« AnteriorContinua »
bill. He did not say this from an idea that the Minister had introduced any clauses that were improper into the present bili; he rofe only to say that the practice was become much too common, and should be discontinued.
The Speaker said, he felt himself called upon to say a few words in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman; it certainly was desirable that every proposition made in that House should pass through all the stages which the wisdom of our ancestors had declared to be necessary, in order to afford every member an opportunity of delivering his sentiments upon it: if, however, gentlemen imagined that it was an invalion of the old and established practice of the House to propose clauses on the report, or after the third reading of a bill, that imagination was ertoneous; the practice of bringing up clauses after the report, or the third reading, ought undoubtedly to be watched with jealousy, and in such stages no clause ought to be proposed that tended to make any material alteration in the bill. Such clauses as tended to facilitate the execution of the purposes of the bill, and to carry into effect more conveniently those meafures which the House had approved of, were not liable to objection either on the report or after the third reaching; but any claufe that introduced any novelty in point of substance into the bill, after it had passed the Committee, ought not to be acceded to. He chlerved, however, that in the present case no clause had been offered that was of a nature incondent wich the tenor of the bill, and therefore did not call for the interference of the House. The House, however, would not be prevented from exercising a watchful jealousy over every clause that was proposed to be added to a bill after the report. It was a jealouty that was quite consistent witir the duty of the House.
· Sir W. Geary said, he did not mean to deny the propriety of the practice in some cases, but he objected to the extremity to which it had been pushed of late in many cases.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, it was perfectly competent to any inember, if he found in any clause a syllablethat he disapproved, to oppose the clause after the third reading of the bill, as well as if it was proposed in a Committee. He was in the recollection of those who heard the clauses, and he apa pealed to them to say whether any one of the clauses he had proposed that night was inconsistent with the general scope of ihe bill: he was entitled then to say that, however true the geperai doctrine laid down that night might be, it might as well be laid of any other measure as of that which was now in the the Speaker's liand.
Sir W. Pulteney agreed to every thing that had been said of the nécessity of watching with a jealous eye every clause that was proposed after the report. The committee was undoubtedly the stage for the discussion of claufes; and from the practice of receiving them on the report, or after the third reading, the Houfe might be very much iinposed upon. He did not attend to the clauses which were proposed that night; he could not understand them if he had attended, for the noise would have made that impossible: however, he took it for granted that they were, as the Speaker had stated them, agreeable to the tenour of the bill. But this introduction of the clauses after the committee was over was a very bad practice, and ought to be checked; for which purpose perhaps it would not be a bad expedient to make an order, that no clauses fhould be received after a bill had passed a committee, unless there was at least a dav's notice of an intention to produce them.
Sr W. Geary said, that if he or any other member objected to any one of the clauses now brought up, he would not have had the same opportunity of debating it as he would have had in the committee.
The Speaker observed, that many of the most experienced members of the House had stated to him the great inconveniences that arose from the manner in which bills are discussed upon a re-commitment. Indeed he was aware that Gentlemen felt the confusion and embarrassment to be almost endlefs in some cases. This appeared to him to be capable of remedy. The mode was now to print a bill when it was ordered to be re-committed, in the same manner as if it was printed without a view to its being re-committed, that is, the bill and amendments were printed distinctly from each other, and when they came to be discussed on the re-commitment, the amendments were all referred to, instead of following it in order ; these references created great embarrassment; to remedy which he submitted, that inftead of making references to the amendments, the bill with the amendments should be printed altogether in the same manner as if the order made for printing had been made before the second reading, in order that the House might see the whole bill and amendments as they actually stood, instead of making references to the amendments. This he only fuggested as one way of obviating inuch difficulty. The bill was then paffed.
INCOME BILL The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the order of the day for the House to resolve itselt into a committee of the whole Kk 2
House, House, to consider further of the Income Bill. The House resolved itself into a committee.
Mr. Wigley objected to the clause which extended the provisions of the bill to such persons as might have gone out of the country for any temporary purpose. In his opinion it was extremel; hard that those persons Nould be liable to the penal. ties of the bill, merely because a notice might have been left at their last place of residence previous to their departure.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer could by no means coincide in the opinion of the learned gentleman, for he could fee 110thing like a hardship in calling for the contributions of those who possessed wealth in the country, wheresoever they might be in person, especially as their temporary absence might be occafioned by the pursuit of some gainful object.
Colonel Wood urged nearly the same objection, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer adhered to his former reason for not thinking the objection admissible.
The clause was then put and agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchoquer next rose and faid, that as the next clause respected the appointment of the commissioners who were to be entrusted with the execution of the bill, he. would, before the committee proceeded further in the confideration of the clauses, take the present opportunity of alluding to certain regulations which, upon a reconsideration of the business, he thought it might be expedient to introduce into the enquiry it might be necesary to make into mercantile property. Thele regulations were suggested to him by the information he had received that morning from a number of gentlemen who had the success of the measure now before the committee extremely at heart, and who assured him that the adoption of those regulations would not only remove the objections arising from the disclosure of mercantile accounts, but would also contiderably contribute to improve the bill, by lecuring the collection of the revenue, while it effectually avoided the ultiinate publicity of the private concerns of commercial men.
nen. With respect to the other denominations of property, he did not see that the same reason existed for proposing any new regulations. The general mode already adopted in the bill was, in his opinion, fully adequate to those purposes; but by the mode which he had to propose for ascertaining the amount of commercial property, an opportunity would be first afforded to the surveyor and the commissioners to examine into the statement of property delivered in ; it next gave an opportunity to the commissioners of calling for a schedule, if they should deem it necessary; and it then furnished a subsequent
opportunity to the surveyor, after having duly heard evidence, to proceed to the ordinary mode of collecting the tax. Here, however, it would be necessary to iinpofe fome restrictions on the powers granted to the surveyors. . The first modification, therefore, which it might be proper to adopt was, that a schedule should not be infilted on at the mere pleasure and suggestion of the surveyor, who should not be warranted in calling for the schedule, unless the major part of the commiffioners, after duly examining into the statement of income voluntarily given in, thould judge it necessary to have a schedule produced. The next modification he would propose, which would remove a material objection, was, that the surveyor should not be present at the examination of the schedule, thould it be called for by a majority of the commissioners, though afterwards it would be necessary to acquaint the surveyor with the result of the examination, in order to enable him to perform his duty. By adopting this special mode, and applying it to the ascertainment of cominercial income, the desired secrecy would be completely obtained. For instead of returning the statement of their income immediately to the surveyor or affeffor, the commercial parties concerned might send it in secretly to the commissioners, which would prevent its passing through the medium of a cominon affeffor. He had moreover to propofe, that in order to facilitate the business of the commissioners, a certain number of affiftants should be appointed in each district out of the mercantile body, to whom the commissioners miglit refer the schedules delivered in to them, and to whose opinion they might have recourse, in order to ascertain the Gituation of the parties, and examine into the fum charged upon them, to fee how far it coincided with the statement voluntarily delivered in. Should the commercial affiftants pronounce the fum charged by the affeffor not to exceed what he was justified in charging, then the affeffor would be empowered to infift upon the production of the schedule; but not so unless it was the opinion of the major part of the commissioners that the schedule should be produced. The commercial affistants entrusted with these powers, should be tied down under an oath of secrecy, and therefore all publicity would be avoided, and no disclosure of private circumstances made but to gentlemen of a different defcription from the surveyors, engaged in commercial pursuits, and equally interested with themselves in concealing their proceedings. In the next place, to prevent the result of the final judgment of the commissioners transpiring and becoming public, by returning to the surveyors the amount of the sum the partics concerned were adjudged to pay, a secret book should be kept by
commissioners, with numbers corresponding to the names of the different parties, while those parties 1hould be at liberty through themselves or their agents to pay into the Bank of England, or to the receiver general, the lum in which they were affefied. The parties afterwards, on the production of a certificate to the special commiflioners, that the sum in which their numbers were assessed, had been paid, should have their names written off by the com millioners. But in case of nonpayment after a certain time, the commillioners should be empowered to open the secret book, and to proceed by public process to recover payment from the parties fo failing. For The suggestion of these improvements he was particularly indebted to gentlemen much experienced in commercial concerns, who recalled to his recollection how this very mode had been successfully practised in a business of a far more delicate nature than the present. What he alluded to, was the secret aid granted by Parliament, in 1793, to many relpectable commercial gentlemen, who then laboured under a temporary embarrallinent.
The disclosure of their situation ; the degree of aid they each solicited; and the nature of the security given by them for such aid, were communicated only to persons in similar circumstances with themselves, and to fuch as it was then proposed to make fomething of a similar disclosure : it never then transpired who were the individuals that received the aid, or to what extent it was granted to them. By adoptingin the present mcasure a like mode of proceeding, mercantile men must feel that they were entirely relieved from all dread of bringing publicity on their private concerns, or disclosing the state of their property. Thus much he thought it necelsary to throw out respecting the intended regulations ; of which he would enter into a more detailed explanation when the particular clauses containing them came regularly under difcuflion.
Colonel Wood approved, in a great measure, of this improved plan; but he ihought it would be fill inore perfect, if it were made more gencral, and if all commercial men, as well as others, were compelled to balance their books upon a certain day every yuar, and declare the amount of their profits.
Ar. Alderman Curtis highly approved of the proposed regulations, and was ready to do every thing in his power to give them effet ; he was confident, that they might be enforced with the urmest secrecy, for he had the honour of being one