Imatges de pÓgina

behave so dishonestly, and come forward and swear to what was known to be false. He knew many instances of this himself. This he lamented as much as he held it to be criminal; for however he might oppose any measure while it was in that House, and that he had a right to do, nay, it was his duty to do so, if he thought it a wrong measure; yet after it had received the fan&ion of the legislature, he confidered himself in conscience, as well as in duty, bound to obey it; a contrary doärine tended to destroy all notions of obedience to law, and he saw no difference between defrauding the public of its property, and defrauding an individual, except that in the one case he was liable to be transported, and in the other he was only liable to a penalty. This doärine he was convinced of, and he did not esteem it the less from haying heard it maintained by a worthy man, the late Mr. John Lee. The evasion to which he alluded was the mose glaring, as it was practised by ihose who pretended to be ready to give their last guinea for the fupport of the war; but when they came to be tried, so far were they from being willing to give the last guinca, that they did not wish to give the firit.

But now, to come to the measure before the House-if the right hon. Gentleman could satisfy him and he hoped be was not very difficult to be satisfied) that this measure would be attended with none of the inconveniences he was going to ftate, he would certainly give him his vote; for he had no fixed hatred against the Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor had he any pistol in his pocket to shoot the Minister--a fate that was said to have befallen another great man lately in another part of the world, for attempting to raise a contribution among the people.

The first objection he had to urge against the measure was, that it would cause a general disclosure of property. It was indeed said, that the state of each individual's property should be kept a secret : but how was this secrefy to be kept up? Did not every man give his answer to the tax-gatherer at the door? Any person in the village in which a man lived might know the state of his property. How was this money collected? By the common tax collector. Was it not childish to say that any secrefy could accompany such a proceeding? Secresy, in such a case, was absolutely impoflible. He was not able to say how such a measure as this would affect merchants and manufacturers: they inuft judge for themselves, but it appeared to him to be a measure that would subject shem to monstrous inconveniences. In some cases specula



tion was not only indulged, but constituted part of the wealth, or rather was the mean whereby a man procured wealth in certain situations in commerce. He really thought that this measure would affe&t a number of persons in this refpectIt would affect the credit of many men.

For instance, if a merchant paid ten per cent. on 10,000l. and it appeared that he lived in a very splendid file, he owned that he should not like a bill of such a man for a large sum of money, because he knew that 10,cool. a year would not support very great fplendour, and the merchant would have no means of concealing this ; nothing was more easy than for any one to know it.-Again, to take the case of a private gentleman : was the House totally unacquainted with the case of fome gentleman of property, who, in the early part of their lives, had been imprudent, and had brought some incumbiances upon their estates? Would such persons like that these things hould be disclosed? And yet fuch must be the case under the provisions of this bill. Many individuals might have expectations from rich relations, which expectations would be all disappointed, when the cautious person came to fee the imprùdence of the object of his intended bounty ; for rich persons, in general, were very averse to the idea of leaving their pro. perty to any 'but those whom they thought would take great care of it.

His learned Friend had faid, that the office of the person who was to make the enquiry into the income, was a refpectable office, and that he might as well have called the Attorney and Solicitor General spies, as call this person'a fpy; for his part, he expected his learned Friend, the Solicitor General, to get up with great warmth, at being compared to such a character as one of these surveyors, as they were called ; for, by this the learned Solicitor was inade to appear, as if he was one of the most contemptible men in the kingdom. But what fimilarity was there, in point of fact, between the Solicitor General and one of these spies--what did the Solicitor General know of the property of any individual? His office was above any such contemptible enquiry. He caused men to be brought to justice who had miscondueted themselves, and his office was an honourable one ; he was led to say these things, because the office of these inform ers had been treated with too much dignity that night. He knew how the case stood already, with regard to those who are employed by Government to examine into people's fortunes : They were employed by Government to look how VOL. I. 1798.



far people are accurate in the payment of the taxes, and whether they are fairly asleffed, or not. These persons go round at random, and surcharge, without caring what they do. Tine inischief of this was in many cafes monstrous ; for instance, he himself lived 160 miles from London ; fuppofe, while he was in the country, he was unfairly surcharged in London ; he should have no remedy, but by appeal before the commissioners in London ; the expence of his coming to town to obtain redress, would amount to more than the sum he was overcharged, and thus he must fubmit to be cheated, for he had no adequate remedy for the evil. If this bill ever went into a committee (which he hoped it would not) he should have to propose a clause' to remedy the evil of which he had been speaking, and to give costs to any party who shall be surcharged unfairly.

Another objection he had to this measure was of a Constitutional nature. The genias of the Constitution of England was, that a man's property is sacred. It was upon the strength of that principle that every man's house was called his castle in this country: It was from that principle that the excise laws had always been held so odious in England. If excisc laws were odious in this country, what was to be thought of the bill now before the House ? An exciseman came to a man's dwelling to see whether he had taken into, or sent out of his house, fome particular articles, without having previously paid a given sum to the revenue; but here a spy comes, not only into the house, but opens the cabinet of bureau of every man, and becomes acquainted with all his most secret concerns. A man muft thew to this fpy his notes, his bonds, and all his securities. This was monstrous, but the minister feemed to take this as if there was to be a Temedy for it; if there was, he should try to find it ; at prefent he knew of none. He knew it would be laid “There was no occasion to disclose, unless the party liked it ;" but it was forgotten that the commillioners, if a man did not difclose to weir satisfaction, had power to charge him 'what they think right; and by the proceedings of a court of juftice, if a man was called upon to produce his books, and did not produce them, every prcfumption was to be against him; fo i would be in this cate, because it could not be otherwife..

He knew that a tax on income had the appearance, upons a glance at it, of being an equal 'tax; but to try this for a moment, he would all, what sort of equality there was beI wveen ten por cent. upon income merely, and ten per ceni. a year each.


upon that income which is the produce of a capital? For instance, let us suppose a gentleman of 6oool a year with two daughters, and that the estate goes away at his death to some other branch in favour of male issue, what does such a man do? he. faves as much money as he can to provide for his daughters at his death. Now suppose another person of the same income exacily, but whose estate devolves upon his children, what is the case with him ? why, he may enjoy the whole of his estate during his own life, and yet leave his children better provided than the other who faves hálf his in- come for his life, and yet these two persons being of the same income must pay ihe same inoney under this bill, viz. 6ool.

There was another species of property which was of a peculiar nature, he meant that which belonged to church eitablithment, and whatever he inight with to be settled, if we had to begin again, he could, from his conscience declare, he hoped in Gud, he should not with to live to see any alteration made in the church. He was a friend to a church eft,blishment, he was of opinion that the clergy were very serviceable to every community where they were known, for they instructed the mass of the people in their duty. He would alk any man, whether any person having a thousand a year in -the church, ought to pay the same fum as a person of a thoufand a year landed property? Besides this, he objected to the scale, of duty. It was said, that men may reduce their expences, in order to enable them to pay this impoft. A gentleman of only 1oool. a year cannot reduce. He then read fome calculations that were made by very able calculators, to thew the monstrous inequality of the scale, as it now stood in the bill, which, however, might be amended in the committe, and the minister was welcome to these calculations, if he thought they would be of use to him. He then proceeded to ftatc some more general obje&tions to this measure. He .considered a tax upon income as a tax upon industry, and

such as would make men unwilling to labour. They would argue with themselves thus: why Mould we labour when government runs away with the effect of it? This was the great objećiion that had always been taken 10 tythes, and as far as it went it was certainly unanswerable. From this one point, if there were none other against it, he was persuaded that this bill would become very unpopular. He did not wish to say much upon this bill now, because if it went into a committee, frequent opportunities would occur to say more; Dd 2


what I am to

but he did not fee why he should have said less than he diu; for he really thought the measure extremely dangerous, inalinuch as it would check the vigour and energy of the merchant and manufacturer.. There was an author who had made great noise in the world (Mr. Paine,) who was prosecuted for his book, part of which was brought into his mind by the bill before the House. He quoted that author the more readily as he differed from him in the outline of his work, and therefore was the lefs partial to any thing he wrote,, « We differ a little," said Mr. Taylor, “ for he happens to like a republic, and I detest it. He despises a church establishment, and I. revere it. These works, however, I read by way of obtaining negative instruction. They shew me

avoid." Ilere he read a passage from Mr. Paine's publication, the substance of which is, that government always takes to themselves all the produce of the industry of the people, under the head of revenue, &c. He said that this bill reminded him of that passage. He observed that if this bill was supposed to affect chiefly the rich gentlemen in the couniry, it was a mistake. It hurt not the rich man, it only made him retire from his former fituation of splendour; and who suffered?--not him, but hundreds of the industrious people who were employed and paid for their trouble in attending upon or working for that fplendour. Betier far would be a tax that was to be borne generally by all classes of people in the community. There was onc thing more which he. mnit beg leave to observe in answer to his learned friend who had preceded him in this debate. It had been ftated, as if his hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) had said that corporations and church lands ihould be laid hold of for the state. His hon. friend had said no such thing. He hail said that if any property was to be made a sacrifice, that might be sacrificed with the relt; but that he hoped none would be sacrificed. He thould be glad to hear his honourable fiend explain that matter. He concluded with observing that he had taken up more of the time of the House than per; haps he ought, but he was compelled to say the things he did because he felt them.

The Solicitor General began, by observing, on two ob'ections which had been urged with much confidence against the financial measure now under consideration of the House. The first, that it argued a dereliction of the principle laid down by his right hon. Friend last year, in bringing forward, the buliness of the allellid taxes, appeared to him to be pere


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