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Debate on the Attorneys' Certificate Tax.
prove destructive of the finances of the country arrangement of the year? He would not now --the practice of taking one particular tax, or say whether that would be a good system or the claims of one particular class, and dealing not, but if it were to be followed the office of with it as an isolated case. His noble friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be said, he should not have the argument on the abolished. If the proper mode of dealing with present occasion that this was the wrong time the finances of the country, in regard to the refor bringing forward this question. He would duction of taxation, were upon the principle of. have it, nevertheless, for it was the wrong time. “ first come first served ”--that the chances of An hon. member the other night, speaking on precedence by the ballot-box should determine a different question said, that the Chancellor of the order in which each separate claim for rethe Exchequer invariably told the House when duction should be considered and decided by motions were brought forward for reducing the vote of that House without reference to the taxation, that the time chosen was the wrong whole financial system, and the claims of the one. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) country at large, the office of Chancellor did not do so; and he would tell the House of the Exchequer would be unnecessary. when was the proper time for submitting claims The duty of the Government, as it appeared of this nature. It was when the House had to him, was to take the claims of each gone so far in determining what should be the class, and to deal with them in a compreamount of the public expenditure of the year, hensive spirit in reference to every class of the that they were in a position to measure the ne- country, and having done so, to select those cessary amount of taxation to meet it. Then they thought the weightiest, and make their they knew whether they were in a condition to proposals to Parliament accordingly, and state repeal any taxes or not; and when they knew the grounds upon which those proposals rest that, then was the time for considering and -have them discussed in open debate, as determining the claims of the various classes of against any others that might be brought forthe community, and with reference to the whole ward by individual members, and leave it to system of taxation, or if they found a tax so the House to determine what class in prefergrievous that it called for repeal, because it was ence to others relief should be given. Such more grievous and oppressive than any other, was his notion of the duty of a minister of then was the time for considering and deter-finance, and whatever might be the opinion of mining whether it should be renewed. But the Government hereafter as to the particular he objected to this motion at the present time, tax in question--whether any change should because it was calling upon the House to act be made in it or not-he must call upon the with their eyes shut, and to pledge itself to the House to join him in meeting his noble friend's concession of the claims of the attorneys and motion with a direct negative. solicitors, overlooking those of all other classes Sir F. Thesiger thought it important, under of the community. The right time to make the circumstances, that the House should unthe motion would be when he (if it should be derstand the position in which the question his duty to do so) should, as Chancellor of the stood; and, from what he gathered from the Exchequer, propose any remission of taxation statement of the right hon. gentleman, it was for any other class of taxpayers—then would be clear that if the noble lord consented to postthe time for his noble friend to bring forward pone his motion until some indefinite period, his case, and ask the House whether this par- when the right hon. gentleman should have ticular tax had a greater claim for remission taken into consideration the pressure upon than any other. That would be the proper him for the repeal of other taxes which bore on and straightforward course of proceeding, and other classes of the community, he would conhis noble friend was no doubt of the same sign it to the fate which all other motions of opinion, for in 1850, when, in answer to his the same kind had met which had been postmotion, the same objection was taken, that the poned at the request of the Chancellor of the financial statement of the year was about in a Exchequer. The right hon. gentleman had short time to be submitted to the House, he ad told the House that this was not the proper mitted the force of that objection, and post- time to bring forward this question, or to poned taking a vote upon the question. That consider, in an isolated manner, any tax that was the course his noble friend took in 1850, might weigh with undue pressure upon any and that was the course which he (the Chan- particular class. He (Sir F. Thesiyer) thought, cellor of the Exchequer) indulged in the hope on the contrary, that if there was a tax presshe would take now. The main question, after ing unduly on any particular class, it ought to all, was this—which was the view the House be distinguished by that House from other took of the duty of the executive Government taxes ; and that it might be useful for the in regard to the management of the finances Chancellor of the Exchequer, before bringing of the country? Did they think it right that forward his Budget, to know what was the the opinion of the House should be expressed- feeling of the House upon the subject. The that it was right that the Chancellor of the Ex-present was a particular case; and no one had chequer should know the opinion of the House even suggested that there was the slightest as to any tax, the repeal of which might be ground of fairness or justice in the imposition proposed before the financial scheme of the of this tax. He would call attention to the year was made up, and that he should be arguments used when this tax was imposed. guided by that opinion in making the financial In 1785, Mr. Pitt proposed to lay a tax on 396
Debate on the Attorneys' Certificate Tax. all shops; this was objected to; and, in the motion and urging the noble lord to press it course of the debate, Alderman Watson, who to a division. He had been only a short time was reported to have made a feeling speech, in that House, but he had seen two Chancelsaid he remembered a right hon. gentleman lors of the Exchequer, and it seemed to him on the Treasury bench once saying that the that whenever a motion of this kind was Church had long had its share of the good brought forward they had always stated that things of the land, and God be praised for it; it was introduced at the wrong moment; and but the Law had always managed to take care of the noble lord had of course been told so now. itself also, and it was only fair that the State The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that by should have some share of their gains. That retaining the duty on articles and the admisthere were 5,000 attorneys, and if each paid sion duty-a monopoly was promoted; but was 301. a year it would amount to 150,000l. On it not also assisting to promote monopoly by this Mr. Pitt spoke, and on reviewing the va- keeping up the duty on certificates, which was rious suggestions that had been made, said, calculated to deter persons from entering the that though a tax on attorneys might perhaps Profession? If the Chancellor of the Exchebe popular, no member could suppose it would quer had stated that he himself proposed to produce 150,0001. a-year; but he was not sur-take off this duty, there would be some reason prised at seeing many members advocating for withdrawing the motion, but no one who such a tax, and he could understand that heard him could hope that he had any intenmany motives might be urged for it. Sometion of doing so. The duty in Ireland was might urge it in their zeal for the revenue- very oppressive. It was first laid on in 1816, some in their desire to see this particular in order to assist in meeting the expenses of body, who drew so largely from others, con- the war just then concluded, and while the tribute liberally towards the service of the stamp duties on leases and other instruments State—and others again might urge it from had been reduced, nothing had been done with motives of resentment. In that year the tax regard to this certificate duty. The tax, in on shops was also imposed, as well as that on addition to being impolitic and unjust, was a attorneys' certificates. For three years, Mr. tax on the administration of Justice, and thereFox never ceased to urge the repeal of the fore his voice would be always raised against shop tax as being unjust; but instead of any it; for no tax on the administration of Justice attempt to repeal the tax on attorneys' certifi. could be defended. cates, which was equally unjust, it had been Mr. Hume said, he always was an advocate gradually increased till it now amounted to for taking off a tax when it could be justly 121. a year in town, and 81. in the country. done, and if the noble lord had made a motion Besides this, oppressive and partial as it was, to reinove all taxes on licences as being inju: a sum of 1201. was paid on articles of clerk- rious to the carrying on of business, he would ship. No other class of persons paid such an have voted for it. But when he was called on amount on articles. And again, they had to to repeal a tax he asked himself whether it was pay 251. duty on admission. The noble lord, the worst tax existing. He had in his band a the member for Middlesex, did not propose to list of 35 licence duties. There was the aucrepeal those large charges on attorneys, and tioneers' licence 101. a-year-and on the yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that ground of facilitating the sale of property it he wished to establish a monopoly, and to erect might be wise to remove that, the paper a fence around attorneys so as to prevent per-maker paid a duty of 41, 4s. a-year, and the sons entering the Profession. He (Sir F. soapboiler the same sum of 41. 45.; and a va. Thesiger) could not understand that, for all it riety of dealers in articles that were useful to it was proposed to abolish was the annual every man. Now, law was not useful to every certificate duty, and every person who entered man, but soap was an article that was used by, the Profession would have to pay the same every one-more or less. The Chancellor of sums now charged on articles and admission. the Exchequer ought to have allowed a com. The case of the attorneys' certificate was pe- mittee of inquiry into all taxes, in order that it culiar-was not similar to the imposition of might be ascertained which were the most unother licences. It was very desirable that the just, so that they might be repealed. Belierquestion should be brought forward in the ing that there were more unjust taxes than manner it had been by the noble lord, for the this, he should not vote for the motion. tax was imposed on attorneys as a class, and Lord R. Grosvenor, in reply, said, that the their claims as a class ought to be understood. Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that on At all events, the noble lord ought to be per- former occasion, he (Lord R. Grosvenor) had mitted to introduce bis bill, which was intend.acceded to a request made to him to postpone ed to remove what he (Sir F. Thesiger) main- his motion. He had done so, but the question tained was a gross and shameful injustice. was now in a very different position, for it hau
Mr. J. D. Fitzgerald (who spoke amidst been received with favour by the House five of cries of “Divide ”) said he would not six times, and his right hon. friend could not have supported the motion of the noble be surprised at his bringing it forward. His lord if he had heard any good reason hon. friend, the member for Montrose said, against it, but thinking the arguments which that he should have proposed to repeal all had been used no answer to the motion, he taxes of this kind; but his hon. friend must wished to state his reason for supporting the be aware that if he attempted that he should Debate on the Attorneys' Certificate Tax.-- Opinions of the Press on Certif. Duty. 397 not get many votes; he objected to all taxes cise any calling that bear the slightest resemon the administration of the Law. The Chan- blance to the annual certificate tax on attorcellor of the Exchequer asked why it was not neys, proctors, and notaries—all others being proposed to repeal the duty on articles and ad- charged, not on the person, but on articles mission, and he (Lord R. Grosvenor) thought liable to excise and other duties, and therefore them an outrageous tax, but he believed an paid in effect by the consumers. But the repeal annual tax to be the most objectionable, there of the certificate tax (one of the three personal fore he proposed its abolition.
taxes, and the most grievous to which attorThe House then divided
neys, proctors, and notaries are liable) cannot For the motion .... 219
in any way affect the continuance of the reAgainst it ...... 167–52
venue derived from licences. Two of the three
personal taxes, producing upwards of 84,000l. On Friday evening the Bill was brought (per annum, will remain.' in and read a first time.
“These points are carefully and cleverly put, and have much truth behind them; and,
on the other side, it can only be urged that the OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON REPEAL-|
OF THE PRESS ON REPEAL-Government must raise revenue, and that the ING THE CERTIFICATE DUTY. lawyers are very well able to bear their quota
of the country's burthens. This is, however, a The Daily News of the 11th March
poor reply; and no one was last night sur
ch prised when the Government was beaten on a thus justly comments on the result of the division by a majority of 52.” debate :
| The short but valuable commentary of "A compact body of educated, business-the Standard on the 11th March was as like, and influential professional men, last follows: night, forced upon the consideration of the House of Commons the question-why they v
| “In the House of Commons, last night, should pay a special tax for leave to exercise
Ministers suffered their first serious defeat-a their calling. A debate ensued, and those who
majority of fifty-two. The subject of debate advocated the cause of the Legal Profession,
was Lord Robert Grosvenor's motion to repeal put forth the arguments which had been care
the annual tax upon the certificates of attorfully prepared for the occasion. The fact that
neys and solicitors. The motion was obstifive several divisions in the House of Com
nately resisted by the Chancellor of the Exmons had affirmed the principle of the unfair
chequer, who was aided by Mr. Joseph Hume! ness of the yearly tax upon attorneys was, of
but carried by a majority of 219 to 167. The course, not forgotten. In the words of the
tax thus defeated is open to all the unanswer. advocates of the repeal of this impost it was
able objections that apply to all direct taxes, urged that:
with this aggravation, that it is partial. The " The taxes to which attorneys are sub
only fair taxes are taxes upon enjoyment and jected are, first, a stamp of 1201., upon the
consumption, because they are the only taxes articles of clerkship, and this on an average
that leave the subject an option enabling him produces annually 72,0001.; secondly, a tax
to adjust his expenditure to his means and his of 251. upon admission, producing annually
I wants, or taxes upon commodities, by dealing 12,0001.; and thirdly, the tax of which they
in which men look to make a profit. As to the complain as an intolerable grievance namely,
T attorney's certificate, it is in the strictest sepse 121. yearly for a certificate, if practising in
of the unpopular words “a bread tax," for, as London, Edinburgh, or Dublin, and 81. yearly
Shylock says, “ You do take my house when if practising in any other part of the United
bed you do take the prop that does support my Kingdom ; this producing annually upwards
de house ;” and you as certainly tax the attorof 118,6001. This treble taxation, amounting
ney's bread when you tax the means by which in the whole to upwards of 200,000l. per an
& he is to earn that bread. The truth is, that all num, the attorneys have borne for a long
direct taxes are abominably unjust, and though series of years. No other profession or trade
we are highly gratified by the relief of a re18 burdened with a treble personal tax for the spectable class of our fellow citizens from an privilege of exercising the calling, whether
inquitious burthen, we are still more highly gra. levied by means of a stamp or a licence, whilst
tified at the blow struck at the detestable prinno other profession is subject to a prescribed
ciple of direct taxation. It is, moreover, pleascale of charges, rigidly applied on taxation,
sant to see Lord Aberdeen's Government and which no special contract is allowed to modify
; Mr. Joseph Hume in a miserable minority upon or supersede. The licences of auctioneers,
such a question.” bankers, pawnbrokers, &c., producing to thé! The Editor of the Morning Post, also, revenue 103,937l., are the only instances of thus fully and ably supports the motion for duties charged upon the permission to exer- relief :
“ We are at a loss to conceive why, in these 'We are mainly indebted to the Daily News days of unrestricted competition, one particufor this report, but have made some additions lar class of professional men should be exfrom other short-hand notes.
posed to an exclusive, and, in many respects,
Opinions of the Press on Repealing the Certificate Duty. onerous impost. The income tax, as surely as The higher branch of the Profession only obthe year comes round, without distinction, tained last year the benefit of a system of exareaches the pockets of the doctor, the surgeon, mination, thus following the example which the barrister, the solicitor-the whole tribe of had been set some ten or twelve years previprofessional men whose incomes amount to ously by the solicitors and attorneys. A tax 1501. But the solicitor alone is required an- of 121. or 81. may not be considered of any nually to pay what is termed the certificate very large amount, but then it must not be duty-which, in other words, is the licence to forgotten that this is added to an enormously practice, and the means of his gaining his large stamp duty, which affords protection to daily bread. The opulent man of business, the the public against the admission of improper confidential family adviser, who kno:ys the con- characters, and that a period of five years' artents of every will and settlement in his neigh-ticleship has to be served before the young bourhood, may scarcely condescend to notice practitioner can commence the manufacture of the small sum of 121. or 81, which he is called his first bill of costs. The question, however, upon to pay on the 15th day of November is not unattended with difficulty, for although in each year, but in all professions there are Lord Robert Grosvenor last night succeeded the struggling beginners, who have fought in obtaining leave to bring in a bill to repeal their way to practice by honest industry, by the duty-a triumph which he has on several good conduct and ability, and upon these the previous occasions achieved, but followed by certificate duty is a heavy and an oppressive tax. no practical result- the Chancellor of the ExThe Legislature, it would seem, for many chequer very fairly stated, that considering the years has viewed, with a certain amount of amount of the tax, he was found to regard it nervous and suspicious dislike, the members in conjunction with the abolition of other taxes of the lower branch of the Legal Profession. which might be submitted to his notice as The profession of attorneys is said to date its proper for abolition. Although the noble lord existence from the Statute of the 2nd of West- was successful on a division, it is extremely minster, c. 10, passed in the year 1285. By doubtful whether he will be enabled to make that Statute, the attorneys were permitted to any progress with his measure, for if this cerpractice and defend any action in the absence tificate duty be repealed, heavily as it presses of the parties to the suit; but it would seem upon a particular class, the banker, the aucthat, with the progress of time, they buttioneer, the public-house keeper, the horse slowly advanced in the estimation of the public dealer, the pawnbroker, may come forward at large, for, by the 4th of Henry 4, c. 18, it is with claims for exemption, and if a precedent recited that there were “a great number of at- of this kind be once established, a void may be torneys ignorant and not learned in the law, as created in the revenue which the Chancellor of they were wont to be before this time," and it the Exchequer may find it extremely difficult then ordains that 'all attorneys shall be exa- to supply, without having recourse to other mined by the justices, and by their discretion i expedients more generally disagreeable than their names put in the roll, and that they this certificate duty.” which be good and virtuous, and of good fame, be received and sworn well and truly to The Sun of the 11th inst. has given an serve their offices. But the number of attor- effectual answer to the argument of Mr. neys beiug greatly increased, and their popu- Gladstone that our application comes too larity in the same proportion being diminished, early in the Session. the Act of the 33rd Hen. 6, recites, that there is this complaint, that not long since, in the « The Chancellor of the Exchequer has recounties of Norfolk and Suffolk, there were ceived a very intelligible hint that, if he de. only six or eight attorneys coming to the sires to save the Administration of which he is King's Courts, in which time great tranquillity a member from defeat and dissolution, he must reigned in these places, and little vexation was abandon the course in which Sir Charles Wood incurred by untrue and unfeigned suits; but perversely continued, until it lead to the renow there are in these places four score attor- inoval of Lord John Russell's Cabinet from neys, or more, who have nothing to live on but place and power. The public attention has their practice, and besides are very ignorant, been too forcibly directed to fiscal grievances &c.' The Act being made out, this primá to be contented with the stereotyped answer facie case against these gentlemen next pro- that a tax produced so many thousands per vides, that their number for the future should annum to the Exchequer, which the financial be limited. Whatever the character of the Minister for the time being, or his locum tenens, attorney may have been in times long past, it is not prepared to relinquish;' or the no less cannot be doubted that there is scarcely any hackneyed objection against the time at which class which, within a comparatively recent the motion has been brought forward, wbich period, has made such rapid strides in charac-linvariably is either too early' or 'too late ter, reputation, and general enlightenment. -too eurly' if introduced before the opening This result has been mainly produced by the of the annual Budget ; 'too late for any pracestablishment of a system of compulsory exa- | tical purpose if postponed until after the dismination, and by the surveillance which the cussion on the financial scheme. Right hon. Law Institution has generally exercised over gentlemen must entertain no very flattering the conduct of the members of the Profession. I notions as to the reasoning powers or the
Opinions of the Priss.-Division on Attorneys' and Solicitors' Cerlif. Duty Bill. 399 integrity of popular representatives, if they DIVISION ON ATTORNEYS' AND SOreally think that such ridiculous arguments LICITORS' CERTIFICATE DUTY BILL. can have any efficacy, or excite anything but contempt in the minds of those to whom they! Motion made, and question put-" That are directed. Englishmen have not yet learned leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal the to ignore every principle of justice and equity, Attorneys' and Solicitors' Annual Certificate nor will they sanction the continuance, any Duty.”—(Lord R. Grosvenor.) The House more than the creation, of an unfair ir post. If | divided – Ayes, 219, Noes, 167. Mr. Gladstone's arguments possessed any real weighi-no antiquated abuse-no ' aged vice'
MAJORITY-AYES, 219. -could ever be got rid of. It would be suffi- / *Adderley, C. B. "Duncombe, Hon. A. cient to show that, a grievance had subsisted) *Alcock, Thomas Duncombe Hon. 0. for some 20 or 30 years to ensure its perpe
years to ensure its pernel Annesley, Earl of Dunlop, A. M. tuation,
* Arkwright, G. *Egerton, W. T. " Mr. Gladstone's arguments did not, how Bagge, W.
Egerton, Edward C. ever, prevail last night. He was left in a very
Ball, Edward *Evans, Sir D. L. decisive, and unequivocal minority on a ques
* Fagan, W.T. tion of the repeal of the Attorneys' and Soli
*Farrer, James, citors' Annual Certificate Duties.'
Bellew, Captain *Fellowes, Edward "We have so frequently exposed the gross freovently exposed the gross / *Benbow, John
Ferguson, Joseph and palpable injustice of this iniquitous im
*Beresford, William Fitzgerald, Jno. D. post, that it is almost a work of supereroga
Berkeley, H. C. F. "Floyer, John tion to adduce a single argument on the subngle argument on the sub-| Biggs, William
Follett, Brent S. o say, that while no less than Blackett, J. F. B. *Forbes, William 1501. must be paid in stamp duties on the arti. / *Blake, M. J.
Forster, Sir Geo. cles and admission, a further sum of 121. is
2. a further sum of 21. is *Blandford, Marquis Fox, R. M. charged every year to Metropolitan Attorneys,
Booker, T. W. *Fox, W.J. while 81., or two-thirds of the former amount,
Bowyer, George Fraser, Sir W. A. is levied on country practitioners. Thus, as
*Freestun, Colonel euming that the actual outlay for stamps were prem
French, Fitzstephen converted into an annuity, for whicho 10 per Brooke, Sir A. D. Freshfield, J. W. cent, or 157. per annum could easily be ob- / *Buck, Lewis W. *Frewen, C. H. tained, we would find that each resident in Bulkeley, Sir R.B.W. Gallwey, Sir W. P. London of the Profession contributes 271. per Buller,
*Gaskell, J. M. aboum to the Exchequer before he is enabledl Butler, Charles S. *Gooch, Sir E. S. to exercise his industry, or gain a single shil- |
*Goold, W. ling by his own exertions. After that he must
Cairns, H.M.Calmont *Grace, O. D.J. pay income tax on his earnings at as high a
Carnac, Sir J. R. *Greene, John rate as the proprietor of Three per Cent. Con 1 *Cayley, E. S.
Greville, Col. F. S. sols, or of well-circumstanced real estate. Sol
Challis, Alderman Grogan, E. that if we consider 3001. per annum as about
Chambers, T. *Gwyn, Howel the average professional earnings of solicitors
Hadfield, George -and we believe that the amount is by no
Hall, Sir Benjamin means overrated, we find that each man pays
Cholmondeley, Ld.H. Hall, Colonel nearly 391. per annum, or 13 per cent. on his *Christopher, Rt.Hon. *Halsey, Thomas P. precarious and transitory income, while the
*Hamilton, Geo. A. more fortunate possessor of accumulated and
Clinton, Lord C. P. Hamilton, J. Hans realised property, which he can transmit to his
Hanbury, Hn.C.S.B. children and his children's children, pays less
Cobbett, J. M. Hardinge, Hon. C.S. than one-fourth of the amount in proportion
*Cobbold, J. C. *Hastie, Alexander to his actual receipts.
*Codrington, Sir W. *Herbert, H. A. " It is no answer to state that solicitors are! Cogan, w.n. . *Hogg, Sir James W. not worse off than others who are in like man- 1 Coles,
*Hotham, Lord ner compelled to take out licences-more or
Collier, Robert P. Ingham, Robert less expensive--for liberty to pursue their trade
*Jolliffe, Sir W. G, H. or calling. Every one of those charges on in
*Cubitt, Mr. Ald. *Jones, Captain T. dustry are indefensible. They are worse than
*Davies, D. A. S. * Keating, Robert acts of confiscation; and can no more be jus
Kelly, Sir F. tified than the assault of the highwayman who
Dering, Sir Edwd. C. Kendall, N. rifles his victim's pocket because he has the
Du Cane, Charles Kennedy, Tristram power to do so. Why should we complain if *Duckworth, Sir J. *Kershaw, James some attorneys be sharp practitioners. They
* King, P. J. L. merely reciprocate the dealings towards them.
*Duff, G. S.
King, J. K. selves by which they are treated with gross and
Kinnaird, Hon. A. F. palpable injustice.”
Duffy, C. G.
Katchbull, W. F. *Duke, Sir J.
*Knox, Col. B. W. *Duncan, G.
Lacon, Sir E. *Duncombe, T. S. Langton, W. H. G.