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trade, our induftry, and revenue, is astonishing and proud for this country; that our general capital and wealth is greater than they were even at its commencement; that our commerce, so far from having experienced a diminution as in other wars, has greatly increaled; that our industry and manufacs tures, subject to those local fluctuations which are inseparable froin a system so extended and diversified; have senfibly ad. vanced; and that, on a general view, our situation exhibits every symptom of internal wealth, that we are richery that we poffeís a greater command of capital than this country ever en. joyed at any former period. It is singular too that under the dcpreciation which the funds have experienced, the price of land has maintained itself above the average of former wars, and equal to the price in time of peace ; very little indeed below the unexampled rate of a few years preceding the war.
“I am aware that no argument is required to demonstrate the necessity of great exertion in the circumstances in which we are now placed. You have already expressed your opinion of that necessity, and have shewn your readiness to employ our refources. All then that is wanting, is judgment and discrimination in the mode of calling them into action. If then there be any chance of diminishing the capital of the funded debt, which is the only pressure by which our efforts are embarrassed, the measure by which it is to be effected is founded upon clear and substantial principles of policy. This is a principle upon which the House has acted in the course of the present Session. Upon this principle; you felt the expediency of making an extraordinary exertion to raise within the year a considerable part of the supplies. It is a farther satisfaction for us to know that the energy of that measure has been fully proved ; that, though difficult in detail, though encountered by considerable oppofition on its appearance, and many obstacles in its progress, its advantages have been recognized by the country. Though necessary to qualify it by many modifications, which diminished the full effect which it was intended to have, yet the voluntary zeal of the country has borne testimony to the principle, and the contributions with which the patriotism of individuals has come forward for the public defence, furnishes the best proof that in this meatare the Legislature was in unison with the fentiments of the people. From what I have heard, the objection to the measure of increasing the assessed taxes, has been, that it did not go far enough; and commercial men have declared that it did not enabrace fufficiently that species of property of which they are poflefied. Whatever may be the decision of the House as to the principle of the plan which I am about to propose, -I am sure, that any measures which tend to give effect to the
- same fame object, which will combine an annual faving with other collateral advantages, which, without imposing any new burdens upon the public, will be attended with confiderable benefit to the nation as well as individuals, cannot fail to be received with the highest favour by this House, and to secure the approbation of the country.
• In stating the principle upon which the plan proceeds, I am aware that I have claimed a great deal of merit to the measure: In this, however, I claim none from the proposal. The principle itself pofleffes that recommendation which usually belongs to good principles, that it is so fimple that the advantages which are produced by its effects do not necessarily suppole a great thare of merit in the proposer.
" The amount of the present Land Tax is about 2,000,000l. This sum has been annually granted by Parliament for a cena tury part, and has been levied at the same rate in different districts. The repartition which was originally made has cona tinued to long, and the sum of 4s. in the pound for lo considerable a period has never been exceeded, that it will readily be acknowledged that this sum ought not to be diminished, at least till many other burdens which 'weigh more heavily upon the public have been taken off. Taking this state then as that upon which the present Land Tax is railed, it is propoled, by changing the security of a part of the Funded Capital into Landed Security, to cover with the two millions of existing Land Tax two millions four hundred thousand of dividends. By this measure it is evident that, upon the fuppofition that the whole of the Land Tax were to be redeemed, the public would gain 400,000l. The terms upon which the purchase is intended to be made, while they produce this benefit to the public, will present that advantage to the Land Owners which will render it eligible for them to redeem, and tempi them to give tull effect to the measure. Eighty millions wouid thus be taken out of the market, and the public credit, rcheved fro:n so great a pressure, would be proportionably itrengthened. Having stated this brief outline, I Thall advert to a lew of the objections against the measure, which have yet conie to my kaowledge.
“ It must be obvious that the first step to be taken towards allowing a redemption of the tax is, to make it perpetual in all cases where it is not redeemed, and to make it universally perpetual, but redeemable ; against this measure I have heard fome objections; to one of those objections I am prepared to give an immediate, and I think a decisive answer. The objection to which I allude is one which is taken upon conftitutional grounds. It is said, that the measure will take away
No. 21. **
one of the constitutional checks which the Parliament possesses; and that to make that perpetual which formed part of the annual supplies, is wresting from the Legislature one great constitutional control. Sir, I do not mean to argue that this is not fome variation from the usual rule; but at the same time the Committee will perceive, that with respect to the objection itself, nothing is more easy and simple than that another fund in
lieu of this, shall be placed equally under the annual check and · difpofition of Parliament. Surely, Sir, it is not necessary for me to fay, that whoever gives himself the time and trouble to think, must see this obvious remedy; that portions of the revenue now existing, which form part of the consolidated fund, may be made temporary and annual. The Parliament will then have an annual check; except that instead of voting two inillions upon Land, they vui vote two millions upon any of those other duties which now belong to the consolidated fund. I shall submit, Sir, a Resolution to this effect, and I shall ftate those duties which appear to me to be most proper, not only to the amount of two millions, the produce of the Land Tax, but to the whole amount of the sum of 2,400,000l. to be produced by the prese:it plan, and this I shall propose to do immediately; Parliament will then have a greater constitutional check than they have at present.
« Another objcétion urged by some is that, from the present repartition to perpetuate the existing Land Tax would be to perpetuate an incquality which is so great as to form no inconfiderabie abuse. They say that, if the tax were equalized, they would have no objection to render it perpetual. Let us consider this objection more closely and attentively. Since the Revolution, cfpecially during the latter part which has succeeded, it has never been in contemplation to equalize the Land Tax by a new repartition according to the real amount of property, and the ability of different districts? We know that in this House, though the vote for the Land Tax had the undoubted right to adopt a new repartition, no such propofition was ever made. With the experience of a century before us, then, if we have seen no such attempt ever made, is it more likely that it would he corrected, even were the vote to be annual, than if the grant were made perpetual ?
“I do not now argue whether it would have been right to revise the repartition at prefent established. I am ready to ada mit, that I consider it to have been an original defect of the present plan of repartition, that no periodical revision was fixed. I think that it would have been wise to make such a provision, and that it would have been happy for the country had it been done. Two important guards would be necessary; to prevent
the inequality from being too great, and at the same time not
“ I have likewise heard that it has been objected that this very measure would tend to introduce an equal repartition. It ought not to be expected that these opposite objections will come from the same quarter, and that a grievance will be felt both ways. It does happen however that the same mind embraces oppolite and contradictory objections. Those who are determined to object to every thing, may continue to bring forward, in a regu. lar opposition, arguments against a measure which do not proceed upon the same principle. On the present occasion, however, I do not expect that this mode of attack will be employed; at least I do not anticipate such a mode of opposition from any of thole I now lee before me. The qucition then is, does the prelent mealure give any new facility for the introduction of a general Land Tax? If the measure did give any new facility for employing the substantial resources of the country, and deriving additional means of strength without distressing the people, I should be more disposed to claim it as a recommendation, than to consider it as a defect. In times like the present, whatever supplies us with the means of calling into action the real fclources of the country, and giving new energy to the conteft We maintain, would deserve the cordial support of every man Who is a friend to the happiness and prosperity of the country, and in a particular manner of those who would be the greatest sufferers, if the hostile designs of the enemy were to succeed.
" The measure to be proposed to you, however, pollelles no luch recommendation. It leaves the question of a more equal repartition of the Land Tax precisely where it found it. Parliament now has the undoubted right to raise more than four thilups in the pound on the land, and what greater authority would acquire were the present redeemed? If the whole were to be utened, for it would be sanguine to suppose that the whole
be redeemed within a few years by the owners, the only 18 necessary to be provided as expressly as any legislative pros I can guard, is that if ever a new Land Tax is imposed, it
not be imposed upon those who have redeemed in any difat proportion from that on those who have not redeemed.--o be necessary to provide that the amount of what 4 Z 2
will be redeem
It would be necellary
may have been redeemed Mould be deducted from any new im. poit. It appears to me that such a provision would secure those who shall take the benefit of redemption as much from any additional charge in future on that account as those who had not bought up their Land Tax at all. This, then, appears a suffici. ent answer to the general objections which have been suggested against the measure. As to the various details which it embraces, it would be idle to enter into any minute discussion of them, till the Committee has had further time to take them into mature consideration.
“ There is one objection, however, which is partly connected with the detail of the measure, and partly applies as a general objection. This regards the option to be given in the lecond instance to become a purchaser of the tax, provided the owner himself should be unwilling or unable to buy. Cares may occur in which the proprietor finds it inconvenient to make the advances necessary for the redemption. Great pains, however, have been taken to lighten this inconvenience. Every attention has been paid to give the landholder all the advantages consistent with the ultimate success of the scheme. It is of infinite im. portance to gain during the war every benefit which the measure is calculated to afford. It is of the utmost importance to secure that aslistance to credit, which will supply us with the means of that resistance which our independence, our property, and our happiness call upon us to make. For this reason the landholder ought to have no unlimited and exclusive privilege in the purchase of his tax, though the terms will be such as to render it highly beneficial for him to become the purchaser bimself. To enable him to take the benefit held out to him, every facility will be given him for raising money, and even should he lose the first opportunity of purchase, the redemption of the tax will not be hopeless. A period should be fixed at which he shall have the liberty to redeem, though on his refusal a third party in the first instance has become the purchaser.
* Such are the views upon which the plan is founded. As to the terms upon which the purchase is to be made, I shall explain them very shortly :--- payment of the redemption will not be demanded in money, but will be received in transfer of stock to the Commissioners for liquidating the national debt. This mode has the advantage of accommodating itself to the fluctuation of stock, and each transaction liquidates itself. The present price of three per cents. being about 50, affords an interest to purchasers of fix per cent. At this rate stock feils at from 16 to 17 years' purchase, and the tax will be fold at twenty years purchase. Every pound of annual tax, therefore, will be equal to 471. capital ftock. Should stocks rise to 75; the purchase will