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18,000,000l. annually, have expired, or had been either répealed or reduced. A paper had been since laid on the table, which illustrated the progress of that diminution, and the average on which the calculation was made.' The second Resolution stated the amount of "the deficiency of the Irish revenue, which, since the consolidation of the two Exchequers, was thrown into the general mass, and became chargeable on the United Kingdom. And here, he begged not to be understood as conveying the idea that Ireland had not, in proportion to her means, contributed fairly to the wants of the country. But it was impossible, at the period of the Union, when the arrangement of proportion was made, for any man to have foreseen fourteen years of unremitting war. Indeed, to have contemplated such an amount of expenditure as the circumstances of that war had called for, would have appalled the strongest and most sanguine mind: and from the peculiar situation in which Ireland was placed, arising from its disordered state in the years of 1797 and 98, the imposition of war taxes was found impossible. The consequences of which were, that while Great Britain raised its supplies within the year, Ireland was compelled to meet its extraordinary expenditure by loans. So that from the period of the Union to the consolidation of the Exchequers, while the debt of the former increased at the rate of from 4 to 7, the debt of Ireland increased nearly eight fold, or to speak more correctly, in the proportion of 15 to 92. The third Resolution stated the amount of the supplies to be voted for the service of the present year. The fourth Resolution stated, that the existing revenue, applicable to the supplies, cannot be estimated at more than 7,000,000, leaving the sum of 13,500,000 to be raised by loan or other extraordinary resource. By the fifth Resolution it would appear, that the Sinking Fund for the present year might be estimated at 15,500,0001.; exceeding the sum necessary to be raised for the service of the year by about 2,000,0001. only. The sixth Resolution stated the necessity of providing a clear Sinking Fuud adequate to support the public credit, and to afford future relief from a part of the public burdens of the country. He
! Estimate of the total amount of Taxes repealed, expired, or reduced, since the termination of the War, upon an average of the last two years of their collection. Property Tax,
£.14,267,956 Malt Duty England and Ireland
Exports; Goods coastwise; Tonnage 1,105,675 Assessed Taxes, · Husbandry Horses
268,000 Windows, &c. Ireland
£.18,789,202 Whitehall Treasury Chambers,
C. ARBUTHNOT. 7th June, 1819.
would not then discuss the grounds on which he bad opposed the immediate repeal of the Property Tax. He had sincerely hoped that when repealed, it would have afforded the country the fullest relief possible; but he had been of opinion and he thought the event had confirmed it) that ip the first instance the country was to look for relief from the renovation of public industry and the restoration of public credit. To effect those important objects it was indispensably necessary to provide for a gradual reduction of the national debt, and therefore it was impossible to state that the revenue of the country was placed on a proper footing, until it afforded a considerable surplus beyond its expenditure. The object then at present was, to place the public revenue on that footing on which it now
would bave stood, had the proposed continuance of the Income Tax for two years on its limited and modified plan, been carried into effect by Parliament in the year 1815. The consequence of its continuance for two years would now have been, that wbile 18 millions of taxation would have been taken off the country at present, we should have avoided the difficulties that now presented themselves in repaying to the Bank the 10,000,0001., proposed by the secret Committee of the two houses of Parliament, as under that arrangement that new debt would never have arisen. And it was gratifying to reflect, that though the country was by peculiar circumstances placed in difficulty, still that her character was undiminished, and difficulties which were only of a temporary nature would soon come to an end :-(Hear, hear!)–Parliament having deemed it expedient to allow the Bank two years to put it in possession of means to pay in specie; it was to be recollected, that this national establishment had acted very liberally in 1816, by giving loans to relieve the trading and agricultural classes, and for the same purposes Parliament had granted a sum to be issued in Exchequer Bills, amounting to 1,500,0001.
The Legislature was now called on to fix a more permanent system for the country, and to ascertain the real amount of the resources applicable to the relief of its burden. (Hear.) He would now proceed to state the amount of the income and expenditure of the country, both in the present and in several antecedent years. The Reports of the Select Committee on Finance, presented in the present Session, contained a comparison of the revenue and expenditure of the last three years, as exhibited in the fourth and eleventh Reports of the Committee of the last and the antecedent Session, and an estimate of the probable revenue and expenditure of the present year. It would be found in those Reports that in the first year to which they referred a very considerable deficiency existed in the revenue, as compared with the expenditure. The expenditure for the year ending the 5th January, 1817, was 54,200,0001. while the income amounted only to 51,700,0001., leaving a deficiency of 2,500,000l. This deficiency was made good by the arrears of the war taxes, and by other monies no longer applicable in that way. The next year, viz. that ending the 5th of January, 1818, the improving prosperity of the country was evinced by an augmentation of the revenue- -the expenditure being 52,950,000l. and the revenue 52,302,0001., leaving a deficiency of only 654,0001.-- In the following year ir appeared that the deficiency was changed into a surplus ; for in the year ending the 5th January, 1819, the income was 54,053,9377., while the expenditure was only 52,570,1521., exhibiting a surplus of 1,683,7851. The estimates for the current year might, according to the Report of the Finance Committee, be estimated thus:--the Income at 54,000,0001.; the expenditure, 52,018,8001., affording a surplus of 1,981,2001. The question for the Committee now to consider therefore, was how Parliament with so small
' a surplus, could perform its duty to the public creditor, by holding out any prospect of an eventual redemption of the public debt. It was evident, not only that with so small a surplus that could not be effected, but also that the country must necessarily be placed in a situation of considerable difficulty and embarrassment, if any pressing call for exertion should suddenly arise. The first consideration how ever was, what was due to the public creditor on this subject. In 1792, on the proposition of Mr. Pitt, a Sinking Fund of 1 per cent. had been directed to be applied to the reduction of the debt on every loan to be in future contracted for by Government. It was impossible that at that period Mr. Pitt could have had in his conteinplation the great drain which that would occasion on the country, in consequence of the number and extent of the loans subsequently raised. In his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s) opinion, a real and effective surplus of at least five millions actually operating as a Sinking Fund, was necessary, and he thought that that sum would be sufficient to improve public credit in a way that would discharge the obligation due to the public creditor. The country had as yet had no means of ascertaining what would be the operation of a really effective surplus of five millions. If the effect of a single million as originally proposed by: Mr. Pitt had been proved by experience to be so advantageous, that of five millions, when actually operating, must be considerably more so. Still he thought it would be highly desirable, whenever the circumstances of the country would permit it, and as an additional security to the public creditor, to carry up the Sinking Fund from 5 millions to 8 millions, which would make it somewhat more than 1 per cent. on the actual debt. When the great increase in the value of funded property that took place after the year 1815 was considered, he thought there was every reason to believe, that, under the operation of sueb
a Sinking Fund, a very rapid improvement would be experienced in the value of that property. He now came to the last of his resolutions--namely, that with a view to the attainment of the important object which he had just described, it was expedient to increase the income of the country by the imposition of taxes to the amount of 3,000,0001, per annum. Although he should defer any minute statement on this subject until Wednesday, in the Committee of Ways and Means, he would sketch the general outline of the plan of taxation which he intended to propose, as he thought the House could not be expected to give its sanction to a general proposition for an increase of taxes without having the means of judging of their practicability and expediency. He was however very ready to admit, that there might be Honorable Gentlemen, who, approving of that general outline, might nevertheless be disposed to question the expediency of some of the details, when those details came to be submitted to their consideration. To this he could have no objection. All that he thought essential on the present occasion was, that Parliament should take such a view of the subject at large, as should show their determination to make a great effort to place the finances of the country on a stable foundation. Whether this was to be done by one tax or by another, appeared to him to be a matter of comparative unimportance, although he allowed that care should be taken in the selection of such imposts as might be least injurious to the country. The course which in his mind Parliament ought to take was, first to evince a determination to make a great effort by agreeing to the Resolution, that it would be expedient to add three millions to the income of the country by taxation; and then to inquire in what manner the burden could be imposed so as to be attended with the least possible inconvenience to the various classes of the community. He would now, however, enumerate the articles on which it was his intention to propoșe, in the Committee of Ways and Means, that the contemplated addition to the revenue should be raised. In the first place, the Committee already knew that there had at various periods been a consolidation of the customs, and that a measure of that kind had been proposed last year, but had been postponed for the purpose of more mature consideration of its details. It was his intention to propose a variety of little alterations in that consolidation; but the only one to which he thought it vecessary particularly to call the attention of the House on account of its importance, was an increase of duty from a penny to sixpence a pouyd on Foreign Wool. This, whilst it would be no great burden to the manufacturer, would be some protection to the growers at home: the product of this tax he would estimate at between 250,0001.and 300,0001. There were other small duties to
be added to this, which he would take at about 200,000l. more; and this was all that he meant to suggest respecting the Customs.The other articles on which it was his intention to propose an increase of duty, came under the head of Excise. Of these the most prominent was Malt. (Hear.) It was not at all his intention to propose the renewal of the war duty; although he might be allowed to observe by the way, that the reasons which had been so strongly urged by the Gentlemen on the other side, in favor of the repeal of the war duty on Malt, had proved wholly without foundation. The first of these reasons was, that agriculture would be benefited; the second, that the revenue would be more easily collected, and would perhaps be increased, in consequence of the greater consumption ; the third, that the price of beer to the poor would be diminished. He was sorry to say that in every one of those respects the repeal had entirely failed, for that no material advantage had been derived by the agricultural interest from the repeal; nor had the consumption been increased. In the last year of the existence of the war duty on Malt, the amount of Malt on which duty had been paid, was 26,200,000 bushels. In the succeeding year, it fell to 17,000,000 bushels; a circumstance which he acknowledged to be in a great measure attributable to the badness of the season. But in the last year, the amount rose only to 22,000,000 bushels, being a smaller quantity than when the war duty was in existence. Instead, therefore, of any improvement in the revenue having taken place from the repeal of the duty, the revenue had materially suffered. Nor was the third reason assigned for the repeal of the duty, namely, that it would give the poor the advantage of having their beer at a more moderate rate, proved by .experience to be better founded than the others. The price of beer certainly fell for a short time after the repeal of the duty ; but then it again rose ; and it was at the present moment as high as it was at the highest periods both of the duty and of the materials. He thought he should be able to prove that the additional duty which he meant to propose, namely, half the existing duty, or one shilling and two-pence a bushel, making the whole duty three shillings and sixpence a bushel, not only would not call on the brewers to raise the price of beer, but that under its operation, they would still be enabled to lower the price to the public. (Hear! und a laugh!) He requested that those Honorable Gentlemen who appeared to be entertained by this declaration, would turn their attention to the Report made last year by the Committee on the high price of beer, a report which contained a great deal of very valuable information on the subject, particularly in the evidence given by a Gentleman of the highest respectability, and whose means of knowledge were necessarily extensive (he meant Mr. Barclay), with respect to the comparar