§ Order read, for resuming adjourned Debate upon Question (22nd April)— "That such financial arrangements ought to be made as will enable Parliament to dispense with the Duty on Paper."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed,
§ MR. COWAN
said, he had been a paper manufacturer for about thirty years. For the last twenty years he had endeavoured to the utmost to induce various Ministries to take the subject into their consideration, with a view of relieving paper manufacturers from the restrictions under which they suffered. He at once acknowledged that in Downing-street he was civilly received and courteously bowed out, but beyond that no progress whatever had been made. He hoped to have seen the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his place to-day, because the right hon. Gentleman supported a Motion of a similar 588 kind when brought forward on a former occasion. Of late years a very considerable reduction had been made in the number of excisable articles; and paper was, he believed, the only article which could properly be termed a manufacture still subjected to an Excise duty. A very large number of individuals was employed in the manufacture of paper, which seemed to have been specially selected as the subject of harassing and vexatious restrictions. Not only were manufacturers of paper compelled to submit to a protracted survey, but it was required that every parcel of paper should bear upon it a label describing the weight, the name of the supervisor, the place of manufacture, and a variety of other details; and this process of labelling consumed a great deal of valuable time. He complained, also, of the delay which took place before paper could be removed after the inspection of the Excise officer. Formerly paper was allowed to be removed in twenty-four hours after the time at which the Excise officer commenced his survey; but an order was issued some twenty years ago providing that twenty-four hours should elapse after the officer had completed his survey before paper was allowed to be removed from the place of manufacture. The effect of this regulation was that a delay of two days took place before paper could be removed. There was something more than the mere remission of a vexatious and harassing impost sought for. He had not the slightest doubt but that if these restrictions were removed, a great and extraordinary impetus would be given to paper manufacture. Within the last year, however, the Board of Excise diminished this period of delay to ten or twelve hours. Now, did not this fact prove the evil of an irresponsible and arbitrary Board. If these restrictions were legal and proper, why were they remitted? If they were improper and illegal, why were they so long continued? If they were not necessary, why should a useful part of our manufactures be subjected to such grievous restrictions? He would wish to draw the attention of the House to a case which strongly illustrated this evil. He was acquainted with a paper manufactory in Gloucestershire, where the manufacturer had taken a contract for a peculiar kind of pasteboard for railway carriages. It was necessary that the manufacturer should procure the outer surfaces, of various colours, from a mill in another part of the country, not being able to make them in his own—in fact, the process of 589 manufacture of the two articles was incompatible in the same establishment. The Board of Excise, however, interfered, and, though the manufacturer petitioned the Board, it was eleven months before his most just and reasonable request was acquiesced in. The consequence was, the man lost his contract, and a loss of 1,000l. was occasioned by these absurd and harassing technicalities of the Board of Excise. Before 1836, no paper manufacturer could make up his goods in any other shape than twenty quires of twenty-four sheets each to a ream. He remembered well that in his own case, having been applied to to send paper to South America, made up to suit that particular market, with different quantities in each ream or parcel—a period of three weeks elapsed before he could obtain permission to proceed, and then the permission was limited to the particular case. To show the grievous nature of those restrictions he would quote another instance. Straw was useful in the manufacture of what was termed loom cards. It came under the cognisance of the Committee of which the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) was Chairman, that for any pattern of a Jacquard loom 100,000 of these cards was necessary, and the duty on cards for one pattern was no less than 22l. 18s. 4d. He knew there was an establishment at Paisley at which it was necessary to keep 1,000,000 cards in stock, and the proprietors were obliged upon that number to pay a duty of about 230l., and a new supply of cards must be obtained whenever new patterns were required. There was another article—sewing thread—which he might mention, if it were for no other purpose than to show the extent of our trade. Vast quantities of this thread were exported to the United States of America. It was put up in little pasteboard boxes, weighing each a quarter of a pound; the paper that was actually required for each box was 1½ oz. One establishment in Glasgow used no less than three tons of these paper boxes per week, upon which a duty of forty-two guineas were paid, or fourteen guineas a ton. Enormous quantities of paper were likewise consumed in Birmingham, for cutlery, hardware, &c. One manufacturer there paid 1,000l. a year for paper alone, and was amerced in a duty of 300l or 400l. a year, before he could send a single article to a foreign market. His hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Harris) paid 3,000l. a year for paper for packing alone, 590 and the duty upon it amounted to 1,000l. a year. Was this encouraging native industry? The expenses of collecting the Excise revenue had been calculated at six per cent; he was strongly inclined to believe that the collection of the paper duty per se cost much more; and he put it to the House whether, for the small sum that was raised from this duty, it was worth while to burden our home and foreign trade in this article with so onerous and vexatious a duty? He recollected that, twenty-five years ago, he was applied to by a gentleman from South America to produce a peculiar specimen of paper, largely used there for the manufacture of cigarettes, and he assured him that 100,000 reams of it would not be too much to send out at a time. One single operation might suffice to entitle the shipper to the drawback. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) had introduced a Bill effecting various changes relative to British spirits, and he had taken great credit to himself for having done away with "the permit system." Under that system only one permit was required for each transaction; and he (Mr. Cowan) thought if the reasons which were urged for removing the system of permits were good, there were certainly much stronger reasons in favour of removing the excise duties which existed with regard to the manufacture of paper. The evil to which the paper manufacturers were subjected, was this system of long and dreary drudgery, which, in itself, ought to entitle them to obtain a repeal of the duty—a measure which would carry with it a repeal of all these objectionable restrictions. He held in his hand a very interesting book, entitled, An Historical Sketch of the various Substances used in the Manufacture of Paper. The work itself was composed of paper made from straw. It was published in the year 1800, and was dedicated to his late Majesty King George the Third. He might also mention that the latter pages of the work were on paper prepared from wood. He did not hesitate to say that, but for the crushing effect of this duty, the manufacture of paper in this country from straw would by this time have extended to a much greater degree. Paper made from straw was capable of being applied to many useful purposes. Straw could he bought generally at 2l. a ton, and he was told it could be obtained by the proprietors of the establishment to which he had before referred in Gloucestershire at 30s. a ton. But before any experiment could be made, 591 the manufacturer had to pay to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a duty of fourteen guineas a ton, enormously decreasing thereby the ultimate success of the manufactured article in the market. Therefore, the experiment, in that case, was not so successful as it might otherwise have been, for the produce of the mill was sold at a great loss, and the project altogether was most disastrous. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood) had very properly repealed various duties, and amongst others, the duty on bricks. They all remembered the case of a very interesting people who were in bondage, and who were not allowed to make bricks without straw. The case of the paper manufacturers was very much the same, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer would imitate the example set by his predecessor, and repeal the duty on paper, whether made from rags, straw, or any other substance. Great interest was felt in Scotland on the subject of the growth of flax, which was an important branch of cultivation in the time of our ancestors. He had received a communication from a gentleman in Caithness, who not long ago wished to send him (Mr. Cowan) a large quantity of flax to be manufactured into paper. The fact was that the duty was the main obstacle, for before he could ascertain whether the transaction would be profitable, he would be liable to a heavy duty besides the value of the raw article. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) into his consideration. He (Mr. Cowan) was not sorry, notwithstanding the present surplus, that no duties were to be repealed this year, for he did not think that a proper opportunity would be afforded to do justice to the various claimants. The object which his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) had was not immediate relief. His object, as he (Mr. Cowan) understood it, was to convince the House that this tax, that these restrictions, must, in the opinion of the friends of native industry or of free trade, be viewed as equally impolitic and mischievous; and be hoped that the Government, by a Vote of that House, would be induced to take into consideration this duty—a question which, in some respects, must necessarily involve a revisal of our whole system of taxation. For himself, he must say, that he should be sorry to see it repealed at this moment; but, at the same time, he wished 592 that the paper manufacturer should be put on the same footing, not a better footing, as the other great manufacturing branches of industry in the country. He found that when the right hon Member for Manchester brought forward, two years ago, a Motion similar to that now before the House, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, referring to the existence of a surplus, expressed his opinion in these words:—Could they, then, do better in the present state of the revenue, with the resources which they had at their command, than to assent to the first proposition of the right hon. Member for Manchester?That was a proposition to repeal the duty on paper. The right hon. Gentleman continued:—In his opinion it was a prudent, a politic, and a beneficial Motion. Were they to be prevented, then, from assenting to a resolution so justified by circumstances, so beneficial in its character and its results, by the ensanguined phantom of a revolutionary republic being conjured up before them, or by the possible catastrophe of a change of Ministry dimly hinted at in the Delphic sentences? The House might be safely assured that they were not near any misfortune of the kind."—[3 Hansard, ex. 419.]The right hon. Gentlemen seemed then to have possessed the gift of political second sight—a gift which he (Mr. Cowan) had thought was peculiar to his country; for he had seen looming in the distance the very catastrophe which had since occurred. He (Mr. Cowan) had been told by his brethren in the trade that he was doing that which was prejudicial to his own interests by advocating the repeal of this duty. It was said that repeal would induce other men to engage in the trade, and that a competition would be excited which would lessen the price of the article. If that were the case, still he must hold that he was not to allow private insterests to sway him on a question of a public nature, and that he was bound to consider only what was likely to conduce to the welfare of the people at large. It must be remarked that the expenses of this manufacture consisted almost in toto of the wages of labour; and he hoped that the House, with the view of increasing the demand for labour; would take steps to promote the extension of this trade to a greater degree, and for that purpose adopt the Motion of his right hon. Friend. He would merely add that the duty on cotton wool, of five-sixteenths of a penny per pound, was repealed by the late Sir Robert Peel six or seven years ago, and yet 593 there still remained a duty of 3½d. per pound on the very debris of the cotton used at the mills of Manchester, which, in fact, was the material from which paper used by the great London newspapers was made. This was the last of the three Excise taxes which the Commission of 1838, of which Sir Henry Parnell was a member. had recommended should be repealed. The other two had been repealed, and, under these circumstances, he hoped that the House would now carry into effect the only remaining recommendation of that Commission.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Sir, I will not detain the House for many minutes on this subject, but there is one portion of it on which I am anxious to make a few remarks. As regards the duty on paper in general, I must say I shall be heartily glad when the time comes when it may be repealed. There is no doubt it is most imprudent for Members of Parliament, when they are under a strong impression of the disadvantages of a particular tax, to pledge themselves to its unconditional repeal; but I contend that we ought to have the whole case, and the whole state of the revenue before us, before we can enter on the discussion of questions of this kind; and for the present I hope it is clearly understood and intended by the House, that we shall rally round the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the present occasion, and, for the present year at any rate, steadily set our faces against any of these proposals for the remission of taxation. But it seems to mo that there has been a number of interesting circumstances connected with the operation of the paper duty, and with the consumption of paper in the various branches of its demand and the market for its supply; and I think this is a question in the discussion of which the House may be usefully occupied at this moment. There is one branch of the paper manufacture which is no doubt of the utmost importance—I mean where it is employed in the packing of manufactured commodities—and so far as that is concerned, the question comes before us simply in the same category with those legislative reforms relating to the commerce of the country which this House has so lately entertained with so much favour. There is another branch which, as respects the consumption of paper in the production of printed periodicals—whether newspapers or not—is likewise most interesting and important. But there is a third branch to 594 which I wish to draw attention, and to which I think less attention has been given in these discussions, I mean the consumption of paper in the printing and produc-tion of literary works. I hold it to be of great importance on all occasions that we should be on our guard against the throwing away of the public revenue for the benefit of interested combinations; and I trust that, not only at the present moment, but at a more propitious moment, when it may be in the power of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously to entertain the proposal for a reduction or a removal of the duty on paper, he will take into his view the state of the trades which are connected with the consumption of paper—in that branch of its consumption to which I now refer—and that, so far as the influence and operation of the Government can extend, or so far as the deliberations of this House can exercise an influence upon public opinion and upon the proceedings of trades, through the medium of this public opinion, he will take care that he does not give away the public revenue for the benefit and profit of individuals engaged in those particular trades. It is probably within the knowledge of many hon. Members whom I am now addressing, that there is at this moment a most important struggle in progress in the book trade. Most unfortunately a large number of persons engaged in the book trade in London and the country—some say using the publishers of books in London as their instruments, and others say, led on by the publishers—are attempting by restrictions, as I think, of a most imprudent and most unwarrantable character, to prevent the price of books, which is so enormously high, from being mitigated, even to the extent of a few shillings per cent, by the enterprise and energy of those among the retail traders who are disposed to give the public the advantage of that enterprise and energy. Now I think it would be very unjust at the present moment to bear hard on this body of publishers and booksellers, because, with a spirit which does them honour, they have consented to refer the question to the judgment and decision of some distinguished persons. At this moment Lord Campbell, with Mr. Grote, and the Dean of St. Paul's, are engaged in the investigation and consideration of this question; they have entered into an obligation to give judgment upon it, and to that judgment I believe the London traders in books are prepared to submit. I must confess I can- 595 not much doubt what that judgment will be. The House should be made aware of the exact nature of the question. The publishers of books are in the habit of supplying the retail dealers of them at a fixed price, that fixed price being usually—with an exception in the case of wholesale purchasers—a discount of 25 per cent on the publishing price. The custom of the retail trader is not to grant the public who purchase, a greater discount than 10 per cent, leaving therefore 15 per cent to the retail trader. Some retail traders say, they can give a greater discount than 10 per cent to the public; but then this combination which has existed, steps in and says to the retail dealers, "You shall give no greater discount than 10 per cent, and if you do not enter into an engagement with us to that effect, we, by a combination among ourselves, will exclude you altogether from the trade in books; or, in other words, they say, "We will, in fact, utterly deprive you of the means of livelihood in the vocation to which you have devoted yourselves." Now this restriction is, in my view, a great evil. I do not at all pretend to compare the price of new books with the price of articles of bodily subsistence in regard to the question of urgency; but I say it is a great evil that the price of books should be raised above its natural and legitimate level; and I venture to say that the whole system of the bookselling trade in this country—except so far as it is partially mitigated by what are called cheap publications—is a disgrace to our present state of civilisation. This controversy is now going on between certain retail traders who, in my opinion, are deserving of great credit for the energy with which they have endeavoured to cope with what is but a part of a system. I wish the House was aware of the effects of this system in regard to the production and sale of books in this country. The truth is, monopoly and combination have been so long applied to the whole subject, that they have really gone near, if not to the extinction of the trade itself, to reduce the sale of books to its minimum. We are a country who have by far the largest educated class. [An Hon. MEMBER: America excepted.] I am speaking only of Europe; but even with regard to America, I should say we are a country who have the largest class of educated persons in the world—I mean educated in the sense of persons whose position and fortune ought to make them the largest purchasers of 596 new publications. That class in this country is counted by twenties, by fifties—nay, I may almost say, by hundreds of thousands. Now what is the fact with regard to the state of the book market? It is, that with the exception of the works of certain highly-esteemed and distinguished authors—with the exception of such cases as Macaulay's History of England —what are called new publications, not only in a majority of cases, but in an enormous majority of cases, scarcely ever pass the sale of 500 copies. An immense proportion of those that are published do not, pay their expenses at all; and I believe the number that passes the sale of 500 copies, with our enormous powers both for the production of books and for supplying the existing demand for them, is certainly not more than something like five per cent, or, at any rate, not more than from one-twentieth to one-tenth of the whole number that has been produced. What has been the consequence? The purchase of new publications is scarcely ever attempted by anybody. You go into the houses of your friends, and unless they buy books of which they are in professional want, or happen to be persons of extraordinary wealth, you don't find copies of new publications on their tables purchased by themselves, but you find something from the circulating library, or something from the book-club. And what are these bookclubs? Societies which are engaged at an enormous loss of time and waste of machinery in the distribution of books throughout the country. They are merely an ingenious expedient which, under the pressure of necessity, men have adopted to mitigate the monstrous evil of which they have had experience in the enormously high price of books, and at the same time to satisfy, in some degree, their own demand for that description of mental food. It is well the House should observe how, in cases of this kind, one system of combination generates and encourages another. It has been the practice of the book trade —I do not use the term offensively—to combine against the public. What has been the consequence? Why, that the printers combine against the book trade; and very naturally. If you ask a publisher what is the cause of the high price of books, he will say, "One reason is that the printers have entered into a combination against us." And is it not natural, if a journeyman printer sees publishers and booksellers combine against the pub- 597 lic, for him to say, "I will step in and demand a share of the fruits." And so it is. I hold in my hand a communication which has reached me, and, I suppose, other Members, signed by two persons on behalf of the London Society of Compositors; and they say—We draw your attention to the Motion of the Right Hon. T. M. Gibson for the repeal of the taxes on knowledge. We believe that these taxes present unnecessary obstacles against the spread of information among the people generally.But is it or is it not the case that the London compositors, though they have such a genial sympathy with the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson), and with the spread of information, have for some time been in strict combination together, and that the terms and effect of that combination are to raise the price of printing per sheet in London, Oxford, and Cambridge, and I believe in some other places, at least 25 or 30 per cent above the price at which they will execute it elsewhere? Now I hope, whenever the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be in a condition to propose to the House a remission of the duties on paper, these matters may be well looked into, and that we shall take care that the public revenue is not given away for the purpose of facilitating or promoting the extension of those combinations. The Government can no doubt do a great deal for the removal of these immense evils; not so individuals. If a particular person who has a work to publish says, "I will fix the price of this work at one-half the ordinary charge," he merely makes a victim of himself without in the slightest degree affecting the state of the market, or without acting sensibly on the demand for his own book. The book societies and circulating libraries are not sensibly affected by the price of the book being more or less; and consequently the natural healthy play which ought to regulate the price which the books ought to fetch, and the price of books in general—the operation of those principles is totally intercepted by this system, which has been so long in action. The Government, I think, for many years, have been endeavouring to do something towards promoting the book trade in England. For many years they have been negotiating with foreign countries, with a view to the prevention of piracy in books abroad. I had the satisfaction when I was at the Board of Trade, in conjunction with the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Mac-gregor), to conduct negotiations with Prus- 598 sia, and of handing them over to my successor (Lord Dalhousie), who was able to put his hand to the first treaty for international copyright. Since that time there has been a similar treaty with Prance, and treaties have also been entered into with other parts of Germany. That is most important to the book trade of England, because, undoubtedly, the sale of piratical publications is most injurious to it, for, by narrowing the market, it tends to force an elevation in the price of books printed in this country. But if, by means of the influence of the State, we have opened the foreign market to the English book trade, I think we have a right to expect of those who are engaged in that trade that they will produce books on reasonable and moderate terms, with the view of supplying that demand. The case of our Colonies is very remarkable. We attempted to vindicate the rights of British authors in our Colonies; but owing to the monstrous price at which books were sold, the grievance was so oppressive, that I believe it has been found necessary to relax the law which prevented the admission of piratical publications into the Colonies. I don't believe there is any article for which the public are called on to pay a price so high, in comparison with the actual cost of production, as books; and even that actual cost of production is not a proper standard, because that cost is more enormously enhanced than in any other trade, by the restrictive nature of the trade, and the narrowness of the circle of demand. I do believe in this country we have the greatest facilities for the production of cheap books. That is quite plain from the efforts that have been made, even under the disadvantages of the paper duty, by enterprising and successful publishers; and I believe we can now produce—quality considered—as cheap as any other country in the world. I firmly believe, also, if the finances of the State will permit you to resign the paper duty, you ought to be the cheapest producers of books in the world. And so likewise, as to the scope of the market, you have the materials for a large demand; and the state of facts ought to be, that books ought to be cheaper in this country, and the sale larger, than in any other; but the state of facts now is, so far as new publications are concerned, that the demand is narrower and the price of books is higher here than in any other country. I hope the House will forgive mo for drawing attention to this very important and interesting question. I am glad to see that the influence and good sense of public opinion 599 have so far acted on that intelligent and respectable body of men, the London publishers, as to induce them to refer this matter to arbitration; and I trust, when that combination breaks down, all other combinations will break down also. I hope that the sentiments expressed here will act most potently, not only on the opinion of the Government, but also through public opinion on the book trade; and I trust, ere long, we shall see those circumstances to which I have alluded altogether abolished, for they are a scandal to the country.
§ SIR WILLIAM CLAY
said, he did not wish the debate to turn wholly upon the first of the three Resolutions of his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson), that for the repeal of the paper duty; he thought the strength of the case, at least with reference to immediate legislative action, lay in the other two—for the repeal of the newspaper stamp and the advertisement duty, and he would suggest that it would be well not to divide on the first Resolution, the decision upon which would not be a just indication of the feeling of the House, but would be influenced by reasons apart from the real merits of the case. There were, indeed, very strong reasons for taking off the duty on paper; but that might be said of many other, and especially of Excise duties in general. When, too, the paper duty was classed in the Resolutions with the rest of the "taxes on knowledge," it must be recollected that a large proportion of the paper made was not used for the diffusion of knowledge, but in manufactures, or packing manufactured articles for exportation. Then, again, the House should not express on opinion upon the paper duty, if (which he believed) the Government could not fairly be expected to proceed to act upon it in the present state of the revenue. The paper duty should be one of the first duties taken into consideration with a view to reduction; but it ought to be considered fairly with reference to other duties, and upon a general view of finance. These reasons for doubt or hesitation did not exist with reference to the other two duties—on newspapers and on advertisements; the Resolution as to them might fairly be pressed, nor could he see why they should not be repealed. If the newspaper duty were removed, a moderate postage duty would probably, in a very great degree, supply the loss to the revenue; and the extreme doubt as to the law with regard to the question "what was a newspaper?" would warrant the House in incurring a much greater risk of loss. He 600 thought no man connected with the newspaper press had given any clear or intelligible definition of the rules which should guide the Stamp-office authorities in imposing or declining to impose the stamp duty on periodical publications. With regard to the tax on advertisements, the only difficulty in advocating its repeal was to choose among the arguments that presented themselves to one's mind. One of the very ablest men he had ever known once told him that he always made it his business to read first the reports of legal proceedings in newspapers, because they reflected the actual state of the jurisprudence of the country, and secondly the advertisements, for they gave a more accurate idea of the actual progress and character of the country than almost any other thing. It was-impossible to doubt that the taking off the duty would increase the number of advertisements, and extend the circulation of the London newspapers. No one could doubt the great ability manifest in the leading articles in the Times, or its admirable arrangements for the collection and prompt diffusion of news from all parts of the world; but if you went into the shops and warehouses and counting-houses of men of all shades of political opinion, and asked them why they took the Times, you would find them all concur in one reason. After paying a just compliment to its talent, they would tell you—Whig, Tory, and Radical—that it was indispensable to them to take in a paper in which they found such a vast amount of information as was supplied in its advertisements. He would repeat that the repeal of the advertisement duty would increase the circulation of newspapers and the spread of information; it had been said that he would be a very well-informed man who should every day diligently read several of the daily papers. A friend of his, just returned from America, after a tour in some of its wildest portions, told him that in a log hut on the very borders of the primseval forest, he had found persons, in more than one instance, better informed with regard to the Great Exhibition, and the character of the articles exhibited, and number of persons attending, than would be found in most provincial towns of England, or perhaps in many houses of the lower class in London.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, that, knowing that it took many years, and required a constant repetition of the facts and arguments in each case to obtain from Parliament the removal of evils, however gross, he was not sorry that the debate had been 601 adjourned on a former occasion to the present day, as the subject had thereby been brought a second time under the consideration of the House. But it was for the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain the motives that had induced him, on the occasion referred to, to suggest an adjournment of the case, and to represent—as he had then done— that, on the eve of the introduction of the Budget for the year, it would not be advisable that the House should express any opinion on the subject. It was now clear that that suggestion of delay had not been made with any bonâ fide intention of redressing the grievances complained of. The Motion before the House touched, perhaps, two of the most important questions of the age—the education and the employment of the people. We all professed to be anxious for the education of the people; and we gave 150,000l of the public money towards this desirable object; but, at the same moment, we, with the grossest inconsistency, took from them no less a sum than 1,400,000l. through the medium of these very taxes, and thus impeded to a much greater extent than, by our contributions, we advanced the diffusion of knowledge. It must not be supposed, however, that the mere amount of money that we thus took from the people was the measure of the evil inflicted on society at large by the operation of the taxes in question. Far from it. What the country wanted, however, as a primary step, before we could do anything that deserved the name of education, by which the mass of the people might be raised from the heathenish and brutal state of ignorance in which they unhappily now were, was to get rid of these most impolitic and oppressive exactions on the part of the State. Why, as an instance of the working of these duties, he would mention the case of Chambers's Miscellany. The Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh—those great instructors of the people—stated that some few years back they commenced the publication of the work known as their Miscellany, and, notwithstanding the proverbial difficulties in the way of the establishment of a new periodical, succeeded in bringing it into very general circulation; but, owing to the onerous effect of the paper duty, it did not, however, afford them any remuneration for their labour, and, after struggling on with the work until it attained the enormous circulation of 80,000 numbers per week, they were 602 ultimately obliged to abandon it from this cause: so destructive was this apparently insignificant excise of three-halfpence the pound weight of paper on low-priced publications of this character. In like manner Mr. C. Knight, the well-known publisher, in a pamphlet, entitled The Struggles of a Work against Excessive Taxation, had shown that he had paid to the revenue the enormous sum of 32,000l. as paper duty on one single book, the Penny Cyclopaedia, and that in consequence he obtained no return from the sale of the work, although it passed through several editions, and was in great demand, but at last was obliged to give up the issue of it. He (Mr. Mowatt) would ask the House, were these two instances not lamentable proofs of the injurious effects, moral and social, as well as economical, resulting from these barbarous and bygone modes of raising the public revenue? Again, he would refer the House to the interesting facts alluded to by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan), himself largely engaged in the production of paper, showing the additional difficulties which this duty placed in the way of extending the manufacture, and of so affording increased employment to the population. It appeared that a single house in Glasgow in the thread trade ac-tually paid to the Government fifty guineas per week, or 2,725l. 10s. per annum, as duty on the paper used by them in the form of small boxes made to contain a certain number each of reels of thread, packed separately from each other. Just let the House reflect that if, in defiance of such a duty as this, such a large consumption of the coarser sorts of paper took place for these purposes, how immensely the use of it would be increased, and, with it, additional employment for the people found, should the duty be abolished. In France, and particularly in Paris, it was well known that tens of thousands of people obtained a livelihood in the fabrication of ornamental boxes and fancy packages of all kinds, made from paper, considerable portions of which were now forwarded—convoying goods—to this country; and from this profitable mode of supporting themselves, the inhabitants of Great Britain were debarred by this suicidal duty on the raw material. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had been lately engaged in endeavouring to resuscitate "Protection societies," were most inconsistent in their conduct, when, in raising the cry that native industry was unprotected, they sanctioned such a gross 603 interference with native products as the tax now under discussion involved. The House should observe, too, how this odious tax operated against our manufactures in other respects. Thanks to this clog on ourselves, the Americans actually purchased the cotton rags, scraps, and waste from our own mills, carried them across the Atlantic, and—there free from all taxation—manufactured them into paper, which they subsequently carried to our Colonies, and there sold at so low a price, that, although our own proper markets, we could not compete with them. Of the stamp on newspapers, he (Mr. Mowatt) must take leave to say, that the reason, the justification, assigned for it, was evidently without foundation—was absurd, if not wholly fabulous. Taking the whole of the amount obtained by it, after allowing for the loss of postage incident to its operation, it was, as an item of the revenue of this country, altogether insignificant when compared with the mischief and obstruction to the information of the people occasioned by it. Why, was it not well known that this tax was originally imposed not with the slightest view to the purposes of revenue, but simply and avowedly with the object of checking the circulation of newspapers, under the statesmanlike idea that they had a tendency to demoralise and deprave their readers. There could be no doubt that this stamp or tax acted in the way of increasing the difficulties of establishing a newspaper, and in maintaining it, by making a larger amount of capital necessary than would otherwise be required for the undertaking, and so tended to create a monopoly in favour of those papers already existing. With respect, then, to the advertisement duty, what, he (Mr. Mowatt) would ask, could be more cruel and unjust, as well as impolitic, than to throw additional difficulties in the way of people struggling for their daily bread, making known their wants to those who could supply them, and in like manner thus shutting out one of the most ready and available means both to employers and the employed, of making known their reciprocal dependence on one another; and all this wrong and cruelty inflicted merely to put the paltry sum of 130,000l. annually into the Exchequer. The reason he had for continuing these most obnoxious imposts, he (Mr. Mowatt) thought was a most lame and impotent one: it was simply that the revenue could not bear the loss of them. In his view of 604 the case, that might be a ground for putting on some other tax to make up the deficiency that might arise from their removal; but it was no argument for continuing duties that were on all hands admitted to be of the very worst character that could be devised—comparatively unproductive to the State, and to the last degree injurious to the people. As to the alarm expressed by the Government, lest by the abolition of these taxes there should be a deficiency in the revenue, he (Mr. Mowatt) thought but little importance need be attached to that apprehension. The danger of a deficiency was too often made a bugbear of to that House when disposed to redress some of the crying evils of our present fiscal system. For his part, a possible or probable deficiency had no such terrors for him. He knew well that if such should arise, there would be no difficulty whatever in making such deficit good again directly. He believed, however, that it was from no apprehensions on this score that those in office were disinclined to take off these hateful imposts. There had not yet been a sufficient pressure brought upon them from without to induce earnest attention to the grievances with the view of removing them. The classes most directly interested in their removal had no influence, and were powerless in that House: hence the indifference of the successive Governments to the subject. While on the subject of taxation, he (Mr. Mowatt) would take that opportunity of making a passing remark on the famous budget of the right hon. Gentleman the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. It had been lauded to the skies as a masterpiece of financial divination; but for his part he could see nothing in it but what he was indebted entirely to his predecessors for, while it was defective in the greatest virtue a budget could have—it provided for no reduction whatever in the taxation of the country. In this respect it was decidedly inferior to that of the right hon. Baronet who immediately preceded him. In fact, the said budget was at best but a stand-still-and-do-nothing budget. It was but a poor copy of the schemes of those who went before the right hon. Gentleman—a copy of their defects, with the best part omitted. The satisfaction of the House arose simply from its having expected something much worse—something much more retrogressive, and it was therefore agreeably surprised with the reality, poor as it was. It was, however, well worthy of remark that the right hon. Gen- 605 tleman had himself, and so far as in him lay, set the seal to the free-trade policy of the late Government, by the budget he had now introduced. He had by this act thoroughly identified himself with, and demonstrated the soundness of, their commercial policy—of that very policy, of that very financial system, which he had all along-denounced, and exhausted our language in vilifying when in opposition. But now in office, and adopting the principles he had so long descried, he had neither the courage nor the candour to say that he had been wrong—that he had been mistaken, nor that he would carry out to its legitimate conclusions the policy he had virtually taken up. He seemed to prefer indulging in vague language; now holding out expectations of advantage to one interest, and then to another, and so misleading all alike. Having, as was now apparent, had no bonâ fide intention of relieving the country of any of the taxes now under discussion, he (Mr. Mowatt) thought the right hon. Gentleman had been wholly unjustified in advising the previous adjournment of the debate. He should vote cordially for the respective Resolutions.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, he should support the Resolutions, and in doing so he wished to caution the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) against taking the advice of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), not to divide on the first proposition—namely, the repeal of the paper duty. That was the most valuable; it would emancipate labour, add to the employment of the people, and prove the means of relieving the pressure of distress. They could not well educate the hungry. The paper duty was a war tax, introduced in 1711 by Sir Robert Walpole. As an Irish representative, he (Mr. Reynolds) complained of the continuance of that duty. Until the year 1798 there was no such tax in Ireland. In 1798 a tax was imposed on the machinery employed in the manufacture. Ireland having been politically married, by a sort of forcible abduction in 1824, a charge of 3d. per lb. was imposed on paper of a superior quality, and 1½d. per pound on the inferior kinds. A Commission appointed in 1834 to inquire into the policy of continuing the duties on leather, glass, and paper, reported that they ought to be repealed; the duties on the two former articles were repealed, and the duty on the finer qualities of paper was reduced to 1½d. per lb. He 606 asked the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer (who had put him off, as the organ of the Irish distillers, with a mouthful of moonshine, by saying his questions could not be answered till the Budget) how the policy of continuing to charge 70 per cent ad valorem on the conversion of rags into paper could be justified, when the right hon. Gentleman permitted the Manchester manufacturer of cotton to convert cotton into every imaginable kind of fabric without a duty at all, and the woollen manufacturers of Yorkshire to convert wool into all kinds of woollen manufactures also without a duty? He had a peculiar right to speak upon the subject, because he believed that no part of the United Kingdom would profit so much by the remission of these duties as Ireland. No doubt a reason for this had occurred to hon. Gentlemen (though they were too courteous to express it), namely, that Ireland was so well supplied with the raw material—rags. That, however, was not the case, for the Irish manufacturers were already obliged to import large quantities of rags from Germany; but what he meant was, the least valuable part of the country, namely, the bogs, and the least valuable portion even of the bogs, namely, the fibrous surface of the red bog, supplied an excellent material for brown paper. He had also seen specimens of the best kind of foolscap made of straw; and the refuse of flax, which at present was only waste, and a nuisance, was also available for purposes of manufacture. The sole reason why these things were not extensively used was the existence of the Excise duty. Another reason why the repeal of the paper duty should have precedence over the other concessions demanded, was the comparative difficulty and expense of their collection. The advertisement duty and the stamp duty were collected at a very trifling cost; but in England the expense of collecting the paper duty was 12 per cent, and in Ireland 20 per cent. The results that would flow from the repeal of this obnoxious impost might be gathered from the effects that had followed its modification in 1837. In that year, the quantity of paper manufactured in Ireland was 3,248,182 lbs.; but in 1849 it had increased to 6,500,000 lbs. In England the quantity of paper manufactured in 1847 was 77,000,000 lbs.; in 1849, 127,000,000 lbs. He also claimed the repeal of the paper duty as an act of justice to the people of Ireland. He had always re- 607 joiced at the adoption of our free-trade policy; but he could not shut his eyes to the fact that it had materially injured many classes of the Irish people, and particularly the corn millers. The Thames and Mersey had been opened for the reception of food from all countries, and Ireland had received no equivalent benefit on the repeal of the Corn Laws. But the superiority of French grain and of French milling had put the Irish millers idle; and he asked the House to grant this small pittance of justice. He asked them to let the Irish flour-miller apply his mill, on which in some instances 50,000l. had been expended, to the conversion of the peat of the bogs into paper. He asked relief for interests which were paralysed. The amount of the duty received in Ireland was a mere bagatelle, totally unworthy of consideration, and a large portion was swallowed up by the expense of collection and of keeping a staff of excisemen to watch the different mills. In 1840 the sum received was only 23,160l.; in 1843, 30,995l.; in 1846, 38,559l.; and in 1849, 41,163l. There were only forty-six manufacturers, and of these no fewer than thirty-two had been convicted of offences against the Excise laws. To show the importance of this trade in Ireland, he would only add that he had presented petitions in favour of the removal of the duty, signed by 1,219 persons employed in the different mills in the county of Dublin alone, and one petition from the city of Dublin, signed by above 20,000 persons. In conclusion, he hoped the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would answer the question he had already put to him, namely, how he could justify his permitting every process of converting raw materials into manufactured articles to be untaxed, with the sole exception' of the converting rags into paper, and of tallow into soap? While claiming, therefore, that the paper duties should be first repealed, he was quite favourable to the abolition of the advertisement duty; but he considerably doubted the propriety of discontinuing the penny stamp.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
hoped his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) would not withdraw any part of his Motion, for he did not consider that the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed that the repeal of these taxes could not be afforded. The right hon. Gentleman had most ingeniously, to serve his own purposes, made the 608 surplus appear as small as possible; but he (Mr. Ricardo) was of opinion that the surplus would be quite sufficient to meet the deficiency that would be occasioned by the repeal of these duties. When he considered that paper was the raw material of a manufactured article, he believed it was necessary, in order to carry out the great commercial system which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had proved to be so successful, that the tax should be taken off paper equally as much as off cotton itself. But he rose principally for the purpose of pointing out to the Government the necessity of affording some relief to the hon. and learned Attorney General, for it was quite impossible for any law officer of the Crown to be in a greater strait than the hon. and learned Gentleman was in respect to the stamp duties upon newspapers. The papers were upon a sort of sliding scale. There was a stamp on the daily papers, and, as the weekly papers interfered with the daily, it was but fair that the weekly should be stamped; then came the fortnightly, which interfered with the weekly, they therefore were stamped; but Government had recently found that there were monthly papers which interfered with all the rest, and it therefore was held to be only fair that the monthly should be stamped also, and they had accordingly dug out a clause from an old Act of Parliament—the 60th Geo. III., for the purpose of carrying out this new discovery. But that Act was not passed with any reference to revenue at all. It had nothing to do with the Stamp Duties. It was one of the famous Six Acts, and had no other object than the repression of the liberty of the press. The hon. and learned Attorney General, however, had found that even that Act would not answer his purpose; the consequence was, that the threatened prosecutions against the proprietors of these monthly publications were suspended. He wished to ask the hon. and learned Attorney General, whether he really meant to prosecute those parties or not? If he did, there was no reason why he should not prosecute the publishers of quarterly publications. Nay, if he insisted on having monthly publications stamped, there was no reason why a stamp should not be imposed on the publication of the History of England. He would repeat the question—did the hon. and learned Gentleman intend to prosecute these monthly publications, or not? [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do,] It had been 609 his (Mr. Ricardo's impression that the hon. and learned Attorney General had said that he did not intend to prosecute monthly publications; but having been informed by hon. Gentlemen around him of the mistake he had fallen into, he would beg to call the attention of the House to some circumstances connected with that description of publications. A gentleman of the name of Clark commenced the publication of a paper at Wisbeach, and issued it without a stamp. The Solicitor of the Stamp Office wrote and informed him, that if he continued to publish it without a stamp, he would be prosecuted. Alarmed at a prosecution in which, even if successful, he would have had to pay his own costs—for the Crown received costs although it did not pay them—Mr. Clark had his paper stamped. A publication called the Stoke-upon-Trent Monthly Narrative of Current Events was advertised to be published without a stamp: the publisher communicated that fact to the Government, and asked whether he was himself really obliged to publish with a stamp. The Solicitor of the Stamp Office immediately replied, informing him, that if he issued his paper without a stamp, he would be prosecuted. His(Mr. Ricardo's) constituent (Mr. George Turner) was not, however, so nervous as the gentleman of Wisbeach, and he wrote to Mr. Timm, the Solicitor of Stamps, referring him to his (Mr. Turner's) solicitor. The solicitor of Mr. Turner wrote to Mr. Timm, saying that he was instructed to receive any process which might be issued against his client. Mr. Timm, in reply, stated that he had received no instructions upon the matter. Now, could there, he would ask, be an act of greater tyranny and oppression than this? Here was a man who, having his capital invested in a publication, was threatened by the law officer of the Crown with a prosecution unless he discontinued that publication; and when that man alleged that he had not disobeyed the law, and was prepared to prove it, the law officer refrained from prosecuting, leaving him and hundreds of others in the unpleasant alternative of withdrawing their capital, or of having it invested in a business which it was illegal to carry on. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would take notice of the statement which he (Mr. Ricardo) had now made. There was another question which he would put distinctly to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and it was this—Did he intend to prosecute the proprietors of the Art Jour 610 nal, the Musical Times, Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, the Evangelical Magazine, and several others of a similar character—all monthly journals, and published exactly under the same circumstances as the Household Narrative? Then there were the weekly journals, such as the Friend of the People, Kidd's Expositor, the Athenoesum, the Literary Gazette, the Lancet, the Legal Observer, and last, but not least, our friend Punch, who also was very fond of | alluding to current events? He hoped the i hon. and learned Gentleman would give! him an explicit answer to this question, in order that all those who were interested in the publications he had named, and others, might know whether they were to undergo prosecutions from the Government or not.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he would endeavour to answer the questions put to him by the hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat, but at the same time he extremely regretted that he should have been so entirely misunderstood. In the first place, he did not think the hon. Gentleman understood precisely what were the duties of the law officers of the Crown. When the hon. Gentleman asked him whether he purposed prosecuting the proprietors of certain newspaper publications, he appeared to suppose that the Attorney General instituted proceedings whenever he found any paper unstamped, or considered that there were other grounds for prosecution; whereas the course pursued was this: If the Stamp Office found that there was a publication issued without a stamp, which they thought ought to be subjected to a duty, they instituted proceedings against the parties, and that, very frequently, without any communication with the law officers of the Crown, who would know nothing whatever of the proceedings until the briefs were placed in their hands for the purpose of conducting the prosecution before the Court. Where any doubt existed as to the liability of the parties, the opinions of the law officers of the Crown might be asked; but it rarely happened that their opinions were consulted before the matter was ripe for trial. With regard to the proceedings in the case of the Household Narrative, the hon. Gentleman said that the law officers of the Crown had dug up a clause in an obsolete Act of Parliament for the purpose of prosecution. Now, in the first place, he had to observe that these proceedings were instituted by his predecessor in office, and hot by him; but, in saying that, he meant no reflection on his pre- 611 decessor, because he thought he should have done precisely what his hon. and learned Friend had done. If his opinion had been asked whether the question should be brought into a Court of Law, he should have been of opinion that it was desirable to have the law on the question settled. Proceedings having been instituted against the Household Narrative —which was considered, probably, the representative of a class of publications—it was arranged that the facts necessary to raise the question of law should be turned into a special case. He (the Attorney General), of course knew nothing whatever of the terras which were arranged; but, inasmuch as a special case was framed in order to obtain the opinion of the Court, it was impossible, whatever the judgment of the Court might have been, to carry the case any further. The Judges? were divided in opinion upon the subject; but the majority were of opinion that the Household Narrative was not liable to a stamp duty: Mr. Baron Parke, however, was of a different opinion. When he (the Attorney General) came into office, the opinions of his predecessors and of the present Mr. Justice Crompton, were placed before him for his opinion as to what was proper to be done under the circumstances, they being of opinion that the judgment of Mr. Baron Parke was one which was more satisfactory to their view of the case, than the opposite judgment of the majority of the Court. Now, if he (the Attorney General) had not himself entertained some doubt upon the subject, he confessed he should have been considerably influenced by the opinion of his predecessors, and should have felt it his duty not to leave the law in so unsatisfactory a state as that of having the opinion of the law officers opposed to a judgment pronounced by a Court of Law without the possibility of taking the opinion of a Superior Court upon it. In answer to a question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, he (the Attorney General) at an early period of his coming into office, stated that it would be necessary to obtain, if we could, the opinion of a Superior Court upon the question; and that he did not wish the law to remain in so unsettled and unsatisfactory a state. There had been a misunderstanding as to the course which it would be necessary to adopt. It was supposed that he would carry the case of Mr. Dickens to a Court of Appeal, whereas the nature of the proceedings rendered it impossible for him to do so. What he proposed to do was 612 to institute another prosecution; and he distinctly stated that the Court of Exchequer would, in that new case, of course, and without argument, confirm the judgment it had already pronounced, and then that that judgment would as speedily as possible be taken to a Court of Error, in order to have a final decision upon the subject. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ricardo) had put the question to him over and over again, as if he (the Attorney General) were afraid of answering it, as to what was the course he intended to pursue. He begged distinctly to say that the course which he pointed out as the one which he should adopt had been already pursued; that another information had been filed; that that information would result in a special verdict, which was distinct from a special case, a special case terminating in the Court where it was decided, while a special verdict admitted of an appeal. To show how extremely desirous they were to have the question fairly raised and disposed of, there being some dispute as to the terms in which the special verdict should be drawn up, it had been arranged between the junior counsel for the Crown and the counsel on the part of the defendants, that Mr. Baron Martin should settle the terms of the special verdict, he being one of the Judges who decided in favour of the defendants. With respect to the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo), he (the Attorney General) assured the hon. Gentleman that he never heard one word about it until it was alluded to by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume). With regard to the question of costs, that, he admitted, was one of very great importance. The hon. Gentleman was not perfectly correct in stating that the Crown received costs, but never paid them. The Crown never received nor paid costs. But in was a subject which had not escaped his attention, fie had been very anxious about it for a considerable time, and was particularly desirous that in cases of this description the defendants should be protected in the matter of costs. He was extremely desirous of introducing some measure which would give the defendant costs where the verdict should be in his favour. With regard to the whole matter, he would conclude by saying that he had in this case followed the course of his predecessors. He did not wish to shrink from any responsibility which attached to him. He had done that which he was sure his predecessors, if they had been his successors, would have 613 done, and had adopted the course which he considered the best, with a view to obtain a satisfactory decision on the law bearing on this very important question.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
said, he was not in favour of touching at present the 993,000l. produced by the taxes affected by the Motion. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well to consider them with a view to repealing them; but he was of opinion our whole system of taxation, together with the Income and Property Tax, must be considered, in order to putting them on a new basis. He believed a reduction of these taxes would increase the aggregate amount produced, and certainly their abolition would double the amount of paper produced. This was the only country in the world where a tax upon paper was levied.
§ MR. HUME
said, he wished to remind the House that the question was not that they should immediately repeal the Paper Duty, but that financial arrangements ought to be made which would enable Parliament hereafter to dispense with that duty. The next proposition was, that the newspaper duty ought to be abolished. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown a balance in hand of 460,000l. What he (Mr. Hume) proposed to do with that balance was to repeal the Advertisement Duty, not the duty on paper, nor even the Stamp Duty on newspapers, because he would transfer that latter duty by making it a postage charge. How did the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, propose to appropriate the surplus? Why, by paying a bounty to 80,000 militiamen. That was an appropriation of which he (Mr. Hume) did not approve. There were about sixty papers now published, with or without stamps— that is, they were stamped if intended for the country. They were not stamped if intended for local circulation. He was prepared to show that the increased amount derivable from the revenue, if a stamp were put on all papers going by post, would enable the duty to be reduced without any i great loss to the revenue. There could not be a more unfair tax than that levied upon advertisements. It was perfectly unequal in its operation. It was as heavy upon the poor man as upon the rich. Upon this latter proposition he wished to have an immediate division, so that the question might be set at rest. He regarded these Paper Duties and Stamp Duties as taxes upon knowledge, the effect of which was to deprive the people of the means of promoting education. They had but 2,000,000 of ad- 614 vertisements in our papers, as opposed to 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 advertisements in the United States; but he was satisfied, if there was an alteration in the duties, the advertisements in our papers would be trebled or quadrupled. Considering newspapers as the best possible instructors, he would be sorry to see any restriction placed on their circulation. In the United States every log-cabin had its paper full of various matters of news or instruction, and sold for one cent each. In the United States there were about sixteen newspapers published to every man, woman, and child. In England there was only one paper for every twelve. If the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would only risk 600,000l., he would find that in the end the revenue would not lose. He could tell him there were at this moment persons ready to embark 20.000l. in a daily newspaper to be circulated throughout the whole country, at a very low price (only one halfpenny), and to have the same amount of talent to furnish political, historical, and general information, as any of the existing papers. The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) having had so much to do with literary matters, the country expected he would be the first to patronise the spread of literature; and he (Mr. Hume) was satisfied, if he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, agreed to the change, he would lose nothing by it.
§ MR. KER SEYMER
said, he was opposed to all Excise duties whatever, and particularly to the Paper Duty, as fettering native industry and interfering with the circulation of cheap publications, which he would like to see diffused among the people. Still, as he had voted on a former occasion for the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson), he thought it fair to tell him he could not support the present Motion; not that he was prepared to vote black was white, according as his friends sat at this or at that side of the House, but because he thought, by the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they were content the whole question of direct taxation should be left to a future Parliament. In the present state of the Kafir war, no one could say what the financial condition of the country would be, and therefore he opposed the Motion.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, he thought that the hon. Member, if not about to vote black was white, was going to do something very like it. When Lord John Russell was in office the hon. Gentleman said Yes to this Motion; and now, Lord Derby being in office, he said No. If that was not voting black 615 white, he was unable to give it a name. The Motion did not pledge the House to any immediate arrangement; it was simply an affirmative proposition. Out of doors great anxiety was expressed upon this subject. It was anticipated that a literary man holding so high a position as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have looked at this question with an earnest desire to remove every obstacle from the education of the people. The House and the country were left completely in the dark as to the intentions of the Government. He thought that the conduct of those in authority was extremely reprehensible in renewing the prosecution against the Household Narrative. Instead of expressing their gratitude to the man who amused and instructed the people of this country, he was selected by the Government for punishment. Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was now to be driven into a Court of Error. There was no doubt upon the minds of the jury, there was no doubt upon the minds of the Judges. And who was this man selected for persecution—he could not call it prosecution? Charles Dickens. He thought that the author of Vivian Grey ought to blush at such a proceeding. The Solicitor for the Stamp Office stated in his letter that the Queen's Speech was news, but that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech was not news; and also that a price-current was not liable to a penalty for being published without a stamp. Such were the absurdities of the present system.
§ MR. KNIGHT
begged to say a few words on the inconsistency manifested by the free-traders. They had insisted upon free corn: why not admit foreign works duty free? It was only the present restrictive laws that prevented them coming into the country. If free trade was to be the order of the day, the booksellers ought not to be protected any more than the agriculturists. If the duty on books were taken off, the bookseller would stand in the same place as the farmer, and would have a right to claim a reduction of burdens, the same as the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed for farmers.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
, in reply, said, the first-proposal on which the House would divide was, "That such financial arrangements ought to be made as will enable Parliament to dispense with the Duty on Paper;" and in order to meet the views of one of his hon. Friends, he would add the words, "as early as may be with reference to the 616 security of the Public Revenue." The second division would be on the Resolution "That the Stamp Newspaper ought to be abolished." There was a surplus sufficient to carry out that Resolution. And the third division would be on the Resolution, "That the Tax on Advertisements ought to be repealed." According to the financial statement of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer there would be a sufficient surplus to effect that object, and that surplus would be much better applied in removing the taxes on knowledge, than in offering bounties to militiamen.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that having already spoken on this question, he did not think he should have been called upon to speak again, nor would he have done so had it not been that it was necessary to explain matters in reference to the imputations of hon. Gentlemen, who appeared to have forgotten he had already addressed the House. He might be permitted, perhaps, in explanation, to say that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley) was quite in error in supposing that he had ever said this particular tax was under the consideration of the Government. What he stated was, that they were being considered as parts of the general system of taxation: he guarded himself from saying they were being specifically considered. As he was on his legs, he might remark upon the charge made against him, that he had made a diversion from the decision of the House by stating that he would give his opinion on the subject when the Budget was produced. The same charge was made by the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. J. Reynolds), with respect to the Spirit Duties. The hon. Member seemed also under the impression that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had engaged to give a specific answer on that question when he made the financial statement. What he wanted to convey to the House, and what he believed he did convey to a majority of the House, was, that he could not state in detail the views of the Government upon any particular tax until the financial statement was made—meaning that hon. Gentlemen would receive an answer with the financial state-men, because it would prove that, instead of a large surplus, which existed only in the imagination of those Gentlemen who were urging the repeal of different items of taxation, there was a mere nominal surplus, with a margin so small that it could scarcely be considered a surplus at all. 617 Any Gentleman might get up and say, "The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us there will only he a surplus of 300,000l or 400,000l., but I can prove the surplus will be double or treble that amount." But he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said the statement he had made as the person responsible for the financial condition of the country ought to he received as a statement which had been maturely weighed. He might ask, in vindication of that statement, how was it received by the person who would have been most apt to criticise, and who possessed the most knowledge on the subject—his predecessor in office? The right hon. Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) had said that the only fault in that statement was, that it placed the surplus at much too high a figure. That was the criticism of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer warned the House not to come to any precipitate conclusion in the manner proposed, under the impression that it pledged the House to nothing. It did pledge the House in a most important respect, and might exercise a most inconvenient effect upon the state of the finances of the country.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made, and Question put—
That such financial arrangements ought to be made as will enable Parliament to dispense with the Duty on Paper as early as may be, with reference to the security of the Public Revenue.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 195: Majority 88.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Evans, Sir De L.|
|Alcock, T.||Evans, J.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Ewart, W.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Fergus, J.|
|Bell, J.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Bernal, R.||Forster, M.|
|Best, J.||Fortescue, C.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Fox, W. J.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Geach, C.|
|Bright, J.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Granger, T. C.|
|Carter, S.||Grattan, H.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Greene, J,|
|Clay, J.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cobden, R.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Harris, R.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Hastie, A.|
|Cowan, C.||Hastie, A.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Henry, A.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Heywood, J.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Heyworth, L.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Higgins, G. G. O.|
|Duncan, G.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Duncombe, T.||Hodges, T. T.|
|Hume, J.||Pigott, F.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Pilkington, J.|
|Hutchins, E. J.||Power, N.|
|Hutt, W.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Jackson, W.||Reynolds, J.|
|Keating, R.||Ricardo, O.|
|Keogh, W.||Scholefield, W.|
|Kershaw, J.||Scobell, Capt.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Scully, F.|
|Laslett, W.||Scully, V.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Locke, J.||Smith, J. A.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Smith, J. B.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Somers, J. P.|
|Meagher, T.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Matheson, Col.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Milligan, R.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Monsoll, W.||Thompson, Col.|
|Morris, D.||Thompson, G.|
|Mowatt, F.||Wakley, T.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Murphy, F. S.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Williams, J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Williams, W.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||Wilson, M.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Wyld, J.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Gibson, T. M.|
|Philips, Sir G. R.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Christy, S.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Clive, H. B.|
|Bagge, W.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Bailey, C.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Bailey, J.||Coke, hon. E. K.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Collins, T.|
|Baird, J.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Conolly, T.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Craig, Sir W. G.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Cubitt, Ald.|
|Beckett, W.||Dalrymple, J.|
|Bennet, P.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Deedes, W.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Denison, E.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Dod, J. W.|
|Booker, T. W.||Drax, J. S. W.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Drummond, H. H.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bremridge, R.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Brisco, M.||Dunne, Col.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Brooke, Lord||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Brotherton, J.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Buck, L. W.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Euston, Earl of|
|Burghley, Lord||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Farrer, J.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Fellowes, E.|
|Campbell, Sir A. I.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Floyer, J.|
|Chandos, Marq. of||Forbes, W.|
|Christopher, rt. hn. R. A.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Morgan, O.|
|Freestun, Col.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Naas, Lord|
|Frewen, C. H.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Neeld, J.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Newport, Visct.|
|Galway, Visct.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Gilpin, Col.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Packe, C. W.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Palmer, R.|
|Greene, T.||Patten, J. W.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hall, Col.||Perfect, R.|
|Hallewell, E. G.||Pinney, W.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Portal, M.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Renton, J. C.|
|Hardinge, hon. C. S.||Richards, R.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Heathcote, Sir G. J.||Sandars, G.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Smollett, A.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Stafford, A.|
|Hill, Lord E.||Stanley, E.|
|Hope, H. T.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hotham, Lord||Stanton, W. H.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Stuart, H.|
|Howard, P. H.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Taylor, Col.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Jones, Capt.||Tennent, Sir J. E.|
|Knight, F. W.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Lacy, H. C.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Langton, W. H. P. G.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Legh, G. C.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Lennox, Lord A. G.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Long, W.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Lowther, H.||Walter, J.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Welby, G. E.|
|Macnaghten, Sir E.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Whiteside, J.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Williams, T. P.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|March, Earl of||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Maunsell, T. P.||Young, Sir J.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||TELLERS.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Miles, W.||Bateson, T.|
§ NEWSPAPER STAMP.—Motion made, and Question put, "That the Newspaper Stamp ought to he abolished."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 100; Noes 199: Majority 99.
§ ADVERTISEMENTS.—Motion made, and Question put, "That the Tax on Advertisements ought to be repealed."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 116; Noes 181: Majority 65.
§ The House adjourned at one minute before Six o'clock, till Friday.