Imatges de pÓgina
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the fupplics within the year, is the cheapest and the most falutary course that a wise people can pursue ; and when it is considered that there is a saving of at least one-twelfth upon all that is raised, gentlemen will not suffer a superstitious fear, and jealousy of the danger of exposing the secrecy of income, to combat with a measure that is so pregnant with benefits to the nation. If gentlemen will take into their con deration the probable duration of peace and war, calculated from the experience of past times, they will be convinced of the immeasurable importance of striving to raise the supplies within the year, rather than accumulating a permanent debt. The experience of the last hundred, fifty, or forty years, will thew how little confidence we can have in the duration of peace, and it ought to convince us, how important it is to eftablish a fyftem, that will prepare us for every emergency, give stability to strength, and perpetual renovations to refource. I think, I could make it apparent to gentlemen, that in any war, of the duration of six years, the plan of funding all the expences to be incurred in carrying it on, would leave at the end of it a greater burthen permanently upon the nation than would be sustained ; than they would have to incur for the fix years only of its continuance, and one year beyond it provided that they made the facrifice of a tenth of their incoine. In the old, unwise and destructive way of raising the supplies by a permanent fund, without any provision for its redemption a war so carried on, entails the burthen upon the age and upon their pofterity for

This had, to be sure, in a great measure, been done away and corrected, by the falutary and valuable system they had adopted of the redemption fund. But that fund cannot accomplish the end in a shorter period than forty years, and during all that time the expences of a war so funded, must wcigh down and press upon a people. If, on the contrary, it had at an early period of our history been resolved to adott the present mode of raising the supplies within the year; if, for instance, after the peace of Aix la Chapelle, the scheme of redemption even had been adopted, and persevered in to this time, we should not now, for the seventh year of the war, have had more loraise from the pockets of the people than what we have now to pay of permanent taxes, together with about a fourth of what it would be necessary to lay on in addition for this year. Fortunately we have at last eitablished the redemption fund ; the benefits of it are already felt; they will every year be more and more acknowledged'; Q2

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and in addition to this it is only neceffary, that instead of consulting a present advantage, and throwing the burthen, as heretofore, upon posterity, we fhall fairly meet it ourselves, and lay the foupdation of a system that ihall make us independent of all the future events of the world. I am sure that in deliberating upon the advantages of this system, gentlemen whose liberal and exalted views go beyond the mere present convenience of the moment, and are not limited to ihe period of the interest which they may themselves take in public affairs, or even to the period of their own existence, but to look with a provident affection to the independence .. and happiness of a generation unborn, will feel and recog. nise the wisdom of a system that has for its principle the permanency of British grandeur. You will feel that it is not only to the fplendour of your arms, to the atchievements of your fleets, that you are indebted for the high distinction which you at present enjoy; but also to the wisdom of the councils

you have adopted in taking advantage of the influence which your happy constitution confers beyond the ex. ample of any other people, and by which you have given a grand and edifying lesson to dismayed Europe, that safety, honour and repose must ever depend upon the energy with which danger' is met and refilted. You have thewn the power of self-defence, which is permanent and unassailable ; landing upon the principles you have assumed, the wild and extravagant hopes of the enemy will be thwarted; Europe will be aroused and animated to adopt a course so honourable; and surely, with the means of persevering thus obvious, you will not think it prudent or necessary to thrink from the principles you have adopted, or take shelter in a peace which might be obtained by a more temporising condud, but which would neither be safe or durable. But, Sir, I cannot encourage any sentiment fo degrading; I feel in common with every gentleman who hears me, the proud situation in which we have been placed, and the importance it has given us in the scale of nations. The rank that we now hold, I trust, we shall continue to cherish, and that pursuing the fame glorious course, we shall all of us feel it to be a source of pride and consolation, that we are the subjects of the King of Great Britain. I will not detain you longer, Sir, but will move for the first of my series of resolutions, in carrying the plan of taxation into execution which I have endeavoured to detail. Mr. Tierney then spoke nearly as follows:

After

After the very eloquent conclusion of the right honourable Gentleman's speech, the committee might well expect that nothing comparatively worthy of their attention could be heard from me; and it is not with any hope that they should think me worth any attention when compared to him in eloquence that I rise. I feel as much as any man can feel for me, in what I do upon the present occasion; the object of which is, to fhew a desire to resist the effect of what has been offered to the paflions of the committee ; and which I thould not attempt, did I not feel myself impelled by a sense of duty. I agree with the right honourable Gentleman that the decision of this house to night, is not only interefting to England, but also to all Europe ; it is because I agree with him upon that, I am so desirous of delivering a few sentiments; for how unworthy soever I may be of receiving the favourable attention of the committee on this important subject, yet I should be sorry that such sentiments as he has uttered to night should go forth to the world as the unanimous sentiments of the British House of Commons.

I did not mean to say any thing this night on the subject before the committee, because I thought the right honourable Gentleman meant only to state the subject of a tax upon income, and that the ample detail of it was to have been reserved to a future day; that he was not to go into the sub. ject so much at length as he has done to-night; and therefore, I confess, I am not prepared to contend with him, for without preparation I do not prentend to be able at any time to contend with him. There are, however, some obfervations which I am now ready to make. On the fupply there is one thing which occurs to me, at the first glance of this business, which is, that supposing we have only one budget this year, and that we have heard already of the whole of ine supply, it will then, as they stand, exceed by more than two · millions the sum voted for the last

know, that on this occasion, the right honourable Gentleman may fay, that this year, he has had better means of forming his calculations on the articles of expenditure, as well as various other events. But if he should so tell me, and promise solemnly not to ask for more money in the course of the session, and yet afterwards demand a great deal, it would not surprize me, for it would not be the first tiine ; but, however, I hope he will keep his word, and that the people of England Thall not, in 1798, be twice burthened for 1799. With regard to what the right hon: Gentleinan has said

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with respect to the sinking fund, I have nothing to say against it; neither have l any thing to say against the tax imposed in the last feflion of parliament upon imports and exports, which is commonly called the convoy tax. He affures us that they will produce 1,700,000l. and he alledges that he has some regulations that will be of public utility in that particular: againit none of these points have I any thing to urge. Leaving then all these points I come to the great one which is now before us, I mean the tax upon income ; upon which the right honourable Gentleman expects either support or silence from this side of the House, for so his address in the comınittee to-night indicated. To this I answer, he cannot expe&t support, he can hardly expect filence from me; because, having opposed the affeised iaxes as I did, it would be strange that I should be filent upon a measure, which is, in my opinion, infinitely more destructive, even than that destructive measuit. But that is not all, for I consider what the effect is of thi House agreeing to any principle laid down by that right honourable Gentleinan. This Houfe agreed last year to the principle laid down by him in his affefled taxes, but the House had not then the idea of going the length which he now proposes; they thought the whole mcasure had better have been abandoned altogether, than that it should cause the disclosure of the condition of every person in the kingdom. I know these were not the words ofed by any member in the House, but they do not contain more than the sense and feeling of the House last year when that fubject was under discussion ; and fomething like the words was very current from this side of the House; hut now the Minister, having got the House to recognize the principle of his assessed raxes, is emboldened, and goes a step further, and proposes that the House should follow him ; that proposition the committee have now before them, and I will venture to alledge, that even he, confident as he was in the majority that has always supported him, would not have ventured, last year, to have laid before this House the monstrous proposition which is now before us. But he says, “ you need not make any disclosure of your condition in life.” What then? If the disclosure I do inake be not satisfactory, has not the cominissioner power to increase the duty on me according to his discretion and all these proceedings are to depend upon the evidence of an infamous informer. By such evidence, and in such a way, commillioners are to tax us at their option. They are to say, from such sources of

information, information, what the respectable merchant of the City of London thall contribute to the defence of the state', unless he chuses to disclose, to the satisfaction of an informer, the whole condition of his affairs. To such a proposition I cannot allent. But that is not all, for if this House

agrees to that proposition now, is it too much to say upon experience, if this tax does not coine up to the system, a general disclosure of all property must take place and that too in the course of the very next year? I say, does not experience warrant us in coming to that conclufion?

I took the liberty, last year, of opposing the measure now before the committee under another name, and with a less disagreeable aspect than it bears at present. That measure was, in appearance, less disagreeable than this; by that, a man was, in some measure, allowed to withdraw from luxury; but here there is nothing of the kind allowed in any shape. I opposed that measure, because I thought it, and í do still, very oppressive. I said it was a tax on income. The answer was, that it was not a tax on income ; but that it was the best mode of coming at property to fupport the state. This seems to be a bolder measure ; for it puts a tenth of the property of England in requisition. A measure which the French have followed in the career of their revolutionary rapine, and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, with all his eloquence, justly branded with the hardest epithets; only it is a little unfortunate, that he should imitate what he took so inuch pains to render detestable.

Another reason I have for opposing this measure is, that I do not think that our resources are in such a state as to render it necessary. I do not like to hold out any ideas of despo:dency in our financial affairs. I do not think them in a ftare so desperate as to ultity this plan of indiscriminate rapine, for a plan of indiscriminaie rapine, in my opinion, it is ; I say I do not think our resources are in such a state as to juítity a tax generally upon income; the thing is in its nature unjust, because it is in iis nature unequal. It is of all things the most unequal: Does the Minister mean to say that a person poifeiling an income for life, only of a certain fum, and another person of the same income which he derives from the interest of his own capital, are equally rich, and can bcar ihe same taxes ? A widow, for instance, who lives only upon a pension, and a person whose capital brings him in the same money by way of interest? Certainly not; the thing is too palpable to be argued; and yet, by this plan

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