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On the Third Reading Mr. S. Crawford moves an Amendment which is negatived-Mr. Hume, and Mr. F. Baring oppose the Measure-Speech of Mr. Goulburn --The Third Reading is carried by 199 lo 69.
THE difficulties which Sir Ro feebleness and inadequacy to the
bert Peel had to encounter occasion. The reasons and policy in framing a measure of finance, on which this great fiscal reformaadapted to the exigencies of the tion was founded, the principles country, were of a more than on which it was framed, and the usually formidable nature. lle calculations on which its details had not like many other financiers, were adjusted, were set forth in a as Mr. Goulburn in 1830, or Lord speech which, for luminous stateAlthorp on more than one occa ment and thorough mastery of the sion, a considerable surplus revenue complicated subjects involved in it, at his disposal. Sir Robert Peel has seldom been surpassed in Parwas embarrassed by a certain defi- liament. Though the great imciency for the ensuing year of portance and ability of this oration 2,570,0001., with contingencies in well entitle it to be perpetuated in China and India of uncertain its entire shape, the limits of this amount. And even this deficiency work render it necessary to confine was not the mere temporary result ourselves to such a condensed sumof a sudden pressure, but a decline mary of its principal features as in the receipts of some years stand can be presented within a narrow ing, in despite of an increase both compass. On the 11th of March, of duties and of population. Under pursuant to previous notice, the these circumstances, it was obvious long-expected development of the that mere temporary expedients, Ministerial plans was made in a and such petty devices of financial Committee of Ways and Means, dexterity as had served the turn of before a full and anxiously attenChancellors of the Exchequer in tive House. Sir Robert Peel comeasier times, would now but ag menced with a short preliminary gravate the evil. The present appeal to his audience for a patient juncture demanded a remedial mea and impartial hearing of the whole sure of a bold, comprehensive, and measure that he was about to prosubstantial character, going to the pose, avowing at once his own root of the mischief, and applied unfailing confidence and composure rather to the basis than the details of mind in proceeding with a full of our financial economy. In this consciousness of the integrity of respect, the measure produced by his motives to the discharge of a Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues great public duty, and his convicshowed no disproportion to the tion that a full and unreserved emergency. On the contrary, the disclosure of all the difficulties in breadth and boldness of the scheme which the nation was placed, and took the House of Commons, and a manful resolution to look all its the country by surprise. What embarrassments boldly in the face, ever other objections might be was the course which wisdom and alleged against it, and many were duty alike dictated, and the first urged from various quarters, it step towards improvement and was safe, at least, against those of recovery, He then at once pro
ceeded to a statement of the actual loans. When the Post-office revcircumstances of the country, and enue was abandoned, a surrender the alterations proposed. The late which he had dissuaded, the ParChancellor of the Exchequer had liament which gave it up, engaged calculated the probable revenue to grant some other supply in its for the year ending April, 1842, stead. Should he, then, impose a at 48,310,0001., and the probable tax on articles of consumption, on expenditure at 50,735,0001. ; and the necessaries of life? He could that calculation had proved to be not consent to place burthens upon very nearly accurate; the actual the labouring classes ; and if the result being only 160,0001. below House attempted that, recent exthat estimate of revenue, and a perience proved, that they would little, he knew not precisely how be defeated. The late Governmuch, below that estimate of ex ment had proposed an additional penditure. For the year ending per centage of 5 per cent. on the April, 1843, the estimated revenue Customs and Excise, and of 10 would be 48,350,0001.; the esti. per cent. on the Assessed Taxes. mated expenditure 50,819,0001., In last year, the additional per and the consequent deficiency centage on the Customs and Ex2,469,0001. A further probable cise, instead of producing 5l. on outlay must be provided for in each 1001., had produced but respect of the war in China. about 10s. ; but the percentage Something must be made good for on the Assessed Taxes had proAustralia, and something in Ca- duced considerably more than the nada, and a considerable addition estimated result of 101. for each must be made to the army estimates 100l.; a new survey, however, on account of the war in Affghan- having been made for the purpose istan. The finances of India too, of the increased assessment. These required attention. If Indian cre- facts proved that the country had dit were shaken, the credit of arrived at the limits of taxation on England would be affected ; and articles of consumption. All these the present state of Indian finance resources, then, being set aside, was not a consolatory one. He should he revive old taxes ? Should feared, that the deficit thereupon he go back to the Post-office? At in the two years ending May next, present, the new packet expenses would not be less than 4,700,0001. being added, the Post-office proHow then were these deficiencies duced no revenue at all, but rather at home and in India to be met? occasioned a charge; but he did Should we persevere in the system not think the recent reduction had of the last five years——the system yet had a sufficient trial to justify of loans and Exchequer-bills, the as yet an increase upon postage. system of permanent addition to Should he revive the taxes upon our debt? Was there a prospect salt, upon leather, or upon wool? of any considerable reduction in Upon the faith of their abolition expenditure ? or was the present various contracts had been entered deficiency an occasional one? No; into, and salt particularly had it had been proceeding for the been applied to various new purlast six years. In such circum- poses. Should he resort to loco. stances, he could not resort to the motion for the purposes of taxamiserable expedient of continued tion? He was reluctant to tax
the means of transferring from hands of British subjects or of place to place the labour of those foreigners. He estimated the whose labour was their only capi. assessable yearly value of the land tal. Gas light would fall within at 39,400,000l.; of houses at the same analogy, and ought to 25,000,000l.; of tithes, shares in retain the same exemption. After railways and mines, and other ridiculing the various suggestions similar property, at 8,400,0001. ; of people who were constantly total, 72,800,0001. From this he sending him projects for taxes on would deduct one-fourth for the pianofortes, umbrellas, and other exemption which he proposed to articles, accompanied with claims give to all incomes under 1501., of very large per centages upon and then the tax thus far would the proceeds, he came to the ques. give him 1,600,0001. The occution raised by the late Govern- piers of land ( assessed at half their ment, how far it might be possible rent,) would yield 120,0001. to obtain increased revenue from Next came funded property. The diminished taxation; a
dividend paid in 1841 was which the fullest consideration had 29,400,0001., from which he would satisfied him, was wholly inade. deduct 1,000,0001., in respect of quate to the immediate emergency. the Savings-banks; but he must That a nation's revenue was even add upon bank, foreign, and other tually increased by diminished stocks 1,500,0001., making a total taxation, might be quite true; of almost 30,000,0001., from which but the first effect was always a he would deduct one-fourth for fall of that revenue, and a long incomes under 1501. a-year; and interval was found necessary to then the proceeds of his tax would restore the amount. This prin- be 646,0001. He now arrived at ciple was illustrated by what had the incomes of trades and prohappened with respect to wine, fessions, a part of the subject attobacco, coffee, hemp, rum, sugar, tended with great difficulty; the and other articles. A mere re produce he expected from this duction of duties, therefore, would source was 1,250,0001. From the not suffice to meet the present income of public offices, he calcuexigencies; and he would now lated upon 150,0001. The total state what was the measure which would be 3,771,0001. With reunder a deep conviction of its spect to the duration of this impecessity, he was prepared to pro- post, the view of Government pose; and which he was persuaded was, that it might probably require would benefit the country, not
to be continued for five years ; only in her pecuniary interests, unless in case of such a revival of but in her security and her cha- commercial prosperity, from the racter.
other measures, which he was He would propose, for a period about to propose, as might induce to be limited, an Income-tax of Parliament to take the opportunity not more than 7d. in the pound, of revising the subject; but he or about 3 per cent, from which would, in the first instance, prohe would exempt all incomes pose a continuance for three years under 1501., and in which he only. would include not only landed but In case of war, he should deem funded property, whether in the it reasonable that Ireland should
bear her proportion of this tax; of many countries clained exempbut during peace, and for a limited tion on the ground of reciprocity period, and in the absence of all treaties : it would now be levied on machinery in Ireland for collection, all alike. Such a tax would probahe should prefer to raise the quota bly yield an income of 200,000l. ; of that country by other means. and would operate, unlike most He thought he could do so, con other taxes, as an encouragement sistently with the Act of Union, to native industry. by two methods, the first of which The aggregate revenue, then, would be a duty of ls. per gallon from all these sources would be upon spirits. This approach to 4,380,0001. ; constituting a conthe equalization of the spirit duty siderable surplus, after covering in the three kingdoms would, on the deficiency on the votes of certain fiscal grounds, which he annual expenditure. This surplus explained, be a great advantage he proposed to apply in relaxing to the nation at large, and to the commercial tariff. He had Ireland in particular. For a long considered on each of the numerous while, the Temperance pledge in articles included, the proportion that country had been very effec between the price and the duty. tual, but the consumption of His main principles had been, respirits there had of late been again moval of prohibition, and reduction upon the increase. He calcu- in the duties upon raw materials, Jated from this source to receive which should not, in scarcely any 250,0001. The other source to case, exceed 5 per cent. He should which he looked in Ireland was also considerably diminish the duthe equalization of the stamp-duty ties upon articles partially manuwith that of England, from which factured, the highest being 12 per he expected to receive 160,0001. cent.; and even upon complete In Great Britain, however, as manufactures, he contemplated well as in Ireland, he proposed to that the maximum should not, in reduce the stamp upon char- general, exceed 20 per cent. He ter parties, and bills of lading. now laid upon the table this With respect to regular absentees amended scale of duties, which had from Ireland, having no call of been distributed into iwenty difpublic duty to fix them in Eng- ferent heads; for it was all preland, he proposed to require from pared. It would be found that in them the payment of the same about 750 articles, there had been property-tax which would be re an abatement of duty recommendquired from other residents in this ed; and that on about 450 the island. Another resource would duty had been left untouched. be a tax of 4s. upon coal exported Treaties were now pending with in British vessels from this coun- various nations, in which several try; a fair impost, when it was of these articles were the subject considered, that the article thus of discussion; and such articles carried abroad was a most im- of course would not be included in portant material of our own in- the present reductions. The total dustry, and a great assistance to diminution of revenue occasioned that of rival nations. That tax was by all the reductions would probaalready imposed on coalexported by be not more than about in foreign vessels, but the vessels 270,000l. On sugar, he regretted
to say, the present Ministers could stage-coaches, the duty upon which, not offer any reduction : they in point of justice, as between could not consent to let in the them and railway carriages, he sugars of Cuba and Brazil without proposed considerably to diminish. some securities upon the subject of These two heads of reduction slavery in those countries; and would produce a loss of 70,0001. they thought to reduce the duties On the whole, these reductions, on British sugar without a corre in addition to the excess of exsponding reduction on foreign su penditure, would increase the degars, would be merely to give to ficit to somewhat more than the British planters a monopoly. 3,700,0001. ; but the estimated price, without advantage to the produce of the newly proposed British consumers. The present
sources of income would not only prospects as to the supply of cover this, but leave more than British sugar, were, however, of half-a-million sterling, applicable a highly satisfactory character. to the contingencies of our distant With respect to coffee, of which the consumption had lately de Sir Robert Peel concluded with creased, he would recommend a an earnest appeal to the House to great reduction of duty, bring support untarnished the name down the rate per pound to 4d., which the English nation had inupon British, and 8d. upon foreign herited from their forefathers, and coffee. The loss of revenue, after which they had maintained in this some allowance for increase of century throughout a protracted consumption would probably be war, and during twenty-five years 171,0001. On the subject of tim- of peace. He then moved his ber his measure would be the re first resolution, which was, to verse of that which was brought grant a duty on Irish spirits. forward by the late Ministry; he No discussion followed Sir Rowould advise a great reduction of bert Peel's speech. duty, which would benefit all Lord John Russell in a few classes, from the agriculturist to words, welcomed the liberal printhe ship-builder; but he would ciples of the measure, but hinted interpose protection to the interests that a relaxation of the duties on of the Canadas, which he would sugar would be better than of treat as an integral part of this those on timber. A few excep. island, by admitting their timber tions were taken by other Memat a duty little more than nominal. bers, but the discussion of so imAccordingly, while he would lower portant a measure was reserved the duty on foreign timber to 25s. for further consideration. The a load, he would let in the timber motion was then agreed to, and of Canada at a duty of ls. The the House resumed. loss on these reductions in the The first Parliamentary discustimber duty he estimated at
atsion which the propositions of the 600,0001. There were yet two Government gave rise to occurred other reductions he had to pro
in the House of Lords a few days pose : one upon the export of cer after their announcement by Sir tain British manufactures,
Robert Peel. Lord Brougham which he proposed altogether to introduced a string of resolutions remit the duty; the other upon touching the Income-tax, by :