§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
The EARL of CLANCARTY
My Lords, before this Bill passes, I wish to say a few words upon it. The objection I entertain to the Bill being to the new principle it proposes of taxing successions to land, I must express my disappointment at the precipitation with which it was hurried to a second reading, rendering it all but impossible for me or for any other noble Lord who happened to be in Ireland, or at any considerable distance from London, to receive notice in time to have been present at that stage in the consideration of the measure when its principle was properly the subject of discussion. Only three days having elapsed after the Bill was brought up from the House of Commons before it was read a second time, I was debarred from the opportunity of recording my vote upon that occasion, and was only enabled to join your Lordships when the Bill being in Committee, its details and not its principle had to be considered. The vote that was come to on Monday last upon the clause that was chiefly under discussion, was no testimony to the general merits of the Bill; nor would the Amendment that was proposed upon it have affected its principle. I confess that I had very considerable doubts on which side to give my vote, and was determined in favour of the Amendment less by the arguments used on this side of the House, than by the argument put forward by Her Majesty's Ministers in support of the Bill—namely, that it was proposed as a substitute for the income tax. Viewed in that light, the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl on this side of the House was calculated to adapt the Bill to its professed object, for by doing away with its retrospective action, it would have come gradually into full operation as the income tax died off; whereas, as the Bill now stands, the tax is likely to be at first very productive, but to become hereafter less so, as all future settlements and other dispositions of property will undoubtedly be made with a view as much as 852 possible to avoid it. My chief objection to the Bill is, that it practically ignores the fundamental principle upon which territorial property is justified and upheld by the laws of the country—namely, that it "has its duties as well as its rights," that it is held and administered, as it were, in trust for the community. The proprietor of land has duties to perform involving the expenditure of money, not alone in the payment of land tax, poor-rates, tithes, and other local assessments, but in the management, cultivation, and improvement of the soil, the support of hospitals, schools, and other institutions for the advantage of the district in which he lives, which do not devolve upon the inheritor of property in money or moveables. So strongly was the Legislature impressed with this, that the Encumbered Estates Courts was not long since established in Ireland for the express purpose of promoting the sale of such properties as were so much encumbered as to leave the owners without adequate means for fulfilling the duties that were expected from them. By this Bill there will be a creation of encumbered estates, and just at the very time when most a proprietor will need the means of turning his land to account—namely, on first coming into possession, he will, especially if he should happen to have succeeded as a distant relation, have to pay, in addition to all other necessary outgoings, before he can possibly make one farthing or receive one farthing of rent, considerably more than half the estimated annual value of his succession, and to repeat the same payment annually for four successive years. To meet this accumulation of calls upon him, he must necessarily raise money upon a mortgage, and that, perhaps, under the most disadvantageous circumstances, so that by the mere operation of this Act his estate may be at once brought into that state which the law at present regards as the condition for a forced sale—namely, its being encumbered to the amount of half its annual value. As such cases will be frequent, there will be of necessity very frequent sales of land, and a constantly recurring change of proprietors, severing that union between old families and those who have derived under them as tenants, that has so long exercised a most beneficial influence upon the social condition of the people of England; and, looking at the school in which this Bill has originated, I cannot but regard it as designed to be subversive of the influence and usefulness of the class of landlords generally. And what 853 is to compensate for all this? Why, the repeal of the soap duty and of the duty upon advertisements. Now, does any noble Lord think that there will be any more soap used in consequence of the duty being taken off? I do not believe there is a nation in the world where there is more soap used than in England, which would certainly not have been the case if the tax had been felt to be oppressive. The repeal of the duty, be assured, will neither lessen the growing number of hairy chins in the metropolis, nor sensibly cheapen your Lordships' washing bills. And as to taking off the advertisement duty, the practice of advertising certainly requires no encouragement; its very excess defeats in a great measure the interests of advertisers, and has become a positive nuisance to the public; so much so that if one takes up a periodical or desires to consult the pages of Bradshaw, one is lost in a labyrinth of advertisements about trunks, hats, surgical instruments, hosiery, &c. Now, my Lords, was it worth while for the sake of removing duties such as these, to introduce a measure so oppressive, so inquisitorial, and in its tendency so revolutionary, as that now before you? I can well understand, that, with the determined purpose of carrying it through this House, Her Majesty's Government should have opposed any previous inquiry into its probable operation. It was only by keeping consequences carefully out of their sight that the friends of the Government could have been induced to rally as they have to its support. Among the consequences, however, of having so proceeded, it is much to be deplored that the public will cease to regard the deliberations of this House as affording any guarantee, for the future, for wisdom and foresight in legislation. The tax to be imposed by this Bill is entirely new, and though but few of your Lordships may ever have to pay it, it most seriously affects the interests and position of that order which your Lordships especially represent—namely, the proprietors of land. It was due, therefore, to your Lordships and to the public, that it should have been submitted for the consideration of the House at a period of the Session when it might, if needful, have been rejected or modified, without the in-conveniences that would attend such a step when the Parliamentary Session is at its close. Had the Government felt that the measure was one that merited your Lordships' acceptance, this would have been done, and inquiry would not have been 854 avoided. The course taken, however, has been to coerce your adoption of the Bill, good or bad. First, you are not make any inquiry into its probable operation; secondly, the taxes for which it is to be a substitute are one after the other repealed; thirdly, the Bill is sent up at so late a period that its non-adoption would be tantamount to a stopping of the supplies for the public service; and, lastly, when it does come before the House, it is by the aid of votes rather than of argument that it is sought to carry it through. Notwithstanding the peculiar importance of our diplomatic relations at the present crisis of affairs upon the Continent, our embassies are ransacked for votes, and our relations with France and Belgium confided at such a crisis to mere Chargés d'Affaires, that the Ambassadors to the Courts of Paris and Brussels may be here present to aid in carrying a tax upon successions. My noble Friend, too, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland is, at a few hours' notice, hurried over, and Ireland left without a governor, for he was called away before Lords Justices could be sworn to act in his absence, in order that he might assist by his vote in outnumbering those independent Peers who, the Government very naturally expected, would have mustered strong in opposition to the measure. I am bound to admit, my Lords, and the Government must have seen with surprise, that the opposition has been very feeble, and the array of their supporters was such as to warrant the belief that the measure is not viewed with any general disapprobation. Moreover, upon the only division that has been taken, the Government can boast of having had the exclusive support of the Lords Spiritual. Notwithstanding such high authority upon a financial measure, I must say "Not Content" to it. I do not regret that as it will now certainly pass, it should do so with the seeming approval of a considerable majority; but I must, before I sit down, protest against both the time and manner in which it has been brought forward, and the steps taken to enforce it upon your Lordships' acceptance, as calculated to affect the privileges of this House, and to compromise its future usefulness as a branch of the Legislature.
§ On Question, Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Bill read 3a accordingly.
§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
said, that before the passing of the Bill, he wished to state his objections in the shape of 855 Amendments, not with any intention of dividing the House, but for the purpose of putting upon the Journals of the House what his objections were, to enable the country hereafter to judge between the Bill as it passed, and the objections that were made to it on that side of the House. He could not but think that the object of the Motion made the other night by his noble Friend not now present (the Earl of Derby) had been misunderstood. He was sure it was misunderstood if the House thought it was the object of his noble Friend, by a side-wind, to get rid of the Bill. He had no such intention—though he believed that many noble Lords who had voted with the Government had done so in the belief that if the Amendment were carried, it would have the effect of destroying the Bill. He (Lord St. Leonards) did not think it would have that effect, or that it was so intended. He begged to state, without any preface, the Amendments he now proposed to submit to their Lordships. He should not put his noble Friend on the woolsack to the trouble of putting the question on each of the Amendments, separately—he should be quite content if the questions were put as to all of them at the same time. In the preamble of the Bill he proposed to leave out the word "permanent," and to insert instead thereof the word "an," thus taking from the Bill the declaration that it was to be a permanent measure. In Section 2, defining what dispositions and devolutions of property shall confer succession, he would propose a proviso which was intended to be a guard against its being retrospective. The principle of the Bill was, that property was to pay, and their objection was, that, according to the Bill as it stood, a man would have to pay for property that he would never receive. He proposed to add the following proviso:—Provided always, that no person who shall have bonâ fide advanced money on the security of any reversionary interest on property before the 19th day of May last, or who before that day shall have bonâ fide purchased any reversionary interest in property, shall be chargeable with any succession duty under this Act, in respect of his security or purchase. Provided also, that no person who, before the said 19th day of May last, shall have bonâ fide encumbered or sold his reversionary property, shall be chargeable for succession duty beyond the value of his remaining interest in such property.The addition of this proviso would not in any manner impair the general operation of the Act, but would operate only not to charge 856 any man with succession duty who, before the statute was in contemplation, had disposed of or charged, as he had a right by law to do, his succession; much less to charge any man who had advanced money on the security of a reversion, or who had bought a reversion. By the operation of this proviso, a man who had lent money on, or one who had bought a reversion twenty years ago, would not now have to pay ten per cent, in consequence of the passing of an ex post facto law. The next Amendment was in the same page. Their Lordships would recollect that the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) had pointed out to their Lordships the hardship that would accrue under this particular section, which enacted that joint tenants taking by survivorship should be deemed successors. Where persons are joint tenants, if the joint tenancy be not severed, the right of accruer takes place on the death of each; and his noble Friend, to show the difficulty that would arise, had stated what would occur in the case of a father who gave to his three daughters an estate for their joint lives. A man might give to his three daughters an estate in joint tenancy, and they might agree to live together, and not sever the joint tenancy. They paid the duty as for the father on their succession; but when one sister died the other would have to pay as a sister, and not as a child, which seemed to him to be a great hardship, and this would be increased upon the death of the second sister, when the survivor would succeed to half. He proposed to insert the following words:—But where any such title shall be created by the lineal ancestor of such persons, the succession or new succession by survivorship shall be deemed to accrue to the survivor under such lineal ancestor.The effect of this Amendment would be that the survivor in such a case would have to pay as a child and not as a sister, because the right of accruer was included in the original gift from the father to his children. The next Amendment was an addition to Section 4. The section provided that where a man has a general power of appointment, and exercises it, he shall be himself deemed to be liable, and shall be considered as the successor. Let them take the case of a man who was tenant for life, with power at his death of appointing the property generally to whom he pleased; and suppose him to exercise that power, anti appoint the property to some stranger, and he was then made responsible as if 857 he had himself taken the succession. It was said to be borrowed from the Legacy Duty Act; but it had no bearing upon this question, and what he proposed was to add these words:—"That where such person shall have been already charged with duty on succession as tenant for life of the same property, no further duty shall be payable by him." The next Amendment was in Section 9. The section directed that the duty should be under the control of the Inland Revenue Commissioners, and that they should have the same powers that were given to them by the Legacy Duty Act, and then went on to enact, "and shall have all other powers and authorities requisite for carrying this Act into execution." He believed that no man had ever seen a provision of that kind before. They might say that the Commissioners should have all the powers that were given by particular Acts; but no Act of Parliament ever said before that certain Commissioners "shall have all other powers and authorities requisite for carrying the Act into execution." No person could possibly tell what "all other powers" were; and he proposed to leave out these words, "and shall have all other powers and authorities requisite for carrying the Act into execution." The next Amendment had reference to the end of Section 10, which declared what the rate of duty should be. In the Legacy Duties Acts there was an express proviso that no duty should be chargeable upon gifts passing from husband to wife, or from wife to husband, to or for the benefit of the husband or wife, or for the benefit of the Royal Family; but the framers of this Act had for the first time abandoned that proviso, which was in every Legacy Duty Act since the year 1797; and he proposed to restore it at the end of this section, and to apply it to this Bill. To effect that object, he would move the insertion of the following words:—Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend to charge with any duty any succession to property which shall be given or provided to or for the benefit of the husband or wife of the predecessor, or to or for the benefit of the Royal Family.At the end of the same section there was something that wanted a little explanation. He was represented out of doors to have made a statement on the subject which he never did make, and which he never intended to make. It was said that he had stated it to be a hardship that where a stranger, a tenant for life, paid a higher duty than the first duty, that duty should continue to be 858 payable on all future successions. He never said any such thing; the case he had put was this: that where a man was a stranger, and property was given to him for life, upon which he paid 10 per cent as a stranger, and the same property passed by the settlement to his children, they ought to pay only as his children—namely, 1 per cent, just as if he were their predecessor. When once the property was charged with 10 per cent, he objected that it should be subject, when it went to the children, to successive charges of 10 per cent. Such charges would break the heart of a man; and he proposed to remedy the mischief by the introduction of the following words at the end of the section:—That where a person is tenant for life, with a gift over to his children or issue, or any of them, and he shall be chargeable with a duty exceeding 1 per cent, his children or issue entitled after him shall be chargeable only with the duty of 1 per cent just as if he were the predecessor within the meaning of this Act.He believed that would not at all interfere with the working of this Bill. There was another addition he proposed to make to that same Section 10 of this nature. He would put the case to their Lordships of a man who had made a settlement on his daughter's marriage of 10,000l., in the common way, on the intended husband for life, then to his daughter for life, and then to their children. That man must, if the husband should die in his lifetime, see his daughter made liable to pay duty on that property of which he had denuded himself in favour of his child. He was told that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was wrong on this subject, and that the Bill would operate the other way; but he (Lord St. Leonards) must say that he had made no statement on this Bill without great consideration, and he hoped he was not speaking with too much pertinacity or self-esteem when he said that he differed from the right hon. Gentleman. He would explain to their Lordships how this stood. By the Legacy Duty Act it was provided that nothing therein contained should extend to charge with duty any legacy which should be given or pass to, or for the benefit of, the husband or wife of the deceased. Now, what was the case under this Bill? In the first place, they would find in Section 2 "predecessor" described as the testator, obligor, ancestor, or other person from whom the interest of the successor is or shall be derived; then if they turned to Section 18, the section on which that case turned, they 859 would see that no duty shall be payable by any persons in respect of a succession, where, if the same were a legacy given to them by a predecessor, they would be exempted from payment of duty in respect thereof under the Legacy Duty Act, Now, in the case he was putting of a settlement by a father, on a daughter's marriage, on the husband for life, and the wife for life, who was the predecessor? The father, beyond all question, no doubt. Who took the succession? The daughter. Would a legacy from the father to the daughter be liable to duty or not? Their Lordships knew it would. That case did not fall within the exception; and if he (Lord St. Leonards) were right, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken an erroneous view of his own Bill. On the other hand, if he were mistaken, it was very easy to show it. The way in which he proposed to remedy this error was to introduce at the end of the section these words:—That where a settlement shall be made by a parent or relative on the marriage of a child or relation, no succession duty shall be payable on account of the death of any person entitled under the settlement who shall die in the lifetime of the settlor.In Section 11 he proposed an Amendment at page 5, on a point which it was perfectly clear required amendment. This section proposed to put brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law on the same footing as brothers and sisters. A brother-in-law was not to pay more than his wife, the sister of the testator, would have to pay; but that was proposed to be carried out in a way that would render it ineffective, because in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the brother-in-law or sister-in-law was not related in consanguinity to the predecessor, and the consequence was, that the proposed exception would not embrace ninety-nine cases out of a hundred of the cases which it was intended to embrace. He proposed to remedy the error by the addition of the words "or in case he or she shall not have been related in consanguinity to the predecessor, testator, or deceased person." In Section 14, he proposed to omit at the end of the clause these words, "but such duty shall be at the highest rate, which if every successor had been subject to the duty, would have been payable by any one of them." They were putting a new tax upon all the property of England, but they had not modified it to meet the exigencies of the case. Under the Bill as it stood, a man might find that he had paid too much, 860 and it was much more easy to pay a tax than to get it returned. There were a great many clauses in this Bill, by which payments were compelled to be made, and the money was promised to be returned; but whatever Her Majesty's servants might promise in that House, he thought there might be a desire to follow the example of Her Majesty's servants in other places, who put at the bottom of their bills "No money returned." The next Amendment had reference to the case of a continuing interest, as he apprehended that there were cases of that kind where the children would be compelled to pay against the real intentions of the framers of the Bill. On this point he proposed to introduce the following words:—Except in the case of a successor who shall have been competent to dispose by will of a continuing interest in such property, in which case the instalments unpaid at his death shall be a continuing charge on such interest in exoneration of his other property, and shall be payable by the owner for the time being in default of such interest.He thought the Amendment suggested by the noble Earl on that side the House with respect to timber ought to be adopted; and he therefore proposed to omit altogether Section 23, which had reference to timber. It was property which did not renew itself, like land; the land lasted, but timber did not; once cut, there was an end of it. It had hitherto been their object to encourage planting, but the effect of this clause was to discourage planting. The next Amendment he would propose was in the clause stating what persons were accountable for duty. He would move, in Clause 44, the omission of the following words:—And all such trustees, guardians, committees, tutors, curators, husbands, and persons shall be authorised to compound, or pay in advance, or commute any duty, and retain out of the property subject to any such duty the amount thereof, or to raise such amount and the expenses incident thereto at interest on the security of such property, with power to give effectual discharges for the same, and such security shall have priority over any charge or incumbrance created by the successor.A more dangerous power could not be given to trustees, and, besides, the clause would bear very hardly on them. In Clause 49, providing that every person accounting should be liable to verify his account by the production of books and documents, he would propose to add these words at the end, "except title deeds relating to land." The clause in this respect introduced a principle unknown to, 861 and indeed quite at variance with, the principles of our law with regard to title. Nothing could be more dangerous than to give such opportunities as were conferred by this clause for the ransacking of title deeds. Nothing could more tend to litigation, or to the insecurity of property, than to allow persons who might wish to claim property to have an opportunity of inspecting the deeds of the present holders. He recollected that when on one occasion a landowner, who had been summoned as a witness in a cause, appeared in answer to a subpœna duces tecum with his title deeds in a box, the late Lord Kenyon, who was trying the cause, asked him what he had got with him; and on being informed, he said, "Then, Sir, I advise you to sit down on the box, and let no one open it till you get home again." On Clause 52, providing for protection to bonâ fide purchasers, he moved the omission of words providing that no purchaser should be subject to the duty on property not appearing to confer a succession by reason of any extrinsic circumstance "of which he shall not have had notice at the time of such purchase." The next Amendment he would propose was in the 54th Clause, providing that the Act should be taken to commence on the 19th of May, 1853; he proposed to amend it by adding—"And shall thenceforth continue until the 19th of May, 1858, and no longer." It was impossible that both this tax and the income tax should continue during a time of peace; and by fixing the termination of this tax at the time he had named, Parliament would have an opportunity, after its operation had been well tested, of deciding whether they would continue this tax or the income tax. He had but one more Amendment to move, and that was in the schedule of charges at the end of the Bill, where he found these words:—"And where the annuity shall be given for a longer term than ninety-five years, or in perpetuity, the same shall be valued as an annuity for ninety-five years only." He proposed to leave out these words, the meaning of which had not been explained, but which appeared to him to be inconsistent with the Bill. Before he resumed his seat, he wished to say a few words on the subject of trustees. There were, in his opinion, in this Bill clauses exposing trustees to such liabilities and penalties, that it was his deliberate opinion no wise or prudent man would accept a trust after it passed. Any man who did, became a 862 Crown debtor of the property for which he was concerned, was chargeable to this duty, and was bound to give notice of every payment of money that he made in virtue of his office of trustee. It should be observed, too, that by this Act persons discharging an implied, were equally bound as those discharging an expressed, trust. This, he thought, would be a source of great hardship. These were the Amendments which he intended to have proposed in Committee; but when he saw the spirit in which the Motion of his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) was met by noble Lords opposite, and the majority by which it was negatived, he thought it right to withdraw from any further discussion at that stage; and he now only brought them forward that it might be clearly seen what were the grounds on which he and those who acted with him opposed the Bill, and what Amendments they desired to introduce into it. His Lordship concluded by moving the adoption of his Amendments.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, that of the proposed Amendments of the noble and learned Lord, he cordially approved of one—that which made a person in beneficial possession of the property previous to any succession—the predecessor. The Bill as it stood made the settler of the property the predecessor, which it semed to him was inconsistent with the principle and scope of the Bill, and was in fact the only ground which existed for characterising it as a measure having a retrospective action. It was said in defence of this provision the other night, that it was the same as that applied by the present law to the case of personalty. But that was not the case, because if a person now left property, with a life interest to A, and remainder to B, the latter would not pay any legacy duty at all—
The LORD CHANCELLOR
intimated that on this point the provisions of the new law were precisely the same as the old one.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
The only excuse he could find for this clause was, that it cut two ways, because in the case of two or more brothers succeeding in turn to an estate left by their father, the second and subsequent brothers taking the property would only have to pay the low duty attaching to the succession of a son to a father, instead of the higher one imposed upon the succession of a brother to a brother. Still he could not help thinking that this clause was contrary to the prin- 863 ciple of the Bill; and it introduced a retrospective action which had much better have been avoided; and that it would have been much better to have taxed a succession according to the relationship of the successor to the party immediately before in beneficial possession of the property, instead of the relationship of the successor to the person by whom it was originally settled. This would have had the further advantage of avoiding the necessity of looking into the title deeds of estates—a step which would, no doubt, be attended with delay and inconvenience, although he certainly did not feel the alarm upon this point which had been expressed by the noble and learned Lord (Lord St. Leonards). There were other objections raised to this Bill, which, however, did not seem to him of a more serious character than must be incidental to any measure of this kind, and were certainly not of sufficient importance to warrant his dwelling upon them at that stage. He did not at all object to seeing real property and settled personalty taxed in the same manner as non-settled personalty was at present. On the contrary, he rejoiced at the removal of the existing anomaly. He must own, however, that he should have preferred a much more sweeping measure than the present. It would have been better to have repealed the existing legacy duty; and then, if there was to be a tax on successions, instead of the present complicated system of charging duty according to the consanguinity of the successor, to make every successor pay alike—a uniform tax of from 2 to 3 per cent upon all property from whoever derived: this would be far preferable to the graduated scale by which the duty was regulated under the law now in operation, and by the Bill now before the House. He believed that the high duty of 10 per cent on land derived from a stranger would be found to bear hardly upon a person coming into possession of property, very often from the very circumstance of its descending to a stranger in bad condition, and that it would tend to be injurious to that good cultivation of the soil which it was so important an object of public policy to promote. It could not be supposed that a person inheriting an estate from a distant relative would have more ready money to spare at the time of his succession, than if he had simply succeeded to his father.
§ LORD BERNERS
was understood to oppose the Bill on the ground that it proposed to add most unfairly to the existing heavy 864 burdens on land, and was totally opposed to the principle of equality in the taxation of property. Taking the figures of the Government, this tax would produce more than 4,000,000l. He would ask their Lordships to consider what the land already paid. The tax on stamps, on deeds, and other instruments affecting the land, now amounted to over 2,000,000l.; when the legacy duty was imposed by Mr. Pitt, the land tax amounted to 2,037,000l., of which 1,136,000l. were still unredeemed; then there was 6,000,000l. poor-rates; composition and value of statute labour 40,800l., highway rates 1,900,000l., which, with some smaller burdens, made 10,310,000l. of taxation thrown exclusively upon the land. This was exclusive of the county rate, of rates for lighting, watching, drainage, and enclosure, and other local burdens attaching to the land, which at the lowest computation amounted to 9,000,000l.: in all 15 per cent on its value. Indeed, of the last three Chancellors of the Exchequer, two had stated the local burdens, one at 12,000,000l., another at between 12,000,000l. and 13,000,000l., and the third at rather more than that amount. When such an amount of burdens were imposed upon the land, he must protest against the imposition of this new tax, and must express his dissent from the statement of one of Her Majesty's Ministers (the Duke of Argyll), that the injustice of the burdens on the land had been considered, and their inequality was redressed by this Bill. Such a statement, if it went forth to the country without being contradicted, was calculated to have a most injurious effect.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
apprehended that the burdens on land being so large a question, and one which had been so frequently discussed in that House, it would be hardly necessary for him to go into it on the present occasion. The remarks to which the noble Lord had alluded in the close of his speech, as having been made by the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Argyll), were not intended so much to claim any particular credit for the Government, as to answer an assumption made in the course of the debate, on the opposite side, that this Bill went to impose upon land an equal duty to that already imposed upon personal property. The noble Duke's answer went to show that the duty so imposed upon realty would only be 50 per cent of the duty imposed upon personal property. With regard to what had fallen from the 865 noble Lord behind (Lord Beaumont), he was afraid that his proposal to equalise the degrees of consanguinity, and to make all successors pay alike a duty of 2 or 3 per cent, though it might bring the same sum of money into the revenue, would not be very favourable to the landed interest, for it had been shown pretty clearly that at least two-thirds of the landed estates of the country descended from father to son, and would, under the Bill, only pay the 1 per cent duty. Of course, therefore, if the duty were equalised, that would be doubled or trebled, and such a proposition would be no gain to the landed interest. The noble Lord had also expressed his opinion that the provision making the person inheriting pay according to his relationship to the original settlor of the property, was hard in its effects and contrary to the principle of the Bill; but, in considering which of the two principles to adopt—whether the successor should pay according to his relationship to his predecessor, or to the original settler of the property—Her Majesty's Government had come to the conclusion that the latter was by far the most favourable to the landed interest; and that had been the answer of the Government to a great many objections made to them. For instance, in the case of four brothers succeeding each other rapidly to property settled on them by their father, the last three successors, instead of paying the 3 per cent paid by brothers, would only pay 1 per cent as succeeding to their father. In order to be consistent, it was necessary to deal with both cases on the same principle, and that which had been adopted would, as he had shown, be far more profitable for the landed interest than the other.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, if the noble and learned Lord (Lord St. Leonards) had remained in his place, he should have taken the liberty to reply to the complaint which that noble and learned Lord had made, of his not having had a fair opportunity of proposing his Amendments in Committee, by observing that the fault was that of the noble and learned Lord himself, and of the noble Earl under whom he acted, in having given notice of such Amendments as evidently showed that their object was not to amend the Bill, but to destroy it altogether. One of these Amendments would have had the effect of cutting off the head of the Bill, and another of them of cutting off its tail. It was quite evident that the adoption of those Amend- 866 ments would have made the Bill so ridiculous that no Minister would have thought it worth his while to adopt it. The noble and learned Lord, therefore, ought not to be surprised at the tone of the House when those Amendments were alluded to. There could be no doubt that the object was insidiously to defeat the Bill, and their Lordships would naturally reject any Amendment made in such a spirit. Had the noble and learned Lord sincerely intended to improve the Bill, and render it more useful, he had no doubt fair and proper attention would have been given to any suggestion the noble and learned Lord might have made with that view.
The MARQUESS of SALISBURY
observed, that the noble Earl had spoken in a manner peculiar to himself. He had taken very good care not to expose himself to the severe reply of his noble and learned Friend (Lord St. Leonards) who had left the House, and who had distinctly stated to their Lordships, when the Amendment was first introduced to their notice, that it was not intended to defeat the Bill. It was not usual in that House for any noble Lord to contradict what another noble Lord had distinctly stated to be his intention; but that on this occasion the noble Earl had thought fit to do. He begged to state, on the part of his noble and learned Friend, and on his own part, that there was no such intention as that which the noble Earl had imputed to them, His belief was that in every clause of the Bill there would be found such severity and oppression that it was not likely the country would very long submit to it. He had had no wish to speak on this occasion, for he thought it an inconvenient course to continue a discussion on a measure which it was not intended to oppose; but he could not help noticing what he considered a most unfounded and unjust aspersion, cast by the noble Earl upon his noble and learned Friend.
§ Amendments negatived. Then it was moved, That the Bill do pass; objected to; and on Question, Resolved in the Affirmative; Bill passed.