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about to be submitted to the confideration of the House, was of the most essential consequence, and embraced the greatest possible variety of interests, it was his opinion it should meet with the fullest and most mature discussion. He would therefore hint the propriety of the House being called over previous to their ultimate determination on this question."
Mr. Hobhouse said that for more reasons than one he did not rise the preceding night to deliver any opinion upon the nature and tendency of the measure that was now to occupy the attention of the House. In the first place he was not so vain as to presume offering his objections at a' moment when the minds of Gentlemen must have been dazzled and biasled by the ycry brilliant and eloquent speech, in which the measúre, to which he was defirous to object, had been introduced and recommended. And in the second place, he was anxious to bestow a due degree of attention upon the subject, and coolly examine how it was likely to operate, whether to the advantage or injury of the country, before he attempted to enter on any thing like a discussion of the measure. His mind was deeply struck in the first instance by reflecting how frequently the financial schemes of the right hon. Gentleman were known to prove abortive. In the shop tax, and in the watch tax, he had obfinately perlifted. Both, however, the right hon. Gentleman was afterwards compelled to relinquish, and although the watch tax had been repealed, yet it had given a mortal blow to the trade. To the scheme of the Aflefled Taxes, last y ar, the right hon. Gentleinan was as fondly and as firmly wedded. But he now finds, and confesses that the resources he expected from them have failed, and that they by no means have come up to his full expectations. Indeed, when the subject of the Allefied Taxes had first arrested the attention of the House, there were two questions upon which he bestowed much confideration, but upon which he found it difficult to make up his mind. First, whether it were advantageous for the country that the neceffary supplies for the service of the year should be raiseu within the year; and whether the funding system should be in part, or wholly abandoned ? His objections to the funding Syftein were very great-it involved great inconveniences, and in his mind it would have been for the interest of the country that it had never been adopted. It has been, if not the pasent, at least the foíterer of many unnecessary wars, wiich wars might have been prevented, if the supplies necessary for carrying them on had been called for and raised within the
year; for if the people were made to feel, on the breaking out of a war, the full pressure of the burthens which it was likely to draw down upon them, they would not be so easily deluded as they are now ; or fo patiently made the sport and tool of a minister's ambition. Besides, attempts to borrow money invariably distresses the Stocks, and by being often repeated, ultimately lead to national ruin.
Great also were the evils that resulted from endeavouring to raise the supplies within the year, and strong consequently were his objections to such a system; it was a system that went directly to oppress and annihilate the middling ranks of fociety; it would compel them to relinquith the situation which they were wont to fill in the country, and to forego the moderate comforts to which they had been used; in a word, they must cease to form a distinct class in the community, where two orders only could henceforward be discoverable; that of the eminently wealthy, and of the miserably indigent. Moreover, by endeavours to raise fuch large fums of money within the year, a most serious and severe blow would be struck at our manufactures, and by thus injuring our manufactures, the most material injury would be done to the source from which flow the means of paying the public creditor. On the comparative evils of the two systems, he could not well balance his mind; but, on the grounds which he' had urged for rejecting them, he thought himself justified in opposing the bringing up of the report. He should never consent to see income made the criterion of taxation, or the expenditure of property, which only tended to screen the avaricious, or to favour the indolent. To tax income indiscriminate!y, would be a most Hagrant injustice ; for one man may posels a fixed estate of one thousand pounds per annum, and another a funilar income, but from variable means. What more different than the two lituations when they come to be saxed as now proposed ? Two moichants may also gain a thousand pounds annually by their respective trades, but their mode of pursuing their trades may be widely different; one may be exposed to an expenditure in far greater proportion than the other, either from the extent of his buildings, or ihe multiplicity of his machinery; to tax them alike, must therefore be acknowledged to be highly unjust: and if property. only is to be taxed, that also would argue an equal degree of injustice; for one man may have a property equal to that of another, while the income arising from it is far from being the same. On these grounds he could not bring himself to
believe, that either property, income, or expenditure, should folely and exclusively be taxed; such a basis of taxation would, in his opinion, be highly unjustifiable ; and the most unquestionable one that could be laid, appeared to him to be that which would affect the full and joint result of all three, of property, of income, and expenditure. To a tax upon income he had one very heavy and urgent objection: it was a tax that would strike with peculiar force at industry, and the fruits of industry; while indolence was left untouched and encouraged--and what must be the natural consequence of this discouragement of industry? Does it not tend to weaken that elasticity, and relax those springs, that give life and activity to every branch of trade, commerce, agriculture, &c. &c. A merchant may take from his income, and place part of it in the stocks, and thus make it reproductive; but what muft be his means in his resources on the supposition of the present system. The opinion he entertained upon this point, was ably expressed by an eminent writer on political æconomy (Sir James Stuart), and as the passage that contained it was very short, he hoped he might be permitted to read it; it runs néarly as follows--" As to the pure profits on trade, although they appear to be income, yet I consider them merely as stock, and therefore they ought not to be taxed. They may be said to resemble the annual shoots of a tree, which encrease the mass, but are very different from the fruit and feed.” Thus the tax now proposed will not only weaken the tree, but if adopted and persilled in, will finally impel us to cut down the tree, that we may more easily get at the fruit. This he felt to be an insuperable objection to the principle of the tax ; nor did he ground his objection upon the idea that it was a violation of the public faith. While money remained in the funds, the dividend must be paid without any diminution; but when it is in the pocket of the stockholder, then it becomes liable to taxation--but not before, without a violation of the public faith. But the most flagrant injustice of all that marked the face of this propos furion was, that the man who posessed 2col. per annum, should be equally compelled to pay his ten per cent. as the man who rioted in the enjoyment of 40,00ol yearly income! But there were doubtless many points which iubsequent al. terations and amendments might foften down. Here, however, he would be glad to know, if the commillioners employed in levying this tax, are to have a poundage, or a ftipend, like fome other com millioners, out of, and proportionate
to, the quantity of the tax they gather. This would unquestionably act as a great stimulus even on the minds of the respectable persons who were to be selected for that purpose, and to whom merchants, when they thought themselves surcharged, would be under the obligation of opening their books. In this light surely the measure was cruel and opprellive, and carried with it all the hideous features of a requisition. As to the productiveness of this new financial project, he would not hesitate to say, that it was likely to bring in more than the assessed taxes, because there were, many, and those even very conscientious persons, who, under the operation of that fyftem, did not pay a tenth, because they were not exposed to be put on their oath. But whatever the right hon. Gentleman may expect, there may be great evalon even under the operation of the new scheme ; for suppose a person to have mortgaged his estate, and taken up a profes, lion, is he not free to chuse what mode he pleases of paying his debts? May he not make over his estates to trustees, and thus reduce his income? How then can the tax affect him?
These were but a few of the objections that pressed upon his mind against the measure in question, but for the present he would rest here, only requesting, before he concluded, to be allowed to say a word on the uses for which this bold attempt has been embarked in—and what was its profeffed and prominent use? Was it not the continuance of this just and neceffary war? On the propriety of these epithets, his opinion was long since expressed to the House, and he would again repeat it, and say, that the origin of the war was on our part an act of aggression ; that many opportunities had since cccurred for bringing it to a conclusion, but that they were either loft or converted to no wise use ; we are, therefore, still blindly to persevere in carrying on the war, and that on a more extensive and expensive scale than before. We are not only to subsidize foreign powers, but we are also to send over bodies of our troops to co-operate in their military expeditions. He was sorry to be compelled to employ a strong and coarse expression, but really he did not expect to hear any thing fo absurd from ministers as, that after the fatal experience and fatal fruits of all their errors, they would now propose so monstrous a scheme of taxation, and that merely to gratify the Quixosilin of delivering Europe from the yoke of France.
Mr. C. IV. Taylor begged leave to stare a few ideas upon the subject in question. I went to propose a tax upon income,
and the obvious operation of such a tax, must lead to an engniry and exposure of the fate of each person's income; it was his opinion, that this enquiry should take place before the bill went to be put in force; the appointed period for which he understood to be the 5th of April next. He would also Submit to the House the propriety of appointing the commillioners inmediately, that they might receive the state- • ments which the bill went afterwards to require, and such voluntary declarations of income as merchants particularly would be inclined to make hefore any enquiry was instituted; for me:chánis would doubtless agree even to large sums from their cwri voluntary impulls, rather than after enquiry perhaps be compelled to expose their books. The plan, in his opinion, was a good one, and it was but justice to the stockhouder to make erery exertion to raise the funds. The stockholder ought principally to be considered; for in the sixth year of the war, the price of land continued as high as ever, while the stockholder, at many periods of it, had loft near one half of his property. The stockholder was often compelled to sell out ftuck at any price, for the purposes, for example, of paying legacies, inarriage portions, &c. Thus lie inay be under the necellity of selling at 53, or perhaps 445 what he bought in at 98 ; while the landholder now may receive as high a price as at the commencement of the war.
The Solicitor Geeral said, that there would be no delay in appointing the commillioners, and as to voluntary declarasions of income, there would be a clause in the bill for admitting them.
Mr. Fones profered himself a friend to the principle of the measure, but he feared its execution would involve many dif. ficulties and inconveniences. He indeed last year had the honour of suggesting a fimilar measure; but notwithstanding the brilliant speech which till vibrated in his ear, and in which the right hon. Gentleman had opened his plan and avowed the generous design of fuccouring opprefied Europe, yet he could not bind himself to vote for the measure should The commilloners be armed with any power to trench in the jeaft on the priviledges of the people of England. He never liked any thing that looked like an inquisition. Theory and praEtice were well known to be often at variance, and though he approved the principle of the measure propoled, yet he would not be bound to adopi it if its execution gave rise to the difficulties which he foreboded. At all evenis he trusted Vol 1.4998.