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man came to a man's dwelling to see whe-| baronet must know, that the novelty was the ther he had taken into, or sent out of his introduction of the funding system, and not house, some particular articles, without the raising the supplies within the year. having previously paid a given sum to the The system of borrowing and funding revenue ; but here a spy comes, not only certainly afforded greater facilities, but into the House, but opens the bureau of still it ought not to be carried to too great every man, and becomes acquainted with an extent. It seemed to be just upon his most secret concerns. A man must every principle, that we ought for a time show to this spy his bills, his notes, his to pay more than usual, rather than throw bonds, and all his securities. This was the whole burthen upon posterity. The monstrous. He knew that a tax on in principle of the measure of last year was come had the appearance, upon a glance this, that a tenth part of the income of at it, of being an equal tax; but he would every person should be contributed. The ask, what sort of equality there was be- question was, how that tenth part was to tween 10 per cent upon income merely, be ascertained ? It was imagined that the and 10 per cent upon that income which extent of a man's income might be asceris the produce of a capital? There was tained by the amount of his taxes. On another species of property which was of this supposition the tax of last year was a peculiar nature, he meant that which adopted. Wherever the operation of the belonged to a church establishment. He tax was such as to take more than onewas a friend to a church establishment; tenth from any individual, then the bill he was of opinion that the clergy were pointed out the means by which he might very serviceable to every community obtain relief. But in those cases where the where they were known, for they instruct- assessed taxes did not take one-tenth, the ed the mass of the people in their duty. individual could make up the deficiency He would ask, whether any persons hav- by voluntary contributions. Many, Viowe ing a 1,000l. a year in the church, ought ever, had taken very improper means to to pay the same sum as a person of a evade the payment of the tax. He 1,0001. year landed property? Besides was aware that the present plan would this, he objected to the scale of duty. It not, in every instance, produce the was said, that men might reduce their ex- tenth of a man's income. "But if they penses, in order to enable them to pay could not obtain perfect equality, they this impost. A gentleman of only 1,0001. ought to adopt such measures as seemed a year could not reduce. He considered most likely to produce that effect. This a tax upon income as a tax upon indus- was the object of the present bill. He try, and such as would make men unwil was surprised the hon. baronet was an adling to labour. They would argue with vocate for taxing capital, because it was themselves thus ; why should we labour almost universally agreed, that income when government runs away with the ef- and not capital, was the proper object of fect of it? If this bill was supposed chiefly taxation. Taxes upon capital had been to affect the rich, it was a mistake. It attempted, but it was found that they prodid not hurt the rich man, it only made duced great inequality. In the beginning him curtail his expenses. And who suf- of the reign of queen Anne, an attempt fered? The industrious poor who were was made to tax capital. The provisions of employed by him.
that act were infinitely more objectionable The Solicitor General said, that if when than the present; but it never was sugthe legislature imposed a tax, they were gested at that period that they were un. to wait until they found one which was constitutional. It certainly was found perfectly popular, he was afraid they that they were not effectual, as far as they would wait long enough: for all the obser- related to capital ; but as far as they revation he had been led to make, induced lated to income, they proved to be effechim to believe that most people were in. tual : the result was, that the tax, as far clined to evade the payment of taxes. | as it affected capital, was given up; but, When it was proposed to repeal the as with respect to income, it was retained. sessed tax bill, and to substitute this mode It must be obvious, that an attempt to of collection, the principle was preserved, tax capital, with respect to land, would though the means were altered." The ex- be wholly impracticable. How would it perience of last year had fully proved the be possible for commissioners to examine wisdom of raising a considerable part of into the various kinds of estates and the the supplies within the year. The hon. different interests which different people might have in the land ? How could they that one set of men should pay a tax bedistinguish between settled and unsettled cause their property was of a certain desestates? If they were to tax the tenants for cription, and another should not. The life according to his interest, then the re- most valuable property a man could have versioners would not be taxed at all. In was enjoyed equally by all the subjects of many cases, those who least deserved it this empire, namely, the protection of his would be most favoured ; and on the other property, his liberty, and every thing that hand, those who had the greatest title to was dear to him. It appeared to him, indulgence would receive the least. It that the least valuable part of a man's prowas therefore obvious, that to attempt perty was that which he carried in his to tax the capital of land would be im- pocket. Where, therefore, all were conpracticable; or, if it could be effected, cerned, all should come within the reach would be productive of the greatest ine- of the tax. This was the effect of this tax. qualities. But if the principle of taxing It was urged, in opposition to this meacapital was applied to money, the inequa- sure, that it would have been better to lity would be much greater, because the adhere to the funding system. Before this value of money depended, in a great de opinion was implicitly adopted, it should gree, upon the mode in which it was em- be recollected that we were a commercial ployed. A sum of money in the hands of people, and that great care should be one man, might be infinitely more valu- taken that our wealth should not be diable than an equal sum in the hands of verted from our commerce, to which we another. But a tax upon capital would owed all our greatness into other chanmake no such distinctions; two persons nels. Now, the natural consequence of possessing the same sum, must pay the pushing the funding system to an extreme, same tax, though the value of the capital would be to raise the interest of money might be five times greater to one than to to a degree that would be extremely danthe other. He did not mean to say that gerous; because if men could get an exa tax upon income was, in every instance, travagant interest for money, without exfree from these objections. It was not posing it to the risks of commerce, ail possible to devise any mode of taxation commercial enterprise would be checked. which should operate equally upon all. One of the strongest objections urged But a tax which would take, as nearly as against this measure was, that it would possible, the same proportion of income compel a disclosure of every man's private from all, would be the most desirable one affairs. Now in the West Indies, aman could that could be imposed. One great advan- not have a bond or note without its being tage arising from this mode of taxation registered, and consequently to a certain was, that that which was raised came into degree disclosing his property; and yet the public coffer, and had not the effect of he did not know that it had ever produced raising the price of any article of con- any prejudicial effects. Another objecsumption. It would be an extremely dif- tion urged against this bill was, that it inficult task to discover other means by vested the persons who were to collect the which the same beneficial effects could be tax with inquisitorial power ; but this obproduced with as little inconvenience. jection was not more valid than the others;
Sir. W. Young gave his entire assent to because, if every man was allowed to give the principle of the bill. In considering in statement of his property just as he the propriety of agreeing to this, or any pleased, the consequence would obviously other mode of taxation, it was always ne be, that very little money would be raised. cessary to bear in mind the important ob. He by no means saw how this inquiry jects for which we were contending. It could be so painful to a man's feelings. was a circumstance which contributed Who were the persons by whom the in. much to the happiness and prosperity of quiry was to be made ? Why, just that this country, that all the links in the chain description of persons to whom every man of its society ran naturally one into the voluntarily submitted the investigation of other ; that it was impossible to mark questions respecting his property and his where one rank of society began, and life. If, then, they were fit to be trusted where another ended. It was upon this with such important concerns as property principle that he had found fault with and life, upon what ground could any the measure of last year, because there man be afraid of being injured by their were many people wholly exempted from prejudices? If it was necessary to raise a its operation. It was highly unjust to say, large sum of money, and coercive means
were also necessary, the question was, evade the bill still more effectually: as whether the means now proposed were their property was generally in stock, the not the best that could be suggested ? The manufacturers, &c. will be induced to principle of the bill should have his undervalue it, and thus avoid the tax alentire support; because he was convinced together. From what had passed at the that we had now arrived at the true prin- Bank yesterday, he was induced to put ciple of taxation, in which all persons the following question :- Were dividends were called upon to contribute in propor- liable to be taxed, or only the profits upon tion to their means.
dividends ? What then, in either case, was Mr. Elison said, that the principle of to become of the profits of corporate bothis measure appeared to him exactly the dies? same as that of last year; but he liked the Mr. W. Smith said, that if it were the means now adopted for carrying that prin object of the measure merely to raise ten ciple into effect infinitely better than the millions within the year, as far as that criterion of assessed iaxes. It would was its object he was ready to agree to it. effect that which he was anxious for, His objections did not lie against the namely, that every man should pay alike, sum ; on the contrary, so far he thought because every man was equally interested. it a wise plan. It was asserted, that the What analogy there was between this tax principle of the bill was the same as that and a requisition, he could not conceive. of the assessed taxes last year. As No minister in this country would ever far as it went to raise a certain portion of dare to attempt a requisition. It was ra- the supplies within the year, undoubtedly ther extraordinary, that a measure to it was the same; as it related, however, which the people gave their assent by to the criterion by which the means of means of their representatives, should be contributing were to be ascertained, it for a moment compared with a lawless re- differed widely from that of last year. The quisition.
criterion established last year was a volunSir Francis Baring did not rise to op- tary criterion ; a man might think himself pose the object of the bill. He was not, able to spend a certain sum of money, but however, without his objections to several his expenditure was at his option. Now parts of the plan. It was as liable to eva- his income could not be said to be a volunsion, and even more so, than that of last tary criterion; for over it he had no year. A learned gentleman had made control. An hon. gentleman had said some distinction between a tax upon in that we should all put a hand to the come and a tax upon capital. With re- plough, and free the bill from its inconvegard to that on income, he seemed to niences; but if that hon. gentleman think there could be no evasion. In some thought the bill unconstitutional, unjust, measure the learned gentleman might be oppressive, cruel, and he might add, frauright; but with regard to trade, he cer- dulent, would he then assist in forcing it tainly was in the wrong, for in commerce on the nation ? Such was his opinion of the bill would be liable to evasions and the bill; he could not therefore put a frauds without end. A man might have hand to the plough. Upon what principle a large income in trade, yet his property of political economy could they pronounce could not be ascertained. Even could it that measure to be wise, honest, politic, be come at, there were occasions where and just, which would impose an equal it should not be touched. There was no- tax upon indolence and industry? But thing that should have a stronger claim this the present bill went directly to do. on the protection of government, than One man, for instance, might draw a divicreative talents in mercantile pursuits. dend from the funds of 500l. per annum, Where industry was engaged in accumu- the whole of which he had acquired by lating property, it should be encouraged, the exertions of bis industry; while the not cramped nor dispirited. The indus- other enjoyed the same sum without its trious and enterprizing should be pro- ever having cost him any labour. This bill tected ; at least he should not be molested would assess both equally. Was not, then, while engaged in producing a capital. industry confounded with indolence ? When it was produced, then let it be He hoped the House would not permit taxed; but while he was engaged in the the drone and the bee, the rich and the pursuit, no inspector should pry into his poor, to be thrown promiscuously togeaffairs. The manufacturing and trading ther under the pressure of a cruel, opprespart of the community would be able to sive, and indiscriminating tax. The ini
quity of this measure would appear more, because we might make a declaration : to strongly to the House, when shown in the what, however, did this declaration words of an able writer, whose name he amount, according to the same author ?-had the honour to bear. The opinion of He says, “ In all countries a severe inquiMr. Adam Smith would bear him out in his sition into the circumstances of private assertion. This valuable writer says: “Ca- persons has been carefully avoided. At pitation taxes, if it is attempted to pro- Hamburgh every inhabitant is obliged to portion them to the fortune or revenue of pay to the state one-fourth per cent of all each contributor, become altogether arbi- that he possesses, and as the wealth of the trary. The state of a man's fortune varies people of Hamburgh consists principally from day to day, and without an inqui- in stock, this tax may be considered as a sition more intolerable than any tax, tax upon stock. Every man assesses himand renewed at least once every year, self, and, in the presence of the magistrate, can only be guessed at his assessments puts annually into the public coffer a cer. therefore must, in most cases, depend tain som of money, which he declares upon the good or bad humour of his as- upon oath to be one-fourth per cent of all sessors, and must therefore be altogether that he possesses, but without declaring arbitrary and uncertain.” The next ob- what it amounts to, or being liable to any ject he would touch upon, was the profits examination upon that subjeet.” The arising from agriculture and irade, and disclosure of circumstances, we were also this was evidently an object not directly told was not to be dreaded. Yet hear taxable. The same author adduced a Adam Smith: “ Merchants engaged in variety of reasons why it should not be the hazardous projects of trade, all tremtaxed directly. “ This profit,” he says, ble at the thoughts of being obliged at all " is the compensation, and in most cases times to expose the real state of their cirit is no more than a very moderate com. cumstances. The ruin of their credit and pensation, for the risk and trouble of the miscarriage of their projects, they employing the stock. The employer foresee, would too often be the consemust have this compensation, otherwise quence. A sober and parsimonious peohe cannot, consistenily with his own in- ple, who are strangers to all such projects, terest, continue the employment.” Here, I do not feel that they have occasion for therefore, was industry to be recoms any such concealment." pensed, and not confounded with indo- Mr. Pitt said:-Sir; Impressed as I am lence. The author next proceeded to with the conviction that there never was a show, that “the quantity and value of subject of greater importance agitated the land which any man possesses can
within these walls, I should not have never be a secret, and can always be as thought it incumbent upon me in the precertained with great exactness. 'But the sent stage of the business, to have troubled whole amount of the capital stock which you with any observations, were there not he possesses is almost always a secret, some points which have been touched and can scarce ever be ascertained with upon this night, which I am desirous, as tolerable exactness. It is liable, besides, soon as possible, to place in their proper to almost continual variations. A year point of view. What has been urged by seldom passes away, frequently not a some gentlemen, while it could not be month, sometimes scarce a single day, in considered fairly as argument, was 80 which it does not rise or fall more or less. calculated to excite prejudice, and to An inquisition into every man's private beget misconception, that it demands circumstances, and an inquisition which, some degree of notice. It is a satisfaction in order to accommodate the tax to them, to me to find that the propriety of raising watched over all the fluctuations of his a certain part of the supplies within the fortune, would be a source of such con- year has in general been conceded. If tinual and endless vexation as no people we can judge from what has appeared to: could support.” England, however, seem- night, no one, except the hon. baronet ed doomed to support it; though he could who opened the debate is disposed to connot well imagine that Englishmen would test the principle. I am thus relieved tamely submit to a system of taxation from the necessity of detaining the that discouraged industry, and favoured House with any argument upon that indolence, and which put a surveyor, or a subject, or saying any thing in reply spy over every man's property. But it to one solitary antagonist by, whom is said there was no inquisitorial power, the principle was denied. Whatever (VOL. XXXIV.]
authority may belong to that individual and to whom, of course, commerce itself is member, and no man has more, the indebted for the foundation on wbichit rests. worthy baronet himself seemed to rest Yet this class the hon. gentleman thinks entirely upon that authority, as he did proper to stigmatize as useless drones, of not add a single argument in support of no estimation in the eyes of society. When his position. There were some others, the consequences with which this light however, who, admitting the benefits flippant theory, the offspring of mere temwhich might be derived, both in present porary unthinking policy, would be attendvigour and permanent resources, from ed are fairly considered, the hon.gentleman the plan of raising great part of the sup- will find that his distinction between useplies within the year, yet thought them- ful and useless classes is as little founded selves at liberty peremptorily, and impa- in truth, as the practical system he founds tiently, to shut the door against all im. upon it would be consistent with the geprovement, and to oppose all farther deli- neral interest of those whom he thinks beration. Confessing the necessity of vi- | entitled to peculiar favour. The question gorous efforts for the salvation of the then is, whether capital or income be the country, they do not wait to reject the proper object of contribution? The bon. measure upon any ground of invincible gentleman says that capital is the criterion objection, but they come forward to re- which ought to be adopted in the case of sist it in the very outset, previous to a the commercial man, and income where it mature examination of its details, and a is derived from land. Taking for granted, sincere endeavour to correct its provi- that the principles of the hon. gentleman sions.
were well founded, no less than threeThe hon. gentleman who spoke last fourths of the whole income liable to conapproves of the principle of raising a contribution is calculated to arise from this siderable part of the supplies within the
Even upon his own argument, year, but he declares himself an enemy 10 then, he ought not to consider this meaany plan of rendering that principle effec- sure
sure as so incurable as to refuse going into tual by a general tax. The House will, the committee. If he is sincere in his propo doubt, think this a most valuable con- fession of desire to facilitate the raising of cession of the hon. gentleman. If it be a considerable part of the supplies within necessary for the effort which we are the year, why should he refuse to proceed called upon to make, if it be essential to farther in a measure which is at least cathe future prosperity of the empire to ob pable of embracing three-fourths of his tain that supply which is requisite for the object; and in other parts susceptible of vigorous prosecution of the contest, it is alteration and improvement? If, however, evident that it must be obtained by a sud- what has been so universally recognised den tax immediately productive. If the as important to be done, is to be done hon. gentleman admits that such an in- effectually, and the great consideration crease of the taxes on consumption as is, on which of these leading objects it would produce ten millions within the will be most advantageous to the public, year is impracticable, it follows that there and least inconvenient to the classes of is no other mode but a tax upon property, contribution to impose this general and so far as it can be discovered. We must lay comprehensive tax, I am afraid, that to the contribution, then, either on capital or that very plan, which he himself thinks income. From this general operation, how- preferable, those objections on which he ever, the hon. gentleman would exempt all rested the desponding hope, that the those whom he is pleased to callexclusively country neither could, nor would submit the useful classes, and lay the whole of the to the measure, would apply with aggraweight on what he calls the useless vated force. Every objection, which he class. In the class of useless the hon. so vehemently urged against the danger gentleman has thought proper to rank of disclosure, wiil apply to those new all the proprietors of land, those men who theories of policy on which he would act. form the line which binds and knits so- The hon. gentleman says, he is against ciety together, those on whom, in a great disclosure. How, then, is he to ascer• measure, the administration of justice, and tain the amount of that commercial capithe internal police of the country de- tal, the profits of which he thinks might pends ;-those men from whom the poor justly be made to contribute? Would he be receive employment, from whom agricul- contented with that loose declaration, ture derives its improvement and support, which experience has proved to be so fa