Изображения страниц

tive price of malt and hops at various periods. By that Report, it appeared that the price of malt last year was eighty-one shillings a quarter, and of hops from twenty-four to twenty-five pounds a cwt. The price of mali at present was sixty-three shillings a quarter, and of hops eight pounds ten shillings a cut. The aggregate aniount of the expense of the brewer in materials and manufacture last year, according to the Report to which he alluded, was 81. 16s. 8d. the quarter of malt. At the present period, the expense, according to the reduced rate of the materials, could be only 6l. 178. 4d. the quarter of malt. The difference was, therefore, 11. 199. 4d. of which he proposed that only 9s. 4d. should be taken by the additional duty, for the public service, still leaving to the brewer a protit of il. 10s. on the quarter of malt greater than that which he made last year. (Hear, hear!). The produce of this additional duty he estimated at 1,400,0001.

The remaining articles on which he intended to propose an increase of duty were also under the head of Excise, although they were principally articles on which a double duty was now collected in the shape of Customs as well as Excise. He was desirous to try the experiment how far it would be better to collect the duties under one instead of under two branches of the revenue, as it would be a great relief to the merchant to be exempted from the trouble and charge arising out of the double accounts and payments now required. The articles to which he was about to allude were subject to considerable adulteration, and various frauds respecting them were practised to a great extent. Now it was well known that that branch of the revenue, the Customs, had no means of detecting adulteration or other frauds, after the articles which were the subject of such impositions were once ont of its reach. The Excise, on the contrary, possessed the means of detecting those malpractices and had in fact brought to justice many of the perpetrators. -It was therefore desirable that the additional duties should be under the management of the Excise rather than of the Customs. The articles on which he meant to propose their imposition, were Tobacco, Coffee, Tea, British Spirits, and Pepper.- The additional duty which it was bis intention to propose on Tobacco, he estimated would produce near 500,0001.; and he was persuaded, that even with that additional duty, the venders of tobacco might sell it to the public for some time at a cheaper rate than they had done not long since. (A laugh!) By the proposed duty on coffee, he hoped to raise about 130,0001. ; by that on pepper, 80,000). With respect to tea, he meant to propose raising the duty now existing of 96 per cent. to 100.

One more article remained-one indeed upon which the tax had been ronsiderable, and of which the duties were as fairly collect

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

ed as those of any other coinmodity in the realm-he meant spirits distilled in Englaid. In Ireland, the evasion of the duties on this article had made necessary the utmost exertions for the suppression of illicit distillation ; but in this country, where the business was contined to a few men of opulence, the additional burthen would hardly be felt. It was calculated that this tax would produce 500,000). The total aggregate of all his estimates was 3,190,000).; and allowing for accidental deficiencies and other circumstances, he flattered bimself he might calculate on an increase to the revenue of a clear three millions. He would not enlarge on this part of the subject at the present moment, leaving the details until the House should go into a Committee of Ways and Means, and would only recapitulate the various items, viz.: Consolidation of the Customs, including the

200,0001. of increased duty on Foreign Wool £500,000 Malt at 15 per bushel

1,400,000 British Spirits, about

500,000 Tobacco

509,000 Coffee and Cocoa

130,000 Tea.

130,000 Pepper

30,000 Such was the general outline of the propositions which it was bis intention to make to the Committee of Ways and Means on Wednesday next. For the present he would content himself with pressing upon the attention of the Committee the indispensable necessity of making a provision, either in the way he recommended or in some other way, for effecting such an augmentation of the revenue as might maintain public credit and acquit public honor. (Ilear, hear!) For the three last years he had submitted to Parliament plans of finance, temporary in their character. The time had at length arrived when, looking forward with hope to the restoration of the ancient currency of the country, it became Parliameut to place our finance on a permanent peace establishment. On every ground it was called upon to do this. In the first place, in consequence of the extensive investigation which had recently taken place, all the weak as well as all the strong points of the condition of the Empire, were known abroad and at home. (Hear, hear!) Nor could much more be expected in the form of retrenchment. By the return of the Army of Observation from France, and the great reduction which had been made in our military force, we bad arrived at that which might fairly be considered as the permanent peace establishment. It was not likely that any further material reduction on that head could be effected. On the contrary, it was probable that some further expense would creep into that depart


ment of the public service. It was impossible to allow the militia to remain long without being placed in a state of efficiency, and there would be other and minor branches of expense that must be calculated upon as indispensable.

Unquestionably a gradual diminution of outgoings would be occasioned by the falling in from time to time of material parts of the national expenditure ; but the operation of these would be so slow, that it was difficult to calculate the probable period at which they would put the country in possession of a surplus revenue of five millions—the least wbich in his opinion it ought to possess with reference to the objects which he had already described. By the addition of three millions of taxes, that purpose would be at once accomplished. It was to be considered than ten millions and a half of the proposed loan of twenty-four millions would be employed- five millions in a payment to the Bank, and five millions and a half in the payment of Exchequer Bills—in the liquidation of unfunded debt; so that it was only the interest of the balance for which provision need be made. Although it was not to be expected that the new taxes, if adopted, would be in full operation during the present year, neither would that be the case with the charges on the loan. He therefore trusted that a considerable diminution of the debt might take place next year, and that in every succeeding year that diminution would increase in amount. There was one objection which might perhaps be made to the probability of this expectation. It might be supposed that a great defalcation would take place in the revenue, in consequence of the stagnation of manufactures and trade which had occurred in some parts of the country. He was happy to say, however, that hitherto no such effect was to any great degree observable; and he hoped that the symptoms of improving commerce which had recently manifested themselves, would put an end to all apprehension on that score. The Revenue of the quarter ending the 5th of April last was 230,0001. greater in amount than that of the corresponding quarter of the last year. -Since that period a diminution had certainly taken place, but it was by no means of an alarming nature. The total amount of the Revenue for that period of the current quarter which had elapsed on the 4th of June, was short of the amount of the corresponding period of last year by 107,0001.; being about two per cent. on the whole amount of the quarter's Revenue-or five millions. He had, however, one remark to make, which would account for a portion of this deficiency, viz. that the corresponding quarter of the last year comprehended one weekly payment of the Excise more than the quarter of this year. Some of the branches of the Revenue bad increased although others had decreased. In the customs of this quarter there was an increase of 84,0001.;

in the Post Office an increase of 43,000l.; in the incidental payments of 14,0001.: but the revenue of the stamp office had decreased by 33,0001., which, with other deficiencies, made up, as he said before, a decrease in the whole revenue of 107,000). The aggregate amount of augmentations having been 141,0001. and the aggregate amount of diminutions 248,0001.; he trusted therefore, that it would not be too sanguine to expect that the income of the present year would be nearly equal to the last. At the same time he should not, perhaps, be justified in expecting any material increase in the produce of the Revenue, most especially when the means necessary to be adopted in the way of preparation for the resumption of cash payments by the Bank of England were taken into consideration. He was inclined, however, to think, that the alarm which had already been excited on that subject was greater than the circumstances warranted; that no such reduction or stagnation of commerce would take place, as that apprehended by some, except such as might be merely temporary; and that in the end, the alarm to which he had alluded, would appear to have been much exaggerated, if not altogether unfounded. Having thus stated the general nature of the propositions, which it was his intention to propose, he might sit down with merely expressing his readiness to enter into any explanations that might be required of him. But before he did so, he must observe, that his Majesty's Government were fully sensible of the great responsibility which they incurred in proposing an increase of taxation in time of peace, and of the serious obligation which, if possible, it more than ever imposed on them of managing with the utmost attention to economy the resources of the country. If, therefore, the Resolutions already before the Committee should be adopted, he was ready to propose a further Resolution, calling on the Executive Government to exercise the most rigid economy in the administration of the public revenue. (Alaugh, and hear!) He trusted that whatever might be the sentiments of the Honorable Gentlemen opposite, the events of the present Session had sufficiently shown the disposition of Government on that subject. There was one topic deserving of explanation, on which he would say only a few words—he meant the collection of the revenue. (Hear!) At the present advanced period of the Session no effectual measure could be adopted by Parliament to amend the system of that collection; and it appeared to him therefore that ile best course that could be pursued was an expression of the opinion of Parliament that at least such an investigation should be entered into by the Executive Government as would pave the way for any measure which Parliament in its wisdom might think fit at some subsequent period to adopt. The Resolution, there

fore, which in the event of the adoption by the Committee of the Resolutions already before them, he should propose in addition, was as follows, viz.-" That with a view to accelerate the arrival of that period at which relief may be afforded to the country from a part of its burdens, this house confidently expects that a vigilant superintendence shall be exercised over the expenditure of the State in all its several departments; and that a minute investigation shall be instituted into the mode and expense of management and collection in the several branches of the Revenue, in order that every reduction may be made therein, which can be effected without detriment to the public interest.” In the Customs, considerable benefit had long been derived from such an investigation; and he hoped that the advantage might be extended to the other branches of the Revenue. The Right Honorable Gentleman concluded by moving his first Resolution.



1.-That since the termination of the War in 1815, the property Tax in Great Britain, and other Taxes in Great Britain and Ireland, which yielded a Revenue of upwards of 18,000,000l. per annum, have expired, or been repealed, or reduced.

11.--That by an Act passed in the 56 Geo. 3, cap. 98, the Revenues of Great Britain and Ireland were consolidated from the 5th of January 1817 ;--and

That in the year preceding the said consolidation, the net separate Revenue of Ireland' was 4,561,3531.; and the charge of the Funded and Unfunded Debt of Ireland was 6,446,8251., including therein the sum of 2,438,1241., as the Sinking Fund applicable to the reduction of the Debt; and which Charge exceeded the whole net Revenue of Ireland by the sum of 1,885,4721., without affording any provision for the Civil List and other permanent Charges, or for the proportion of supplies to be defrayed by that part of the United Kingdom; and

That no provision has been made by Parliament to supply this Deficiency.

111.-That the supplies to be voted for the present year by Parliament, may be stated at 20,500,0001.

1V.–That the existing Revenue applicable to the Supplies cannot be estimated at more than 7,000,0001.; leaving the sum of 13,500,0001. to be raised by Loan, or other extraordinary resource.

V.-That the Sinking Fund applicable to the reduction of the National Debt, in the present year, may be estimated at about

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »