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contained. To his mind the greatest objection to the bill was, that uncertain and temporary income was taxed to the same amount as permanent income, and the precariousness of the income of traders was greater than any other; he thought therefore the option at first given to traders of selecting the income of the last preceding year, or on the average of three ycars, was meant by the framers of the bill to correct in some measure the inequality of its operation with respect to those who must endure much hardship by it; he hoped, therefore, that the committee would permit that to remain as it stood, viz. That the oprion should be annual.
Mr. Thornton and the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained. This was not the idea, but only that an option was given to a trade, &c. to decide whether the average of three years, or the last preceding year, was the best criterion of his income : but this option was not annually to be made, but to be fixed at the coinmencement.
Sir F. Baring wished to know whether the trader, &c. must declare on what ground he made his option.
Mr. Alderman Curtis was of opinion it would be better, instead of allowing an option, to establish the tax according to the average of three
years ; otherwise, he was afraid there would be many attempts at evasion.
Sir F. Buring suggested that the same privilege should be granted to traders, &c. as in the case of owners of mines, where the valuation was to be taken on an average of five years.
Mr. Tierney approved of this idea. He remarked on the term evasion, which had so frequently been used. He thought it too harsh a term, and observed jocularly, that much in the same manner in which it was sometimes said, that “ tricking was'fair in love ; " so was it held, even of persons conscientious in other respects, that “ tricking was also fair in taxation." There were undoubtedly many conscientious persons, who, without any wish or intention to defraud, and yet, feeling that the pressure of this tax would bear hard upon them, would think themselves justified in adhering to the strict letter of the law, and availing themselves of any advantage which the bill, if incautioully worded, would give them.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that to admit of an average of five years would only encrease the objection, which even three years afforded; for persons whose trades, &c. ençreased, and who were growing richer every year, would
thus have an opportunity of taking an average still more in their favour than three years, and less equal betwixt them and the public than now.
Mr. Wilberforce suggested whether, in particular cases, wherein a tradesman, &c, was not likely to ascertaiu tairly wiihin three years the average of his income, a power thould not be given io commillioners to grant a longer term for such an one's making an average. He censured the manner in which an hon Member (Mr. Tierney) had spoken respecting persons attempting to evade the act.
Mr. Tierney explained what he had before stated. He said there were various cases in which persons of fair character would avail themselves of every advantage coming within the letter of the law. This had been frequently done under the former act, and he had no doubt would be equally practised under the present bili.- He had heard some instances of that fort; one in particular, of a person who had enjoyed a considerable pension, which he had relinquithed for the sake of a lucrative office under government; that person was reported to have given in a statement, and paid at the rate of 3col. a year, availing himself of the circumstance of his having relinquished his pension, and that he had not then actually come into the office.
Lord Hawkesbury expressed his surprise at the extraordinary anecdote that the hon. Gentleman had just stated. It appeared to him to be a very serious charge against the person to whom it alluded, and that it was a matter which ought not to be lightly passed over; on the contrary, it ought to be lifted to the bottom. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman, in justice to the person, whoever he might be, that was meant by his allution would feel it incumbent upon hiin to give the House more explicit information on the subject.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared, that he could form no idea whom the hon. Genilemani alluded to in what he had just said, but that the transaction, if true, was certainly to little creditable to any person holding an office under government, and so contrary to what he was willing to hope would be the conduct of every officer of the governnient under such circumstances, that he could not help rising in order particularly to request that the hon. Genileinan vould take some means, either in the House or out of it, to let him know who the person was to whom he had illuded. Mr. Pitt added, that he was persuaded the hon. Gentleman would see on a moment's reflexion that as the matter now rested, a sufpicion would fall on all persons who had relinquithed any considerable pension, and had also received a place in the course of the last year, and that it was due to them, as well as to the government, and perhaps to the person himself, to have this matter cleared up. He said, that he thought the hon. Gentleman must see that either he ought not to have gone so far as he had done, or that he ought to go furtherthat it was to be prelunicd, it was not altogether on light grounds that the point had been mentioned and that a fufpi. cion ought no more to be divided unjustly between several persons, than to be cast unjustly on any one, the hon. Gentleman, he trufted, would see the reasonableness of this remark, and would not wonder at his carnestness in foine way or other to know the name of the person alluded to.
Mr. Tierney replied, that though he would not hold him. self directly responsible for the truth of the story which he had told, yet he certainly would not have mentioned it, if he had not believed it to be true ; that he had heard it however from a person on whose accuracy he thought he could rely, and whom he should be sorry to bring up in the business ; and that he did not know whether he had any right to mention the name of the party to whoin he had alluded. He would confefs fairly, that he should not have named the thing at all, in the manner that he had done, if he had thought that the right hon. Gentleman or the House would have taken it up so very seriously; that he had mentioned it in the course of his observations in the way of an illustration, and not for the fake of pointing at the particular person, and that he wished the House so to consider it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed himself ftill difsatisfied. He said he thought it very material that the person in question should be named, and that he had been endeavouring, while the hon. Gentleman (poke, to consider who was likely to be the person ; and if the hon. Gentleman declined naming the party to whom he had alluded, it would convey a general imputation upon others who had pensions or offices of trust; whereas, if he named the person, it would at once lead either to a detection, or afford him an opportunity of clearing himself from the charge which had been thrown out, He could only remember one instance of a person who had relinquished a pension and been appointed to an office ; and if that was the instance alluded to, he could take upon him
to say that the perfon alluded to fo far from not having paid a full tenth of his income, actually paid a larger voluntary contribution.
Mr. Alderman Combe acknowledged that he had heard in the world the rumour in question, respec ing the evasion of the tax, and that he had heard it of the person whom the right hon. Gentleman had just defcribed, but that he knew it only as a rumour, and that he was now persuaded the rumour was false, in consequence of what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Tierrey said he would make farther enquiry, and if the House heard no more of the matter, it might take it for granted that he was wrong.
Mr. Percival remarked, that the hon. Gentleman had spoken as if many conscientious persons thought no harm (to use his expression) of “tricking in love, or tricking the public." What the hon. Gentleman's idea was of conscience he knew not; but, for his pari, hic thould consider such conduct as unquestionably immoral.
Mr. Banks - thought that what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tierney) had said laft, was no adequate compensation to the perlon who had been reflected on, namely, “that if the House heard no more about it, they might suppose that he abandoned the charge." It was his opinion, that in the same public manner the hon. Gentleman liad made the charge, he thould, in the same public manner, retra t it if unfounded. Were it himself, 25 a man of honour, he should feel himself bound to do so, and he trutied the lwn. Gentleman would see it in the fame light, anii in fimilar manner.
Mr. Wilberferie (poki Warinly in praile of the noble Perfon, to whom he conceived his right hon. Friend had just alluded, and laid, that the noble Lord's chara ler for public worth and initials, and the survices he had rendered his country, cugiit !taempt him to the injury that a dark and unexplained inition mind his fame in the eyes of the world, whe inight not kno v li. rivite virtues and respectability as well as he did, atualme Abo bad the happiness to live in intimacy with him. He thuochi, therefore, the hon. Gentle mat might at le: 't aliow the fuse to take it for graniri ihe: it he thonid : again rention the subject on any future day in the Hase, it would be because he had enquired in the matter, and having examined it to the bottom, had discovered the report to be unfounded. Vol. I. 1798. ST
Mr. Tierney said, that undoubtedly if he had aspersed the character of any individual, he should have no objection to retract. At the same time, he thought Gentlemen had taken up the matter in a light much too serious. What he had first mentioned was not brought as a serious charge against any one, but rather as an illustration of his argument. With respect to the person alluded to, he confidently declared that he had not whispered the name to any one. He had no sort of objection to enquirę into the circumstance, and after he had enqnired, he had no objection to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pitt) as to the result. But as to being put to the torture in this manner, and called upon as he had been to make a public retraction, he saw no reason why he should sumbit to such demands. Nor did, ile think that one hon. Gentleman who pretended so much to christian principles and charity had any right to urge the matter upon him any farther. He thought it sufficient for him to say, that, if the House on Monday next heard nothing from him on the subject, it might take it for granted that he was satisfied that the report he had heard was without foundation.
The Chancellor of the Ixchequer said, he felt this to be a matter of importance, not only to the individual alluded to, but it was important to the world to know that he and the rest of the House felt it to be of importance. He believed what the hon. Gentleman (1 ierney) had stated, that what he had mentioned was raiher by way of illustration than as a charge; and he was persuaded if he (Mr. Tierney) could recall his expressions, he would have done it. The report was new to him; at the same time he found that the same report had reached others, although it had not been heard by him. For his part, he knew but of one instance to which the hon. Gentleman could have alluded, and he would not hesitate to mention to what he referred; it was that of one of his Majelly's Postmaster's General. If so, to save farther trouble to the House, and to the hon. Gentleman opposite to him, he would tell him the allusion was utterly unfounded; the fact being, that that noble Person had given in the state of his income fairly according to the direction of the act, and he claimed no deductions but what the law
him. After this, he had doubled the sum, and inttead of one-tenth, he paid in one-fifth of his income as a voluntary contribution. He hoped by mentioning this, both the hon. Gentleman and the House would be satisfied.