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the subject, but leave the scouted task to proportion as the person who enjoyed a the gentlemen who stirred the question. stated income. To prevent evasion, he The hon. baronet had said, that whatever proposed, that when a person had once was brought forward by the ministerial made his election, whether he would pay side of the House never failed to make an according to the full amount of profit impression, because it had the counte- within the preceding year, or for an nance of ministers; while, whatever the average of three years, he should not be opposite side attempted to enforce made no at liberty afterwards to vary the election impression. But upon whom did the hon. he had made. baronet expect to make an impression? Sir F. Baring said, that by not allowSurely not upon the House ; no, not evening the option annually, many cases of upon the mind of the greatest idiot. After extreme hardship must necessarily arise. what had been observed on the case of co- Mr. Alderman Curtis was of opinion, lonel Despard, it would be idle to offer a that the alternative was not intended as a word more on the subject. What now was boon to commercial men, but as an the case? An illiterate woman, who can- equitable mode of ascertaining their innot even spell, writes a letter, an able let come, and that no mode could so securely ter let it be supposed, pathetically de guard against evasion as that of restoring scribing the hardships and cruelties sus: men to their first election. In the other tained by her husband: it also comes out, case, persons might easily shape and that this letter was written, not by Mrs. shuffle their books so as to make false Despard, but by a friend. He would not entries and fallacious balances, and theresay that it was written by the hon. gentle by defraud the revenue. Already evasion man (Mr. Courtenay), for he had seen had prevailed, within his own knowledge. some of his writings, and would assert, Mr. Tierney reprobated the frequent that the letter in question was as far su- use of the term “ evasion," and thought a perior to his literary productions, as it variety of cases of hardship might be put, was above the former epistolary specimens if the average was to be made on three of Mrs. Despard. The whole of that let- years. Many men felt themselves so ter had been completely contradicted; hard pressed by the weight of taxes, and those who so confidently brought it that they felt themselves honestly and forward, were so completely brought to conscientiously justifiable in trying wheshame and ridicule, that he was sure they ther, without violating the letter of the would not venture to restate it again. He law, they might not avoid a part of the would advise the hon. gentleman for the burthen. future to keep his humanity for Smith and Mr. Pitt said, if the hon. gentleman was Binns, his religion for Newgate, and liis right in supposing that conscientious men jokes for the hackney coachmen.
would think themselves justifiable in taking The House then resolved itself into the every advantage to evade the tax, it was committee, in which it was agreed that the more incumbent on him to make the the bill should remain in force till the 21st letter of the law so strict that its spirit of May, 1799. The report was then or- should not be evaded. dered to be received to-morrow. On Mr. Wilberforce dwelt upon evasion, which day the bill was read a third time, and the necessity of preventing men who and passed.
would selfishly enjoy all the comforts of
life, without contributing in due proportion Debate in the Commons on the Income to their preservation, from the farther Duty Bill.] The Income Duty Bill was practice of such an illiberal system. committed on the 17th and 19th of De- Mr. Tierney said, it was a common saycember. In the committee a variety of ing, that tricks which were fair in love, amendments and modifications, were after were also fair in taxation ; that was, that long and desultory conversations, agreed every advantage which could, might be to.
taken. He might, therefore, suppose, that
many conscientious men would think Dec. 22. The House having again re- themselves justified in taking every adsolved itself into a committee on the bill, vantage of this law, not to evade the let.
Mr. H. Thornton said, it was the object ter of it, but its heavy effects. He would of the bill, that, if possible, a man who illustrate this more precisely. A very had a fluctuating income should pay to distinguished person had lately thouglıt it the exigencies of the state in the same neither a sin por a shame to evade his proportion at the period of the triple assess- gentleman ought to retract the charge as ment. He possessed a handsome pension, publicly as he had made it. but having in view the certainty of a place Mr. Tierney said, he had not the least of much greater emolument, he resigned objection to inquire into the circumstance, the pension, and took advantage of the and having so inquired, to satisfy the interval to include neither the one nor the right hon. gentleman. But with respect other in his return. The person alluded to being put thus to the torture, it was to, now held a considerable office, and the what he could not submit to. right hon. gentleman need not look far for Mr. Pitt said, that the instance to him, as he would be found among his most which the whisper seemed to point, was intimate acquaintance.
that of the noble lord (Auckland) who Mr. Pitt said, that if the case was put had been appointed one of the Postas a real one it deserved the most serious masters general; but so far from the fact attention, and called upon the hon. gen. being true, he could assert that that pertleman to name the person.
son had given in his income as high as it Mr. Tierney declined to do so. could be given in; that he had only
Lord Hawkesbury insisted that the per- claimed the exceptions to which he was son alluded to ought to be named. If the fairly entitled by law, and that having so hon. gentleman undertook to state a case of done, he had doubled the tenth, and thus that nature, he should not refuse to specify paid a fifth. particulars. He ought to disclose the Here the conversation ended. The whole case, or not mention it at all. other clauses of the bill were then gone
Mr. Tierney said, he would not have through, and the bill was reported. stated what he did without reason. He had it from respectable authority, but he Dec. 27. On the order of the day bedid not consider himself justified in mening read for taking the report of the comtioning the name until he should make mittee into consideration, farther inquiry:
Sir W. Pulteney said, that there were in Mr. Pitt said, that the hon. gentleman the measure now before them many points might do an injury by declining to name to which he must call their attention. It the person, whereas, if he did name the appeared to him that the liberty of any person, none could arise in the case of his country consisted in three points-secubeing mistaken. If, however, he would rity of life-security of personal freedom not specify particulars he must consider --security of property. Upon the first, the statement totally unfounded. The namely the security of life, when he conhon. gentleman had said, that the person sidered the powers of grand juries, who, alluded to was an officer of considerable in all cases, had this point before them, consequence. For his part, he did know except those of a military nature, and an instance, and only one, of a person who when he considered the many
excellent had lately relinquished a pension, and re-regulations that subsisted with regard to ceived an office of considerable conse- treason, he was ready to say there was no quence; but if the allusion was meant to complaint to be urged. With regard to apply to him, the hon. gentleman had been the second point, namely, personal liberty, most grossly deceived; for, from his per- certain it was, that while the Habeas sonal knowledge, he could aver that that Corpus act remained suspended, that was personage had paid his full proportion, in some measure abridged, but for a temmaking no other deduction than what he porary and particular purpose that might was justly and fairly entitled to, amount- be submitted to. But with regard to the ing to one tenth; but that personage did third branch of national liberty, namely, not rest there, for he had doubled that security to property, he questioned whesum in voluntary contribution; so that in ther any part of it would continue if this stead of a tenth, he had actually paid a bill passed into a law. There must be a fifth of his income.
power of levying taxes vested some Mr. Tierney was ready to agree to the where; in most of the monarchies of Euproposition of the right hon. gentleman rope they vested in the monarch, under ihat if the House should hear no more on certain modifications. But in this country, the subject, his statement should be sup- thanks to the exertions of our ancestors, posed unfounded.
it was settled, that no money could be Mr. Bankes said, that if the rumour levied on the subject but through the meshould prove to be unfounded, the hon. dium of parliament. It was brought into
question in the time of Charles 1st, he should pay under the assessment, yet, and it was upon this point that the great in the next year, he had clearly an option. Hampden distinguished himself, and that But it was said, that the assessed taxes the civil war afterwards broke out. It did not produce as much as was expected, was now, beyond all dispute, settled, that and there were many evasions. That alí the people of this country cannot be taxed they produced was not enough, he adin any way but through the consent of mitted, but as to evasions, he was of opitheir representatives in parliament. In- nion, they might have been prevented by deed ever since the Revolution taxes had proper regulations. Besides these there been raised in no other manner; and it were many very great objections to this had been the policy of parliament to im- measure, even as now altered. Suppose a pose taxes in such a way as to afford to man gives in a fair statement of his ineach class of the community an option come, would that prevent a disclosure of whether they would pay them or not ; his affairs ? By no means, for it depended because they were always imposed on not upon the truth or falsehood of the acconsumption. To this general policy count, but the choice of the commission there were but two exceptions, namely, whether the disclosure should be made or the land tax and the tax upon wir vs. not. There were
two temptations to But it might be said, that a tax upon the shun a disclosure of a man's circumabsolute necessaries of life left no option, stances : first, because they were bad; because they must be had: but, even in secondly, there were many objections to that case, the quantity was at the discre- a man's disclosing his good circumstances. tion of the consumer. And, indeed, the [a laugh]. Gentlemen would perhaps direct and immediate articles of life still alter their tone, if they heard him out. remained untaxed; bread, for instance, Would it not be a desirable thing to had no tax; milk was not taxed : vegeta- conceal good circumstances in any case ? bles were not taxed. But, to return-Had it never occurred to the House, that when parliament had sanctioned the it had a bad effect on a man's children, scheme of a minister, and allowed him to to know very early in life, that they would have recourse to means of taxation which become possessed of large fortunes on the gave no option, it sanctioned a new sys- death of their parents? And was this tem of taxation, which would give away observation never applicable to any other much of the controlling power of taxes. branches of a man's family? If it was It might be said, that it was extremely said, these things were inseparable from difficult to find out articles of consumption the bill, there might then arise two quesupon which taxes could be imposed." He tions; first, whether the bill should not was ready to acknowledge the truth of be abandoned altogether? and if that was that assertion : but he was very far from determined in the negative, then whether a wishing to abandon the system on that ac- better mode than this might not be count; and indeed that was, in some res adopted ? He must now notice the situapects, a desirable thing: it was a great tion into which the commissioners would check upon the executire government; be thrown by this bill. It would be diffiit made them provident of the public cult for them to refuse to order a schedule money, and made parliament active in ex- to be made upon the suggestion of the inamining what were the best modes of rais- spectors ; and was it not grievous to a ing large sums of money. But, if the gentleman to reflect, that, notwithstanding principle of this measure, was once esta he had charged himself to the utmost farblished, although the minister this year thing, with the hope that his affairs might only called for one-tenth of the income of not be exposed, they would be exposed the people, next year he might call for after all ?' This would tend to crush the two-tenths, then for three-tenths, and so independent spirit of the people, and was on until the whole was taken away, for a measure partaking of the spirit of absothe principle being once adopted, would not lute government. There was a great objecadmit of any limitation ; and therefore, tion also to this bill, upon the ground that upon that ground, he thought this a very government must necessarily become acimproper mode of raising money for the quainted with the circumstances of every service of the state. The principle of the individual in the kingdom, and conseassessed taxes had no resemblance to this; quently know when and where to find all for although it might be said, that the party the property in England. This was had no option in the first year, as to what thing that was quite improper for any go
vernment to know, for it would be an en- diminishing the means of employing them. couragement to the minister to go on | The next objection he had to this bill with a scale of ruinous expense, and there was, that it was going against all principle was nothing to oppose the desire of the of taxation. This was an opinion he had minister whenever he wanted to lay hold given to the public twenty years ago. of any of this property. The oath set He had stated that opinion upon considefor and prescribed in the bill had ten- ration of the subject of the taxation of the dency to this dangerous disclosure. There colonies in America. It had been the was a clause directing that books should uniform practice of the parliament of be prepared, and these books might in England since the revolution to hold out time come on the table of the minister ; but one measure of taxation to all desand this would of itself make the state of criptions of persons. Suppose we had a property extremely insecure. This mode different mode of taxation for Yorkshire was, indeed, not intirely new; but it from any other county, would that be had never been adopted since the Revolu- deemed "fair and wise? Certainly not. tion. He knew that the system of this The principle was, that all classes were to bill was adopted under the Protectorate; be affected alike; and yet that was not there was then an assessment of income, the case under this bill, for there was a and every man in the kingdom was made class of men who were to be found in to contribute. It was levied very arbi- every part of this country, who were trarily and unjustly; and nothing ever made under a different mode from all the rest the people feel more dejection than that of the community. He meant commersystem of taxation; it probably had a cial men. They were to have a set of great share in bringing about the restora- surveyors of their own. This might be tion of Charles 2nd. After that res- very convenient to these persons, and, as toration the system was found impracti- far as it was convenient to them, he did not cable, and, as far as regarded the landed object to it; but he saw no reason upon interest, it ended in a land tax. There earth why the same sort of regulation was another objection which he had to should not be extended to all other desurge. This tax exempted all persons criptions of persons. It might be said, whose income was under 601. a year, and that this was a tax upon all places and penplaced in the highest scale of impost a per- sions, and that if it bore very hard, there son of 2001. a year. This would rest very was a phalanx of that description to take hard indeed on the middling class of so- care it should not go too far. To this he ciety, and but slightly on the upper class; would observe, that, with regard to places when it came to be continued, as most pro- and pensions, the ministers would always bably it would if agreed to now, it would be able to compensate the sufferers in that soon ruin the middling class of society; and particular. He laid no great stress, howwhen that should be the case did any ever, on that point; but he did lay man believe that the liberty of the coun- great stress on the unconstitutional printry would long continue? This bill ciple, of making a distinction in the mode would destroy that middling class, and in which different classes were to be subwould do it soon; and then we should jected to an investigation of their means have only two classes in the community, of bearing a duty. The last objection he and a miserable community it would be, had to urge was, that the bill did not hold of noblemen and peasants. Many country out, that this was not to be a mode of gentlemen thought well of this bill, under taxation to be adopted in future. It must an idea that it would be an equal impost continue at least for three years, and if upon those who were able to bear it ; but this war did not terminate this year, it in that they were miserably deceived, for must continue for four years. It was it would take away from the farmer the only expressed, that the operation of the means of making improvements in agri- bill should not cease until such a time; culture, which would affect the labourer but nothing was held forth to the country or peasant directly. It would diminish at what time it should cease. Upon the the means of the manufacturer to carry whole of this case, he thought this bill on his manufacture, and therefore directly was dangerous in its very nature ; that it affect all those who subsisted by working encroached in an alarming degree, upon at manufactures, and so, without any cir- the principles of the constitution; and cuitous progress, it would affect at once that if the plan which it involved should all the lower classes of the community, by save some money to the state, it would be
Mr. Ryder said, he should deem it pre his part, he was willing to support the sumptuous to oppose the opinion of the mode proposed of raising the supplies hon. baronet upon the principle of such a within the year, but he was also determeasure as this, unless he was supported mined to defend the constitution, which by some authority; an authority, how the present bill would tend to move from ever, he had, namely, that of the hon. its centre. For this reason, therefore, he baronet himself. The hon. baronet had, must oppose its farther progress; for it last year, when the assessed taxes were would erect an inquisitorial power, not under discussion, strenuously supported only unknown to the constitution, but the principle of raising the whole supplies totally subversive of it. within the year.
The hon. baronet ob. Mr. Dent supported the bill, being conjected, that the tax now before the House vinced that, instead of injuring the conwas not optional; but there were many stitution, it would, on the contrary, have taxes in this country in which there was the effect of preserving it. no option. He had heard, for instance, Mr. J. H. Browne examined the bill, of a poll-tax; of taxes taking the tenth and could by no means admit that the and the fifteenth of every man's income. measure was liable to the objections that What did the hon. baronet think of the had been urged against it. How did it tithes, which amounted to nearly five tend to invade property? Merely to remillions a year? What would he say to quire a statement of property was surely the whole system of our poor laws? The not an attempt to invade it. The objecsame observation would apply to all county tion, therefore, militated only against the rates. All of which proved, that uni- abuse of such a disclosure, against which formly, since the Revolution, a large por- abuse the bill afforded every requisite tion of the taxes paid by the subjects of guard. It was also argued, that any disthis country, had not been optional; and closure, under any circumstances, must it had been a system adopted by another prove extremely inconvenient to indivistate, which, next to this, was the most duals. But it ought to be recollected, considerable in commercial arrangements that, by nothing but a sacrifice of private and good policy, he meant Holland, and convenience could the calls for the public from which we had borrowed the tax on service be answered, and that the general collateral succession. The whole of the good must ever result from something that Assessed-tax bill was not optional. Per- might be individually felt as a hardship. sons, indeed, might live in houses of less We were called upon, by public duty, to rent than they formerly did, but it was make some great effort, in order to rescue impossible for them to live in houses that Europe from the oppression under which paid no tax. If it was admitted, that to a great part of it groaned. The present raise the tax upon the luxuries was impos- measure appeared to him to be the only sible, it followed, of course, that it could one that could enable us to accomplish only be levied upon the necessaries of life. that great end, and as such it should have Was that the mode by which the hon. his support. baronet meant to provide for the middle
Mr. W. Smith said, there was one great or the poorest classes? A tax on the ne- error into which the supporters of the bill cessaries of life must raise the wages of had fallen. They charged the opposers Jabour. If this was the mode which the of it with inconsistency, because they had hon. baronet meant to suggest, it was evi- acknowledged the necessity of raising a dent that any tax, if levied upon articles great portion of the supplies within the of consumption, must be heavier than the year. But on what principle did they rest present one.
this necessity? It must be either a phyMr. Jones said, we were placed between sical or political necessity; if it were a two evils: we had to dread, on the one physical necessity, then he would unrehand, the horrible evils of the French reluctantly yield to that necessity; but if it volution; and, on the other, the evils that only proceeded on the ground of a politimust necessarily arise from any measure cal necessity, then the nature of that nee entrenching on the constitution. When cessity should be duly inquired into. In he voted for the Triple-assessment bill of his opinion, political necessity should be last session, he declared it to be a strong guided by a nice balance of the convemeasure; but we were then threatened niencies and inconveniencies to which the with invasion ; that storm was blown over. measure might give rise. If the conveThe cases were therefore different. For niencies were proved to preponderate over