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Sir FRANCIS BARING objected, not only to the restriction contended for, but to the limitation of the average of three years. The fame motives which governed the Committee in afcertaining the amount of income from mines, should also direct them on the prefent question. In that cafe it was extended to the average of five years, which included the unfortunate year of 1793. A multitude of people, in which himfelf was included, were then vory much hurt in their property, beyond what the two fucceeding years could retrieve, and therefore he thought that period fhould be included within the fpace in which the average income was to be afcertained.
Mr. TIERNEY reprobated the frequent ufe of the term "evafion," and thought a great variety of cafes of hardship might be put, if the average was to be made on three years. Evafion was an harsh phrafe, and ought not to be dealt out fo liberally. Many men felt themfelves fo hard preffed in refpect to their families, and bad fo much reafon to complain of the weight of taxes, that they muft feel themselves honeftly and confcientioufly juftifiable in trying whether, without violating the letter of the law, they might not avoid a part of the burden. He did not blame the honourable gentleman for endeavouring to make his tax as productive as poffible; but no harsh expreffions should, however, be applied to men, particularly where fome could not afford to contribute to the extent required; and with others the reflection might arife, that the money would not be applied as well as they could with; or where, perhaps, the confideration of both principles might prevail. He did not blame the honourable gentleman for making the rule as ftrict as poffible, as he had before stated; at the fame time he highly approved of enlarging the average to five years, agreeable to the fuggeftion of the worthy Baronet.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, if the honourable gentleman was right in fuppofing that confcientious men would think themfelves Juftifiable in taking every advantage to evade the tax, it was the more incumbent on him to make the letter of the law fo ftrict that its fpirit fhould not be evaded. That any confideration of the mode in which the money would be applied, fhould enter into the contemplation of the fubject when called upon for the payment, he could not conceive; but if fo, this, as furnishing another pretext for evafion, was a farther reason for guarding against it. As to the average of five years, it only multiplied the objections to the mode proposed of leaving a man at liberty to adopt the average of three, whenever he should think proper, as all thofe who, within these three years, had risen to a flourishing state in trade and bufinefs, of whom, it
the rapid progress of improvement, there were many inftances, would be too much favoured by giving them the advantage of the preceding years, when their income might have been very inconfiderable.
Mr. WILBERFORCE dwelt much upon evafion, and the neceffity of preventing men, who would felfifhly enjoy all the comforts of life, without contributing in their due proportion to their prefervation, from the farther practice of fuch an illiberal system.
Mr. TIERNEY faid, it was a common saying, that tricks which were fair in love were also fair in taxation; that is, that every advantage which could, might be taken. So he might fuppofe many confcientious men would think themselves juftified to take every advantage of this law, not to evade the letter of it, but its heavy effects. But he could illuftrate this more precifely. It had lately occurred that a very distinguished perfon thought it neither a fin nor a fhame to evade his proportion at the period of the triple affeffment. He poffeffed an handfome penfion, but having in view the certainty of a place of much greater emolument, he refigned the pension, and took advantage of the interval to include neither the one nor the other in his return. The perfon alluded to, he faid, now held a confiderable office, and that the honourable gentleman need not look far for him, as he might be found among his most intimate acquaintance.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, if the cafe was put as a real one, it deferved the most serious attention, and called upon the honourable gentleman to name the perfon.
Mr. TIERNEY declined to do fo.
Lord HAWKESBURY rofe, and infifted the perfon alluded to fhould be named. If the honourable gentleman undertook to state a cafe of that nature, he thought he should not refuse to specify particulars. He ought to be prepared to disclose the whole case, or not mention it at all.
Mr. TIERNEY faid, he would not have ftated what he did without reafon. He had it from refpectable authority, but confeffed he did not confider himself juftifiable in mentioning the name until he fhould make farther inquiry, nor did he really think it of fuch great importance to be taken up fo warmly.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that the honourable gentleman might do an injury by declining to name the perfon, whereas, if he did name the perfon, none could arife in the want of his being mis taken. If, however, he would not specify particulars, by stating the name, the place, and the authority, he must confider the statement totally unfounded. The honourable gentleman had faid, the perfon alluded to was an officer of confiderable confequence, and
that if he looked about he could find him in a narrow circle. For his part, if he was to recollect, he muft fay he did know an instance, and only one, of a perfon who had lately relinquished a penfion, and received an office of confiderable confequence; but if the allufion was meant to apply to him, the honourable gentleman had been moft grofsly deceived; for, from his perfonal knowledge, and from facts alfo, he could aver the perfonage meant had paid his full proportion, making no other deduction than what he was juftly and fairly entitled to, amounting to one tenth; but that perfonage did not reft there, for he doubled that fum in voluntary contribu tion; fo that inftead of a tenth, he actually paid a fifth of his whole income.
Mr. Alderman COMBE confeffed he had heard the fame rumour as the honourable gentleman (Mr. Tierney); at the fame time he must add, that he believed it to be unfounded.
Mr. TIERNEY faid, he was ready to agree to the propofition of the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt); and if the House should hear no more on the subject, that his statement should be fuppofed unfounded.
Mr. PERCIVAL expreffed a wifh that the fubject had not been mentioned. He remarked, that the honourable gentleman had fpoken as if many confcientious perfons thought no harm (to ufe his expreffion) of "tricking in love, or tricking the Public." What the honourable gentleman's idea was of confcience he knew not; but, for his part, he fhould confider fuch conduct as unqueftionably immoral.
Mr. BANKS, alluding to what had been faid, that if the House heard no farther upon the fubject, they ought to fuppofe it to be unfounded, conceived that it was not fufficient. If it should prove to be unfounded, the honourable gentleman ought to retract the charge as publicly as he had made it. With regard to the perfon who had been whifpered about, he happened to know that, in addition to the payment of his fair proportion to the tax, he had given a contribution.
Mr. TIERNEY faid, whenever he was convinced that upon any fubject he was wrong, he had not the leaft hesitation to avow it; but he muft fay that the honourable gentleman who had fpoken laft, could hardly expect that he fhould acknowledge himself to be wrong without inquiry. But gentlemen feemed to him really to have taken up the fubject too ferioufly. With regard to the perfon alluded to, he begged the honourable Member under him not to conftruc him to have whispered his name to any one; at the fame time he had not the leaft objection to inquire into the circumftance, and, Vol. VII.
having fo inquired, to fatisfy the right honourable gentleman. with respect to being put thus to the torture, it was what he could not fubmit to. He repeated that he had not the leaft hesitation to ftate the refult of his inveftigation to the right honourable gentleman privately, if he wished it.
Mr. Chancellor PITT declared that it was not with a view to place the honourable Member in any difagreeable fituation that he mentioned the fubject. He mentioned it becaufe he thought it a point of importance, and he felt and believed that the honourable gentleman had ftated it as an illuftration. He could not help, however, being of opinion, that if he had thought more upon it, he would not have ftated it as an illuftration; but he could not accept of the explanation which had been given. He wifhed, however, to fave trouble to all parties. If the honourable Member inquired into the circumstances, and found nothing in it, the House were to think, if they heard no more upon it, that there was nothing in it. But though the honourable Member had not whispered the name of the perfon, yet he found that it had reached other perfons, though it had not reached him. He took it, that it was meant to be frated, that the perfon had not included in his ftatement the penfion he had relinquished, nor the office he was on the point of accepting. The inftance to which the whisper, he had been informed, seemed to point, was that of the perfon who had been appointed one of His Majefty's Poftmasters General; and here he could fave the honourable Member trouble, by stating plainly and decifively, that whatever the quarter was from which he had received the intelligence, he was deceived. So far from the fact being true, he could affert that that perfon had given in his income as high as it could be given in; that he had only claimed the exceptions to which be was fairly entitled by law, and that having fo done, he had doubled the tenth, and thus paid a fifth. The perfon to whom he meant to allude was the perfon who had been last appointed one of the Poftmafters General.
Mr. SMITH, the chairman, faid, that he hoped the Committee would be of opinion, that as the circumftance had been mentioned, he had not acted improperly in fuffering the difcuffion to proceed to the length it had done. He believed, however, it would now be as clear to the Committee, that it was time to refume the original fubject before them, and therefore he must recall their attention to the claufes of the bill.
In that part of the trade claufe which gave the trader an option of returning the income of a year, or an average of three years,
Mr. Thornton propofed that the option once made should be abided by. On which,
Mr. Alderman COMBE faid, that he certainly muft object to that alteration; for it went to an entire departure from that principle of alleviation which he always thought that claufe contained. To his mind the greatest objection to the bill was, that uncertain and temporary income was taxed to the fame amount as permanent income, and the precaricufnefs of the income of traders was greater than any other; he thought therefore the option at first given to traders of felecting the income of the latt preceding year, or on the average of three years, was meant by the framers of the bill to correct in fome meafure the inequality of its operation with refpect to those who must endure much hardfhip by it; he hoped, therefore, that the Committee would permit that to remain as it flood, viz. That the option fhould be annual.
In that part where deductions were to be allowed to traders,
Mr. Alderman COMBE faid, that as it had been confeffed that this bill branched out from the principle of that which had last year paffed for the accumulated affeffed taxes, and certainly contained much of its hardships, he hoped that it would alfo contain a portion of that lenient spirit towards a particular clafs of people which the right honourable gentleman was last year induced to give-he meant the retail fhopkeepers. Gentlemen must know that, in chufing their refidence, manufacturers will fettle where labour is abundant, where rent is low, where fuel is plenty, or where provifions are cheap but the fhopkeeper, who fells to the public the articles of manufactory, cannot have much election he must have a shop in a populous ftrect, that shop muft make a handfome appearance to fhew off the articles it exhibits, in order to catch the attention of paffengers. The fhopkeeper himself, as well as his affiftants, muft be more particular in their drefs and appearance than those whose bufinefs does not require continual intercourfe with their customers, and the high-rented house which they occupy cannot be confidered but as an article or impliment of trade, and is as much fo as their weights and feales, or their measures-he trufted, therefore, that the Committee would confider this clafs of traders, and grant them fome alleviation for which purpose he moved, that after the few words general deduction, fhould be added-" and the amount of rent of fuch houses and warehouses as belong to tenants of retail fhops, and are inhabited by retail traders."
The schedule being gone through,
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, he came now to the new claufes ; but as he had already ftated the fubftance of them, and as they