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The sum due to the East India of which five millions were to be Company was due upon a claim of raised by making the property tax several years standing, which had more productive, and one million been submitted to commissioners in from the excise and customs. 1803 One million had been alrea. The property tax was proposed dy paid, and another would be cal. to be raised from six and a half to led for in the course of the present ten per cent, and most of the pre. year.
sent exemptions to be done away. The interest on exchequer bills It was thought more advisable to had not hitherto been provided for raise this tax at once to what might when they were voted, but left to be termed its natural limit, than to come in as part of the supply of the increase it gradually, which might following year. It was thought ad. lead to the supposition that it was visable, however, at present, to a fund to be drawn upon to an inbring that expence within the year, definite extent. Besides this addi. and to provide for it accordingly. tion to the rate, it was expected,
The grant of one million from the that the tax might be rendered more proceeds of ships captured prior to productive by judicious regulation. the declaration of war, was part of Great frauds and evasions were now the droits of admiralty, which his practised, and the mode of exempmajesty had been advised by his late tion furnished the greatest facility ministers, graciously to apply to the to such attempts. It was proposed, pablic service of the state.
therefore, in future, that the tax The loan, which had been nego- should in the first instance be paid, ciated that morning, consisted of and that those entitled to exemptions twenty millions, eighteen for Eng. should afterwards, on making good land, and two for Ireland, and had their claims, be repaid from the tax been obtained at the rate of 2.4 office. It was stated with great sa198. 7d. of interest for every £.100. tisfaction that the governors and di
War taxes.--The beneficial effects rectors of the bank had agreed to of raising a great part of the sup. receive the duty on the dividends at plies within the year, was strongly the bank. As to the quantum of exemplified by the fact, that during income to be made liable to the tax the last war, the average increase of it was proposed that ten per cent the national debt had been at the should be paid on all property above rate of 25 millions a year, while the fifty pounds a year, but that a scale average increase in the present war, of abatements should be introduced was at the rate of only 12 millions a in favour of small tradesmen and year; a differen"e to be attributed small annuitants, whose income was solely to the system of war taxes, less than one hundred a year. Some which had not been introduced in regulation would also be made in the late war till near its close. The favour of hospitals and charitable war taxes had been taken for the institutions. The total sum ex. last year at fourteen millions and a pected from these alterations in the half, and they had produced more property tax was estimated at five than thirteen millions. It was in. millions. tended to raise them for the current Another million was to be raised year to nineteen millions and a half, from the customs and excise. It
was proposed, with certain modifi. be taxed under the excise, and it was cations and exceptions, to raise the calculated would afford 300,000 a var duties of the customs from one year of additional duty. fourth to one third. An addition To cover the interest and other vould be made to the duty on sugar charges upon the loan, a sum of of three shillings per cwt. These 1,136,000 a year, was still to be additional duties would produce provided, which was proposed to 2.700,000 a year. Tobacco would be done in the following manner:
The wine duty, already existing, was to be declared
permanent, and applicable towards the interest on
the loan, amounting to
ing the quantity manufactured to be 250,000 tons
annually, would produce
500,000 70,000 66,000
The noble lord concluded his exchequer, we shall confine our. speech by expressing his determi- selves to a brief and general abstract dation, and that of his colleagues, to of the arguments for and against administer the government with them, and to an account of the fate economy, and to reform abuses that finally attended them in the wherever they could be detected; house and after án allusion to the labours It was objected to the course of of the oaral and military commis. proceeding taken by ministers on soners, and assurances that minis- this occasion, that it was contrary ters were ready to follow up any to the usage of parliament to bring plans and improvements, which forward the ways and means before these enquiries might suggest, he the estimates of the year had been announced to the house that steps voted; and this usage was founded were taking to recover the sums on the obvious and reasonable prin. lost to the public by malversations ciple, that parliament ought not to in the West Indies, and that mea. burthen the subject unnecessarily, sures had been adopted to put a stop and therefore ought not to provide to the scenes of fraud, perjury, and greater ways and means than the peculation, which had so long
had so long sums granted in the committee of prevailed in that part of the em- supply. But, the ways and means pire.
now proposed by the chancellor of Instead of entering into a detailed the exchequer, greatly exceeded the account of the discussions, which supplies voted by the house; for the arose on this and subsequent occa- army estimates of the present year sions, upon the propositions recom- had not yet been submitted to its tended by the chancellor of the consideration; and 10 precedent,
it was said, could be found since the one, that the public money should revolution, of bringing forward the not be applied without the express ways and means till the army estic consent of parliament; the other, mates were voted.
that parliament should not burhen It was admittod on the other side, the people unnecessarily, and conthat there was considerable incon. sequently should neither by loans venience in bringing forward the nor taxes, impose burthens in a ways and means before the estimates committee of ways and means, till for the army were regularly before the necessity of them had been as the house; but it was maintained certained by previous votes in the that there was nothing in this pro. committee of supply. It was at the ceeding which counteracted any same time admitted, that a rigid adfixed principle, and the inconveni. herence to this rule, could not in all ence of delaying the budget till the cases be observed; and, indeed, army estimates could be produced, the existence of permanent was would be much greater than that taxes, to the amount of eighteen or which attended the present mode of near twenty millions annually, was, proceeding. The same sort of in- it must be confessed, no small deria. convenience had been felt last year tion from this principle in the vote with regard to sub. The property tax bill encountersidies, the amount of which depend. ed great opposition in its way ed on treaties with foreign powers, through the house, not so much which at that time were not con from the members seated on the opcluded. Care would be taken by position bench, who, on the con. the chancellor of the exchequer that trary expressed their hearty approthe ways and means should not ex. bation of its principle, and praised ceed the supplies to be voted. It the ministers for bringing it forward, was to be recollected, that we had as from independent members of an army estimate already voted for parliament, who disliked the harshfive months; and as to precedents, ness and rigour of its provisions, and there was one in 1802, when the disapproved of sich an enormous navy estimates were voted first for addition to the present heavy bur, four months, then for two, and then thens of the people. Several modi. for the remainder of the year. It fications and alleviations of the tax was also contended, that, in this were accordingly proposed, to some case, the ways and means did not of which the ministers acceded, amount to the supplies by sereral though they rejected the greater millions; because none could be part of them, on account of their called taxes, among the ways and tendency to diminish the produc. means, till they were appropriated tiveness, and destroy the efficacy of by parliament; and in that sense the measure. the supplies already voted, exceeded Mr. Francis objected to the sudthe ways and means by several mil. den increase of the duty from six and lions. But to this mode of reason, à half to ten per cent, and ridiculed ing it was justly answered by oppo. the attempt of ministers to represent sition, that it proceeded on the fal. the precise rate of ten per cent, as lacy of confounding two principles the natural limit of the tax, which in themselves perfectly distinct; the no future chancellor of the exche
quer would ever repture to exceed. from the tax office; and on further The same honourable member ob- consideration the scale of abatements jected to the clause, compelling per- was considerably enlarged beyond soas with small inconies to pay the the original intentions of the governdaty in the first instance, and go af- ment. Persons employed in laboterwards to the tax office for repay- rious or handicraft occupations, Dent, if they desired to avail them- whose wages did not exceed thirty inities of their right to the legal. shillings a week, were exempted dla.omest. Soch persons, he con- entirely from the duty, ‘and the tended, were unable to collect a sum abatements in favour of life annui. large enough to discharge the duty, tants and small tradesmen, which and if they did, the trouble and dif- originally applied only to persons fculty of afterwards recovering the with incomes under one hundred Doney from the tas office, would pounds a year, were extended after. deter them from attempting it, or wards to incomes of one hundred subject them to greater loss and in. and fifty pounds. Some further dinvenience than the object was deductions of less importance were Forth. Mr. Francis could not afterwards added; but a motion of conceive why the interest ou exche- Mr. Wilberforce to grant an allow. quer bills, and other floating secu- ance on account of children, was Fitics, was not made liable to the negatived on a division; and the tar
, in the same manner as the di. clause for levying the full amount intends on the funded debt paid at of ten per cent on all iucome derived the bank; and he strongly recom. from funded and landed property, Eended, that the duty should be ex. after a long and interesting discustaided to the dividends, belonging sion, was carried by a majority. to aliens, not resident in the king. In the course of this debate, Mr. don, a measure, which he attempted Fox owned to the house, that he to justily, and reconcile to the was not a friend to the tax, or any priaciples of policy, consistency, of its principlos or operation; he
was sensible the objections to it Of these suggestions the only one were just and innumerable ; but his fully acceded to by the ministers, majesty's ministers were reluctantly 125 that of levying the duty on the forced to adopt it, under the preswafunded, in the same manner as sure of circumstances, which they spon the funded debt. The propo. had at least the consolation to resal of taxing the property of aliens, flect they had no share in producing. Rot resident in the kingdom, was After this public declaration from the She wn by Mr. Fox to be repugnant leading member of his majesty's goto the principles of sound policy, vernment in the house of commons, is consistent with the faith of par. it surprises us to find, that on the lament, and contrary to the fun. third reading of the bill, a clause damental maxim of the constitution, was brought up by one of the secrethat no one should be taxed, who taries of the treasury, to exempt was not really or virtually repre. from the operation of the tax the Sented in parliament. Arrange- stock or dividends belonging to his Dents, it was said, would be taken majesty, in whatever name they to facilitate the recovery of money might stand in the books of the
bank of England, on the same being was afterwards wrought up, and duly proved to be his majesty's pro. manufactured in articles, where perty.
This clause having been the burthen of the tax would be out sutiered to pass without opposition, of all proportion to the benefit de no observations were made upon it rived from it to the exchequer. in the house, and therefore it is im. Mr. Wilberforce calculated, that the possible for us to guess upon what tax would produce not more than principle, if opposed, it could have £.200,000 a year to government, been defended. His majesty is one while it would cost a million to the of the three estates of parliament, public. Objection was also made and no reason can be given why to it, as a heavy and injudicious tas his property should not be taxed by ou machinery, on agriculture, on the house of commons, that would coals, and on various manufactures, not apply equally to exempt the where iron was consumed in great property of members of the house quantity, and where no proper sub. of lords. No exemption or abate. stitute for it could be devised. ment had been allowed to any of his There is no doubt, that the repre. majesty's subjects, but in cases, sentations of iron masters and others, where, if the tax had been collect on this occasion, stating the ruined, the persons liable to it must ous consequences of this tax to their have been forced to apply for paro. manufacture, were grossly exaggechial aid for their subsistence. Such, rated, but such was the impression at least, was the principle which they made on the public mind, that during these discussions, had been after having been left with a majolaid down broadly by his majesty's rity of only ten on a question for gorernment; and, except in this in the comunitment of the bill, minis. stance, acted upon with no small ters were induced to give it up. rigour and impartiality. The loss The tax which the chancellor of the to the public, by the exemption of exchequer proposed in lieu of it, his niajesty's private fortune, from was one on private brewers, which the operation of the tax, was pro. excited against him a still more vio. bably inconsiderable; but, in times lent outcry in the country. It was like these, when sacrifices of such in vain that he dropped the most enormous magnitude were required obnoxious clause in the bill, as orifrom the people, it was indecent ginally introduced; the prejudices and impolitic, to introduce a dis. against it, were so strong among tinction between his majesty and his the country gentlemen, that he was subjects, which seemed to imply, compelled to abandon it entirely. however falsely and untruly, that Baffied in these two measures for he was desirous to withdraw from raising the interest of the loan, he the pressure of those burthens, to had recourse at length to the exwhich they submitted with such for. pedient of adding ten per cent to titude and resignation.
the assessed taxes, which was sub. The pig iron tax, which the chan. mitted to without opposition. cellor of the exchequer had taken Though the readiness shewn by mi. at £.500.000 a year, met with nisters on these occasions, to give great opposition in the honse, as a way to public opinion, was so far tax affecting a raw material, which to their credit, the necessity to which