of The Tablet's first edition
Counsel were again heard at the bar, against the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill, after which
LORD MELBOURNE intimated that he should move that the House should resolve itself into a committee on the bill on Friday next.
The House having resolved itself into a committee of ways and means -
The Chancellor of the Exchequer proceeded with his financial propositions for the year. The total income for the year 1839-40, was 47,843,000 l . - the expenditure was 49,300,000 l . There was therefore a deficiency of 1,457,000 l ., but a portion of this amounting to 1,000,000 l . had been foreseen last year, and provided for by the funding of Exchequer bills, which reduced the unprovided for balance to 457,000 l . In the last year, however, - although not strictly speaking part of the expenditure of the year - a sum of 260,000 l ., which, in 1838, was determined to be issued to the clergy of Ireland, was issued in Exchequer Bills and funded. Therefore 260,000 l . of the 457,000;. was reduced by the funding of Exchequer Bills, leaving a balance of only 197,000 l .. The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to state as follows, the expenditure for which provision must be made for the present year. The interest of the debt and other charges on the consolidated fund 31,877,000 l . The vote for the army 6,000,000 l . The vote for the navy 5,659,000 l . For the ordenance 1,815,000 l . The miscellaneous 2,726,000 l . The grants for the year, therefore, as they appear in the estimates, amounted to 16,880,000 l . making altogether a total of 48,757,000 l . In addition to this the secretary for the Admiralty would make a further demand for a supplemental vote of 100,000 l . to obviate the discrepancy which had been already adverted to, between the number of men and the sums stated. The adoption of the suggestions of the Military and Naval Commissioners would create an additional expense of 75,000 l . He should propose a vote for Canada of 359,000 l ., and for China of 150,000 l . - the expense of the preparations for the expedition being about 54,000 l . and as in the first instance, the other expenses would be defrayed by the government of India, he thought 100,000 l . was sufficient in addition to the expenses already actually incurred. Having thus stated the expenditure the right honourable gentleman proceeded to state the estimated income -
"I am then prepared to take the revenue arising from customs, excise, stamps, and assessed taxes, at the same amount as that of last year. Looking at the present condition of the country - and I have communicated with all the departments - I think there is not sufficient ground for supposing that we shall have a less amount of revenue from these sources next year than we had during the last - (hear, hear). With regard to the Post- office, I propose to take the estimate of the Post-office authorities, for they have already had some experience of the working of the recent change in that department. I think I may take the income from that department at 530,000 l . I anticipate a revenue of 170,000;. from the crown lands. Thus, taking the income from the customs, excise, stamps, and assessed taxes, at the same amount as that of last year, and taking the Post-office at 530,000 l . the crown lands at 170,000 l . and the miscellaneous sources of income at 250,000 l . - the total estimated income for the year may be taken at 47,034,000 l . I think, however, that there may be a reduction in this income arising from a circumstance which I will shortly state. As early as the administration of Earl Grey, negotiations were entered into with the Government of France, with the view of forming a commercial treaty which might be advantageous to both countries. These negotiations were subsequently renewed. They have hitherto failed; but I still hope that they may lead to more favourable and practical results. If this should be the case there will be a certain amount to be deducted from the income I have stated, which amount must be calculated upon as so much lost to the revenue; but the House will not expect that we can induce foreign countries to throw open their markets to the products of our industry without obtaining from us a corresponding equivalent. There is another point also to which I wish to call the attention of the House, as tending to reduce the amount of income I have stated. I propose to give a small relief to a class of persons who, from no fault of their own, but altogether from circumstances over which they had no control, and from which most other classes of the community have largely benefited, are thrown into a position of great difficulty - I mean the postmasters. It was represented to me that they are obliged to keep chaises for the accommodation of the public, with but little remuneration to themselves, while exposed to very heavy taxes. It was also suggested that if some alteration were made, they might be enabled to keep different classes of carriages, and open fresh lines of trade. The duty at present was upon hack post chaises, 5 l .5 s .; on four-wheeled chaises, 4 l .10 s ., and on two-wheeled, 3 l .5 s . I propose to reduce the duty upon them all to 3 l . This will be but a small reduction, but making allowance for this and for the loss which may follow the commercial treaty if concluded, the amount of the estimated income I have stated, will be reduced to 46,700.000 l ., which income, I believe, the House may calculate upon for future years. The expenditure I have already stated to be 49,432,000 l ., and the deficiency, therefore, will be 2,232,000 l ., over the estimated income, after deducting 500,000 l . on account of Canada and China as being temporary charges. I will not proceed to recommend to the House the measures which the Government have decided upon, in order to make up the estimated income to the amount of the expenditure. My object is not to place any new tax on the public - not to place the hand of the tax-gatherer upon any new subject of taxation. Looking to the practice of olden times, I find it has not been unusual to deal with taxation upon the principle of per-centage. I now propose to adopt that principle, though not without exception. Upon the customs and excise I propose to add five per cent. to the duties, and I also propose an addition of 2 s . in the pound, or ten per cent. on the assessed taxes. These per-centages are of course not on the value of the article, but upon the taxes now paid. With respect to spirits, it is impossible to adopt the principle of per-centage. I therefore propose one uniform rate of duty on spirits, by imposing an additional fourpence per gallon on all spirits - of Irish, Scotch, or of colonial produce. I may observe, that I anticipate from the 10 per cent. on the assessed taxes, an addition to the revenue of 276,000 l . I think it right to state, as forming part of the arrangement, that a new survey will be made, in order that those who do not fairly pay their share should not be called upon. Five per cent. on customs and excise will yield 1,426,400 l . On spirits, by the additional 4 d . per gallon, I calculate upon obtaining 484,800 l . By the tax of 10 per cent. in the case of assessed taxes, I calculate on a sum of 276,000 l ., and from the adoption of the survey I anticipate an increase of 150,000 l . The estimate which I have already stated of the amount of increase which I had previously calculated upon without any addition upon it whatever, was 46,700,000 l ., but adding these sums of revenue to that amount, the result is 49,037,000 l. This will leave a deficit somewhat less than the 500,000 l . required for China and Canada, for which I do not propose at present to make provision." The right hon. gentleman concluded by moving resolutions to the following effect - "That, towards raising a supply to her Majesty, there shall be raised or levied, from and after the 15th May 1840, a sum or sums, after the rate of 5 per cent., on all duties of customs of what kind soever now paid or due to her Majesty, in the United Kingdom, under the direction of the Commissioners of her Majesty's Customs; and that from and after the 15th of May, there shall be levied upon every gallon of spirits, or strong waters, whether under her Majesty's lock or otherwise, an additional duty of 4 d . per gallon."
Mr. HUME moved as an amendment - "That, it is expedient to equalize the taxation to be levied on the descent of personal and real property." The committee, after a long discussion, divided. For the resolution, 156; against it, 39. Majority, 117.
General JOHNSON opposed the increased duty on spirits. The committee again divided. For the resolution, 111; against, 15. Majority, 96.
The other resolutions were agreed to, and the House adjourned.