Imatges de pÓgina

agriculturist. Barley is a crop that is peculiarly war equally and fairly on all classes in the suited to light lands, and which may be reproduced community alike. This showed the diffito the greatest advantage in an improved rotation of green crops. But if there be a duty of 208. a quarter upon malt-the produce into which barley is almost universally converted-the demand for malt is materially diminished, and the farmer is in consequence prevented from sowing barley, when, but for this, it might be more suitable than any other variety of corn. It was not easy to estimate the injury which this indirect influence of the malt tax inflicts upon agriculture; but the fact of its inflicting an injury is indubitable."

And if a duty of 20s. a quarter inflicted an indubitable injury, much more must be the injury inflicted by a duty of 32s. a quarter.

"It would be unjust, seeing that the tax, by narrowing the demand for barley, obliges the farmer to adopt certain measures inimical to his interests, to expose him without corresponding protection to competition with the foreigner. Perhaps it would require a duty of 1s. 6d. or 2s. a quarter on foreign corn to countervail the unfavourable effect of the malt tax."

culty in which the Government were placed to find means for carrying on the war. And it was impossible not to remember the time when the Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House night after night warned the supporters of the financial policy of free trade that the day would come when they would discover that they had pursued a wrong course of legislation

that if at any future time the country should be plunged in war, they would miss the duties which they then were so recklessly and needlessly abandoning - that they were employing an engine unnecessarily which had always been reserved for seasons of emergency that they were using a war tax in time of peace, and in time of peace dissipating the resources which ought to be husbanded against a time of war. Those who gave these warnings were disregarded and derided; they were told that they knew nothing about the subject they talked of-that nations would not now go to war as they did in former times-that the relations of States were altered that since the system of free trade a pacific spirit had sprung up, and that a sense of mutual interest would prevent any danger of war. Little had he thought to see, and sorry was he to find, so speedy a realisation of these warnings, so rapid a fulfilment of these predictions. Such were the views and such the reasons on which he should give his cordial support to the Amendment.

Thus, then, on the united authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. M'Culloch it was established that the malt tax diminished consumption and inflicted an indirect injury on agriculture. He would now beg to draw the attention of the House to the difference between the incidence of an Excise duty and a Customs duty. If a Customs duty was imposed on an article which was produced in England, it might be that the price paid by the consumer in this country would be raised; but there was this set-off against the increase in price, that the production of the home article was stimulated, and the production of it was enlarged, so that the consumer had that benefit; and if he were a producer, not only had he not to pay the whole amount of increased price, but he had more money in his pocket to pay for it, owing to the increase of demand for an article which he himself produced; whereas, if an Excise duty were laid upon an article produced in this country, the consumption of the article was diminished, and the price increased, without the set-off referred to, so that the whole weight of the measure fell on the consumer. This was a material difference, which ought to regulate our legislation in regard to taxes. It agriculturists might be allowed to make was remarkable that a person of the astuteness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be reduced, upon a great emergency like the present, to propose the doubling of a tax which inflicted such signal hardship on one class of the community, especially as the right hon. Gentleman professed the principle of placing the burden of the The Marquess of Granby,

MR. POLLARD-URQUHART said, he might vindicate his support of the Amendment upon the principle once appealed to and avowed by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) the leader of the Government in that House, that it mattered not, so that men agreed to act together on any measure, by what reasons they arrived at the result. On this principle the noble Lord would hardly quarrel with him for voting, although a firm Free trader, with the opponents of free trade in resisting the present measure. He had often heard free trade supported on the principle that the

the best use of their produce. Now barley was a very valuable article of their produce, and one for which the soil and climate of this country peculiarly fitted it; and it was a great hardship, by an increase of the duty on malt, to limit the production of this kind of corn. It was absurd to argue that the tax did not fall on the

producer. It was a common argument | The hon. Mover of the Amendment had with free traders that the reduction of a called beer the bread of life; he (Mr. duty increased consumption-an argument which must hold good as to malt as well as to tea or coffee. There was no reason to doubt that the consumption of barley would be diminished by the increase of duty on malt. The agriculturists had suffered more severely than any other interest during the legislation of the last few years, and now it was to have an addition to its taxation, while deprived of all protection. Some years ago, when the repeal of the Corn Laws was first clamoured for, it was said that the repeal of the malt tax must follow it; and more recently it had been said that if the malt tax were repealed, the income tax must be renewed. Well now the Corn Laws had been repealed, and we had both the income tax and the malt tax. It had been always urged when the repeal of the malt tax was asked, how would it be possible to dispense with a tax which produced 5,000,000l. to the revenue? and now it was to be increased to 7,000,000l. If it was difficult to get rid of it when it was worth 5,000,000l., how much more difficult would it be to get rid of it when it was worth 7,000,0001.

MR. CROSSLEY said he had expressed, upon a former occasion, his opinion that we ought not to have been mixed up in this war, and he had then given his reasons for that opinion. He should not therefore, detain the House further upon that subject, except to say that, if the country and the House had agreed with him, they would not have been reduced to the necessity of putting on new taxes, but would have been engaged at that time in the much more agreeable duty of making remissions of taxation. Their trade also, instead of being crippled, would have been extended. But they had now gone beyond the question whether they should go to war or not. They were actually at war already; and he for one should not stand in the way of Her Majesty's Ministers carrying on that war with vigour, and bringing it, if possible, to an early and succesful termination. He believed there were not many total abstainers" in that House, but he happened to be one of them. And he must express his opinion that, of all indirect taxes, there was not one that could be found that would inflict so small a hardship on the payer of the tax, and at the same time confer so great a benefit on the revenue, as this proposed addition to the duties upon spirits and upon malt.


Crossley) should have been better prepared
to agree with him if he had called it the
death of life. He believed that there was
no strength in these intoxicating drinks;
and the tax upon them was self-imposed,
because any man might avoid paying it by
abstaining from consuming them. A good
deal had been said about this being a
farmer's tax. To be sure it was a far-
mer's tax, in the same way as it was
everybody else's tax who thought proper
to consume the article upon which the tax
was laid, but not otherwise.
It might
just as well be said that the tax of 30 per
cent which was levied upon carpets manu-
factured in this country, on their importa-
tion into the United States, was a tax
upon the manufacturer. But it was no
such thing. The manufacturer did not
charge his American customers 30 per
cent less than he charged to his customers
in England. On the contrary he charged
them the same price; and if the Ameri-
cans thought proper to put on 30 per cent
more, for the purposes of State Govern-
ment, it was the purchaser of the carpets
who paid it, and the manufacturer had no
right to complain. Nor had a grower of
barley any right to complain if the con-
sumer of malt chose to pay a tax to the
Government. Of course, the tendency of
every tax was to enhance the price of the
article on which it was laid, but he had
yet to learn that this country could not
take the whole produce of its own soil.
So far from that being the case, the de-
mand was greater than the supply; and
England, her colonies, and foreign countries
together could scarcely get us enough.
In his opinion, this was altogether a con-
sumer's tax, and the Amendment had come
from the wrong quarter. It ought to have
come, if from anywhere, from the consum-
ers in the large towns; but the large
towns had made no complaint upon the
subject. He would not detain the House
at any length, but he should give his vote
in favour of the Government.

MR. BENTINCK said, the subject before the House was so closely connected with a question upon which he held, and had always held, very decided opinionshe meant the question of Protection-that, however difficult he might feel it to abstain, he was afraid it would be almost impossible for him to enter on the topics on which he had intended to address the House, without making, directly or by

implication, observations which, however readily or unhesitatingly he might have made them if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been present, he might regret extremely having been induced to make in his absence. He should not, therefore, enter upon those particular points to which he had intended to refer, and he regretted this the less because all the details of this much-vexed question had been so ably gone into by the hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him that there was really nothing to be said upon the subject. There was only one remark of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of a more general and historical nature, to which he would permit himself to advert. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing this measure, had stated correctly, as one of the arguments in favour of the imposition of this tax, the fact that a very large addition to the malt duty had been made during the late war. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly accurate in that statement; but he had no right to read a page of history, for the purpose of advancing his argument, without turning over to the following page, to see what had happened afterwards. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman had gone further, and had remembered what had occurred on the termination of the last war, he would have found that, although during the continuance of the war a large malt tax had undoubtedly been imposed, yet, after the war was over, not only had the malt tax been reduced, but protective duties upon corn had been imposed, in order to protect from a ruinous foreign competition that class which had borne so large and so disproportionate a share of the expense of the protracted struggle in which the country had been engaged. If hon. Gentlemen opposite who used to call them selves Protectionists would promise, on the termination of the war, to reimpose protecting duties as they stood in the year 1846, he would promise to give his vote in favour of these present propositions. He would not detain the House, except to protest against the measure now before the House, as a measure at variance with justice, and irreconcilable alike with honesty of purpose and with consistency of principle. It was a proposition from a freetrade Government to impose additional protective duties, and it proved one of two things-either that the principles of free trade were utterly hollow and fallacious when subjected to the test of an emergency Mr. Bentinck

like the present, or that all the professions of attachment to those principles which had been made by the present Government had been in fact a systematic deception, and that this was only the first step towards the completion of a system by which they hoped to withdraw all the principal burdens of taxation from the towns, and to throw them upon the country.


MR. J. BALL said he had listened, but had hitherto listened in vain during the debate, for some explanation of the means by which the war was to be carried on, if the taxes proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer were not to be sanctioned by the House. It would be very delightful, no doubt, to have beer cheap as well as tea and other articles of general consumption; but in order to secure this, we must have a cheap war, and the progress of science had unfortunately not gone so far as to enable us to have that. He had felt some alarm and anxiety during the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recent statement, lest the right hon. Gentleman should have been tempted, by the exigency of the occasion, to go back from two of the great measures which had been carried last yearthe reduction of the duty on tea, and the repeal of the Excise duty on soap. had felt greatly relieved himself, and had felt convinced that the working classes would feel greatly relieved also, by the right hon. Gentleman's declaration that he had no such intention. But if the principle which had been laid down in the financial statement were a sound one, and if the great body of consumers were to contribute in some measure towards the expenses of this war, he could not avoid the inquiry, "in what manner is this contribution to be obtained?" He believed that the working classes, generally, had made up their minds to contribute, and that there was no way in which they would so cheerfully do it as by submitting to the additional tax which it was proposed to levy upon malt. Irish Member, he would admit he felt some little disappointment at the proposal to increase the duty which was levied upon Irish spirits. There were some special circumstances connected with that tax, and there was reason to fear that any increase of its present amount might stimulate illi. cit distillation to an extent which would far more than counterbalance any probable addition to the revenue. But he would not upon this ground take part in any opposition, which might have for its object the defeat of the general measures of the

As an

Government. He hoped, however, that, when the war ceased, the position now to be taken would be abandoned, because the additional duty, although it might be successful during the continuance of the war, and in periods of high prices, would be sure, when prices became low, to bring about a return of that most mischievous and destructive system of smuggling and illicit distillation to which he had referred. Finding that Ireland, which paid one-sixth of the tea duty, and one-fifth of the tobacco duty, paid only the thirteenth of the malt duty, he could not, as an Irish Member, attempt to persuade the House that there was any financial injustice towards Ireland involved in the propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he had thought with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), or with the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Granby), that this war was not a just and necessary war, he should have brought forward any arguments he might have been able to lay hold of, in order to carry his point with the House, but he thought that even then he should have had some hesitation in endeavouring to persuade the House that this was in reality a tax upon the agriculturist. Every one must know that it was a tax on the consumer; and although some part of it-perhaps a twentieth or a thirtiethmight have to be borne by the farmer, he thought that the farmers of England must be very different men from what they used to be, if they would complain of having to contribute so small a proportion towards the expense of carrying on a war which was so just and necessary, and so essential to the honour and interests of England. He believed the agriculturists would dissociate themselves from the opposition which was making to this measure; and for himself-having in vain endeavoured to find out a way of providing for the expenses of the war which should not involve greater hardship and injustice-he should feel himself not only justified, but bound to give his vote in its favour.

MR. BARROW said he should support the Amendment. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose the addition to the income tax as one which would affect those classes whose incomes exceeded a certain annual amount; and the addition to the malt tax as one which would affect the main body of the consuming community whose incomes were below that amount. He apprehended, however, that

the broad injustice of this tax consisted in the fact that it fell upon the farmer, both as a producer and as a consumer; and that it fell most severely upon those classes of small farmers who had only recently been brought within the operation of the income tax. He was surprised to hear any doubt expressed as to the malt tax being injurious to the producer as well as to the consumer. If it had any effect whatever in limiting consumption, it must reduce the demand, and, of course, also reduce the price. The difference between a duty levied upon an article like malt, which was the produce of our own soil, and a duty levied upon foreign produce, consisted in this-that in the one case that portion of the duty which was paid by the producer was paid by our own countrymen, while in the other case it was paid by the foreigner. He had been surprised to hear it stated in that House, that this was not a proposition which affected the question of unrestricted competition. He wanted to know how the farmer was to pay a tax of cent per cent upon his produce, and yet to compete with the foreigner who was subject to no such encumbrances as those to which he was exposed. The malt tax-impeded the free action of the farmer in reference to the feeding of his cattle, and interfered with the free cultivation of his land for those purposes for which it might be most beneficially employed. He believed that, if the growth of barley were encouraged by the repeal of the malt tax, a very large amount of land not now producing barley would be found applicable to that purpose. These were his reasons for giving his support to the Amendment. He did not consider himself bound to suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as had been hinted at by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. J. Ball), what were the articles on which he ought to impose taxes, but he entertained no doubt that they should be articles of foreign produce. He attached considerable weight to the objection that by increasing the price of malt liquor, they would drive the consumers of it to make use of a much more injurious beverage. He had closely watched the effect of both ardent spirits and malt liquor on the population, and the injury produced by the latter was infinitely small as compared with the former. If only for this reason, although he admitted that funds should be forthcoming to enable the Government to carry on the war in a proper

manner, he should feel bound to vote against the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

MR. WILKINSON said he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite had wholly misunderstood the question. Free trade had nothing to do with the imposition of this tax. He did not understand that the imposition of a duty upon tea, which was wholly produced in a foreign country, or a duty upon malt, which was wholly produced in this country, was at all inconsistent with the principles of free trade.

the Excise. With regard to the proposal of the Government with respect to malt, he sincerely lamented it, because he believed it would be found most unpopular in the country. This, at least, the Government must have known, after the repeated proposals for the modification or repeal of the malt tax, that it was impossible for Members on his (Mr. Newdegate's) side of the House to vote for the increase of it.

The Government had maliciously cast this bone of contention upon the floor of the House of Commons. He MR. NEWDEGATE thought the hon. had no desire to interfere with the arMember (Mr. Wilkinson) had accepted a rangements of the Government for carryvery curious definition of free trade. In ing on the war; but when he considered his (Mr. Newdegate's) opinion, free trade the wanton manner in which they had semeant a trade unfettered by Excise or lected this tax, he could not help doubting Customs duties. Those two words, "free their sincerity in wishing that the country trade," surely meant a trade unfettered should be unanimous as to the means for by fiscal regulations; but hon. Gentlemen carrying on the war. Since the time of opposite said that was not what they un- the Commonwealth the malt tax had been derstood by free trade. Those hon. Gen- regarded by the people as an unmitigated tlemen had never contemplated real free burden and harassing restriction. While trade, except with regard to certain articles the agricultural classes had an especial of Customs. True, whenever an Excise duty right to feel that the conduct of those who operated injuriously upon any department now held office had created the necessity of trade, which they represented, they were for the increase of taxation, which was to clamorous for the repeal of it, of which them especially obnoxious, what had been the repeal of the Excise upon printed the course of the Government with respect cottons and upon soap were instances. to the repeal of taxes during the time of Whenever a duty affecting their own peace? Year after year they had been reinterest came under view, they were for striking it off; but their co-operation was withheld when the interests of agriculture were concerned. He humbly submitted that the definition of free trade as propounded by hon. Gentlemen opposite, was simple nonsense; for the restrictions under Excise regulations were far more interruptive of industry than any Customs duties. After an article, subject to a Customs duty, had been delivered from the Custom House, there were no further restrictions upon the manufacture of it-no delays in the several processes to suit the convenience of Government officers-no measurements-no interruptions, as in the case of Excise duties; besides, it had been admitted that in many cases the burdens of taxes upon articles were shared between the producer and consumer. This was true, and in the case of Customs duties the burden of them was often, if not generally, shared between the foreign producer and the English consumer; but in the case of Excise duties the whole burden must of necessity fall upon the people of this country, who were both the producers and consumers of the articles subject to

pealing taxes, until they had succeeded in casting 15,000,000l. or 16,000,000l. aside. Still, although they had this mass of articles from which to choose, they had had recourse to malt for this contribution of 2,400,000l. The very reason why the soap tax had been repealed should have stood for the repeal of the malt tax, namely, because it was an Excise duty. But last year the Government threw away 600,000l. of Customs duties on minor articles, on which the duty might well have been retained, as they were articles of luxury. To complete, as the Government called it, the Customs list, they had repealed the duty on pictures at so much a foot; on pickles, on turtle, and on truffles. True, those were minor articles of consumption, but they were articles strictly of luxury, and he adduced them as affording a fair illustration of the wanton sacrifices of duties to the extent of 600,000l. a year, duties of which no one complained, and which had yielded a considerable revenue; by the abandonment of which no saving in the expense of the Customs establishment had been made, for the packages containing the articles had to be examined just as much as though

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