« AnteriorContinua »
perfon. He wifhed gentlemen to confider of a case which was more than poffible.
Another ferious objection which ftruck against certain provifions of the bill was, the liability of individuals to charges of perjury, and the trials for that offence. It was faid, that innocence would be a fufficient guard against thefe: this he doubted—and would fuppofe the cafe, that in the firft giving in of the schedule, a militia qualification of 100l. a year, or any amount, fhould appear therein, as part of a gentleman's real income, this might be done inadvertently; no wilful deception could be intended, and yet fuch might literally fubject the perfon to the charge of perjury. What must be the feelings of an innocent man on fuch an occafion?-So far the bill operated to the production of revenue by the dread of corporeal punishment; he would again put the cafe to the confideration of the right honourable gentleman, hoping he would turn in his mind, and endeavour to find a more lenient mode. He had no doubt but the right honourable gentleman thought that now propofed, the beft poffible one at the time he adopted it. view he would give him full credit for honefty of intention!
He alfo difapproved of the measure, keeping ftill in view the mode of collecting the tax; not only for the power it would throw into the hands of the Crown, by empowering its officers to pry into the fecret affairs of individuals, but on account of the very great number of fpies it must neccffarily encourage, for the purpose of affording information to the Commiffioners, &c. of the affairs of individuals, and which, in many cafes, could be done only through the medium of clerks, confidential fervants, and fuch perfons. A certain gratuity was beftowable, he understood, on the furveyors, in certain cafes, on the recommendation of the Commiffioners, by the Treafury. He asked, whether there was a restriction on the Treafury from beftowing fuch gratuity without the recommendation of the Commiffioners-He then proceeded to detail a variety of objections against thofe parts of the bill, and expreffed his fears that one of the work effects of the measure would be, that it would defroy British feelings, and render their country lefs dear to Englishmen, by abridging their comforts in it. The numberless emigrations which must enfue from a continuance of, fuch a fyftem, and which eventually muft infpire the enemy with fresh hopes. It would diffufe, he faid, mutual diftruft among individuals in every class of fociety, and tend to deftroy the peculiar affection which Britons hitherto always poffeffed for their native country.
Mr. PATTEN expreffed his decided approbation of the meafure. It arofe, he faid, from the unanimous fentiment of all public
fpirited men, and their wish to profecute, to an honourable conclufion, a just and neceffary war, originating in the aggreflions of an inveterate enemy. It was no convulfive effort of expiring finance to carry on the war for another year; but the genuine tribute of a patriotic people in fupport of a Conftitution, and an order of things, under which they poffeffed fuch inestimable advantages. It arofe from the quick fenfe of British feeling at feeing the national honour infulted; and it exhibited fuch a manifeftation of public fpirit throughout the nation, which muft chill the hopes of an inveterate enemy. To a certain degree, however, he agreed with an honourable gentleman, in faying, that perfons of landed property were placed in a rather hard fituation, and the circumftances he thought worthy of the confideration of the Houfe. But he might scout the idea of another honourable gentleman, who faid, that the Commisfioners, previous to their election, must be perfons devoted to the interefts of Government. The jealoufy of the Houfe would have guarded against that, even were provifions propofed which could lead to fuch a fuppofition.
Mr. NICHOLS fpoke in explanation.
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that the general principle of the meafure had been fo frequently and fully debated, and had been fo ably and cloquently flated by his learned friend who had just fat down, that he felt it perfe@ly unneceflary to fay any thing to that point. But what he wifhed to notice was fimply this: The bonourable gentleman, in language very flattering to him, had made a statement which was not quite fo flattering. He had ftated, that it remained only with him to find means which fhould prevent the neceffity of a difelofure, and he attributed a hardnefs of heart to him that he would not take that trouble. If he, however, had that apathy in him, he could not have overlooked that point, for his attention had been called to it by frequent discussion. If he did not, therefore, attempt to find any mode, it was not because he had not attended to the thing, but because the arguments he then ufed had fatisfied the Houfe that it was not fit nor right to be done. He did state a mode for commercial men which had been adopted by the House. There were details which required the minuteft accuracy. It was, in fome degree, neceffary to appoint Commiffioners capable of investigating fuch minutia. But that could beft be extended to the cafe of local Commiffioners, fo far as to the practicability; but befides that, he stated as an argument, upon which he ftrongly relied, that reasons there did not operate against publicity; and he thought it was important that all the world fhould know, that the rich paid the tax, and that there was no evafion: therefore, both
on the grounds of its impracticability, and ftill more of its impropriety, he was against it.
Sir JAMES PULTENEY thought it very defirable that the claufe refpecting difclofure in commercial men might with great ease be extended to the cafe of landed gentlemen. He thought it was extremely hard upon them that they fhould be put in a worse fituation than commercial men; he thought it was making an invidious distinction. Whatever might be faid of the unwillingness of men to disclose their income, it was a deep-rooted prejudice, and ought to be treated with respect, especially as we were now engaged in a dreadful conflict to fupport what many people called prejudices.
Sir W. YOUNG fpoke in favour of the Weft- India merchants, and faid, he was fure that they would not have objected to a disclofure, if it had been required of them.
Mr. PERCIVAL faid, he fhould not fay any thing to the general principle which had been univerfally approved of, but he could not refrain from one or two obfervations upon what had fallen from others. The honourable Baronet had been a fupporter of the bill, and therefore his objections deferved refpect. He feemed to be very averfe to any difclofure; but furely the very defect of the measure of last year was a want of publicity, and therefore it became neceflary to refort to the present one. He felt regret, that from any circumstances it fhould become neceffary to shelter any clafs of men; but where the fame arguments did not apply, it could not be neceffary to extend the indulgence. He felt that great advantages could refult from publicity; it would fhew that there were no evafions, but that every man paid his due share. An honourable gentleman had regarded the manner in which this meafure might affect the enemy; he did not agree with him; he thought it would have a confiderable effect in our favour with the It was well known that they built their greatest hopes in being able to destroy our funded fyftem; and this measure would fhew them that we were able to go on without adding to our permanent debt. Even admitting that the measure trenched upon our private conforts, what must the enemy think of us, when they faw the bill unanimously adopted by the country, with the exception of five or fix gentlemen in that Houfe, and, perhaps, as many out of doors? There was one circumftance of novelty in the argument of to-night, which he could not pafs over unnoticed, which was, the recommendation of a farther trial of the Affeffed Taxes, with fome amendments; but he could not help recollecting, that the fame arguments and the fame warmth were urged against the
act of laft year, as were now used against the prefent bill. In the course of the next year, perhaps, this measure might become the favourite.
Mr. WILLIAM SMITH faid, if his honourable friend oppofed the Affeffed Taxes laft year, there was no inconfiftency in his preferring them to the present measure, because the inconveniences which they induced, though great, might be lefs. The bill', he admitted, was much improved by the modifications, but ftill the radical defect of inequality remained; for this reason, therefore, he must persevere in his oppofition to it. Mr. Smith then repeated feveral of his former arguments, and concluded with obferving, that the present measure would throw more influence into the hands of the Executive Power, than any for a long time resorted to.
Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL adverted to the hopes of the enemy to ruin us by the deftruction of our funding fyftem. He argued from thence the neceflity of raifing the fupplies within the year, as the most effectual means of banifhing fuch hopes, and proved, by its comparison with every other fpecies, that the prefent mode was the leaft objectionable.
Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL faid, that an equal tax on income was univerfally approved of laft feffion, when the Affeffed Taxes were under confideration. That expenditure had proved an unfair criterion, and that we had now reforted to income itfelf, and therefore were in no danger of being mifled by the fallacy of the rule which governed the act of last session.
Mr. ELLIOTT fpoke on the fame fide.
Mr. TYRWHITT made a neat and fenfible fpeech in fupport
of the bill.
The House divided on the third reading of the bill-Ayes, 93; Noes, 2.
A number of new claufes and amendments were gone through, and read a third time, when
Mr. Chancellor PITT obferved, that as there were more claufes to be confidered, and fome amendments in the body of the bill, which were not likely to occupy much of the time of the Houfe and as the night was then far advanced, it might be better to poftpone them till to-morrow, when he wifhed the Houfe would meet at three o'clock precifely, to proceed farther in the third reading of the claufes and amendments. He hoped the bill might then be paffed in time to go up to the Lords the fame day.
Mr. SPEAKER put the queftion upon adjourning the farther confideration of the bill.
Sir G. P. TURNER wifhed the Chancellor of the Exchequer to confider of fome abatements to ladies with fmall incomes, fuch as widows living on fmall annuities, &c.
Mr. W. SMITH fuggefted the propriety of including the mafters of schools and academies, in the deductions to be allowed to fhopkeepers and retail dealers. To this Mr. Chancellor Pitt
feemed to affent.
Sir James Pulteney was going to propose some verbal amendments in the body of the bill, when Mr. Speaker faid, that this was not the proper time; fince, if any fuch were now made, they would, by the rules of the Houfe, exclude other amendments from the preceding parts of the bill.
Sir WILLIAM PULTENEY wifhed to know, whether the officers of the Exchequer were to forego their fees on the money arifing from this bill. Such a measure had been talked of on the Triple-affeffment Bill. He alfo wished to know who were to affefs the infpectors and furveyors? The bill in this respect.
made no provifion
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, there was no particular reafon for the officers of the Exchequer furrendering their fees on the money arifing from this bill, more than if it arofe in any other way. Their fees were not on the receipt, but on the iffue of the money; and it would make no difference to them, whether the fum of ten millions were raised by this bill, or by a loan. With refpect to the affeffment of furveyors and infpectors, that was certainly a fit matter of confideration, though they would probably be perfons of fo fmall income as to render it a fubject of no great importance. Perhaps the best way would be, to order their affeffments to be made by the Commiffioners.
Mr. TIERNEY thought what had fallen from Sir W. Pulteney had not been rightly understood. Under the Triple-affeffment Bill, a provifion was made to receive voluntary contributions, and certain perfons, particularly gentlemen in office, had engaged to pay a fifth of their income. He wished to know, whether thefe regulations were still to exift in refpect to this bill?
Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, that all the Triple-affeffment Bill would still exift, and be in full-force, except only fuch parts as were repealed by the prefent meafure, of which the raifing the triple affeffment was the principal. Gentlemen might therefore make voluntary contributions as formerly, and those in office might give just as much as they pleased, above the ten per cent. exacted by the bill. But he did not conceive they were bound to pay a fifth now, as they had done formerly. Their excefs of payment under the