go into any other instances. I have done my duty in bringing these before the Committee. I have here in my hand, from the year 1824 till 1840, a catalogue of parallel instances, and the whole amount is very little short of 700,000l., every shilling of which has been lost to the country. "Not a single shilling has been lost," said the right hon. Gentleman. "Why has he touched it?" Well, I've given him now the "reason why," and I think the Committee will agree, whatever they may think of the further merits of the question, that in stopping a system so iniquitous, I was only doing my duty as a guardian of the public purse. Yet this is the system which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is so beneficially administered by Lord Over-stone, by which loans are advanced to country gentlemen for building lunatic asylums at 4 per cent, which the Secretary of State tells you the county of Worcester can build at 3 per cent. In fact, irrespective of the flagrant circumstances which I have brought before the Committee, time had virtually done that for the Public Works Loan Fund which an indignant Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have done long ago. A loan fund at 5 and 4 per cent, founded upon the assumption that there was surplus labour and deficient capital in an age when there was a deficiency of labour and a plethora of capital, really had come to its natural end; and that is the cause of those large balances which must necessarily be swollen each quarter by the increment from the Exchequer. They have, in fact, with these rapidly accumulating funds been led almost to force their loans upon Irish railways; but here the unpaid Commissioners come into play, and take care that the security shall be of the best description. And therefore that has happened within a very recent period which will perhaps astonish the House; but, such is the effect of the present, and I believe the permanent state of the money market, that an Irish railway company that had asked for the assistance of a very large sum have just announced they will not accept the money granted by the Loan Fund, because they find, having a good security, they can obtain assistance in the ordinary way at a more reasonable rate.
1639 Under these circumstances, I felt it my duty to bring before the attention of my Colleagues the state of this department; and I called to their notice that not only was there this waste of public money, hut that there was no security that the waste would not indefinitely continue. That waste, too, has taken place during a period of years, when you have not been able to screw up your courage to vote 150,000l. for a National Gallery; and we came to a conclusion that it would be a good thing to relieve the Consolidated Fund of this annual charge, and stop the machinery by which such a ruinous waste of the public money took place. Then the question arose, what were we to do with the repayments to this Fund which would every year come in when the issue was stopped, and which repayments I placed in my estimate at 400,000l. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge seemed to correct me as to the repayments being 360,000l.; but he confused the amount of issue from the Consolidated Fund with the repayments in a way that, with his experience as a Chancellor of the Exchequer, somewhat surprised me. The fact is, that the annual amount issued from the Consolidated Fund is no measure of the amount of repayments. But the question arose, what were we to do with these repayments? Were we to pay this 400,000l. into the balances of the Exchequer? That was the first question. It is, no doubt, of the utmost importance that the balances in the Exchequer should be high. That is a very great principle. But, after all, the balances in the Exchequer are nothing more than the balances of the nation with its bankers; and the same rule must apply to a nation with its banker as to a private individual with his banker. Whether you bank with Messrs. Drummond, or with the Bank of England, neither would allow you any interest on your balances. It is necessary, therefore, for the nation, as for a private individual, to have a good, ample, and sufficient balance; but it is inexpedient, it is unwise, to have an excessive balance; and the consequence has been that the highest authorities, those most favourable to retaining a sufficient balance in the Exchequer, have laid down what may he considered rules for the amount of such balance. There is a certain point which it is considered inexpedient the balance in the Exchequer should surmount. The state of your balances in the Exchequer is 1640 this: they have long ago arrived at that point; at present they exceed it, and have done so for some time. Ever since 1842, with the exception of one year of startling and unexpected vicissitudes, the balances in the Exchequer have been very high, and higher than recommended by the best authorities. The proof is that, with the exception of 1848, never, from the period I have mentioned, has there been any occasion to borrow money, to receive any accommodation from the Bank of England for the current expenses of the State—that is to say, at the end of every quarter, when the dividends were about to be paid, there has always been in the Bank a balance sufficient to discharge the claims of the public creditor, and leave a sum ample enough for all the contingencies of the national expenditure. Since 1849, with one exception, when I think a sum of 400l.or 500l, was paid for deficiency bills, and that only from a technical mistake, the Government has never, in fact, been under the necessity of appealing to the Bank for advances. The Committee then will understand that if the 400,000l. in question had been paid in to the balances of the Exchequer it would in the present state of affairs have been just the same as locking up that sum in an iron chest; it would have been immovable and unprofitable. I must ask the indulgence of the Committee while I enter into these details. Treasury finance is a subject with which the House is not very conversant, but I hope the House will not think me presumptuous in attempting to instruct them upon it. My own knowledge on the subject is of course recent. I was not born and bred a Chancellor of the Exchequer—I am one of the Parliamentary rabble; but I trust, after all the observations that have been made, I may be permitted to show that I have not neglected to render myself acquainted with these affairs. One thing, I think, is quite clear. It is quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax is not in favour of this 400,000l. being paid in to the balances of the Exchequer, because I have shown you that, when brought into the Exchequer, it is unprofitable; but the right hon. Gentleman says, "The proper thing to do with it is this—it ought to go to reduce the debt." And the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge echoes that—and I am glad to hear that admission, be-cause the Government think the same.
1641 1,000,000l. debt was created by funding Loan Exchequer bills in 1842, and therefore, say the right hon. Baronet and the right hon. Gentleman, you ought to reduce the debt, both therefore being against this sum being paid in to the balances of the Exchequer.
Now, let us examine this question of the reduction of the debt. Upon this subject there is some misapprehension prevalent in this House. I have been asked myself, "What do you leave for the reduction of the debt; in your financial statement you have left nothing?" Sir, the mode, method, and means by which the Sinking Fund acts, and the public debt of the country is liquidated, do not depend on the will of the Minister, or even upon a vote of the House of Commons: they are provided for by legislation. The law has prescribed the method by which you reduce the public debt of this country. There is in fact only one way of acting by the Sinking Fund, and the law has prescribed this —I beg the attention of the House, because this is a vital point of my argument —the law, I say, prescribes that every quarter of the financial year, an account shall be taken of our income and expenditure at the Treasury, and in case a surplus shall be ascertained to exist, one fourth of that surplus shall be instantly devoted to the liquidation of the public debt by the agency of the Sinking Fund. It is not left to the discretion of the Minister, or of a single House of Parliament; the law is inexorable and imperative. It is impossible to reduce the debt, unless you bring your resources into the Ways and Means. It is only by such a process that they can enter into the balance struck of income and expenditure, and that the surplus can be ascertained, and one-fourth of that surplus appropriated to the reduction of the debt.
And now I will show you how we propose to act on the debt in the way in which we have recommended Parliament to deal with this 400,000l. of repayments. The House will assume, for the sake of argument, that the surplus for the coming year is an accurate estimate.
Well, then, the account of income and expenditure is taken at the Treasury at the end of the first quarter of the financial year; and the surplus being 400,000l., one-fourth of that is immediately devoted to the reduction of the debt by the action of the law. The same process takes place every three months—the same 1642 action takes place on the same surplus of 400,000l., and thus at the end of the year the whole of the 400,000l. is devoted to the reduction of the debt. And, therefore, in three years time, all things remaining the same, and the repayments entering into the Treasury, the whole of that sum of funded Exchequer bills of 1,046,000l., and the accumulated interest, will be liquidated, and the public debt reduced by that amount. There is no other way of acting on the public debt or reducing it — the course we propose to take is the only one that can be taken in the case—there is no alternative—the law has so decided it. By the course then we have recommended, we have in the first place put an end to a disastrous waste of public money. In the second place, we have relieved the Consolidated Fund from an annual payment of 300,000l.; and, in the third place, we have laid the foundation of a reduction of the public debt at least to the amount of the 1,000,000l. funded, and all its accumulations. The question, I apprehend, assumes a very different character after this explanation. But this is only a narrative of the conduct of the Government. Let us see what great authorities have said on this subject. Hitherto, as I have put the case, the House may be of opinion that we have acted discreetly but unprecedentedly. After the criticisms I have been subjected to, let me inform the House what was the opinion on the subject of the highest authorities. In 1822 a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the public accounts, and to recommend the means by which the keeping of those accounts might be improved; and to that Committee we are indebted, with scarcely any exception, for all the forms of public accounts that now prevail. What was the recommendation of the Committee of 1822 with regard to these advances and repayments? That Committee, formed of the most distinguished men, concentrating their attention upon this sole subject, specifically recommended that all advances and repayments should enter into the account of income and expenditure; and for six years the advances and repayments so figure in the public accounts. It may be said there was another Select Committee on Public Accounts in 1828, and that they took a different view. That would not invalidate the high authority of the Committee of 1822; it would not deprive us of the authority that the course we have taken is not unprecedented, because I have proved that it was practised for six 1643 years. But let us inquire what was the opinion of the Committee of 1828. They certainly did recommend that it would he more convenient that advances and repayments should be kept in separate accounts from those of the income and expenditure. But I am informed by a distinguished Member of that Committee, that that recommendation did not arise from any adoption of the opinions now maintained on this subject by right hon. Gentlemen opposite; and they added this to their recommendation, that, whenever an issue was stopped and the account closed, then the general account was to be taken, and the repayments were to revert to their old position in the public accounts. So even the Committee of 1828 sanctioned the principle recommended by the Committee of 1822, so far as payments and receipts were concerned. But in 1829, a law was passed which deprived Ministers of any discretion on this head; and the only way the Act of 10 Geo. IV., c. 12, operates on the reduction of the debt—the only way a Minister can act in the reduction of the debt—is by bringing in, according to the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1822, the repayments under accounts closed to Ways and Means. It is painful to have to refer to these comparatively small matters, when matters of so much greater importance are before the Committee; but I hope that every Member will admit, that after the speeches we have heard, it is due to the Government, to the party I have the honour to represent, and to the House, that I should go into these details, and state clearly the circumstances before us, and vindicate, as I hope I have done, the course which we recommend.
Well, Sir, I now approach the second great arraignment of my financial statement by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood)— that is, the alleged mistake made in the estimates for the year after next, as to the loss which will accrue to the revenue from the proposed semi-repeal of the malt duty. The House will recollect that I estimated the loss which would accrue in the year 1854–55 from the alteration in the malt duty at 1,700,000l. Assuming that the amount of duty remitted would be about 2,500,000l., and taking, of course, the most depreciatory view of the result of the reduction of duty, the Member for Halifax placed the amount derived from increased consumption as low as 200,000l., and he added, "With 200,000l. obtained 1644 by the repeal of your Scotch drawback, the total loss will be 2,100,000l." [Sir C. WOOD: I gave you credit for 400,000l.] That is what I have just stated. He said I took the increased consumption at 800,000l., "which he described as preposterous— and altogether fictitious. Let us, however, Sir, examine the facts; let us see what they are. When I brought under the consideration of the Committee the subject of the repeal of the malt tax, I said that the Government had followed in their treatment of that tax the recommendation of the Royal Commission of Excise Inquiry, presided over by Sir H. Parnell, in 1832. The recommendation of that Commission was, that in case there was ever free trade in barley, one-half the malt tax should be repealed, and that the Scotch and Irish drawbacks should be terminated. In the interval since that Commission sat, the Irish have voluntarily renounced their drawback. The Commissioners further recommended that, when free trade in barley was established, and the malt tax was reduced to one-half, an end should be put to the enormous system of credit given 'to maltsters. I said that, although we wished to follow the recommendation of those eminent men the members of the Excise Commission as nearly as possible, we thought it important, in regard to the recommendation as to the reduction of the credit given to the maltsters, that the trade should not be disturbed, although we felt" that the whole system was vicious in principle and pernicious in practice, and that it was necessary to make some considerable change. That subject has been under our consideration. Our object has been to put an end to, or to modify, a system which grew out of circumstances totally different from those of the age in which we live, and, while we placed the conduct of the trade upon a more healthy and satisfactory basis, not to disturb the trade. But the effect of the- new arrangement we propose as to this credit, though in our opinion it will not in any way disturb the trade, will have an immediate influence upon the revenue. In the year 1854–55 there will be a sum of 600,000l. paid to the revenue, which, if this system of credit were not reformed, would not be obtained. Now, what did I do under these circumstances? Assuming that the numerical loss from the semi-repeal of the malt tax would be 2,500,000l., I deducted From that amount the sum just stated, as re- 1645 gards the year 1854–5. That reduced the numerical loss to 1,900,000l. Then the sum of 200,000l. obtained by the repeal of the Scotch drawback would further reduce it to 1,700,000l. As I was not making a formal estimate to the House, and dealing with a time so remote, I would not make any allowance for that increased consumption which was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman. If I had made an allowance for the increased consumption, according to his estimate, the loss for the year 1854–5, instead of 1,700,000l. would have been only 1,500,000l.; but if I had made an allowance according to the estimate which was given me by the highest authorities in the trade, it would have reached a much lower sum. But, as I have never offered any estimate, since I have had the honour of addressing this House, which has not, I hope, been prudent and moderate, I refrained altogether from taking the influence of increased consumption into calculation; otherwise I might have fairly described the estimated surplus of 1854–5 at 800,000l. instead of 400,000l.
The Member for the University of Cambridge next advanced, and he disputed the accuracy of my estimate of the amount of drawback payable in October to the maltsters. He wanted to know on what data that estimate was framed. Well, Sir, I will tell him. After all, there is only one way of carrying on the public business. When a question of this kind arises, we must obtain the best information that we can get from the most authentic quarters, and must exercise our own judgment upon the facts which are placed before us. Well, Sir, the highest authorities—men whose information upon this subject is unequalled, and whose intelligence and integrity of character are indisputable — these, the highest authorities, united in recommending me to take one-third of the stock as the amount upon which I should have to pay drawback on the 10th of October; that is, one-sixth of the duty—and the sum I was recommended to take, as a very safe estimate of the amount of drawback, calculated by those who are perfectly acquainted with the trade, was 880,000l. Well, according to my habit, I estimated the amount of drawback at 1,000,000l., and these are the numerals which have excited the indignant rhetoric of the Member for the University. "But why fix the 10th of October?" said the hon. and learned Member for Kiddermin- 1646 ster (Mr. Lowe)."Here is a plot, "said the hon. Gentlemen;" if we can only find out why the Government fix upon the 10th of October, we shall be able at once to penetrate these financial mystifications. "That hon. Gentleman is an accession to our debates—he has shown, on the rare occasions on which he has addressed the House, considerable information; but there is, certainly, one subject on which his knowledge has been most conspicuous, and that is—brewing. I am surprised that an hon. Gentleman who seemed so complete a master of that art, and who made so eloquent a defence of the system of credit to maltsters, should, of all men, be the person to ask why we fixed upon the 10th of October for bringing into operation the half repeal of the malt tax. Now, I had calculated that if I should be as successful with regard to my Resolutions as I could possibly expect to be, it was not probable that the Resolution upon the malt tax would pass before March; but the policy which I announced and recommended in December, would, if I had not proposed a drawback, have completely paralysed the trade. Every maltster in the country would have stopped his operations. It was necessary I should announce that the Government would allow a drawback on stock in hand, and the consequence is that the trade goes on just as usual. The hon. Gentleman who possessed such remarkable information on the subject of brewing and malting ought to know that by far the greater amount of duty which is charged, and upon which the usual credit is given for 1853–4, is charged between the months of October and April. Malting virtually ceases at the end of May. From May to October malting does not go on; but there is something that does go on, and that is brewing. The brewer acts upon the stock of the maltster; and, therefore, when you have to pay the drawback, you pay it under the most advantageous circumstances in paying it at the period when the stock on hand is most reduced, and when the malting season again commences. In fixing the 10th of October, then, I fixed a date recommended by those best acquainted with the subject with which I was dealing. That is my answer to the inquiry of the hon. Gentleman.
Sir, I do not like to revert to a subject to which I have already referred; but I have just remembered that the hon. Member for Kidderminster said that he should 1647 look to roe in my reply to notice the instance of the mortgage which he adduced as a parallel illustrative of the fallacy of my proposition respecting the 400,000l. repayments. Now, in deference to his challenge, I beg to offer him a parallel more apposite than his own. I will suppose the case of a careful father of a family, who every three months takes account of his expenditure and income, and devotes one-fourth of his surplus to the payment of his debts, a portion of those debts being incurred by advances to his son; but the son, when he makes the repayments for these advances, makes them into the hands of a banker, by whom no interest is given, so the father, instead of allowing the money to remain idly there, takes it into his general account, and when he strikes his quarterly balance applies the repayments as part of his surplus to the reduction of his debts. That is my answer to the case of the hon. Gentleman, and I humbly deem my instance an exacter parallel than his own.
Then there is another subject upon which the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster is a great authority, and that not only here, but I suspect elsewhere. According to the hon. Gentleman, the Kafir war has broken out again. Now I made a statement to the House a fortnight ago respecting the prospects of extraordinary expenditure with regard to the Kafir war. I formed my opinion on the Kafir war—with great deference to the despatches which are received by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—from the despatches which are forwarded to my own department from a branch of the service under my immediate supervision —I mean the commissariat department, a branch of the service which deals entirely with the extraordinary expenditure under the control of the Treasury. Whatever the result may be, it is my duty to express my belief that the public funds were never more ably administered than by those who have regulated the extraordinary expenditure of the Kafir war in the commissariat department. That department communicates directly with the Treasury, and, although these despatches naturally confine themselves mainly to the question of expenditure, there is a great deal of valuable information conveyed in them to the Government in a less formal manner than in the despatches received in other quarters. Well, upon the information which I have thus received, which has 1648 never yet deceived me, which has justified me, at the commencement of the year, in not calling upon the House to confirm their vote of 200,000l., I made the statement the other night, that I believed the Kafir war was terminated. We have had more recent information; and I can truly say that all the information that has reached me has entirely substantiated the statement I made upon the previous authority. I have no hesitation in saying, the Kafir war is terminated. The best evidence I have is, that the commissariat department who are dealing with the extraordinary expenditure, the only one that figures in our estimate, are winding up their extraordinary accounts; and they have announced to me that, except for some casualties, which are always liable to occur in any account, they will not trouble me for any further advances. They also give incidental details of the state of the country, which convince me that the war is finished. In a war with a savage country you cannot have peace suddenly and precisely ascertained, as you may with a nation with which you can enter into a treaty, or where you can take the capital, or where some incident occurs which convinces all the inhabitants that the struggle is over. A sort of flickering ember there may be; and to the last an officer may he shot, or some straggling assassination may occur; but that the Kafirs can now bring any force into the field, I believe the Committee may be satisfied is impossible. It is not that several chiefs have surrendered —these things have happened before; it is not that the Waterkloof is cleared—though that is important; but it is that in the bush, in the Amatolas, skeletons of the Kafirs are found; it is clear that they have no means of subsistence; they are lingering in the bush and dying. The same ship that brought me the information on which I formed my opinion, of course brought despatches to the Secretary of State; and here is a despatch of General Cathcart. I will read a paragraph from it, if the Committee wish; it is strictly in keeping with the subject; we are vindicating the Estimates, and I rather think I ought to do so. It is dated from Graham's Town, the 12th of October, 1852:—By this report, and other events which are detailed in my despatch respecting British Caf-fraria, you will perceive that the war or rebellion may now be considered at an end; arid, as it has been attained not by any compromise' or treaty, but by force of arms, and a severe moral lesson, 1649 by the dispersion and expulsion of the most powerful tribe from the natural strongholds which they long believed to be impregnable, cannot fail to impress upon those who are conscious of their inferiority in respect to these natural advantages, the ultimate ruin and destruction that must be the result of rebellious opposition to Her Majesty's authority; and there is reason to hope, provided that authority be duly supported by an adequate permanent military establishment"— [Sir W. MOLESWORTH: Hear, hear!]" that any similar protracted and expensive Caffrarian war may be long averted.I read that because it is a definite announcement. With respect to the "adequate military establishment," the hon. Baronet need not be alarmed; it will be very moderate; we shall depend upon the mounted police, which is a colonial force, paid for of course by the colony—a colony with a free constitution. Colonies with constitutions will, I apprehend, always be ready to defray the expense of self-defence. The head-quarters of General Cathcart are now at Graham's Town. He has withdrawn two regiments from the seat of war, and I trust we shall soon be able to withdraw others.
Sir, there is another point in the Estimate, which I ought to notice, which has been urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn). He said I had made no allowance for the loss to the revenue from the proposed permission for refining sugar in bond. It is very inconvenient for me, at this moment, to refer in any detail to the subject of refining in bond. The refining in bond will depend upon certain conditions. I have pledged myself that those conditions shall be shortly placed before those most interested, and I think it improper that they shall be previously bruited about. I can only say, therefore, at present that I do not make any allowance for a loss on refining in bond, because I believe not the slightest loss to the revenue will occur. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will at present be satisfied with my giving my opinion, and not press me to go into any detail upon this point.
Sir, I approach more serious subjects. It has been said that the house tax has been proposed by the Government in order to enable them to carry the semi-repeal of the malt tax. Well, I admit that that is a very plausible charge; it is a good party charge. I find no fault with any Gentleman opposite who makes the charge. It is very possible that, were I in their situation, I should have made 1650 the charge myself. Nevertheless, though it be a plausible charge, a good party charge, it is not a just charge. These measures have no connexion whatever in the policy we have thought it our duty to recommend.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman opposite informed the House on Tuesday night that I had promised the country a new system of taxation; but he did not produce any authority for that statement, and when statements of such magnitude are made, authorities should be furnished. I will sit down now, if the right hon. Gentleman will rise and give me the authority. It is very true that the lively Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) quoted a passage from an address to my constituents, which certainly was not merely made to my constituents in Buckinghamshire, but to those in other places whom my feeble authority might influence; but if an opponent could have wished to assist the man whose adversary he was, he could not have done me more justice or given me a better turn than the Member for Middlesex has done in quoting the passage in question. I listened to his speech with all that pleasure which I am sure the House shared. I think it was one of his best speeches; but the passage which most gratified me was that which he quoted from my own address, for I had not seen that address for a long time, and really, after some of these charges which have been lately made, I had arrived at almost a nervous state as to its contents. What did I say there? I, who am charged with misleading the farmers at the election, and throwing them over afterwards—I said that the genius of the age was in favour of free exchange, and that it was in vain to struggle against it—that they must find the means of meeting it by reducing the cost of production, and that one of the means of reducing the cost of production was a revision of taxation. I think more sensible advice, expressed in more moderate language, could not have been given—yet I am described as having deceived the farmers before the election, and thrown them over afterwards.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman says, we are assembled here to receive the new system of taxation which I promised. Where is his authority? Her Majesty's Government have fulfilled all that they promised; they did not promise a new system 1651 of taxation, but they did promise a revision of the taxation of the country. The Committee will, I hope, excuse my dwelling on this point. We did think it necessary to revise our system of taxation. We gave to the subject a long, an anxious, and an impartial consideration. In reviewing that, which I may truly call a colossal subject, the question naturally divided itself into several groups—if I may use a word now familiar to us. We had to consider those articles that enter into the general consumption of the people, that are necessary for their healthy sustenance, and that are exposed to enormous imposts, such as tea and malt. That was one subject on which we felt that it was necessary something should be done to meet the principle of unrestricted competition, now permanently established as the principle of our commercial code. We wished in this respect more nearly to assimilate our financial with our commercial system. We had to consider the whole question of the stamp duties with reference to those real burdens upon land —upon the transfer of land, which must sooner or later be dealt with; and a question of the utmost difficulty which must also not long be neglected—the question of the legacy and probate duties. We had to consider whether it was possible to propose to Parliament a duty on succession, which, in connexion with the total reform of the burdens on the transfer of land, would be an equitable and just settlement of the question, and one which was for the welfare of all classes. That is what I may call the second group. We had, in the third place, to consider those Excise laws which exercise a pernicious influence upon the employment of capital and upon the employment of labour, like the soap and paper duties. The question of the assessed taxes, with the necessary reforms which they require, alone form a fourth group. We were obliged to consider the whole of our tariff with regard to our commercial relations with other countries, because there was an inclination in some countries to increase those commercial relations, and we wished to encourage them. These were five great subjects, all of them demanding our attention, with all of which, sooner or later, a Government must deal; and we had to choose how we would commence this arduous enterprise. But there was a very important question also to consider when we took this general survey of our financial system—a very important 1652 question to settle before we could decide even as to the first step we should take— and that was how far we could prevail upon the country to consent to that amount of direct taxation which was necessary for any Ministry that should attempt to enter into a career of financial reform.
Sir, I have been accused by the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) of making a proposition which recklessly increases the direct taxation of the country. I have been accused by the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham)—prompt in accusation at all times—of pushing direct taxation to a rash extreme. In the first place, the proposition I made on the part of the Government, instead of recklessly increasing the amount of direct taxation, would not, if it passed, occasion so great an amount of direct taxation as prevailed under the superintendence of the finances by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax himself, when he enjoyed, not only the income and property tax, but the window tax, which, in the last year of its existence, brought him nearly 2,000,000l. sterling. The right hon. Gentleman, who says you must not recklessly increase the amount of direct taxation, and charges me with doing so, when, in 1850, he commuted the window tax for a house tax, first proposed, though fruitlessly, a commutation which would have established a higher house tax than that which we now recommend, coupled by us with great remissions of indirect imposts. But is this all? Is this all that has been done by the right hon. Gentleman who charges me with proposing recklessly to increase the direct taxation of the country? Why, he seems to forget that he is the Minister who with the property and income tax you have now producing its full amount, with a window tax that brought nearly 2,000,000l., came down to the House of Commons one day and proposed to a startled assembly to double nearly that property and income tax. Recklessness! Why, Sir, if recklessness be carelessness of consequences, if it be the conduct of a man who has not well weighed the enterprise in which he is embarked, what are we to esteem this behaviour of the right hon. Gentleman? We hear much of the duplication of the house tax—an innocent amount; but if the right hon. Gentleman had carried the duplication of the property and income tax, I think he might fairly have been charged with reck- 1653 leasly increasing the direct taxation of the country. The most curious thing, however, is, that the Minister who came forward to make a proposition which nothing but the most grave conjuncture of circumstances could have justified, at the first menace of opposition withdrew his proposition. Talk of recklessness! Why, what in the history of finance is equal to the recklessness of the right hon. Gentleman? And what was the ground on which he withdrew this enormous proposition—a proposition which only the safety of the State would have justified him in making? When he was beaten, baffled, humiliated, he came down to the House of Commons and said that he had sufficient revenue without resorting to that proposition! The future historian will not be believed when he states that a Minister came down with a proposition nearly to double the income tax, and when that measure was rejected, the next day announced that the Ways and Means were ample without it. But then the right hon. Gentleman tells me, in not very polished, and scarcely in Parliamentary language, that I do not know nay business. He may have learned his business. The House of Commons is the best judge of that; I care not to be his critic. Yet if he has learnt his business, he has still to learn some other things—he has to learn that petulance is not sarcasm, and that insolence is not invective.
The Committee will permit me to remind them that in dealing with those five great groups of taxation to which I have called their attention, and all of which I may say equally demanded the consideration of a Minister, we had to deal with the great subject of direct taxation. There was, indeed, the income and property tax in existence for a brief space. It was, perhaps, possible that the Ministry might have come forward in the House of Commons and obtained a temporary continuance of that impost. That was not, however, by any means certain. But there were, Sir, peculiar circumstances connected with the position of the Ministers with respect to the property and income tax. Her Majesty's Government were of opinion that the time could no longer be delayed when the Government of this country must recognise a difference between the incomes which accrued from precarious and incomes which accrued from realised property. It was evident that such an acknowledgment acted upon must diminish the produce from 1654 that tax at a moment when certainly we did not wish our resources from direct taxation to be diminished. It is difficult to answer every observation that has been made in the course of this debate; but another right hon. Gentleman, who recently spoke, has been criticising, I think, before the appropriate time, what he calls my Bill with respect to the property and income tax. In the first place, my Bill is not before the House. When he sees it he may criticise it. Nobody, who has had to prepare a property and income tax, can be ignorant that there are some anomalies in Schedule D. The anomalies, however, are not confined merely to that schedule. To frame a complete measure on this subject would baffle the happiest genius in finance. There are no doubt alterations which may be made in the arrangement of the schedules; it will be open to any Member to propose such. But if they be made, they will not affect, at least not materially, the financial result which I placed before the Committee. In laying the Resolutions on the property and income tax on the table, we did not propose to proceed with them before Christmas. We placed them on the table that the principle of the whole of our financial measures should be before Members. The Resolutions express the principle we wish to assert. That is all we attempted at this moment. There may be, there unquestionably are, minor modifications of the schedules possible; but between the general statement of our policy and laying the Resolutions on the table, there was no time to consider these less important points, nor, had there been time, would it have been opportune to do so. We reserved their consideration until the occasion of calling the attention of the House to the general question of the renewal of the tax.
We had, then, to consider the great question of direct taxation. It was totally impossible — with whatever group we commenced—that we could embark on a career of financial reform really efficient, unless we had a certain amount of direct taxation, still including the income tax, to which we could trust. What is the rule we laid down? Instead of being reckless, or, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, ready to push direct taxation to a rash extreme, we resolved that the sum of direct taxation on which we should rest should be in 1655 amount of revenue inferior to that which had recently prevailed in this country, and which, since the repeal of the com laws, has been cheerfully assented to by the people. Well, we had then to lay down two principles in dealing with direct taxation. We had to assert, as regarded the property and income tax, a difference between incomes of a precarious and incomes of a fixed character. We had next to vindicate a principle which we believed, and do believe, is a just one, and which, if not now, must ultimately be recognised and adopted, namely, that the basis of direct taxation should be enlarged. Having these two principles to guide us in devising means by which we were to obtain the amount of direct taxation necessary for our purpose, we believe that we have applied them moderately, temperately, scientifically, and wisely, in the measures before the House. We believe that the difference which we recognise between realised and precarious incomes is one which certainly does not err on the side of excess; but that the recognition of that difference is also one which will justly gratify the working millions of this country, and that in asking them to contribute to the revenue of the country, by extending and increasing the house tax, we are taking a course which, in its operation and ultimate results, will be greatly for their interests. The question of the suffrage has been introduced into this debate. The policy of mixing up the franchise necessarily with taxation is, in my opinion, very questionable; but I say to those Gentlemen on the other side of the House who have sought to introduce this question of the suffrage, that if it is to be a permanent feature of our social system that there shall be a particular class invested with political power, which shall exercise that power to throw an undue weight of direct taxation upon the wealthier portion of the community, and an undue weight of indirect taxation on the working classes, I cannot imagine a circumstance more fatal to this country, or one more pregnant of disastrous consequences. But of this I feel convinced, that those who will first experience the disastrous consequences will be the privileged class itself.
There was one other observation by the Member for Carlisle which I feel I ought to notice. That right hon. Gentleman, whom I will not say I greatly respect, but 1656 rather whom I greatly regard, particularly dilated on the hard case of that class whose incomes amount to between 100l. and 150l. a year; those whom he considered to form the most straitened class perhaps in the country, and who bore most of the brunt of indirect taxation. That argument, or that assertion rather, has been followed up this evening by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Southampton (Sir A. Cock-burn). Now, that subject has been investigated by men who have devoted their lives to the study of these questions, and whose opinions are superior to all party contentions. It has recently been investigated by a gentleman who is what is called a Liberal, and who, if he were a Member of this House, would sit opposite to me—I mean Mr. Gregg, one of the most able inquirers into these subjects of the present day; and it is his opinion —and I believe that if any position has been more completely established than another as regards the incidence of taxation, it is this—that there is no class upon whom that incidence falls more lightly than upon those who possess incomes from 100l. to 150l. a year. It is that class who possess property of 300l. or 400l. a year who bear the brunt of indirect taxation. That can be shown in the most complete and satisfactory manner. But we had on Tuesday night a doleful and piteous appeal made to the House upon the hardship of taxing "poor clerks" with incomes of between 100l. and 150l. a year. The right hon. Gentleman stated that 150l. a year was exactly that point in the scale where manual labour ends and professional skill begins. You can recall the effective manner in which the right hon. Gentleman stated this. He showed himself an unrivalled artist when he told us that this was the point where the fustian jacket ceased, and broadcloth began.
Few can comprehend the labour of research and thought necessary to determine the just incidence of taxation. I am sure that there has been nothing ever written on the subject of which I have not attempted to avoid myself. My researches have not been meagre. I hope I am superior to quoting Hansard, "and all that"—but I may state that among the documents, public and official—the records of the great Ministers who have preceded my humble efforts—which I read to guide me, I found one which greatly influenced 1657 me. I found the Superannuation Bill of 1834, which was drawn up and introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, being one of those laudable efforts which the right hon. Gentleman has made to improve the administration of the country. Well, this was its principle—I found in that Bill that the line was drawn at 1002. per annum; that the "poor clerk" under that sum only pays 2½ per cent, while the poor clerk above that sum, though he may only have 110l. a year, pays 5 per cent. That was one of the reckless legislative labours of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle. I know my deficiencies as well as any man in this House—probably better. But, after all, what, I ask, is to guide us? I am perfectly willing not to lay too much stress on the epea pteroenta uttered in the heat of debate; but when I refer to public records, and when I look at a statute of the realm, then I have a right to suppose that I encounter the calm, solid, and solemn conclusions of a statesman. Though I would not quote a passage of a speech as absolute authority for legislation, yet if I find a principle embalmed in a statute, I feel that, although time may have elapsed and though opinions may have changed upon other matters, this is the better mind of the man, and, being the better mind of a most able man, I confess the reading of that statute did influence me in that arrangement I have proposed, with regard to the income tax, respecting the "poor clerks" which the right hon. Gentleman has so severely criticised. And remember what has happened to the "poor clerks" since 1834, when this statute was drawn; remember all the reductions of taxation which have been effected since that time, and of which the "poor clerk" has had the benefit. Remember the repeal of the corn laws. Look at the position of the "poor clerk" with 110l. a year, and who had a double superannuation tax placed upon him by the right hon. Gentleman; and look at his position now. I say without hesitation, that I do not believe that the condition of any class has since that time been so much improved as that of the clerks whose salaries range between 100l. and 150l. a year.
Well, having decided that it was necessary, before we undertook the great labour which we felt it our duty to embark in, that we should have a certain amount of direct taxation to rest upon; having determined that we would make this differ- 1658 ence in the assessment in the schedules between realised and precarious incomes, which must inevitably reduce the amount of direct taxation from that source which our predecessors enjoyed; having believed that we had attempted to supply the necessary amount by our proposition with respect to the house tax in a manner which was reasonable, which was just, which was on the whole most beneficial to the community, which in its operation would ultimately tend to confer advantages on those on whom the tax was to be imposed; having by this measure, if successful, succeeded in obtaining the amount of direct taxation which was necessary, but which was still inferior in amount to that which only a few years ago had been enjoyed by our predecessors, we had to decide upon which of the five groups of taxation we should operate. Recognising—I am obliged to repeat it—recognising the great and permanent revolution which has occurred in the commercial system of this country—recognising, as we have done, unrestricted competition as the principle on which our commercial policy is henceforward to be based; and wishing to assimilate our financial to our commercial system, and assuming that we had obtained this amount of direct taxation to rest upon, we ultimately decided that it would be the wisest course to commence by acting upon those articles which entered most into the consumption of the people, and that it would be for their salutary advantage if we selected those articles which were subjected to the largest impost. Now, that is the real history of the connexion between the imposition of direct, and the remission of indirect, taxes, as they appear in the propositions before us. Under these circumstances we were induced to recommend to the House the proposition which we have made with respect to the tea and malt duties.
Sir, at this late hour I will endeavour to be as succinct as possible, and will not, therefore, go into the question of the reduction of the tea duties. I think the House and the country have recognised the wisdom of the course we have recommended. Neither at this late hour will I enter into any elaborate argument on the subject of the effect which will be produced by the modification of the malt tax. I am told, that if you reduce the tax on the consumer, and only as a tax on the consumer—and to that point I shall advert presently, as being 1659 in perfect harmony with the principles laid down in our revision of the taxation—on one article, to the extent of 2,500,000l. sterling, that we shall not in any way affect price, and that all the reduction will go to the brewer. Sir, I remember when we used to discuss the effect of taxation on another article, that similar observations were made. I do not care now to remember from what quarter they emanated, but the effect and object of those observations were exactly the same. Then it was, "Oh! those villains, the bakers!" just as now it is to be "those villains, the brewers!" You might reduce the price of corn—you might injure the agricultural interest—you might ruin the farmers and the country gentlemen—but you could not reduce the price of the loaf to the consumer. No; the bakers took it all. Yes —and there were the millers too. The millers were the worst of all—they carried off all the reduction. Well, those arguments had a considerable effect, and there was such a prejudice raised against the bakers throughout the country, that I should not have been surprised if they had been all hanged in one day, as the bakers had once been in Constantinople. At that time it used to be shown that a fall of 10s. a quarter on wheat would not affect the price of bread; and we were told that the bakers then, like the brewers now, were a great monopoly—if not great capitalists—they were a kind of Freemasons; and, do what you would, it would be totally impossible in any way ever to get a cheap loaf. And now—such are the vicissitudes of political life—now we hear the same argument from those Gentlemen who used to dilate so eloquently on the necessity of buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market. The great friends of the consumer—the enemies of colossal monopolies—here we find them all arrayed in favour of high taxation for the producer, and here we find them, with taunts to us, teaching all the fallacies which we at least have had the courage honourably to give up. Tell me Protection is dead! Tell me there is no Protectionist party in the country! Why, 'tis rampant, and 'tis there! They have taken up our principles with our benches, and I believe they will be quite as unsuccessful.
I must here make one observation. I say it is in the interest of the consumer, in complete accordance with the principles we laid down in revising the taxa- 1660 tion of the country, that we have proposed this measure, but I do not say it will not be for the interest of the cultivator of of the soil, any more than I think that by remitting the duty on tea we have not done that which will greatly promote the welfare of our Indian commerce and our China trade. But we do not bring forward these propositions in that sense, for the advantage of the mercantile interest of India, or for the benefit of our trade with China. Let the farmers—or even those odious beings the owners of the soil—have the benefits of this legislation just the same as you admit the manufacturer of Manchester or the merchant of Liverpool to find in his transactions the advantage of reducing the price of bread or the price of tea. What we say is this—Deal with the interest of the consumer, and incidentally you will find that you are producing the greatest advantage to the great productive interests of the country. But, Sir, I am told, that in repealing a portion of the malt tax— notwithstanding that I showed you in my statement how modestly I have put the resources of the country—I have shaken to its foundation the credit of England. The credit of England depends on a farthing a pot on the poor man's beer! Never shall I forget how that "weird Sibyl," the Member for Cambridge University, gave forth that solemn oracle. The public credit of England in danger! I doubt whether such mere personal imputations and wide assertions are quite justifiable. He says the public credit is in danger. Well, I don't think it is. I think public credit never was in a better position. I never remember any period in the history of this country when her recources were, I may say, daily, so visibly increasing. I will not now, Sir, enter into any discussion as to the cause of that prosperity—whether it be to the influx of gold, the repeal of the corn laws, to emigration, or to any thing else—though Sir as to emigration, there was one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster to which I ought to make, perhaps, some reference. I hold the opinion of the hon. Member for Kidderminster to be quite as heretical on emigration as it is upon brewing and upon malt. I repeat that I am very glad to find him here among us; but all the opinions I have heard from him yet appear to be anything but sound. I continue in that opinion. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman 1661 confounded Ireland and England; though I, at considerable pains, and perhaps not necessarily, showed the distinction between them the other night. As to England, it will be interesting to hon. Members to be made acquainted with a passage from a letter written by an eminent actuary and perhaps our ablest statistical inquirer. His name is well known to the hon. Member for Montrose, for he gave important evidence before the Committee on the income tax. "The rate," he says, "of births and marriages has greatly increased in this country, and I think emigration may facilitate the rate rather than impede it— the reserve of producing power which we have in this country"—that is a point I wish to bring to the attention of the hon. Member for Kidderminster. He has lived abroad in a country with a sparse population, and he has no idea of the reserve of producing power we have here. But he goes on, "The reserve of producing power which we have in this country, you may infer from the fact that in the southeastern counties to 100 married women of ages between 20 and 45, there are 70 women of the same age — that is, from 20 to 45— unmarried, of whom only about seven bear children, notwithstanding." Now, I have confidence in the reserve of producing power, which I think the hon. Member, with his colonial experience, had not given sufficient credit to us for. Now, Sir, our opinion is, that under the arrangements which we have recommended, the surplus revenue of the country will be very considerable at the end of the year 1854–55. But Sir, I look to other recources for that year than to increasing profits or to the increased population of this country, and I will mention what they are. I look to a great retrenchment in the public expenditure of this country; and I will, if the Committee allow me, advert for one moment to this topic. I believe that any great retrenchment can only be secured by consulting the efficiency of our establishments, and trusting to the economy which is the natural consequence of that efficiency. I do not think it possible that the result can be reaped till 1854–55. I hope the House will permit me very shortly to show to them, by a remarkable illustration, what is the result of administrative reforms conducted on the principle of efficiency, without any regard to what is called mere economy. I, in my estimate of the effects of administrative 1662 reform, should have spoken of millions; but I am now going to deal with an instance in which only thousands of pounds are concerned; but the case I am about to lay before you is a real case which, however slight in instance, will serve to show the principle. It is due to my noble Friend the Member for Buckingham (the Marquess of Chandos) to say, that I am entirely indebted to him for the case in question; and I may most sincerely say of him that since he has been in the service of Her Majesty, there never was a public man who devoted his life so completely to the public service. In preparing the measures of administrative reform which I wish to bring before the House, and in making a catalogue of the establishments to be attended to, I found in the Report of the Select Committee of 1848 upon Miscellaneous Expenditure, of which I believe an hon. Member opposite was the chairman, this memorandum: "Whether a reform might not be effected by uniting the Chief Secretary's Office in Ireland with the Privy Council Office." That suggestion was made in 1848. I called the attention of my noble Friend the Member for Buckingham to this passage, and I said, "Will you go to Ireland and will you take somebody with you to aid you in your labours, and examine into this question of the Chief Secretary's Office? But, mind you, mere retrenchment is not our object; our object is efficiency. If more money is necessary to make the department efficient, you shall have it; but go to Ireland, examine into the whole question, and report to me by what means you can render the office more efficient." Well, Sir, he went to Ireland, accompanied by the Secretary of the Audit Board, one of the most intelligent and assiduous of our public officers. They made their inquiries into the Chief Secretary's Office at Dublin. Remember that by the Report of the Committee of 1848 it was suggested whether the consolidation of the Chief Secretary's Office and the Privy Council Office would not be practicable. My noble Friend, however, effected a consolidation, not only of the Chief Secretary's Office and the Privy Council Office, but of the Fines and Penalties' Office. He had to deal with departments maintained at an annual cost of 21,738l. He put the whole office into the most efficient state that a public office can be in; and the consequence of its being-put into a most efficient state is, that 1663 the cost of 21,738l; has been reduced by the sum of 5,178l. Thus, the saving effected by an inquiry conducted without any other consideration but that of efficiency, produced a saving of 25 per cent upon the original cost; and yet I am told that nothing can be done in administrative reforms. I must, in justice to my noble Friend, notice another instance. My noble Friend is of a too retiring nature; there are very few men more capable of imparting information to the House, especially upon matters of finance; but he takes refuge instead in that indomitable power of application for which he is distinguished. There was an application made, and apparently a very fair one, by the office of the Secretary at War, when the Militia Bill was passed, for an increase of staff. There was of course a very considerable increase of duty in the office consequent upon the new measure, and it was just one of those demands which might have been conceded heedlessly, and with which any one, upon a superficial view of the case, might have readily accorded. But I, having great confidence in the principle of administrative reform, and equal confidence in the abilities of my noble Friend, before we agreed to any increase of expenditure, requested him to appoint a Committee of Inquiry, which he did with the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Audit Board, and a gentleman not now a Member of this House, for whom I have a great respect, the present Deputy Secretary of War (Mr. B. Hawes). The Committee examined the subject, and put the office into a most efficient state, and the whole of the additional business is carried on without one farthing of additional expense. In the ease of the Irish Office, the persons employed were reduced from 57 to 40. But allow me to remind the House that retrenchment was not the object, although economy was the result. Efficiency was the object, and it was effected at a saving of expense. These are, some may think, minute instances, but they are instances well worthy of attention.
The Government have been dealing, however, with much larger instances. They have been attempting to deal with the great departments of public expenditure; and, as the results of that attempt, I, as the organ of the Government, express our opinion that there may be a very considerable retrenchment made in the public ex- 1664 penditure, and that this retrenchment May be brought to bear in the year 1854–55. But, Sir, one thing is quite clear—that you cannot embark in an undertaking of this kind unless you have the fair support of the House of Commons. Now, my own opinion is this—that it is not wise to grapple with these great departments of public expenditure by Committees of the House of Commons. I am of opinion that you must deal with them by Commissions —the same Commissions that have been brought to bear upon the Revenue departments; but, although we may have Commissions and the Royal sanction, it is necessary that the questions should be fairly brought before the House of Commons in the way of exposition, so that you should also have the moral sanction and support of that House. It is perhaps the most difficult undertaking which a Minister can embark in; and unless he has, I may say, both the Crown and Parliament to back him, failure is certain; though with that support I think success is equally sure. Well, then, when I am told that I have no good ground for my surplus of 1854–55, my answer is, that I believe we shall have much more' than the surplus which I cursorily ventured upon in my general statement. I tell you that we have other resources upon which we depend, and that I believe it will be the fault of the House of Commons if in the year 1854–55 they do not find their public service more efficient than it is, and less costly.
I think I have now noticed every-objection of importance which has been' brought against the Government propositions I have avoided entering into the question as to the unconstitutionality of our conduct with respect to the income tax; Legitimate opportunities will hereafter arise for commenting upon all that may be said upon this head; and the House will, I doubt not, come to a fair decision upon it. Although many minute objections have been made to points of detail, I have not stopped to notice these. I have not stopped to vindicate that part of the income tax relating to the farmers schedule. I shall be prepared to lay before the Committee the facts and reasons which have induced us to take that course but I may state now that our only object' was to make as close an approximation to justice as possible; and I will not vote for that schedule if it is not the prevailing feeling of the House that it is a just 1665 arrangement. I will not enter now into the question of the hop duty and things of that kind. After so protracted a debate, and following so many speakers who commented upon so many points in the financial scheme of the Government, I hope the Committee will feel that if I have avoided some of those points, it has been from deference to the time of the House, and not from any wish of my own to avoid the discussion.
But some advice has been offered to me which I ought, perhaps, to notice. I have been told to withdraw my Budget, I was told that Mr. Pitt withdrew his Budget, and I know that more recently other persons have done so too. Sir, I do not aspire to the fame of Mr. Pitt, but I will not submit to the degradation of others. No, Sir; I have seen the consequences of a Government not being able to pass their measures—consequences not honourable to the Government, not advantageous to the country, and not, in my opinion, conductive to the reputation of this House, which is most dear to me. I remember a Budget which was withdrawn, and re-withdrawn, and withdrawn again in the year 1848. What was the consequence of that Government thus existing upon sufferance? What was the consequence to the finances of the country? Why, that injurious, unjust, and ignoble transaction respecting the commutation of the window tax and house duty, which now I am obliged to attempt to remedy. The grievance is deeper than mere questions of party consideration. When parties are balanced— when a Government cannot pass its measures—the highest principles of public life, the most important of the dogmas of politics, degenerate into party questions. Look at this question of direct taxation—the most important question of the day. It is a question which must sooner or later force itself upon everybody's attention; and I see before me many who I know sympathise, so far as that important principle is concerned, with the policy of the Government. Well, direct taxation although applied with wisdom, temperance, and prudence has become a party question. Talk of administrative reform! Talk of issuing commissions to inquire into our dockyards! Why, if I were, which is not impossible, by intense labour to bring forward a scheme which might save a million annually to the country, administrative reform would become a party question to-morrow. Yes! I know what I have to face. I have to face a 1666 coalition. The combination may be successful. A coalition has before this been successful. But coalitions, although successful, have always found this, that their triumph has been brief. This too I know, that England does not love coalitions. I appeal from the coalition to that public opinion which governs this country— to that public opinion whose mild and irresistible influence can control even the decrees of Parliaments, and without whose support the most august and ancient institutions are but "the baseless fabric of a vision."
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I am reluctant, Mr. Patten, to trespass upon the attention of the Committee, but it appears to me that the speech we have just heard is a speech that ought to meet with a reply, and that, too, on the moment; and, Sir, I begin by telling the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that I postpone for some minutes the inquiry whether he knows business or not, that there are some things which he, too, has yet to learn. There were other reasons, besides the reason of triviality and irrelevancy, why a discussion should have been avoided to-night by the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of emigration. And I tell the right hon. Gentleman more—that the licence of language he has used—the phrases he has applied to the characters of public men—[Loudcries of" Hear, hear!"] —that the phrases he has applied to the characters of public men, whose career— [ The remainder of the sentence was drowned in renewed cries from both sides of the House.] —Mr. Patten, my wish is to keep myself, although I confess that I could not hear those phrases used and remain totally unmoved—my wish is to keep myself strictly within the bounds of Parliamentary order and propriety, and I beg of you, Sir, that if in one syllable I trespass beyond those bounds, you will have the kindness to correct me. I do not address myself to those Gentlemen belonging to the great party opposite, from whom I have never received anything but courtesy and forbearance —[Interruption] —but, notwithstanding the efforts of some Gentlemen in a remote corner of the House, who avail themselves of darkness to interrupt me, I will tell them this, that they must bear to have their Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is so free in his comments upon the conduct of others, brought to the bar of the opinion of this Committee, and tried by those laws of decency and propriety— [Cheers and 1667 confusion, which drowned the remainder of the sentence.] Sir, we are accustomed here to attach to the words of the Minister of the Crown a great authority—and that disposition to attach authority, as it is required by the public interest, so it has been usually justified by the conduct and character of those Ministers; but I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is not entitled to charge with insolence men who — [Renewed cheers again drowned the remaining words of the sentence.] I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is not entitled to say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) that he regards him, but that he does not respect him. I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that whatever he has learned— and he has learned much—he has not yet learned the limits of discretion, of moderation, and of forbearance, that ought to restrain the conduct and language of every Member of this House, the disregard of which is an offence in the meanest amongst us, but it is of tenfold weight when committed by the leader of the House of Commons. And now, Sir, passing on from this most painful subject, I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the vote that is before us, and convey to them my opinion of the position in which we stand. We are coming to a vote, Sir, on the first of a series of Resolutions which have been placed in your hands. In that first Resolution was contained two leading propositions, in which the proposal now made to the Committee varies the present state of the law. By one of these propositions the area on which the house tax is laid is extended beyond that space which it at present occupies, but is extended only to houses of the value of 10l. By the other of these provisions the rate of the house tax is doubled, and it has been said tonight, and it has been said on other occasions, that if Gentlemen will but vote for the double house tax on this occasion, they will be perfectly free to depart from and alter that vote on any future stages of the measure. Now, Sir, it is most important that we should know in what sense this is true. I apprehend that we have here an unbounded liberty of action, that there are a vast number of stages provided in every measure in order that every Gentleman may reconsider the judgment which he has formed, that it is open to any Member of Parliament to vote for and against every measure that passes through the House at its alternate stages, This is the 1668 liberty, and no other, which you will have to vary the amount of the house tax, when the present Resolution is once passed. You have perfect liberty to do that. You may reduce the tax to Is. on the bringing up of the Report; you may bring it down to 6d. at a further stage, and on the third reading of the Bill you may abolish it altogether; you may adopt that as you may any other perfectly inconsistent course upon any proceeding in which this House or this Committee is engaged. This is the precise amount of your licence, and I wish you now to recollect that you are not now engaged in the performance of a mere technical and formal duty. There is a meaning and sense in the rules of this House which require that the imposition of taxes shall be preceded by a Committee. The object of that Committee is not to obtain a formal sanction to a new tax, but to have a thorough sifting and searching discussion, and to give all the authority by the decision of that Committee which can possibly be given to a proposal for any new tax. And now we have heard the right hon. Gentleman speaking in language of the severest condemnation of those who have withdrawn their Budgets. His recollection goes back to Mr. Pitt; he is fresh in the dates of 1848. Does he recollect the events of this evening? Does he remember—his memory sometimes requires to be refreshed-—does he remember that this evening we had it declared by the organ of the Government that the increase of the house tax was the principle of the vote, and that by that vote the Government would stand or fall? And then, by the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, he stated that he was perfectly willing to accede to an Amendment which, introducing into the Resolution the terms "not exceeding one shilling," would have divested it of the character of an increase, and have abandoned and given up the proposition upon which the Government had taken its stand. And one hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke tonight complimented myself and my Friends upon the great vigilance which we had exercised. If he had meant his words as a compliment, I should have valued them as well for the manner in which he spoke as for the high character of the speaker; but they were meant as a reproach, and all I have to say, with respect to that vigilance is this, that if it was great, I never knew an occasion upon which there was an equal demand for vigilance., I did 1669 not on all occasion approve of the financial policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir 0. Wood). I Opposed him, I remember on one occasion, in company with the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the occasion on which we opposed him was one not half so unexceptionable as the present. But the proposals of that right hon. Gentleman, whether they were advanced, or whether they were withdrawn, were advanced or withdrawn, as the case may be, in a manner the most frank, the most straightforward, the most free from all suspicion of evasion, and the least requiring vigilant inspection. Now, Sir, I reject the Resolution in your hands, whether considered as a vote on the house tax, or a vote on the Budget, I reject it as a Resolution on the house tax, being at the same time by no means prepared to concur with those Gentlemen who have expressed themselves in a manner unfriendly to the principle of an extended house tax. On the contrary, while sensible of the disadvantages of that peculiar form of taxation, yet I think if the difficulties were fairly met, that it might be placed on a widened area at a moderate rate, and that it might in that shape form a most convenient area of the financial system of the country. But there are many difficulties attending the house tax, which appear to me either to have been overlooked altogether, or, if considered, to have been decided wrongly in the proposition before the Committee. For example, whether the area should be widened beyond the limit of 10l. is a question upon which I must say the right hon. Gentleman has offered no justification for the proposal of the Government. The question whether it would be wise to graduate the rates of duty upon houses is one which does not seem even to have met the notice of the Government. Now, it should be recollected that in our previous house tax Act this law of graduation was expressly included, and I am not prepared to vote for the adoption of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, which disregards the principle upon which the former house tax was based, without at least hearing some reasons why we should abandon what appears to me, on the whole, to be a salutary arrangement of the graduation of the house tax. Again, Sir, there is a most important question with reference to the relative ratings of town and country, or rather of this metropolis and the provinces, in respect to the house tax. It is impos- 1670 sible to examine the terms of this house tax, and find that London and Middlesex pay very nearly one-half of the whole amount, without being convinced that the whole matter of the rating requires to be placed under some special supervision if you resort to the house tax as a great instrument in your financial system. Well, Sir, there is a gross flaw in the house tax which has been exposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir P. Baring). Then how are you to justify the doubling of the rate of the house tax? I cannot justify a scheme so grossly unequal as that which taxes, it would seem, the mansion of Knowle on 50l. a year, while the shopkeeper in London is taxed, on 250l. or 200l. Why have not these things been considered? After the deliberation of months, the right hon. Gentleman produces a plan which, I confess, it appears to me that he might have as well given to us the first hour after he took office as after the six months during which he has remained in office. There is another question—a most important question—namely, whether in regard to houses of low value the tax ought to be collected from the landlord or from the occupier—a question the solution of which may greatly facilitate the consideration of the whole matter. But the right hon. Gentleman has nothing to say on this point—it never crossed his mind, although he has spoken five hours on one night and three hours on another, and he found room to tell us that he was about to make a change in the Irish Office and in some other office; but he did not devote one moment to describe the reasons why he entirely passed by the consideration of this great question, the whole of which it is necessary to search and sift to the bottom before the right hon. Gentleman comes forward with a proposition for doubling the house tax. I tell the right hon. Gentleman plainly that I will not legislate upon the house tax, either for this Government or for any Government whatsoever, until I see that all those questions which are now opened up have at least been fairly considered, and that the decisions which have been arrived at upon them, whether they meet with my approval or not, are decisions conformable with the rational and deliberate convictions of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman must excuse me if I now impeach his policy upon a ground somewhat more broad than even that of the house tax. I can hardly conceive a reason which would 1671 induce me to consent, not to a single proposition, but a financial scheme which introduces into the taxation of the country two, and only two, new taxes, and which is so adroitly contrived that both of these taxes, being both of them direct taxes, shall strike precisely the same class. I know not—it is impossible to know—whether that was the object of the right hon. Gentleman; but if it had been his object, I defy him to have hit upon a nicer and more accurate calculation. The man whose income is from 50l. to 150l. is also the man who lives in a house of from 10l. to 20l. rent. And now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has rallied my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) on the subject of the poor clerks. The right hon. Gentleman is fond of instances. I will try him upon instances; and, as I know he may not have any peculiar sympathy for the poor clerks, I will go to *hose classes for which we all know the warmth and redundancy of the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to know how his financial scheme will bear upon the yeoman of this country in occupation of his own lands. That is a class that I know the right hon. Gentleman esteems. In the days when he was accustomed to make Motions in this House upon the subject of agricultural distress, he used carefully to inform you that it would be a gross mistake, if, in viewing the agricultural interest, you looked only to the great landlords; there was a very large class of men— amongst the most valuable in the community—the yeomen, the ancient proprietors of England, that truly English class, who seem even now to revive among you especially, and more than any other, the days and the institutions of your Anglo-Saxon forefathers. The right hon. Gentleman was earnest in their behalf. Now, how does he propose to use them? I take the case of an occupier of lands of his own to the value of 80l. a year—no uncommon case. This man, I will suppose, lives probably in a 12l. house. At present he pays no house tax and no income tax, and perhaps his lands are heavy wheat lands too. Well, he pays no house tax and no income tax. He hears that his friends have come into office. He has not a moment's hesitation—he has boundless confidence in the talents of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Forgive me if I explain that I do not question the genius of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I pay to him the sincere respect that genius deserves. I do 1672 not wish to go into any other—I will not mix any other consideration with the feeling which I express. Between the right hon. Gentleman and myself there never has been anything in the nature of a misunderstanding, as regards personal matters. His measures and his political con-, duct I freely canvass; but to his genius I pay as willing a testimony as can be rendered by his most ardent admirers. But now I am describing the feelings of this poor yeoman. It is just because of the reality of the right hon. Gentleman's talents that the more bitter will be the disappointment of my poor yeoman. He knows the abilities of the right hon. Gentleman. He knows more—he knows the high character as well as the distintinguished station of the noble Earl at the head of the Government. He knows and thinks that, if his friends cannot do all that he expects, or that they wish to do for him, at least they will shield him from further injury. He has given up protection—he has given up compensation; but surely he is not to be wounded at their hands. But how is he treated? He is smitten by three taxes of which he has hitherto known nothing. Upon his 80l. rental of his lands he must pay 7d?.; and this amounts to 2l. 6s. 8d. His profits bring him within the magic line of Schedule E, and this adds 11s. 8d. more to his burden; besides which he has to pay 18s. as his contribution to the house tax. Therefore, in consequence of the advent of the right hon. Gentleman to power, and of that brilliant and triumphant success which the right hon. Gentleman anticipates already for his Budget, this poor yeoman will have to pay three taxes of which he has hitherto known nothing—these three amounting to 5 per cent upon his gross income; and he is told that he may save a fiftieth part of the sum upon his tea and his beer. This is the result of the advent to power of the farmers' friends. Well, if he is a reflective man, and accustomed to contemplate the works of nature, and the revolutions of the seasons, he may draw comparisons in his own mind between the four familiar divisions of the year and the four visits of the taxgatherer, upon each of which he makes his demand. I take another instance, that of a class to whom the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer also shows tender and affectionate egard, and that class is the clergy. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman proposes to introduce on behalf of the clergy, and of the 1673 clergy alone, a special exemption on the income tax. He proposes to take them out of that class of life-renters—I mean those of them who have under 100l. a year—he takes them out of the class of life-renters to which they belong, and to grant them the benefit of a peculiar exemption. Well, I must confess, while there is no man more hound than I am to study the interests, the temporal interests, of the clergy in this House, I must confess that I am far from convinced of the wisdom of bestowing upon them an exceptional privilege. I do not wish to see the clergy held up as invested, not only with the public endowments that they enjoy, to the satisfaction as well as to the benefit, I believe, of the public, but with exceptional privileges that may attract odium and envy. But, Sir, the clergy have a real grievance at this moment. It is admitted by all authorities—Professor Jones, Mr. Cornewall Lewis, and every man who has examined the subject of local rating will tell you—that the clergy suffer cruelly by being rated for local taxation upon their gross incomes. Now, I would rather redress that grievance of the clergy than grant them a new and exceptional privilege. What is the feeling, I want to know, of the clergy of 120l. a year, under the circumstances of the accession of the right hon. Gentleman to power? I am supposing the case of the village clergyman, who will fall, therefore, under the sweep of the right hon. Gentleman's income tax. This clergyman has greater reason, if possible, than the yeoman, to build expectations upon the right hon. Gentleman's actession to office, because it is from local taxation that this clergyman suffers. It is from local taxation that the clergyman suffers, and who, I want to know, is the great doctor of all England on the subject of local taxation? That clergyman will have watched with the deepest interest the past career of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He will have seen that he has argued the grievances of local taxation with the utmost power, with unrivalled assiduity, and with that peculiar pathos which always belongs to great earnestness. What will have been the clergyman's expectations on this occasion, and what will he his condition? Why, he will have read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the introduction of his Budget—he will have found that the right hon. Gentleman, with a gravity which cannot be too highly commended, stated in detail 1674 the case of the agriculturists under the head of local taxation, wrapped up all their claims in a bundle, and pitched them into the bottomless abyss of the future. Sir, we are sometimes told, and I agree with it, that there is much, not only in the doing of a thing, but in the manner in which it is done. Those who were present in this House will recollect the manner in which this was done. I myself have voted with the right hon. Gentleman on previous occasions for the relief of the farmer in respect of local taxation. I did it at much expense of feeling, and I have been often censured for that vote. I did it in no vain idea that the landlords of this country were entitled to compensation for the repeal of the corn laws. I did it, whether rightly or wrongly, simply upon this principle—that there was much of feeling mixed up with this question, and that the farmer of this country was passing through a crisis in which the holding out of a helping hand by Parliament would have given him in a moment of uncertainty and of danger the greatest encouragement to persevere in that struggle his success in which was essential to us all. I, therefore, had these feelings on the subject of local taxation; but I must say that if I had been the sternest and bitterest opponent of the granting of a single farthing of relief to the farmer, I would have been perfectly satisfied with the matter, and the manner when, in his speech on the Budget, the right hon. Gentleman disposed finally of the question of local taxation. Well, Sir, that is the case with the clergyman. His expectations, like the farmers, are smashed. He will have to pay income tax on his income of 120l. a year, and to pay on his house of 15l. rent towards the house tax; although at present he knows nothing of either the house tax or the income tax. If the right hon. Gentleman's Budget— I make the supposition—I think it is a strong one—if his Budget succeeds, this clergyman will pay 3l. 10s. 3d. in income tax, and 1l 2 s. 6d. house tax, making together 4l. 12s., or nearly 4 per cent of his income. That will be the consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's accession to office. Well, my third reason (and it is the only other reason with which I will trouble the Committee) for opposing the reduplication of the house tax, is because it is connected with the repeal of the malt tax. Now, on the question of the repeal of the malt tax, I mean to give no opinion which would exclude, under favourable cir- 1675 cumstances, its fair and favourable consideration. Although I grant you you ought not to regard the consumption of malt with precisely the same favour as you can look upon the consumption of tea or coffee, yet on the other hand I must recollect that while malt liquor is conterminous on the one side with tea and coffee, it is conterminous on the other side with the article of spirits, and is still the old beverage of the country; and if you could succeed in breaking down the monopoly of the brewer's trade, and also effect a modification of the licensing system, thereby giving freedom to the trade, and ensuring real relief to the consumer, and which, if it was found necessary, would still leave you a revenue from the article in its final manufactured state—-if such a scheme as that could be devised, then I think that the repeal of the malt tax might fairly, under certain circumstances, come under the consideration of this House. But the scheme before us has no one of these recommendations. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Kent (Sir E. Dering) made a most aduiirable and candid speech on 'this subject. He said that the repeal of one-half the malt tax would do little or no good, but he accepted it as a stepping-stone; and if I may venture to interpret in words what he did not fully express, I understood him to mean that the repeal of half the malt tax would leave the remainder of it in a position so indefensible, would exhibit the tax as so unsatisfactory in itself, and would make the amount of evil entailed by the restriction so monstrous, as compared with the remainder, that it would be a powerful lever for effecting the abolition of the rest of the tax. That was the reason in my opinion which influenced the hon. Baronet. But that is not a reason which can or ought to influence the House of Commons. If we have got, which I shall show that we have not, 2,500,000l. of public income to dispose of, we must dispose of it in the best manner we can. It is not enough to say that you will do something by the change. You must look over the existing duties calmly and candidly, and consider by what relief or remission you can do the greatest good to the consumer, to trade, and to the revenue. By that rule and by that rule only, we can judge. And if a latent idea lurks in the minds of some that although the malt tax may not be a very good tax to propose for the public interest —may not be a very good proposition for the public interest, yet that there is a 1676 smack and a savour of compensation to the, public interest about it—then I must say that, in the first place, I think it untrue in the point of fact; and that, in the second place, it is entirely at variance with the principle which the right hon, Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself laid down to-night, and on other nights, in the fairest and most explicit manner, that all remissions of taxation must be judged of as public benefits, and that if any benefit accrue to the grower or producer of any article, it must be merely that accidental benefit that mostly accrues to the producer of any article the tax upon which, is reduced or repealed. The right hon. Gentleman has been facetious to-night on the argument that the reduction of the malt tax will not reach the consumer. He purported to aim these shafts exclusively at the Gentlemen opposed to him; but it did appear to me that there was a sidelong dart which found its way to the side of one of the most respectable Members of this House—the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Gayley). There is not a greater authority on the subject of the malt tax than that hon. Gentleman; and what estimate does he give us after having studied the question during the whole of his Parliamentary career? What does he say as to the amount of the benefit which is to reach the consumer from the repeal of one-half of the malt tax? He says that 5d. is the present price of a quart of beer; 2d. is the cost price of it, ¾d. is the duty; 2¼d. is, as he says, the effect in one way or another of the double monopoly of the brewers and of the malt tax. Half of three farthings, or three-eighths of a penny, is then the amount of the reduction on a quart of beer. That is, what is now 5d. will hereafter be 4⅝d. That is the reduction for which we are now called upon to surrender 2,500,000l. of public revenue. Taking the reduction as I have stated it, it would amount to 7½ per cent on the cost of the article: but even supposing there was a reduction of 10 per cent, I want to know how that is to tell on the recovery of the revenue. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has become a pupil of free trade, and is new going to legislate on the principles of free trade. One main consideration I mutt tell him in the reduction of duty is the way in which it will stimulate the self-reproducing powers of the revenue. And I want to know how the 5,000,000l. that he now receives from malt are to he repre- 1677 dueed, or what portion of these 5,000,000l. we are to receive under the reduced duty. He explained to night what I confess was to me before obscure. He tells us that for 1854–5 he has estimated his loss at 1,700,000l.upon peculiar grounds: 600,000l. he will then obtain, which will be a payment once for all, and which thereafter will not accrue. 200,000l. is the modest sum he estimates for the increased consumption—
§ MR. GLADSTONE
If it is 400,000l., I am afraid he is rather extravagant in that expectation. I will look back to past experience. You are now going to reduce the malt tax in a manner which will give a reduction of 7 ½ per cent, or we will say 10 per cent, on the price of the article; and the question is, what increase will that effect in the consumption? In 1830 my right hon. Friend near me effected a reduction more than twice as great by the repeal of the beer duty. By that repeal of the beer duty he took 20 per cent off the price of the article; and we now find that, after the lapse of twenty-two years, the aggregate increase up to this moment is only 25 per cent. Well, if 25 per cent increase in the consumption is produced in twenty-two years by a remission of duty amounting to 20 per cent on the price of the article, I want to know what is to be the amount of the reproduction of the revenue that he now proposes to sacrifice? Well, now, that is the most important light in which this question strikes me; but I must my that I consider his scheme an irrational one if considered with regard to producers, and to any relief that he may desire to give them. He has got a distressed class, for I will assume that they are distressed. There may, indeed, be some question about that; hut there is a class that have been distressed and have suffered. These are the cultivators of the heavy wheat lands, and how does he propose to relieve them? By a boon to the cultivators of the light lands. But how is this boon to reach the cultivators of the heavy lands? Why, it is to be filtered through a fourfold or a fivefold strainer, and I will certainly give bat little to the farmer of wheat lands for the advantage which will reach him. In the first place, it is to be filtered through the closely organised trade of the maltster, and secondly, through the still more closely organised trade of the brewers. It is then to be still further diminished by the effect of the system of licensing public-houses, and 1678 then any benefit of the reduction which may survive these three is to be encountered by foreign competition, and in comes the malt from Belgium and other places to meet the British grower of barley. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made another most important announcement to-night, that is, the withdrawal of the Excise credits.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I confess I cannot exactly make out the measure the right hon. Gentleman proposes, but it is at any rate a reduction or diminution of those credits. He proposes to withdraw 600,000l., which is practically an advance to the maltsters. How does that advance operate? That subject was explained by Sir Robert Peel in 1830, who then showed that the system of advancing capital to the maltster was to no small degree a compensation for any burden which the duty might entail upon the grower; for you actually put capital into the hands of the traders, by means of that arrangement, the plain effect of which —whether wise or not in another point of view I do not now inquire—is, that it facilitates the entrance of competitors into the malt trade, and by multiplying the number of purchasers of barley secures the farmer a better price. That 600,000*. is to be taken back, the number of maltsters will be proportionably narrowed, and the competition for the farmers' produce proportionably diminished, and the price consequently lowered. Besides the extreme partiality of the operation of this remission, I look upon it as one of the most inefficient measures that could be devised for the relief of those agriculturists who are alone in a position to urge that they have been distressed, I allude to the cultivators of heavy lands. I must observe that it is altogether, as it appears to me, a most delicate operation which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has undertaken. He is going to impose one tax in order to repeal another tax. Now that is a most uncommon proceeding on the part of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is an operation which may possibly be justified, but it is one that is sure to draw upon it the severest and most jealous scrutiny. How will this new tax be borne? The tax he has proposed will fall upon persons spread through all classes. It will be felt in every portion of the community; and how unpopular will that tax become if, being one that is unpopular in itself, and under any circumstances 1679 there is connected with it that idea that the right hon. Gentleman has an ulterior purpose-—that he has lurking behind a purpose to torn that reduction of taxation which is shown to be so unproductive both to the consumer and to the revenue—to the compensation of the agriculturists. Well, a comparison, has been made between the proceedings of the present Government and those of Sir Robert Peel, and we were told last night by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies that the present Government were acting as nearly as possible upon the principles upon which Sir Robert Peel proceeded in the year 1842. Now the first difficulty which arose in my mind when I heard that declaration from a Minister of the Crown was this—Does it accord with the still more authentic declaration which has proceeded from the mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the financial organ of the Government? Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer ever mentioned the name of Sir Robert Peel as his leader and guide in the measures he now proposes? Has he ever referred to that great statesman in terms which can give the slightest reason for believing that he recognises any kindred between the measures of 1842 and those now before you? Certainly not. His announcement is flatly at variance with that of the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, if I understood him rightly, that he never promised a revision of taxation. What he promised was this—that he was going to administer the finances of the country upon new principles, that were to do everybody good — principles that had never been heard of before. He said, addressing his constituents, "Do not suppose that when the new Parliament assembles you will see marshalled before you the old parties that have governed the country; you will have new principles of action introduced, and new policies, founded on those principles, recommended to the House of Commons." Are these principles then new, or are they old or both new and old? The right hon. Gentleman says they are new, the Home Secretary says they are old. I do not know whether there are any hon. Gentlemen in the House who can manage to hold With, both.' I cannot. I am, however, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think both that the principles themselves are new and that the mode of carrying them into execution is new. I may presume to have an opinion on the question of 1680 what were Sir Robert Peel's principles of commercial reform. Long associated with a recollection that will ever be dear to me, and sharing in the first struggles that he made for that great object, I must necessarily have had many opportunities of observing the workings of his mind upon the subject; and the whole House and the country have ample means of knowing by records of the time, if their memories do not enable them to know, what his principles were. The principles on which his commercial reforms rested were—first, to set free the raw materials of industry from duty. How has the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer acted on that principle? There is still one raw material, and a most elementary raw material; that Sir Robert Peel, though he had the wish, never had the power, and the late Government, though they also had the wish, never had the power, to entirely free from duty—I mean timber. The repeal of that duty would have operated most: beneficially for the shipping interest. But I have heard an hon. Gentleman to-night say that because only 7s. 6d. a ton will be saved on one class of ships, and 2s. 6d. on another, the relief thus given would be insignificant in amount. Why, if the average reduction were only 5s. per ton, that would amount to 50l. or 100?. in the building of some classes of ships. But I wish to point out to the Committee that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a surplus of 1,500,000l, one principle of Sir Robert Peel would have led him to consider whew ther there was any raw material in the tariff not set free from fiscal burdens. He has, as he says, examined the tariff most carefully, but strange to say he has passed by the article of timber. What was the next of Sir Robert Peel's principles? It was to remove or diminish duties, protective in their character, and especially those that fell upon articles of food. Are there no duties of that character still remaining in the tariff? Are there no duties on the importation of butter, or of cheese? But the right hon. Gentleman has passed them by, and I might mention many other instances. He has passed by. every one of them—he leaves them as he found them, and that is, in his view, acting on the principles of unrestricted competition He certainly does not re-enact protective duties, but he stops at the point where he finds the work of reform, and declines to carry-it on. The third of Sir Robert Peels principles was to clear from the tariff un- 1681 protective and unnecessary duties, whose collection absorbed the whole, or the greatest part, of the produce. The right hon. Gentleman has done nothing whatever in pursuance of this principle. The last principle of Sir Robert Peel was to reduce the price of highly-taxed articles of food. And, passing by every other point in the policy of Sir Robert Peel, on that and that alone has the Chancellor of the Exchequer chosen to bestow, not only his whole surplus, but a great deal more. Three of Sir Robert Peel's principles he has left entirely untouched, and the fourth he has exaggerated by the course I have described. Does he in that, or does he not, offend against another principle of Sir Robert Peel? Whatever Sir Robert Peel did with respect to commercial reform, he did it always subject to the paramount obligation, of which he was conscious, to maintain the principle that ample sums should be raised in the year for the service of the year, and for the maintenance of a steady surplus of revenue above expenditure. He never allowed even his eagerness for commercial reform to make him deviate for one moment from that fundamental and yet more important view. All his operations were conducted subject to the control of that principle. It is the principle, as I shall presently show, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has disregarded and contemned. That is the case, as I conceive, of the commercial principles of Sir Robert Peel, and that is the relation of the Government to those commercial principles. But Sir Robert Peel, it is said, performed the operation which the right hon. Gentleman is now preparing. He imposed a tax—the income tax—to repeal customs duties, a case precisely parallel to the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman is going to impose new taxes upon the householder; he increases taxes that have been paid already, and imposes them upon large classes that have not yet paid them, in order to repeal a portion of the malt tax. That is, I should say, he is going to impose a tax on the general body of the community, to make a most ineffectual and worthless attempt at the relief, not of a class, but of a portion of a class. This is precisely an inversion of the policy of Sir Robert Peel, for he imposed a tax on s class to relieve the entire body of the people. It was to you [turning to the Ministerial benches] that he made his appeal. You—-the party opposite—are the 1682 men he called upon, as the possessors of property, to you he made his special appeal to accept the income tax, in order that that relief might be given to the springs of industry, and to the great consuming classes of the country. You answered that appeal, and I hope you will now maintain the character you then gained by the support you gave Sir Robert Peel, in the struggle for that great benefit which you enabled him to confer on his country. I proceed to another question which must not be omitted, for it is of vital importance, and lies right at the root of the whole discussion before us—I mean the question of the income tax. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies is very much mistaken if he thinks that in approaching that question, all he has to do is to set aside the particular objection that I have taken as regards the particular case of the fundholder, or to pass jokes at the expense of what he calls my ingenuity. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government may depend upon it that they have opened a question of a most formidable character; and in what position is it presented to us to-night? I really thought, until the distinction that was made tonight, that we had a definite and intelligible plan presented to us. There is nothing that can excuse the Government, or acquit them of the heaviest responsibility to the country, if they open a question like that of rearranging the different contributions of all classes in the country to the income tax, unless the production of a plan which shall be intelligible—which may be subjected to scrutiny—which may be tried on its merits—and which will meet the view of the public as a plan, and not merely as an abstraction. If, on the other hand, a Government — because they know that amongst a large class of the community there is great favour entertained for a particular mode or principle of taxation—depart from the sound rule that binds them to submit their propositions, and to be responsible not merely for the general ideas on which they are based, but for the means by which they will be carried into execution—if a Government thinks proper to appeal to favour for the support of their principle without confronting the difficulty of carrying it into effect, then I can only say that whatever others may do with regard to the financial policy of such a Government, I will be the firmest opponent of such a financial policy, because I know that such a course of pandering to 1683 the worst elements of popular feeling and the coarsest passions, must expose the country to the grayest dangers. We are told that it is necessary to moderate and check the progress of democracy; but there is no surer way of advancing the progress of democracy than by easting loose on the world attractive and seductive schemes with regard to financial arrangements, which those who propose them know cannot be carried into effect. I shall explain in a few words the view and policy with which the income tax was first propounded; and I may say, by way of preface, that the case of the fundholders is one of a score of cases with which hon. Gentlemen will have to deal; and I shall endeavour to show, when the proper time comes, that if you arrange the income tax in good faith as I understand it, that good faith will compel you to place the fund-holder at the lowest rate. Has the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer submitted to us a plan for the reconstruction of the income tax, or has he not? I say that a man who promises to vary the different rates of the income tax in different schedules, without having formed his plan for doing so, is guilty of a high offence against the public. I say that, because it appears from what was Said by the right hon. Gentleman to-night that the question is involved in almost hopeless obscurity. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen who did not hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) may find it convenient to say "no;" but that right hon. Gentleman tested the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he showed that the right hon. Gentleman, who says he will distinguish between realised and precarious incomes, has, according to his Resolution, proceeded upon no principle whatever; and if I understood the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, it was this, that not having had time to adjust the details of his plan, he had proposed the tax upon the basis of the old schedules without change; but if the right hon. Gentleman has had no time to think about details, how was it he came to introduce exemptions with respect to Clergymen? Is not that a point of detail? In the first place, as to the suggestion so pleasantly put by the right hon. Gentle-man that the Committee should affirm the Resolution, hon. Members should recollect that if we vote in Committee of Ways and Means that Resolution of his relating to 1684 the income tax, we shall be absolutely pre cluded by the forms and rules of the House from raising the full rate on certain income or property. Schedule D is now going to pay 5¼ per cent; and what is contained in Schedule D? The entire realised mercantile capital of the country—every farthing of it—is contained in Schedule D. The foreign fundholders in this country, unless they happen to have their dividends paid by an agent, are to he taxed 5¼d.; but if the dividends are paid by an agent in this country, then they are to be taxed at 7d. I may be met by being told that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no idea of the amount of foreign funds and securities held in this country; but well-informed men in the City of London have told me that they do not amount to less than 80,000.000l. or 100,000,000l.; not so great, oertainly, in amount as the mercantile capital—that may be calculated by hundreds of millions—another of the ex-ceptions with which we shall have to deal. It appears that the great finance Minister who is going to revise your system of taxation, and introduce new plans that will benefit every one and injure no one—who is going, above all, to reconstruct your income tax—asks you to pass a vote to put 5¼d. on Schedule D, which will prevent you from putting the full tax on all this realised income, which he says himself ought to pay the full tax. The view of the income tax as first proposed was one that did honour to the great statesman who conceived it. It was undoubtedly required in part to meet a deficit, but it had also this ulterior and principal purpose —to effect a great and needful commercial reform; to lighten the springs of industry; to give activity to trade, and to cheapen commodities of all descriptions. My belief is, that Sir Robert Peel viewed the income tax as a temporary measure—["Hear, hear!"]—by which I mean a measure that was to continue in force so long as the great reason that called it into existence was to continue in force. I mean a bond fide temporary measure, a temporary measure not limited absolutely to three or five years, but the number of years that would be required to effect completely a great sys-tern of commercial reform. That was the true basis of the income tax. The income tax is odious in the judgment of many Gentlemen in this House; and I do not think it is an unreasonable sentiment? it is open to argument, but I do not pretend to say it is an unreasonable opinion. It may 1685 be thought to bear hardly on various classes of persons—on annuitants, on persons receiving salaries, and, above all, on persons in professions; and, in a secondary degree, on persons exercising trades—but surely that which brought the bane brought also, in no small degree, the antidote. With a tax of 7d. on actual receipts, and as regarded land with a tax of 7d. on something more than actual receipts, commercial reforms were effected that made the receipts far larger than they ever had been before. And though persons receiving salaries, and engaged in professions, might at first sight undoubtedly object to paying the same rate as the possessors of property, I will ask, were not the articles which they consumed cut down in price, and did they not receive the benefit of that reduction? The right hon. Gentleman very properly said, in speaking of the clerk, that there is no one who received so much advantage from the imposition of the income tax and the commercial reforms as he has done, because he is a consumer and is not a producer of any saleable commodities; but does not the right hon. Gentleman see that that applies to the whole class of persons receiving salaries? But though I say this, I don't deny that the question of the reconstruction of the income tax is open. All I say to the right hon. Gentleman is this, "Let us have a plan." I consider that the House of Commons will forfeit and forget its duty if it deals with this matter in the abstract. Instead of commanding the respect of the country, and making a provision for its permanent interest, it will become a mere panderer to public opinion, and be driven hither and thither by the force of it, What is the use of a Minister of the Crown rising in his place, and saying the time is come when we must recognise a difference between temporary and precarious incomes, and when challenged upon the absurdities and anomalies, inconsistencies and self-contradictions, of his plan, by a Gentleman in this House, he says, "That is not my plan! I found it in the schedules as they stand; but they are all to be reconstructed." I must say one word on a small interlude that took place, in vindication of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham), whom the right hon. Gentleman said, be would not say he greatly respected, hot rather whom he greatly regarded.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that whatever might have 1686 escaped him in the haste of expression, he certainly had not intended to use the words in question in the sense in which they were applied by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
If it were a mere hasty word, of course I should be the last person to take notice of it; but an allusion has been made by my right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham), in which I am part proprietor. I refer to the comparison which he drew between the position of a Bishop and a Judge. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies denied the comparison, because he said a Judge could be removed from his office; and I now venture to say a Bishop may be deposed. If my right hon. Friend pursues the case a little further he will see that the two cases approximate as closely as possible. I refer him to an Act that passed in 1843, under which a Bishop who is incapable may have the spiritualities of his diocese transferred to another ecclesiastic. I have asked the Governor of the Bank of England, who agrees in principle with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will accept his plan, and he said it was impossible; for what does the right hon. Gentleman do? The salient point of the whole case is on the public annuities, above all annuities for years expiring in 1860. They were in the one case always chosen by common consent, to make visible, as it was thought, the uncertainty and inequality of the present law. The right hon. Gentleman leaves this capital and crying grievance—so much a grievance, indeed, that it has always been made by common consent the standard-bearer to the rest, precisely where he found it. The annuitant is still included in Schedule C, and is still liable to 1d. in the pound on his interest and his capital. Now, the fact is, no two men have agreed upon a plan for getting rid of these difficulties. You appointed a Committee, which sat in 1851 and 1852, and examined witnesses. The Committee looked the question boldly in the face, and the consequence was they could not agree upon a plan. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) agreed upon a plan, but he agreed with whom? Why, he agreed with himself. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) agreed upon ft plan too, and he also agreed with himself. I did hope that at least some ten or twelve men in the Cabinet had agreed upon a concerted measure; but after what has passed this evening, I see that the Government, no more than anybody else, has got a 1687 plan. I have now endeavoured to deal manfully with this question. I say it behoved the Government to inquire into this subject, and see if they could not discover a plan which would be likely to satisfy the wishes of the community. I see at least He reason why they should announce that they intended to give effect to the principle before they had inquired whether effect could be given to it or not. It is bad enough when private Members of Parliament make flaunting promises to the community which they cannot perform; but it is far worse when a Government appointed to stop the progress of democracy, stoops to pursue a similar course, and endeavours to call upon a Conservative party to support them. Now I beg to touch on the last subject, I think, on which I shall trouble the Committee. I pass from the income tax with only this remark, which I commend to the serious consideration of hon. Gentlemen—namely, that while I blame the conduct of the Government, I can make no complaint I must say of the favourable reception which their proposition, if it may be so called, appears to have met with at the hands of the great bulk of their supporters. Those hon. Gentlemen especially represent the landed interest in this House. They already pay the full rate of income tax, and they are now ready to accede to the principle of the plan which will not only lead them to continue paying that fall amount, but which will, through the operation of exemptions, throw on them a larger burden. But I wish to commend this point seriously to their consideration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is time to recognise the distinction between permanent and precarious incomes. So far I am ready to follow him, saving always my right to support the case of the fundholder. I am ready to follow him into the examination of his plan. But the right hon. Gentleman, and those who support him, should consider that there is another kind of gradation of Which little or nothing has yet been said. It is no doubt true, that the medical man with his 300l. a year is a poorer man, and a good deal more so, than he who has 300l. in the funds. But is there not the yeoman of 50l. a year, who cannot quite so well afford to pay 7d. in the pound, as the Duke of this or the Marquess of that, who, being like the yeoman in possession of landed property, differ from him in this, that while he possesses landed property of the value of 50l. a year, they possess landed property worth 50,000l.
1688 or 100,000l I hope hon. Gentlemen will well consider whether they are prepared not only to distinguish between the landowner and the professional man, but likewise to graduate between the holders of large and the holders of small properties. I come now to the question which is vital to the whole of this matter. Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I ask, included in his new scheme principles that involve the subversion of all those rules of prudence heretofore deemed necessary for the conduct of the financial affairs of this country? Has he, in other words, presented to the House a Budget without a surplus? I submit, without the slightest doubt, that he has presented a Budget without a surplus. [The CHANCEILLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Yes, there is 400,000l.] Well, if you hold to that, I will tell you how that matter stands. The case is really this: the Exchequer Loan Fund Commissioners have had two systems of administration. In one of those systems, which to a certain extent depended on each other, there was a discretionary power given, and if the accounts be accurate, there has been a considerable profit from the operations which have been conducted in the exercise of that discretion. Whilst, however, the Commission in the free exercise of its right arm had been making money for the public, it had been spending money faster than it made it by the compulsory exercise of its left arm. The right hon. Gentleman has now for the first time in detail told us plainly that the 400,000l. which appear in the Ways and Means, and which constitute his sole surplus, are 400,000l., not belonging to the services of the year, not drawn from the people by the service of the year, but repayments of money formerly obtained upon the credit of the country. The right hon. Baronet stated that the Government did not send its balances to the Bank because the Bank allowed no interest. The right hon. Gentleman can hardly have considered the elementary terms between the Government and the Bank. It was true in the letter, but not in the spirit, that the Bank gave interest for the balances of the Government. But what does it matter whether you receive interest on your balances, or the Bank engages to transact your business, and lend you money when required at small rates of interest? When the Bank Charter comes to be granted, the directors will cast up their average; balances, and will be regulated by their 1689 amount, as to the terms which they will give you for its renewal. A worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman Thompson) entered the other night into a defence of the Budget; but, Oh, what a smash, what a cruel wreck and ruin, has that right hon. Gentleman made of that defence this evening! The right hon. Gentleman has, for the first time, in unmistakeable terms, stated that his surplus consisted only of the repayment of money borrowed, or the creation of a debt; and the question the Committee has now to consider is, whether they will give their sanction to a financial scheme founded upon a surplus so obtained. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to vamp up a surplus out of borrowed money, and with that fictitious surplus he hoped to obtain the sanction of the Committee. I fully agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee in 1822 recommended that this fund should be devoted to "Ways and Means," in order to its being applied to the payment of the debt; but at that time there was a considerable surplus revenue. The same remark will apply to the recommendation of the Committee of 1828, also quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. I am well satisfied with one or two of the explanations offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was pleased with what he said with respect to the Kafir war, and I cannot bring myself to criticise his intelligence too harshly. Let us cherish the illusion, if it be one, till, at all events, it is displaced by intelligence not open to dispute. I thank him also for his explanation respecting the malt tax for the years 1854 and 1855, though I think he has not allowed sufficient for the drawback, or for that reduction in the quantity of malt consumed by the brewers previous to the drawback. I think, however, that according to the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, the loss in subsequent years upon the malt tax will be an enormous loss most slowly replaced. But I am not at all satisfied with his statement respecting the refining of sugar in bond. It will have the effect of increasing differential duties, and increasing the expense of collecting the revenue. In his statement with respect to the income tax there is a palpable hiatus in his figures, and upon adding them up the total falls short by nearly 140.000l. The right hon. Gentleman's surplus consists of the Exchequer Loan Fund; which is, in fact, a surplus of borrowed money, and. it is clear, from the right hon. Gen- 1690 tleman's statement of the revenue, that there is an actual deficiency. These are not times when we ought to trifle with the revenue. No economy is so good as that of maintaining the finances in a high state of credit. The right hon. Gentleman has referred with triumph to the high price of the funds; but every one knows that the money market is, to a great extent, regulated by those who buy with the view of selling again immediately for profit, and not with a view to permanent investment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has departed from the sound policy of supporting a surplus revenue, and no Minister will ever receive my support for his financial policy which proceeds upon such a system. It is a principle most dangerous, and most of all dangerous and inconsistent in a Conservative Government. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of terminating the war of classes. Why, Sir, he has done more than any other man to revive and renew that war; and if I saw the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) in his place, who I know to be as strongly attached to the principle of establishing a difference in the income tax, I would make my appeal to him, and say, "That is your principle, and you are ready to adopt a reasonable plan for that purpose; but, I ask you, if you approve of a Government which, in submitting its plan, announces a popular principle, obtains a temporary harvest of popularity, and leaves the question of giving effect to its announcements to the chapter of accidents." I will ask hon. Gentlemen who are so squeamish on the subject of anxiety for popularity, if they heard the speech of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he has laid out before the public the good deeds of the Government, as a shopman lays out his wares? Many similar deeds have been done by former Governments, but they were never paraded before the House and country as they have been by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night; as though they were the carrying out of one of the "new principles" upon which we are hereafter to be governed. I hope that this country, if it has not been governed by enchanters and magicians, has at any rate been governed by men of sense and honour in former years; and I venture to say that no man who has held high office has not over and over again effected operations when the occasion required, of equal or greater importance, without parading them to the House in a speech on the Budget. When I speak 1691 of the right hon. Gentleman renewing the war of classes, I do not mean that he is reviving it on the question of protection; but I found my statement on the fact of his having launched opinions with respect to the reconstruction of the income tax, not supported by any executory means. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer closed his speech by stating that he was opposed by a coalition. What is the meaning of these charges of combination and coalition? and where is the evidence by which they are supported? Is it because the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) opposes the Budget—and I likewise have the misfortune to do so—that there is therefore a factious combination between us? Does the evidence of factious combination depend upon concurrence in a vote? If so, why was not the complaint of combination raised about a fortnight ago, when we, from a sense of justice and duty, gave a vote not altogether inconvenient to the Government? And why is it, because we now conscientiously differ and dissent from the financial policy of the Government, that we are not to be free again to give an honest and independent vote? It seems to me that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies appears to think that they have a vested interest in the votes of hon. Members near me. I vote against the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not only he-cause I disapprove upon general grounds of the principles of that Budget, but emphatically and peculiarly because in my conscience—though it may be an erroneous belief—it is my firm conviotion that the Budget is one, I will not say the most liberal, nor the most radical, but I will say the most subversive in its tendencies and ultimate effects which I have ever known submitted to this House. It is the most regardless of those general rules of prudence which it is absolutely necessary we should preserve, and which it is perfectly impossible that this House, as a popular assembly, should observe unless the Government sets us the example, and uses its influence to keep us in the right course. Sir, the House of Commons is a noble assembly, worthy of its historical and traditional associations; but it is too much to expect that we should teach the Executive its duty in elementary matters of administration and finance. If I vote against the Government, I vote in support of those Conservative principles, which I thank God are common in a great degree to all parties in the British House 1692 of Commons, but of which I thought It was the peculiar pride and glory of the Co. servative party to be the champions and the leaders. Are you not the party of 1842? Are you not the party who, in times of difficulty, chose to cover a deficit, and to provide a large surplus? And are you the same party to be united now in a time of prosperity, to convert a large turplus into a deficiency? I appeal to you by what you then were. I appeal to you to act now as you did then. Us you have cast off. I do not blame you for that. I am, indeed, always disposed to view with regret the rupture of party ties—my disposition is rather to retain them. I confess that I look, if not with suspicion, at least with disapprobation, on any one who is disposed to treat party connections as matters of small importance. My opinion is that party ties closely appertain to those principles of confidence which we entertain for the House of Commons. But us you have cast off for inconsistency. Have we ever complained of that? Have we ever made it matter of charge against you? No, certainly not; you owe us no grudge on that account. But you must remember that you also have a character to maintain —that you also are on your trial—that you also are bound to look with suspicion on those principles of financial policy which depart from 'those rules that not only all statesmen, but the common sense of the country, agree to be essential to the prosperity of this nation. You are now asked to vote for a Budget which consecrates, as it were, the principle of a deficiency, and which endangers the public credit of the country, and which may peril our safety— if, indeed, the circumstances of the present day are circumstances of uneasiness; and if the Government have thought it right to call upon you for increased exertions in providing for the defences of the country, I say, then, that I vote against this Budget in concert—at least in company —with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax, feeling that in giving that vote I do the work, so far as depends upon me, which you ought to join with me in doing. I do not express that sentiment in an offensive manner, but I say it because I feel deeply attached—having sat for so many years in this House, and having been connected during many of those years with public office, I feel profoundly attached— to the institutions of the country. I look back with regret upon the days when I sat nearer to many of my hon. Friends 1693 opposite than I now am, and I feel it my duty to use that freedom of speech which I am sure, as Englishmen, you will tolerate, when I tell you that if you give your assent and your high authority to this most unsound and destructive principle on which the financial scheme of the Government is based—you may refuse my appeal now— you may accompany the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the lobby; but my belief is that the day will come when you will look back upon this vote—as its consequences sooner or later unfold themselves—you will look back upon this vote with bitter, but with late and ineffectual regret.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 286; Noes 305: Majority 19.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cholmondeley, Lord H.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Christopher, rt. hn R. A.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Christy, S.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Clinton, Lord C. P.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Clive, R.|
|Astell, J. H.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Bagge, W.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Bailey, C.||Coles, H. B.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Conolly. T.|
|Baird, J.||Coote, Sir C. H.|
|Ball, E.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Baldoek, E. H.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Cubitt, Ald.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Davison, R.|
|Beckett, W.||Deedes, W.|
|Benbow, J.||Dering, Sir E.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Bentinck, G. P.||Dod, J. W.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Dodd, G.|
|Berkeley, Sir G.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Drummond, H.|
|Blair, Col.||Du Cane, C.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Boldero, Col.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Booker, T. W.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Dunne, Col.|
|Bremridge, B.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Brisco, M.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Brooke, Lord||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Burghley, Lord||Farnham, E. B.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Farrer,J.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Fellowes, E.|
|Butt, G. M.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Butt, I.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Fitzgerald, W. R. S.|
|Cairns, H. M.||Floyer, J.|
|Campbell, Sir A. I.||Follett, B. S.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Forbes, W.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Ohandos, Marq. of||Forster, Sir G.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Franklyn, G. W.|
|Child, S.||Fraser, Sir W. A.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Lowther, Capt.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Lygon.hon. Gen.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.|
|Galway, Visct.||Macartney, G.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Macaulay, K.|
|George, J.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Maddock, Sir T. H.|
|Gipps, H. P.||Malins, R.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Goold, W.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Gordon, Adm.||March, Earl of|
|Gore, W. O.||Mare, C. J.|
|Graham, Lord M. W.||Masterman, J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Greaves, E.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Greenall, G.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Grogan, E.||Michell, W.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Miles, W.|
|Hale, R. B.||Miller, T. J.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Mills, A.|
|Hall, Col.||Montgomery, H. L,|
|Halsey, T. P.||Moore, R. S.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Morgan, O.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Morgan, C. R.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.||Mundy, W.|
|Harcourt, Col.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Hardinge, hon. C.S.||Naas, Lord|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Heard, J. I.||Neeld, J.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Neeld, J.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Newark, Visct.|
|Herbert, Sir T.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hemes, rt. hon. J. C.||Newport, Visct.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Hill, Lord A. E.||North, Col.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Oakes, J. H. P.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hotham, Lord||Owen, Sir J.|
|Hudson, G.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Pakenham, Capt.|
|Hume, W. F.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Palmer, R.|
|Irton, S.||Parker, R. T.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Johnstone, hon. H. B.||Percy, hon. J. W.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Phillips, J. H.|
|Jones, Capt.||Pigot, Sir R.|
|Jones, D.||Portal, M.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Powlett, Lord W.|
|Kendall, N.||Prime, R.|
|Ker, D. S.||Pugh, D.|
|Kerrison, E. C.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|King, J. K.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Rolt, P.|
|Knight, F. W.||Rushout, Capt.|
|Knightley, R.||Russell, F. W.|
|Knox, Col.||Sandars, G.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Seaham, Visct.|
|Laffan, R. M.||Seymer, H. K.|
|I.angton, W. G.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Lascelles, hon. E.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Smith, W. M.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Smyth, R. J.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Smollett, A.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Lockhart, W.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Lopes, Sir R.||Spooner, R.|
|Lovaine, Lord||Stafford, A.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||Waddington, D.|
|Stanley, Lord||Walcott, Adm.|
|Stephenson, R.||Walpole.rt. hon. S. H.|
|Stirling, W.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Sturt, H.G.||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Taylor, Col.||Whiteside, J.|
|Taylor, H.||Whitmore, H.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Thompson, Ald.||Williams, T. P.|
|Tollemaohe, J.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Tudway, R. C.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Turner, C.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Tyler, Sir G.||Wyndham, W.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Vance, J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Vane, Lord A.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Vansittart, G. H.||Torke, hon. E. T.|
|Vemer, Sir W.|
|Villiers, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Vivian, J. E.||Bateson, T.|
|Vyse, R. H. R. H.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|A'Court, C. H. W.||Cheetham, J.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Anson, hon. Gen.||Clifford, H. M.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Clinton, Lord R.|
|Atherton, W.||Cobbett, J. M.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Cobden, R.|
|Ball, J.||Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.|
|Baring, H. B.||Coffin, W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T.||Collier, R. P.|
|Barnes, T.||Cowan, C.|
|Bass, M. T.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Craufurd, E. H. J.|
|Bell, J.||Crook, J.|
|Bellew, Capt.||Crossley, F.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Crowder, R. B.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Currie, R.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Dashwood, Sir G. H.|
|Bethell, R.||Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Denison, E.|
|Biggs, W.||Denison, J. E.|
|Blaekett, J. F. B.||Devereux, J. T.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Divett, E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Bowyer, G.||Duff, G. S.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Duff, J.|
|Brady, J.||Duffy, C. G.|
|Brand, hon. H. B. W.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bright, J.||Duncan, G.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Duncombe, T.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Dundas, F.|
|Brotherton, J.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Brown, H.||Dunne, M.|
|Brown, W.||Eccles, W.|
|Browne, V.||Ellice, rt hon. E.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Ellice, E.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Butler, C. S.||Esmonde, J.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||Euston, Earl of|
|Carter, S.||Evans, Sir De L.|
|CaulBeld, Col. J. M.||Evans, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Ewart, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Fagan, W.|
|Challis, Ald.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Chambers, M.||Ferguson, J.|
|Chambers, T.||Fitzgerald, J. D.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Fitzgerald, Sir J. F.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Lucas, F.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Luce, T.|
|Forster, M.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Forster, C.||Mackie, J.|
|Fortescue, C.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Fox, R. M.||M'Cann, J.|
|Fox, W. J.||MacGregor, J.|
|Freestun, Col.||M'Mahon, P.|
|French, F.||McTaggart,Sir J.|
|Gardner, R.||Magan, W. H.|
|Geaeh, C.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Marshall, W.|
|Goderich, Visct.||Massey, W. N.|
|Goodman, Sir G.||Matheson, A.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Maule, hon. Col.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Meagher, T.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Miall, E.|
|Greene, J.||Milligan, R.|
|Gregson, S.||Mills, T.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Milner,W. M.E.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Hadfield, G.||Milton, Visct.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Moffatt, G.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Hastie, A.||Monck, Visct.|
|Hastie, A.||Monsell, W.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Moore, G. H.|
|Henchy, D. O.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Heneage, G. F.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Herbert, H. A.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Mure, Col.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Hey wood, J.||Norreys, Lord|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||O'Brien, C.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||O'Brien, P.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Hutchins, E. J.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Hutt, W.||Oliveira, B.|
|Ingham, R.||Osborne, R.|
|Jackson, W.||Otway, A. J.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Paget, Lord A.|
|Johnstone, J.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Keating, R.||Peel, F.|
|Keating, H. S.||Peel, Col.|
|Kennedy, T.||Pellatt, A.|
|Keogh, W.||Fhillimore, J. G.|
|Kershaw, J.||Phinn, T.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Pigott,F.|
|Kingscote, R.N. F.||Pilkington, J.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Pinney, W.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon.H.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Laing, S.||Potter, R.|
|Langston, J. H.||Power. N.|
|Langton, H. G.||Price, Sir R.|
|Laslett, W.||Price, W. P.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Ricardo, O.|
|Lawley, hon. F. C.||Rich, H.|
|Layard, A. H.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Legh, G. C.||Roche, E. B.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Locke, J.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Sadleir, J.|
|Loveden, P.||Sadleir, J.|
|Lowe, R.||Sawle, C. B. G.|
|Scholefield, W.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Scebell, Capt.||Tynte, Col. C. J. K.|
|Sorope, G. P.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Scully, F.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Scully, V.||Villiers, hon. C. P.|
|Seymour, Lord||Vivian, J. H.|
|Seymour, H. D.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Seymour, W. D.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Wall, C. B.|
|Shee, W.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Walter, J.|
|Shelley, Sir J. V.||Warner, E.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Wells, W.|
|Smith, J. A.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Smith, J. B.||Whatman, J.|
|Smith, M. T.||Whitbread, S.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Stafford, Marq. of||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Stansfield, W. R. C.||Williams, W.|
|Stapleton, J.||Wilson, J.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Wilson, M.|
|Strutt, rt. hon. E.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Stuart, Lord D.||Wise, J. A.|
|Sullivan, M.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Sutton, J. H. M.||Wood, Sir W. P.|
|Swift, R.||Wortley.rt. hon. J. S.|
|Thicknesse, R. A.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Thomson, G.||Wyvill, M.|
|Thornely, T.||Young, Sir J.|
|Towneley, C.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Traill, G.||Berkeley, C. L. G.|
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
With regard to the vote just come to by the Committee, it will perhaps be more convenient for the transaction of public business that the House at its rising should adjourn to Monday. I shall therefore at present move that you report progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ House resumed: Committee report progress.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Four o'clock in the morning, till Monday next.