« PreviousContinue »
The only branch in which a diminution has occurred in the last year's Average, is that of the direct Trade from Foreign Countries; but on reference to the detailed account of Imports, it will be seen that the particular articles creating this diminution are Tobacco and Cotton Wool, which could not be procured through the regular channel of importation during the continuance of the American war; and Foreign Spirits in 1814, as compared with the two preceding years, during a great part of which time the suspension of Home Distillation created extraordinary demand for Foreign Supply.
Having thus stated the result of their investigation on the specific heads referred to them by the House, your Committee feel particularly desirous of calling the attention of Parliament to the provisions of the Act of Union, respecting the Consolidation of the Debts of Great Britain and Ireland, noticed by the Committee of 1811 in the following words, "Your Committee cannot leave this part of the subject, referred to them, "without calling the attention of the House to a very important consideration. It is "provided by the 7th Article of the Act of Union," that if at any future day the "separate debts of each country respectively shall have been liquidated, or if the "values of their respective debts (estimated according to the interest and annuities "attending the same, and of the Sinking-fund applicable to the reduction thereof, to "the period within which the whole capital of such debt shall appear to be redeem"able by such Sinking-fund) shall be to each other in the same proportion with the
respective contributions of each country respectively; or if the amount by which the "value of the larger of such debts' shall vary from such proportion, shall not exceed "100th part of the said value, and if it shall appear to the Parliament of the United "Kingdom, that the respective circumstances of the two countries will thenceforth "admit of their contributing indiscriminately, by equal taxes imposed on the same "articles in each, for the future expenditure of the United Kingdom, it shall be comCo petent to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to declare all future expense "thenceforth to be incurred, together with the interest and charges of all joint debts "contracted previous to such declaration, shall be defrayed indiscriminately, by equal "taxes imposed on the same articles in each country, and thenceforth from time to "time, as circumstances may require, to impose and apply such taxes accordingly,
subject only to such particular exemptions or abatements in Ireland and in that part "of Great Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may appear from time to time to "demand: that from the period of such declaration, it shall no longer be necessary to "regulate the contributions of the two countries towards the future expenditure of the "United Kingdom, according to any specific proportion, or according to any of the "rules hereinbefore prescribed: provided nevertheless, that the interest or charges "which may remain on account of any part of the separate debt, with which either 66 country shall be chargeable and which shall not be liquidated or consolidated proportionably as above, shall, until extinguished, continue to be defrayed by separate "taxes in each country." "" ""
By reference to the Reports of that and of the subsequent year, it will be seen that calculations were then made of the value of the respective debts, by estimating the total charge of each country, in respect to debt and sinking-fund, as annuities, according to the length of their continuance, on the supposition of equal rates of interest in each country; but with the addition, in 1812, of the Unfunded Debt, which had been omitted in the preceding year.
In 1811 the proportions were found to be, on the supposition of interest amounting to the rates of 5, of 4, and of 3 per cents:
at 5 per cent.
at 4 per cent.
at 3 per cent.
as 2 to 15.3
Or with the addition of Stock created in that Session, after deducting what would be redeemed by the Sinking Fund;
at 5 per cent.......
as 2 to 13.8
at 4 per cent.....
as 2 to 13.8
In 1812 the proportions were found, on the same suppositions, but including the Unfunded Debt;
at 5 per cent......
.... as 2 to 14.8
as 2 to 15.
... as 2 to 14.69 .... as 2 to 14.63 ...as 2 to 14.65
Your Committee have caused similar calculations to be made in the present year, by which it appears, that on the first day of February last, the proportions were as follows, including, as Irish Debt, the 4,500,000l. raised in Great Britain for the service of Ireland in the year 1811;—
at 5 per cent........
at 4 per cent.....
as 2 to 13.14 as 2 to 12.97 ... as 2 to 12.86
The Committee of 1811 remark, that "It is obvious, even upon a slight exami"nation of the official accounts of Great Britain and Ireland, that the increase of the "Debt of Ireland since the Union has been so much more rapid than that of Great "Britain, that the value of the one must now bear to that of the other a proportion "much more nearly approaching to that of 2 to 15, determined by the Act of Union, "as "authorizing the Parliament of the United Kingdom to declare, That all future "expenses thenceforth to be incurred, together with the interest and charges of all "joint debts contracted previous to such declaration, shall be defrayed indiscrimi
nately by equal taxes imposed on the same articles in each country, and thence"forth from time to time, as circumstances may require, to impose and apply such "taxes accordingly, subject only to such particular exemptions or abatements in «Ireland, and in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may "appear from time to time to demand,'" than it did when the Union took place; "and in fact it will appear, that their respective values are now nearly arrived at "such a proportion."
Your Committee noticing this great excess of Irish Debt above the proportion of 2 to 15, as given by the calculations of the present year, have directed their attention maturely to consider, whether it is still within the competency of the United Parliament to declare a consolidation of the debts and expenditures of the two countries, under the seventh article of the Act of Union, if it shall appear that the respective circumstances of the two countries will henceforth admit of their contributing indiscriminately, by equal taxes imposed on the same articles in each, to the future expenditure of the United Kingdom, subject only to such particular exemptions or abatements in Ireland, and in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may appear from time to time to demand.
Your Committee are aware, that any strict and literal interpretation of this article, is attended with considerable difficulty: but, construing it with reference to what must have been in the contemplation of both Parliaments when this article was adopted, as most distinctly appears from the spirit and from the context of the Act of Union; namely, protection afforded to the country then least burthened with debt, and least able to provide extraordinary resources; especially by that most vital enactment, which declares, that no article in Ireland shall be made liable to any new or additional duty, by which the whole amount of duty payable thereon would exceed the amount which will be thereafter payable in England on the like article; your Committee are of opinion, that Parliament having acquired the right of declaring a consolidation of the debts and expenditures of the two countries, by the debt of Ireland having risen in a proportion to that of Great Britain of 2 to 15, still retains the same right, notwithstanding that the Debt of Ireland has now gone beyond the said proportion, in as full and ample a manner as if that right had been acted on at the precise moment when the Report of 1811 ascertained their approximation to within an hundredth part of the larger of such debts.
And your Committee further submit, that additional weight is given to the construction on which they found their opinion, by adverting to the expression, "larger of such debts;" which cannot have been used in any other sense than as synonymous with British Debt, at a time when that Debt greatly exceeded the relative proportion of 15 to 2.
It remained then for your Committee to consider, whether or not "the respective "circumstances of the two countries would henceforth admit of their contributing "indiscriminately, by equal taxes imposed on the same article in each, for the future "expenditure of the United Kingdom; subject only to such particular exemptions or " abatements in Ireland, and in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, as circum"stances may appear from time to time to demand."
It is well known that Parliament has not hitherto deemed it expedient to extend to Ireland the most productive of the taxes imposed in Great Britain, for raising by direct taxation the supplies within the year: in other respects your Committee have found the taxes of Ireland not fully equalized with those of Great Britain, particularly in the Excise, where some important branches are protected from any increase before the year 1820, by the Act of Union, and in the Stamps; even supposing the bills now actually in progress for augmenting the latter, to be passed into laws.
But on the other great heads of Revenue, Customs and Assessed Taxes,—they have found a very near approximation between the rates of both countries.
And your Committee cannot but remark, that for several years, Ireland has advanced in Permanent Taxation more rapidly than Great Britain itself, notwithstanding the immense exertions of the latter country, and including the Extraordinary and War Taxes:
The permanent Revenue of Great Britain having increased from the year 1801, when the amounts of both countries were first made to correspond, in the proportion of 16 to 10:
The whole Revenue of Great Britain, including War Taxes, in the proportion of 21 to 10:
And the Revenues of Ireland, in the proportion of 23 to 10:
But in the twenty-four years referred to your Committee, the increase of Irish Revenue has been in the proportion of 462 10.
Under these circumstances, it is manifest that no practical benefit can possibly be obtained, for any part of the United Kingdom, by endeavouring to maintain a fixed proportion of expenditure, when that proportion has rapidly carried the Debt of Ireland, from a state of great relative inferiority, into a growing excess; which cannot be met by any system of permanent taxation that would not violate the most solemn engagements. Moreover it appears to your Committee, from the whole tenour of the Act of Union, and from the very circumstance of both Parliaments having proposed and acquiesced in certain guards and temporary restrictions, calculated to prevent the too sudden imposition of burthens on the weaker country, before time had been allowed for the acquisition of at least equivalent benefits, that a Union as strict and perfect in matters of Finance as that existing between England and Scotland, to the extent of consolidating the Treasuries and the Exchequers, must have been contemplated by the two Legislatures.
On the whole, therefore, with a view to the clear advantage of all parts of the Empire, to relieving Ireland from a burthen which experience has proved to be too great, and at the same time with the hope of rendering her resources more productive; always however with reference to such particular exemptions or abatements in Ireland, and in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may appear from time to time to demand ;~~
Your Committee have come to the following Resolution:
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, That it is now become expedient, that Parliament should take into consideration so much of the Seventh Article of the Act of Union, as respects the competence of Parliament, under certain circumstances therein stated, to declare, that all future Expenditure of the United Kingdom, together with all interest and charges of the joint Debt incurred previous to such declaration, shall be defrayed indiscriminately by equal taxation imposed on the same articles in each; subject to such particular exemptions or abatements in Ireland, and in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, as circumstances may appear from time to time to demand.
19 June 1815.
VOL. XXX. Appendix.
COMMITTEE ON LAWS RELATING TO THE MANUFACTURE, SALE, AND ASSIZE OF
Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, 6 June 1815.
THE COMMITTEE appointed to inquire into the State of the existing Laws which regulate the Manufacture and Sale of Bread, and whether it is expedient to continue the Assize thereon under any and what Regulations, and to report the Matter thereof as it should appear to them to the House, together with their Observations and Opinion thereupon; and to whom the Petition of several Bakers of the City and Suburbs of the City of Canterbury, was referred ;
Have proceeded in pursuance of the orders of the House, to examine and compare the statute called Assisa Panis et Cervisiæ,' made in the 51st year of Henry 3, with the ordinances made in the reign of Edward 1, the 12th year of Henry 7, the 34th of Elizabeth, and the Book of Assize published by Order of Council in the year 1638. Your Committee find, that the 51st of Henry 3. was (at the petition of the Bakers of Coventry) an exemplification of certain ordinances of Assize made in the reign of King John, the purpose of which appears to have been to regulate the charges and profits of Bakers; it being stated, immediately after the specification of the table of assize in the Act, "that then a baker in every quarter of wheat (as it is proved by the "King's bakers) may gain fourpence and the bran, and two loaves for advantage; for "three servants three halfpence, for two lads one halfpenny, in salt one halfpenny, "for kneading one halfpenny, for candle one farthing, for wood twopence, for his "bultel (or bolting) three halfpence," in all sixpence three farthings, and two loaves for advantage.
Your Committee observing the allowance thus stated to be made to the bakers, was partly in money and partly in bread, proceeded to examine in what way the table of assize was constructed for the purpose of ensuring to them that allowance; and they found, that of eight sorts of bread which were included in the table, the sixth is that which has been called Wheaten Bread in the, subsequent Assize Laws. Of this bread it is stated in the table, "when wheat shall sell at 12d. the quarter, the farthing loaf shall weigh 107. 11s. 6d., which weight (as was usual in those times) being expressed in pounds shillings and pence, your Committee find to be the Saxon or Tower pound, which is to the Troy pound, in the proportion of 15 to 16; and accordingly, when the Troy weight was established in 18th of Henry 8, the tables of assize were duly adjusted in that proportion. Subsequently, in the 13th of Charles 1, when the Avoirdupois weight was introduced, the tables were again adjusted according to the known principle, that 73 ounces Troy equal 80 ounces Avoirdupois.
From which statement it is apparent, that the quantity of wheaten bread expressed in the Statute by the denomination of 10l. 11s. 6d., is equal to 10.575 lbs. Troy, and $.7087 lbs. Avoirdupois; as one loaf of this weight was to be sold for a farthing when a quarter of wheat was at 12d. it follows, that 48 such loaves (which weigh 418-02 lbs. Avoirdupois) was the exact quantity of bread which was to be sold for the price of a quarter of wheat; whatever bread could be made from it over and above 418 lbs. was for the baker's advantage, and this is stated in the statute to have been proved, on experiment, to have amounted to two loaves; and if these were peck loaves, 452 lbs.
14 oz. of wheaten bread was the quantity obtained by the King's bakers from a quarter of wheat.
Your Committee proceeded to examine, whether the quantity of bread which can be made from a quarter of wheat, is such as to justify the above interpretation of the Statute; and they found in the Report of a Committee of the House which sat in 1774, the detail of many accurate experiments upon that subject; but your Committee beg leave to refer to the record of an experiment which was reported to the House by the Committee on the High Price of Provisions in 1800, by which it appears, that the flour from a quarter of wheat weighing only 55 lbs. a bushel, and dressed after the mode now in use for preparing flour for the London market, was baked into 433 lbs. of wheaten bread, and 25 lbs. of household bread. And your Committee, relying confidently upon the accuracy of that experiment, are thereby assured, that when the baker was forced to sell no more than 418 lbs. of bread for the price of a quarter of wheat, he really obtained in surplus bread the two loaves for advantage which the Statute professed to allow him; although it is probable the bread was not of quite so fine a quality as the wheaten bread now in use.
The money allowance appears by its specified application in the Statute, to have been for the purpose only of repaying the baker's charges for grinding and baking. The advantage loaves were for his maintenance and profit; but your Committee do not find the mode is exactly specified by which the money allowance was paid: in later times the mode of payment was described at length in the book published by Order of Council in the latter part of the reign of queen Elizabeth, and which refers to a former Book of Assize as follows: "In the reign of Henry 7, the bakers were allowed two shillings for their charges in baking a quarter of wheat and the bran, as plainly appeareth in the said old Assize Book, which hath relation to the Statute of Winchester aforesaid, in which Assize Book it is declared in what manner the said two shillings is to be allowed; that is to say, when wheat was at 12s. the quarter, the baker should bake at 14s. the quarter; when at 14s. he is to bake at 16s. the quarter; as in the said book is to be seen, and is to follow at the same rate at what price soever wheat is at the quarter." As this mode has heen in use down to the present time, and is above referred to as having been long established, it is probably that which was in the earliest times adopted.
Your Committee proceeded to trace the successive alterations which had taken place in these two allowances to the bakers, and with regard to the payment in money, they found it was from time to time increased and altered in the 12th of Henry 7, it was raised to two shillings per quarter; and your Committee beg leave to point out, that a large portion of this allowance appears to have been appropriated to the baker and his family, who by 51 of Henry 3, were provided for by the advantage loaves.
"Anno 1405, 12 Henry 7, and as the said Book of Assize declareth," "when the best wheat was sold at 7s., the second at 6s. 6d., and the third at 6s. the quarter,
The Baker was allowed,
"Furnace and wood.........
"Two journeymen and two apprentizes..
"Himself, his house, his wife, his dog, and his cat....
"And the Branne to his advantage."
But as 418 lbs. was still the quantity of bread to be sold for the price of a quarter of wheat, your Committee are led to believe that the allowance in bread no longer continued to be noticed.
During the reigns of James 1, and Charles 1, the money allowance was at 6s.; by the statute of 8th of Anne, the money allowance was raised to 12s., but by a slight error in the calculation of the tables the weight of bread was reduced to 417lbs,; and as this statute continued in force down to the year 1758, this accidental variation is the only one which for the long period of 556 years took place in the quantity of bread which was to be sold for the price of a quarter of wheat.