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by deputy, and held by persons of the highest rank in the country, who, from their situation, could have no cognizance of the conduct of their deputies, and troubled themselves no more about them than to receive the immense profits drawn from the country and the public suitors of the courts. To give the House some idea of the greatness of those sinecures, he would mention the emoluments attending some of them. The Clerk of the Crown had from 8,000l. to 10,000l. per annum; the Prothonotary of the Common Pleas had 10,000.; the Clerk of the Pleas, in the Court of Exchequer, 11,000l. This last office was held by one of his Majesty's ministers (the earl of Buckinghamshire), who, although possessed likewise of a valuable place at the East India Board, made a demand for a very considerable sum from the consolidated fund. But however great those sinecures, and however desirable it would be that they were immediately abolished, he was not willing to affect them in any other degree than to prevent a renewal of them after the expiration of the present grants. Besides those already mentioned, his Bill would include the office of Chief Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer, the Second Remembrancer of the same, and also the Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper; and in Mr. Bankes approved of such a bargain, speaking of this last-mentioned office, he and hoped that, while it was fresh in their could not forbear lamenting that, notwith-memories, some plan would be carried standing some votes of that House recom- into execution for better regulating the mending its abolition, it had been revived emoluments of other great offices. this year, on the death of the noble earl who lately held it, so that another life was interposed to retard its dissolution, The right hon. baronet concluded by moving, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate the fees and emoluments of certain offices of the courts of law in Ireland after the determination of the now existing grants thereof respectively."
had adverted, the net receipts of that office did not amount to near so large a sum as that which had been stated, and which included, he believed, the salary of the deputy, and other expenses of the office. With regard to the office which had become vacant this year, viz. the Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, he might be permitted to observe, that, with every respect for the Bill which passed that House, it was rather too much to assume that the Crown ought to be deprived of the power of granting that office, because one branch of the Legislature had disapproved of its continuance. The right hon. baronet, however, he was sure, would be glad to hear, that as the event which would augment the fees of that office to a very large amount, was one which every one must deprecate, namely, a demise of the Crown, Government had made a stipulation with the noble lord to whom it was now granted, by which either Parliament or the Crown would have a right to regulate the amount of the fees on the occasion alluded to (which, from the number of commissions which must in that case be renewed, would be very large), allowing the noble lord a certain portion of them, and providing that the remainder should be paid into the Exchequer.
Sir J. Newport said, that he had collected his information as to the amounts of those sinecures from the statements of the officers themselves.
Leave was given to bring in the Bill.
Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald said, that he had the less regret at not being present when the right hon. baronet commenced his address to the House, as it was not his intention to oppose his proposition. He did not now mean to offer any opinion upon the various points alluded to by the right hon, baronet; but upon the principle which had formerly been adopted by the House, he should not oppose the motion for leave to bring in the Bill. He begged, however, to observe, that with regard to the office held by a noble lord (the earl of Bucking-resolution be read a second time, hamshire) to which the right hon. baconet
PROPERTY TAX.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer having moved the order of the day, Mr. Brogden reported from the committee of ways and means, the following resolution; viz. "That it is the opinion of this committee, that towards raising the supply granted to his Majesty, the respective duties on the profits of all prôperty, professions, trades and offices, granted by certain acts made in the 43d, 45th, and 46th of his Majesty, and consolidated by the last-mentioned act, and which ceased after the 5th of April 1815, be revived, and granted to his Majesty for the term of one year, from the said 5th of April 1815." On the motion that the
General Gascoyne said, that having pre
sented a petition from his constituents against the renewal of the Property-tax, he thought it incumbent on him shortly to explain why he should not oppose the present resolution. The petition was presented when we were at peace, and when there was no prospect that that peace would be endangered. It now appeared obviously necessary, whether we remained at peace, or the war was renewed, that a considerable expense must be incurred. It was on that account that he concurred in the Resolution. Nevertheless, it was with great regret that he heard the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer say, that it was not his intention to propose any modification of the measure. It would still be, as it had been, most obnoxious, unless the principle were altered of laying an equal burthen on income arising from permanent property, and on income in which the possessor had only a life interest. He called the earliest attention of Government to the necessity of some modification of the measure in this respect, and gave notice that unless they evinced a disposition to do so, he would himself propose some relief to the parties aggrieved, which would not be essentially injurious to the measure itself.
Sir J. Newport declared, that feeling as he did that the proposed tax was inquisitorial in its nature, subversive of the best principles of our free constitution, unequal in its operation, affecting alike permanent and uncertain property, and arming Government with a power which it never ought to have, of making income and not expenditure the criterion of taxation, he would in every stage, and under every circumstance, and to the last moment of its being before them, take the sense of the House upon it. He could hardly conceive any emergency so great as to warrant the re-introduction of this measure. Had he wanted any additional inducement to oppose the proposition in limine, he should have found it in the recommendation of an hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes), who knew so little of Ireland as not to be aware, that were his proposition adopted, it might endanger the connexion between the two countries. If the inquisitorial quality of the Bill had been found so obnoxious in England, what would it be in Ireland, where the control, which public observation and opinion had over public men, was so much weaker than in this country? He beseeched the House, therefore, if there was any intention of propos
ing the extension of the tax to Ireland, to pause, to examine, and to reflect, before they acceded to a proposition, the consequences of which might be most fatal. He would now move as an amendment, that the Resolution be read a second time that day fortnight.
Mr. Bankes said, that what he had stated yesterday of the expediency of extending the principle of the Property-tax to Ireland was advanced advisedly, and that he would persevere in recommending to Parliament the adoption of such a measure. It was his intention to move, that in the first clause of the Bill the word Ireland' should be introduced. But perhaps it would be necessary, in the first place, to refer the subject to the consideration of a committee. If so, he would name a day for that purpose. To no place would the Property-tax, to a certain degree, be more applicable than to Ireland. Articles of consumption in that country were already too much the subject of taxation; and resort could not be had to a better tax, than to one which was not easily evaded, which was collected at a moderate expense, and from which the lower classes were wholly exempt. He hoped the right hon. baronet would not maintain, that the gentry of Ireland ought not to bear any of the burthens which the necessities of the state might render it advisable to impose. Did the right hon. baronet think, that the gentry of Ireland were the only persons that did not like to pay taxes? The English gentry did not pay them from any feeling of pleasure in the act; but they nevertheless paid them with cheerfulness when the honour and interests of the country required that they should do so. And so, he would answer for them, would the gentry of Ireland, under similar circumstances.
Mr. Grattan observed, that the hon. gentleman's speech had consisted of a succession of assertions, from all of which he dissented, except the last, namely, that the gentry of Ireland were ready to submit to whatever taxes might be considered consistent with the good of the country and the advantage of the state. They would be ready to maintain the British empire with their property and their blood; but the Property-tax would be infinitely more injurious to the sensations of Irishmen, than taxes much more pro. ductive to the state. But this was not the time to enter into particulars. He thought the hon. gentleman had done well to give notice of his intentions; and whenever he
should bring forward his motion, he pledged himself to oppose it, and to debate the question fully and candidly. He should then endeavour to prove that the tax was altogether foreign to the habits, condition, and financial situation of that country, which would prefer more productive taxes to the particular tax in question. At present he should say no more upon the subject, but merely add, that the measure now before the House had his most cordial disapprobation.
Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald said, he should defer the general observations which he should have to make upon this subject, until the hon. gentleman's motion came regularly before the House. But that his opinion might not be mistaken, and to allay the anxiety which such a proposition was calculated to excite in Ireland, he thought it right to state, that however respectable the quarter might be from which that proposition came, he had at present no intention of recommending the adoption of the Property-tax in Ireland. He wished, however, to remind the House, that the application of that tax to Great Britain was only proposed for one year, and under circumstances which would not justify him in now proposing it for the sister country, even he were prepared to go the full length of the hon. gentleman's opinion. The hon. gentleman would recollect that even in this country, where the habits of society were so different from those of Ireland, and where the wealth was so much greater, it was a long time before that tax was made fully productive, and before the machinery which was to enforce its collection could be perfected. If great difficulties had been found in England, much greater would undoubtedly be found in Ireland. He declined, however, entering into the argument at present, and should content himself with stating, that under the present circumstances, he did not think himself justified in proposing to extend it to that country. With regard to the financial difficulties of Ireland, however he might Jament them, the House and the hon. gentleman must do him the justice to acknowledge, that he had never endea. voured to skreen them from investigation. In moving for a committee some days ago, to inquire into the state of the Irish finances, he had not concealed that the people of Ireland would be called upon to make great exertions-exertions which he agreed with the hon. gentleman who spoke
last, they would cheerfully make in the common cause. But it was a great mistake to suppose that great sacrifices had not been already made. Let any man look at the amount of the revenue of Ireland before the Union, and at the calcu lations upon which her share of the joint contributions was founded; let him at the same time look at the narrow means she possessed, and then consider the amount to which her revenue had been since raised, and he would admit, that whatever disinclination Ireland might have to this tax, she had borne her full share of the weight of the general pressure; and she would, he had no doubt, always cheerfully contribute, to the extent of her power, to the public burthens. He would not anticipate the debate, but would cheerfully meet the hon. gentleman when the day of discussion should arrive.
Mr. W. Elliot said, he conceived a measure of the nature of that now proposed, a necessary consequence of the late Address of the House; and he should therefore give his vote in favour of the motion. He should reserve to himself the power of exercising his discretion with regard to the details of the measure in a subsequent stage; but with respect to the measure itself, he considered it as only providing the Government with the necessary means for the security of the country, whatever might be the tenour of their future conduct. The House then divided on sir John Newport's Amendment:
be given to bring in a Bill, pursuant to the said Resolution,
Mr. Alderman Atkins said, that the Property-tax was a tax on industry, and was highly unequal, as being as great on the profits of one year as on property for He was sure the tax, without any modification, was very uncomfortable to the country-[a laugh]-but if his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would agree to a committee to adopt modifications, then it might be made something more comfortable, and the country might be brought not to object to the measure.
Mr. W. Smith was much of the same opinion with the hon. alderman, and thought that though the tax could not be made agreeable, it might be made to go down. It was not the amount of the tax so much as the inequality of its operation, to which he objected; upon the same principle he should have objected to 54. per cent. equally as much as to 10l. The tax possessed this advantage, that a great proportion came into the Exchequer at the smallest possible expense. Of the commissioners of the Property-tax with whom he had been acquainted, and he had been acquainted with many, there never was one who did not declare that his office was the most disagreeable one in which he was ever employed, from the inquisitorial powers of the tax; and there were many instances in which the commissioners and the officers of Government were at variance respecting the severe manner in which those officers exercised the powers entrusted to them.
General Gascoyne explained, and said, that he wished the subject to be taken up as he proposed, by any other member.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer opposed the appointment of a select committee, as it would lead to delay and inconvenience, and would derange the whole machinery of the tax, so as to prevent its being collected in due time. Had the tax been proposed for a longer term than one year, he should have thought an inquiry advisable. The ascertaining the proportions of the tax to be paid by fixed capital and industry would necessarily occasion much discussion, and protract the passing of the Bill to a late period of
Mr. Alderman Atkins thought it possible to ameliorate the severities of the Act, without rendering it inefficient, or taking up much time.
Mr. Baring, thought this tax came with a very bad grace after the vote declining to make any inquiry into the lavish expenditure of the Civil List. He thought so more especially when he considered how small the majority was, and how that majority was composed. The House was now called on to vote this tax without any information as to the extent of the sum necessary, or with respect to the situation of our external policy; for the Message of the Prince Regent calling on the House to enable preparations to be made, was not enough to induce them, without further information, to vote a tax of 14 millions. But still he should not be disposed to go into a commitee, because he rather preferred leaving the tax on the footing proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, the extension of it for one year only. It was more likely to be a temporary measure, when taken in that manner, than if it were made what the hon. alderman called a comfortable thing, and which would be likely to stick by them for the remainder of their lives. He for one should for ever oppose the tax as a permanent source of revenue in time of peace. He thought, however, on the occasion of the late repeal, that had it been continued for one year longer, till the affairs of the last war were wound up, it would have been attended with great benefit to the finances of the country.
Leave was then given to bring in the Bill.
MOTION RESPECTING BUONAPARTE'S ES CAPE FROM ELBA.] Mr. Abercrombie said, he rose in pursuance of the notice he had given, to move or such information as could be furnished, with reference to any instructions that his Majesty's ministers might have given to our naval commanders in the Mediterranean, on the subject of the Island of Elba, and for information as to any disclosure which might have been made to them with respect to the projects of Buonaparté, while on that island, together with the means which bad, in consequence, been taken, to counteract those projects, simply on these grounds-because the return of that individual to the throne of France was an event of such awful importance, and so deeply affected the interests of Europe, that the House would desert the duty they owed to their constituents, to themselves, and to Europe in general, if they did not attempt to ascertain, whether, by greater prudence and greater foresight,
jesty's Government should not be put on their defence, and compelled to show, whether they had not received information as to the intended departure of Buonaparté, and whether they had or had not taken steps to counteract the projects of which they had been apprised. If he asked the House to enter into the consideration of the terms of the Treaty of Fontainbleau-looking to the change of circumstances which had taken place since it was entered into-looking to the alteration of the brilliant prospects which last year opened to the country-he did not think he should be too late even for that discussion. Because, by so doing, he should be calling on those who had claimed the applause and gratitude of the country, as having assisted in the deliverance of Europe, to state why they had placed their fame and the repose of the world on so insecure a foundation. But, as it might be alleged, that he had passed by the proper period for such a discussion, he would not introduce it now. He should, therefore, merely look to the rights which the different parties to the Treaty of Fontainbleau derived under that Treaty, and, in particular, what rights accrued to us, under its provisions. Having ascertained the latter point, it would be for the House to consider whether his Majesty's ministers had exercised due and proper vigilance, in conformity with the rights given to this country by the Treaty. This being his object, it could not be said, that he came forward too late; because, if he had asked for the information he now sought for, at an earlier period, he would then have been told on official authority, that to answer such questions would be a direct breach of public duty, and would tend to defeat the very object which it was proposed to attain. He, therefore, came to the House, with the present motion, most strictly and
on the part of his majesty's ministers, that occurrence might not have been prevented. The Message from the Throne informed the House, that in consequence of the events which had recently occurred in France, it was necessary that a great disposable force should be placed in the hands of the executive Government, and that a closer concert should be entered into with his Majesty's Allies. Not one dissenting voice was raised against the Address; and, under these circumstances, he conceived he was entitled to call on the House to determine, whether his Ma-priety of the terms or conditions of that Treaty. On the subject of the terms, they had heard two statements, directly contradictory of each other. By some persons it was contended, that they proceeded from a mistaken magnanimity on the part of the Allies; while others, and amongst them the noble lord (Castlereagh) asserted, that the Treaty was dictated by hard necessity. He was not inclined to accede to either of these propositions. He thought it was a nearer approximation to truth to suppose that, when the Treaty of Fontainbleau was agreed to, though Buonaparté was not in such a situation as to be immediately compelled to accept any terms that might be offered to him, yet the Allies possessed such superior strength, that, if he had refused those terms which appeared to them calculated to insure the security of Europe, they would have been very speedily enabled to enforce their demand. They, in this situation of affairs, deemed it more wise to accede to the terms which he was willing to take, than to expose Europe to the evils of a protracted contest. At this time, however, Buonaparté had lost his capital, and they were told that he had lost the confidence of his troops, and, above all, that the authority of opinion was no longer in his favour. Disaffection, it appeared, had spread amongst his officers; and his army at Fontainbleau, even if it were joined by the remnant of the force under Mortier and Marmont, did not exceed 50,000 men, to oppose which the Allies had an army of 140,000. Soult was driven from the south of France by the duke of Wellington, and the army of Augereau was opposed by superior numbers. This was the picture drawn at the time by the accredited ministers of this country. They exultingly declared, that Buonaparte, who so recently commanded a mighty empire, then stood alone, and that the Allied Sovereigns were received
properly in time. What he proposed was, to call on his Majesty's Government to produce such information as would enable the House and the country to decide, whether, in point of fact, they had exercised a sound discretion, and made use of all those precautionary measures which prudence and reason directed.
It was impossible to discuss these subjects with advantage, without adverting to the circumstances under which the Treaty of Fontainbleau was concluded; without, however, entering into the pro