« PreviousContinue »
a labour rate, which is a favourite object with many country gentlemen, but would only increase the evils it meant to remove.
As a mere means of enabling a parish to adopt Mr. Whateley's system, such a bill may be harmless ; but no bill whatever is necessary for the adoption of his system by any parish.
Emigration, upon which so much time and money have been spent, is the worst experiment of all, because it deprives us of our able-bodied workmen. Emigration should neither be encouraged nor discouraged. There will always be stirring spirits desirous of going abroad; these may be left to their own impulse : but, if industry be set free from restraint, all our able-bodied workmen will be required at home.
I have noticed these things, in order that I may not seem negligent of any matter which has relation to this important subject. But, at the best, they are only mitigants, and not remedies.
We had duties of customs in England long before we had duties of excise; the first of which ever imposed was in the time of Charles II., when a duty on beer and ale was granted to that monarch during his life* ; but tonnage and poundage composed the earliest subsidies of the crown, and formed the first grant made after the Restoration.t
These duties of tonnage and poundage, which form the foundation of our duties of customs to this day, were granted upon goods exported, as well as upon goods imported; the effect of which was to restrain and limit home industry. Particular interests, which are always allowed to have too much influence in our legislation, ob
* 12 Car. 2. c. 23.
+ Ibid. c. 4.
tained, in 1700, the removal of these duties on the export of woollen, corn, meal, and bread.* But it was not until 1721 that the duties of export upon other articles of home produce or manufacture were repealedt: and still, under a mistaken notion of preventing other countries from having raw materials for the purposes of manufacture, alum, lead, lead-ore, tin, leather tanned, copperas, coals, wool-cords, white woollen cloths, lapis calaminaris, skins of all sorts, glue, cony-hair or wool, hares' wool, hair of all sorts, horses, and litharge of lead were excepted f; and export duties since imposed on British sheep and lambs, wool and woollen yarn, are still levied, as well as upon most of the above articles. With notions alike adverse to industry, custom-house duties are also still levied on coals and culm, and slates carried coastwise.
To the amount of the rates of tonnage and poundage, (that is, duties of customs first granted in the time of Charles II.,) thirds and two thirds of subsidies and per centages have been added by various acts of parliament in subsequent reigns. These have been consolidated by late acts; but the whole present a mass of incongruities which require revision.
Ibid. $ 8.
THE PUBLIC REVENUE.
BEST MODE OF RAISING THE PUBLIC REVENUE.
EVERY excise duty tends to repress home industry in the branch of it upon which such duty is imposed.* But duties of customs, limited to articles of import, have no such effect: though they cannot be said to encourage, they do not repress home industry: and, seeing we must
* It is not merely on account of the effects of the tax in repressing industry, that duties of excise are to be avoided. They are attended with regulations, which “ involve matters “ of important inquiry in a national and moral, as well as a “ financial point of view. If such regulations occasion ex
pense, trouble, or loss of time, in the process of any manu“ facture, an increase is made in the price of the article to “ compensate such expense, trouble, or loss of time, as well
the amount of the tax. If they limit the extent of any “ manufacture, so many fewer people receive employment “ than otherwise would be employed, whereby the aggregate “ returns of industry are lessened in proportion to the fewer “ number of persons employed; and the public revenue is “ also lessened in proportion to the lesser consumption of “ the taxed commodities which they require. If fiscal regu“ lations work out a monopoly, in addition to all the other “consequences above stated, the price of the article, in the “ manufacture of which such regulations intervene, is thereby “ raised still further. Such regulations thus come to operate
as an additional tax upon the consumers of all taxed com“ modities." (Revision of our Fiscal Code, 1828.)
raise a revenue for the service of the state, we ought so to raise it as not to repress home industry. In this way duties of customs may be said to promote home industry; inasmuch as, for all articles imported from abroad, articles of home industry must be exported to pay for them. But all mankind have been kept in chains by erroneous impressions respecting gold and silver: and in matters of revenue, as of industry, men have been alike wrong in all that relates to these metals, which are only commodities, at all times purchasable by other commodities, as other commodities are by them. The total quantity of all the gold and silver in the world is small, compared to the total tity of all the other commodities in it. As materials for industry, gold and silver are not to be compared to other commodities. It is industry alone, however, that enables a country to acquire riches, which consists not in gold and silver, but in the products of industry, by which a country becomes rich through the accumulation of the proceeds arising from those products: and whereever any country has products of industry to give in exchange, it can always obtain, in exchange for them, any quantity of gold and silver it may require.
In raising a revenue, however, too little regard has been paid to industry, though industry is the