Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

It

It was, therefore, peculiarly hard, when new taxes were now to be raised, that they should not be called for in more decent terms. was doubtless still harder to be fubjected to the imputation of perjury, without any means of getting rid of the imputation, for shoulda man be fuppofed by the furveyors to have under-rated his income, what means has he of proving that he has not incurred this foul imputation? Against fo monftrous a plan he must raise his voice in behalf of the people of England, whom he could not patiently fee thus taxed, not only in pocket, but in character.

After a few words from Mr. W. Smith and Mr. Ellison the preamble was agreed to.

Lord HAWKESBURY faid the words in the preamble “fundry infances" did not justify the affertion, that it was a charge of fraud and evasion against the great mafs of the people of England, in which light the honourable gentleman had represented it.

Mr. JONES thought the preamble only reflected upon the "fundry instances," and did not affect the great mass of the people.

He, therefore, did not object to the preamble, though he admitted there were several clauses in the bill of an unconstitutional and inquifitorial nature, to which he could not affent.

Mr. WILLIAM SMITH perfectly agreed with Mr. Tierney, that if there were only a few inftances of evasion, they could form no fufficient ground for a new legiflative act, as would be the cafe had the defalcation been to a great amount. But by the modifications introduced into the affeffed taxes bill, the estimate was reduced to 4,500,000l. and it was ftated that it had produced 4,000,000l. fo that in fact the deficit was only one ninth, a variation not more confiderable than had been often found in the right honourable gentleman's estimates and calculations.

Mr. ELLISON conceived the propofed delay frivolous; that the preamble recited the real fact, and qught immediately to be read.

Mr. W. SMITH cenfured the laft gentleman for applying fuch a term as frivolous to the debate upon a question which he confidered as highly important.

On the question being put, it was carried in the affirmative, that the preamble should be read and stand part of the bill.

When the first claufe was read,

Mr. TIERNEY faid, he fhould oppofe this clause, because he confidered it as a great breach of faith, inasmuch as it repealed the affeffed taxes, which were pledged to a certain extent to pay off the loan of fifteen millions, raifed for the fervice of last year. Thofe who lent their money in that loan did it upon the faith that it

would be paid off in a given time, by the operation of the affeffed taxes. But they were now to be told that Government did not choose to keep their word. This appeared to him to be a violation of the terms which had been agreed upon. It was no answer to fay to those who have lent their money, we have done you no injury; that was a point he did not feel himself bound to argue; it was fufficient for him to ftate, that Government had not kept their faith with the public. He really felt a ferious difficulty upon this fubject, and he wished the right honourable gentleman would fatisfy his doubts upon it.

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, he was happy to have it in his power to relieve the honourable gentleman from any difficulties he might feel upon this fubject. In the firft place, if there was in reality any foundation for this objection, it could not apply to this clause, because it merely repealed the affeffed taxes, and imposed other duties in their room, which other duties the House had undoubtedly the right of difpofing in any manner they pleased. Parliament might, if it pleafed, apply the duties to be raised under the present bill to the fame purpofe as the affeffed taxes, which would have the effect of doing that in one year which would otherwife be done in two or three But it was faid there was a breach of faith: he wished to know with whom? There was no agreement of any kind with the perfons with whom the loan was contracted as to the period at which it was to be paid off. The system adopted last year, of appropriating the amount of the affeffed taxes to the payment of the loan in a given period, was not the refult of any contract whatever with those who advanced their money on the loan. But it furely could not be confidered as breach of faith with them, if by the application of a much larger fum, the debt was paid off in a much shorter time. Whate ver alteration, therefore, was made in their fituation, was evidently much to their advantage. The produce of the affeffed taxes were applicable in the fame manner as the finking fund, and the one per cent. upon all the loans which

were now made.

Mr. Tierney and Mr. Chancellor Pitt feverally explained.
The claufe was then agreed to.

The fecond clause being read,

Mr. WIGLEY objected to it on the ground that it affected all property in an equal manner. If this was merely a tax for one year, he fhould not have felt himself bound to object to it in fo ftrong a manner, but as he fuppofed it would be of much longer duration, he should trouble the Committee fhortly with ftating the grounds upon which he fhould object to it

[ocr errors]

The great objection he had to it was, that it made no diftinction between the different degrees of property, but made a man who was only a tenant for life pay as much as a man who was possessed of an eftate in fee fimple. It made a man who had only a short annuity contribute equally with a man who had the moft beneficial landed eftate. There were innumerable cafes he might put, to fhow the great inequality of this tax. Suppofe a man had a beneficial leafe which was to expire in one year, why he would pay as much for that one year, which was in fact his capital, as the man with a fee-fimple would for that which was his income.

But the right honourable gentleman had, upon a former occafion stated, that in these cases a man might insure his life, which would put him in the fame fituation with a man who had a more beneficial intereft. There were a great variety of cafes in which a man could not infure himself; for inftance, a profeffional man-how could he infure himfelf in the continuance of his prefent income? There were many circumstances which might render him incapable of providing in the fame manner for his family. Professional emolument depended upon a man's health, and often upon popular opinion, which could not be infured. A man who was in trade was in the fame fituation. The only way, in his opinion, to remedy this inequality, where infurance was poffible, would be to deduct the insurance out of the tax, and this would in fome degree put the person who had only a temporary income upon a footing with a man who had a permanent estate. He should therefore, move, in clause two, which runs as follows, to leave out the words in italics, and inftead of the words, "Whether any fuch income as aforefaid," the word "which" fhould be inferted :

"And during the term hereinafter mentioned, there fhall be «railed, levied, collected, and paid annually unto and for the use "of His Majefty, his heirs or fucceffors, throughout the kingdom "of Great Britain, upon all income arifing from property in Great "Britain belonging to any of His Majefty's fubjects, although not "refident in Great Britain, and upon all income of every person "refiding in Great Britain, and of every body politic or corporate, "or company, fraternity, or fociety of perfons (whether corporate or not corporate) in Great Britain, whether any fuch income as aforefaid [which] fhall arife from lands, tenements, or heredi"taments, wherefoever the fame fhall be fituate, in Great Britain

(6

66.

66

or elsewhere, or from any kind of perfonal property, or other pro"perty whatever, or from any profeffion, office, employment, trade, or "vocation, the feveral rates and duties following."

[ocr errors]

"

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, he should not have occafion long to trouble the Committee upon this fubject, as it was one which he had before difcuffed at fome length. He wished gentlemen ferioufly to confider before they gave their fupport to the amendment which had been moved, because if they agreed to that amendment, they would destroy the very fundamental principle on which that bill was founded. Before he proceeded any farther, he wished to know whether he was correct in fuppofing that the Houfe had given their approbation to the principle of raising a large part of the supplies within the year. If then they were to raise a part of the supplies within the year, it must obviously mean that they were to be raised from funds exifting within the year, and that in raifing the money they were to confider only the year in which the fupply was to be raifed. This was a plain and uniform propofition, and confiftent with general policy. If they were to attempt to raise the tax upon any other principle, it would no longer be a tax upon income, but a tax upon capital. There was no diftinction in point of fact, whether Government raised the money by a loan, or whether they raised it by a tax upon individuals, compelling them to have recourfe to individual loans. In either cafe they were not raifing the fupplies within the year, because they were impofing burdens upon pofterity, and rendering them lefs able to fuftain the burdens which might then be neceffary. This was not the principle of the prefent measure, it was to raise the supplies, or a large part of them, within the year, and consequently from funds exifting within the year; this he avowed was the policy of the present measure. But it was said, that a man who had a permanent estate ought to pay more than a man who had only a temporary or life eftate. He contended, that upon the principle he had laid down, there was no foundation for fuch an argument, because a man of a permanent cftate had no more means of paying out of his income than a man who had a lefs beneficial eftate. If they were to make a man pay a greater proportion to this tax because he had a permanent eftate, what would be the confequence? Why, that he would pay at once for the prefent and for the future; but by paying for the future it would not exempt his pofterity, for they muft alfo pay. Suppose a man had a life estate of 1,000l. a year, and that he died at the end of the year, and the estate went to a stranger? Suppose another man had an eftate of the fame amount in fee-timple, and that he was to pay, according to gentlemen's calculations, three times as much as another. If the latter died at the end of the year, and the eftate descended to his fon, the confequence would be, that the latter eftate would have paid fix times as much as the other. The more this measure, was

likely to recur from the general conviction of its being highly beneficial to the public, the stronger this argument was.

With refpect to what had been faid respecting insurance, he begged to fay a word or two. He never faid that a man poffeffing a lefs beneficial income must insure himself, in order to put himself upon an equality with a man who had a more permanent one; because upon the principle he had just laid down, viz. of their both paying out of their income, their fituations would be equal; but he alluded to the poflibility of insurance, in answer to fome arguments which had been urged on the ground of individual hardship. A man who from his income was able to lay up a large fum annually, certainly was not entitled to the compaffion of the Committee. An honourable Baronet had, a few nights ago, ftated the number of this clafs of perfons to be 3,000, but upon what data he had founded his calculations he had not informed the House. But certainly those perfons whofe income was barely fufficient to maintain their families, could not take a cheaper mode of providing for them, than by infuring their lives. Another cafe, however, was put, as being a still stronger one, viz. that of a person who had laid out his money in the purchase of short annuities. He could hardly fuppofe the cafe of a man investing the whole of his property in short annuities, and referving no provifion for the remainder of his life after the termination of these annuities. He could hardly, he faid, believe that a man would choose to be rich for a fhort period of his life, with the certainty of beggary for the remainder of it: but even in that case, he might infure his annuity. He, however, faw no reason why a person who chose to live like a rich man, should not contribute like a rich man.

With respect to the various interefts which men might have in landed estates, he would defy all the lawyers in England to define them with precision, and he would defy all the calculators in England (if they could understand the definitions of the lawyers) to calculate their different value. Under thefe grounds he fhould give the amendment of the learned gentleman his most decided negative.

Mr. Alderman LUSHINGTON had no oppofition to offer to the principle of the bill; the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that it was not a measure of duty upon capital, or, in other words, upon property, but upon income. The principle of the bill, however, was departed from in fome particulars; he meant this obfervation to apply to Short Annuities. He did not, however, oppose any part of the bill, but he muft exprefs a hope that it might undergo fome modifications. He had conferred with his con

« AnteriorContinua »