§ MR. JOHN O'CONNELL
begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if Her Majesty's Government would consider the propriety of bringing in a Bill to exonerate from liability to income tax on their pay, officers of every branch of Her Majesty's service in employment at the seat of war, while there employed?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It is exceedingly disagreeable to me, and I am sure I may say the same for my colleagues, to give an answer in the negative to any question which purports to have in view—as I am quite certain the hon. Member has in view—the benefit and advantage of the army in the Crimea, and which is intended as an expression of grateful feeling to that army. I agree with the hon. Gentleman in thinking that no expression of grateful feeling on the part of this House, or of the other branch of the Legislature, to that army could be too strong; but I am sorry to say it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring in any Bill of that kind, and simply for these reasons—first, I don't know that the time has arrived to consider any arrangements with respect to rewards for the army in the Crimea; and, in the next place, if the hon. Member directs his eyes to the Gazette, he may be satisfied that the attention of the proper department of the Government has been already directed to that subject. But I must point out to him two grounds affording paramount reasons for objecting to a proposal of this kind. The first of them is, that where the Government think fit to give a reward to a public servant they ought to give it as a reward, and not by way of exemption from a tax. The creation of exemptions is so mischievous, so delusive, and so sure of being productive of future embarrassment, that I trust the House will take every opportunity of getting rid of such exemptions, and will do nothing to create them afresh. And, 462 lastly, I should be sorry to adopt a form of reward for the army in the Crimea which would only apply to a comparatively small and wealthy portion of those of whom that army is composed; whereas I think that whatever we do we should recognise no distinction between the officers and the men, but should acknowledge equally the merits of every man belonging to that noble army.