Imatges de pÓgina

feemed to meet the concurrence of the Houfe, he should not enter at any length into them now. But there was one material claufe which he had not stated before; the claufe for making allowances for children. In the original statement which he had submitted to the House, gentlemen would recollect he had suggested the propriety of making the allowances for children larger than they were in the Affeffed-tax Bill. In that bill there were no allowances made for a fewer number than four children; the scale then rose from four to eight, and from eight to ten. In the first case, an allowance was made of ten per cent.; in the fecond, fifteen; in the third, twenty per cent. But it seemed to him a much more convenient and defirable thing to make an allowance for each child, even for one child. In the next place, he should propose that a deduction fhould be made according to claffes of income, which was not propofed to be made on other cafes under the bill. The prefumption upon which the Committee went was, that whatever was an additional expence, ought to be made a deduction from the taxable income of a perfon as far as related to children. The Committee would probably be of opinion, that in this there ought to be made a diftinction of claffes of income. He fhould, therefore, fuggeft that a deduction fhould be made of five per cent. from the income for each child, in the clafs of income from fixty pounds a year to four hundred. The effect of this would be, that there would be five per cent. for each child, and that the highest case of ten children, which gave only twenty per cent. in the Affcffed-tax Bill, would in this bill give fifty per cent. This deduction, then, would be more than double what it had been propofed to be laft year. The fecond clafs of income was from 400l. to 1000l. a year, upon which he propofed that there should be an allowance of four per cent. on the income of each child. The third clafs was from 1,000l. to 5,000l. a year, upon which he fuggefted that the allowance fhould be 3 per cent for each child; and that all income above 5,000l. a year should have no more than 2 per cent. for cach child. This was the fubftance of the claufe which he meant to fubmit to the Committee with refpect to children; and he trufted gentlemen would fee that, without any departure from any principle upon which the meafure was founded, it was a proper modification, and was calculated to afford fubftantial relief to thofe valuable claffes, where relief was most wanted.

Mr. SPEAKER faid-I cannot forbear, Sir, from expreffing the great fatisfaction I have received from the propofition which has just been fubmitted to us; a fatisfaction which, I am perfuaded, the Committee will participate with me. Every gentleman, Sir, muft

be fenfible that the relief propofed to be afforded is a great and fubftantial one. In fo comprehenfive a measure as the present, it is fruitless to suppose that great hardships will not be felt; it is fruitless to imagine that confiderable inconveniences will not occur, The House could not foresee all the difficulties that might arife; and even if they could foresee them, I truft they would not provide for all of them, becaufe, if they did, they would defeat the efficacy and equity of the measure. Sir, we must take our ftand upon a fixed principle and from that we must not depart. The principle of the prefent measure is to raife a tenth of every man's income, as far as it is practicable. By that principle I am happy to fee the Committee are determined to abide. If, indeed, they were to depart from it, they would fritter away the measure altogether. In carrying this principle into execution, we must be governed by duty, or rather governed by a corect view of the interefts of individuals. The foundation upon which my right honourable friend has propofed this modification is, that children absorb a larger proportion of a fmall income than of a large one. This is true in fact; and the adoption of it will not fubject the Houfe to any inconveniences. When the Committee confider what is the defcription of perfons to whom this benevolence is proposed to be extended, I am fure that their fatisfaction will be equal to my own. It will relieve many gentlemen who live in the country upon fmall incomes it will relieve many perfons who, with fuch credit to themfelves and fuch advantage to the country, have formed themfeves into yeomanry and volunteer corps-above all, Sir, it will afford relief to that most valuable and moft refpectable clafs of men, the clergy, who live upon fmall livings and have large families; they muft excite in a peculiar degree the attention and protection of the Houfe; they are bound from a fenfe of what is due to their fituation, they are stimuJated by a knowledge of the facredness of their functions, they are excited by the education which they have received, to maintain a ftile of life beyond their income, but not beyond their refpe&tability. To them the relief will be a most important one. Sir, to those who have taken the pains to look at all to the practice of our ancestors, it must be matter of pride and exultation to find that it is only in late times that thefe ideas of modification have been adopted. Let gentlemen look to the catalogue of former taxes; let them look to the tenths, the fifteenths, the fcutage, the taillages, and the affeffments of those times, and they will find in none of them fuch modifications as have been introduced in very recent periods. Let the House recollect that no diftinctions were taken by those who preceded Then, Sir, let gentlemen fee that when as much as four fhil



lings in the pound was laid upon real, and two fhillings and fixpence upon moveable property, no ideas of diftinctions and defcriptions of property were ever introduced into the Houfe. Look when the land tax was adopted as a substitute for the fubfidies, then see that it operated as a poundage upon all perfons. Look at thofe things, and then view the principle of this modification, which affords fubftantial relief where it is most wanted. I fhould be forry, Sir, to fee this great measure encumbered and frittered away by modifications; for by the adoption of it, the neceffity for loans, which operate as a perpetual burden upon the country, will be done away, and the depreciation of public credit prevented. A conteft has been long maintained between this country and France. The best way, in my confcience, I believe, to fhorten it, is, to fhew that we are prepared for carrying it on. We were first attacked upon our principles, and then the enemy hoped to find an ally in the alienation of the minds of the people from the Conftitution. In that hope, and in that defign, they were repelled by the good fenfe and firmnefs of the nation. Their next attempt was upon the independance of the country. They threatened Great Britain with the fame ruin and devastation which have marked their progrefs in all other countries; but the effect of that menace was to raise the country to They derived other hopes; they were encouraged by the depreciation of public credit, and by the amount of the public debt, which, perhaps not unreasonably, has been denominated the best ally of the enemy. It is in the power of the Houfe to meet, if not to diffolve, that alliance. Sir, I fhould be forry to fee any thing adopted to impair the principle of a tax, which, I believe in my confcience, will go farther to animate those whom it is our intereft to animate, and to carry difmay into the hearts of the enemy, than even the victories we have gained, or that recent one of which neither we nor our pofterity can ever speak without the warmest admiration and applaufe. I trust the effect of this measure will be to rouse, to ftimulate, and to excite those who are to co-operate with us. These, Sir, are the fentiments which I fhall always entertain. It would have been highly gratifying to my own mind, if I could have stated more at length what I feel upon the principle of the meafure before. us. The Houfe will be aware that it is only in a Committe I can exprefs my sentiments upon any fubject. Sir, I fincerely rejoice at the modification which has been propofed, becaufe, without infringing the principle of the bill, it is calculated to diminith the preffure where the preffure is moft felt, and to afford relief where relief is moft wanted.

Sir W. PULTENEY entertained no manner of doubt that the modification proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give great fatisfaction to the country in general; but though he, as highly as any one, approved the modification, he could not avoid ftill being averfe to the principle of the bill. His objection was not to the amount of the fum to be raised; on the contrary, he thought every man in the country ought to contribute to its defence and fupport in the prefent arduous conteft in which it was engaged, as largely as his means would enable him; but his fears were how far this bill encroached upon the principles of the Conftitution. The fum to be raised no one would object to; but if, by the mode of raifing it, we violated the principles of the Conftitution, every man in the country ought to fet his face against it. The advantages to be obtained by raifing the money would be too dearly purchafed. On this fubject he should have a more favourable opportunity of expreffing his fentiments when the report was confidered. With regard to the new claufes it was impoffible at present to say any thing, but he confidered they would be open to difcuffion, and that the Houfe, by receiving them in filence, was not precluded from confidering the propriety of them hereafter. Farther obfervations he would poftpone till he faw the bill printed, repeating only, that he did not object to the fum, but that he confidered the mode of raifing it unconftitutional. On that ground he should take his stand, and on that ground alone should he oppose the bill.

Right honourable D. RYDER faid, it was extremely painful to his feelings to make the smallest objection to a species of modification which feemed to flow from the principles of humanity; but he was apprehenfive the degree to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had carried it, might prove prejudicial to the principle of the bill. It was neceffary the Houfe fhould cautiously guard against extending the reductions in fuch a manner as to defeat the object of the measure. He was of opinion the reduction in favour of perfons with families ought not to extend to thofe whofe incomes" amounted to 1,000l. a year, unlefs they had three children at the leaft. He alfo thought a diftinction ought to be made in the scale of reduction, according to the ages of the children.

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, he had not propofed the modification but from a firm impreffion, that it was as much founded in policy as in justice and humanity. Its operation, on the one hand, would prevent the tax exceeding the bounds of what perfons, in every fituation in life, ought to contribute; and, on the other, would in no refpect be injurious to the principle of the measure, but would rather extend it by alleviating the preffure of the burden

of those who, from the circumftance of their having families to provide for, were most entitled to relief. He hoped, whatever doubts gentlemen might have with respect to the modification, they would fufpend them till the claufe was printed, when, he was perfuaded, that, attending to the proposed relief, with reference to its juftice, and applying every degree of caution to protect the principle of the bill, they would, in both refpects, find it entitled to their fullest approbation. He differed from the honourable gentleman, who thought the relief ought not to apply to perfons of 1000l. a year income, with lefs than three children. When he regarded the fituation of merchants, and gentlemen of 1,000l. a year, who had fons to whom they were obliged to give expenfive educations, or daughters to whom it was necesary to give portions suitable to their expectations, he conceived they were equally entitled to relief with persons in more humble fituations of life, and particularly as they did not derive that aid from their children which the poor claffes of people, in many cafes, did. With refpect to the diftinction proposed by the honourable gentleman, according to the different ages of children, he was not aware how it could be made with the least uniformity; for it was obvious the children of the poor were most expenfive to their parents when young, and the expence was comparatively nothing when they advanced in years; whereas, in the higher claffes, the effect was precifely the reverfe, for there the expence of children, when young, was trifling, but proportionably heavy when it became neceffary to establish them in life. It was in confequence of his not being able to make any diftinction between the higher and lower claffes, with refpect to their relative claims to relief on the fcore of their families, that he had adopted one uniform system of reduction. He had proposed this modification as the best result which, under all circumstances, he had been enabled to draw. He defired the Houfe to examine the claufe attentively, applying all that caution which had been recommended; but at the fame time bearing in mind, that every fhilling taken from that clafs of the public that had families to provide for was taken from those to whom it was for the best interefts of society to extend relief.

Mr. WILBERFORCE faid, the propofition met his most cordial fupport. He believed it would obviate the preffure of the burden where relief was moft wanted, and render the measure altogether not lefs worthy, on the general fcore of policy, than on the principle of humanity.

Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL obferved, that it was the principle of taxation acknowledged in this country, that the fituation, income, and property of perfons, fhould be fo confidered, that

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