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on a £500 sale, to £1, 14s. 3d. per cent; and above that sum, to one per cent.” The weight on the establishment of mortgages, especially on small sums, is not less remarkable. The same report adds, “A mortgage for £50 costs, in stamps and law expenses, 30 per cent; a mortgage for £100, 20 per cent; one for £450, 7 per cent ; for £1500
7 3 per cent ; for £12,500 1 per cent; for £25,000, 15s.
i; per cent; and for £100,000 12s. per cent.”* These burdens on the sale or mortgaging of real property are felt as the more oppressive, when it is recollected that movable property to the greatest amount, as in the public funds, or the like, may be alienated or burdened in the most valid and effectual manner for the cost of a power of attorney, which is a guinea, and half-a-crown per cent to the broker who executes the transaction. Materials do not exist for separating exactly the deed-stamps falling as a burden on land transmissions and mortgages, from those affecting personal estates; but it is certainly within the mark to say, that they are three-fourths of the whole stamp-duties on deeds and instruments, or £1,200,000 a-year.
Thus it appears that, setting aside the tithe, as not the landowner's property, and therefore a separate estate, and not, properly speaking, a burden on land ; and saying nothing of the malt-tax, which produces annually £4,500,000 a-year, on the supposition that, at present at least, that falls as a burden on the consumer ; and saying nothing of the income-tax, which, as will immediately appear, falls as a much severer burden on land-rents than commercial incomes, -these distinct, clear, and indisputable burdens laid on land, from which property of other sorts in England are exempt, stand thus : I. Poor-rate in 1845, a very prosperous year,
£6,847,205 II. Land-tax,
1,164,042 III. Highway Rates,
1,169,891 V. Police, Lunatic, and Bridge rates, estimated,
500,000 VI. Excess of assessed taxes falling on land above personal estates, estimated,
1,500,000 VII. Stamp duties peculiar to land,
£12,887,95 The rental of real property in England, rated to the poorrates, is £62,540,030 ;+ but the real rental, as ascertained
IV. Church Rates,
* Lords' Report on Burdens on Real Property, 1847, p. 8.
+ Ibid. p. 7.
by the more rigid and accurate returns for the income-tax, is £85,802,735. On the first of these sums, the taxes exclusively falling on land amount to a tax of twenty-five, on the last of eighteen per cent annually. This is an addition to the income-tax, and all the indirect taxes which the owners of land and houses pay in common with all the rest of the community, and which by it are complained of as so oppressive.
Enough, it is thought, has now been said to prove the extreme inequality and injustice with which direct public burdens are levied in this country, and the necessity for a thorough and searching revision of our system of taxation in this respect; especially since, from the way in which the tide sets, it has become so evident that direct will progressively be more extensively substituted for indirect taxation. But, in addition to these, there are several other circumstances which aggravate fourfold the burdens thus exclusively laid on real property.
I. In the first place, the alterations in the monetary system of the country, by the resumption of cash payments in 1819, followed up in Scotland and Ireland, as well as England, by the stringent Bankers' Act of 1844, bas added fully forty per cent to the weight of all taxes and other burdens, public or private, affecting landed property ; because it has increased to that extent the value of money, and diminished the price of the articles of rural produce from which the landholders' means of paying them are derived. If the prices of wheat and of all other kinds of agricultural produce, for ten years before 1819, and ten years before 1845, be compared,* it will at once appear that the difference
* Prices of wheat, average, per Winchester quarter, in the years after mentioned, viz :8. d.
Average 87 3
Average 56 5 TOOKE on Prices, ii. 389, and Lords' Report on Burdens on Real Property, App. No. 26.
is even greater than has been here stated. But that consideration is of vital importance in this question, for if the price of all kinds of rural produce has declined nearly as nine to six by the operation of these monetary changes, the weight of debts and taxes, of course, must have been increased in the same proportion. We are not now to enter into any argument as to the expedience or necessity of that great change in our monetary system : we assume it as a fact, and refer to it only as rendering imperative a revision of the direct taxes bearing so heavily on the great interests whose means of paying them have been thus so seriously abridged.
II. In the second place, and this is a most important circumstance, the burdens which have been mentioned all fall on the landowner, how much soever his property may be charged with mortgages, jointures, or other real burdens. These must all be paid in full by himself alone, how small soever be the fraction of the nominal income of his estate which remains to him after discharging the annual amount of its real burdens. There is no right to deduct poor-rates, land-tax, or other burdens affecting land, from mortgages, or even jointure holders, unless they are expressly declared liable to such, which is very
seldom the case. These annual charges must all be paid clear to the creditor, without any deduction, except that of the income-tax, which the debtor is allowed to retain by the Act imposing it. But this consideration is of vital importance to the landholders when the amount of their mortgages and other real burdens is taken into consideration. Their annual amount has been estimated, by very competent judges, at two-thirds of the income derived from land; although, as there is no general record in England for real burdens, their amount cannot at present be accurately ascertained. But take it, in order to be within the mark, at three-fifths of the real rental as ascertained by the incometax returns, these show, as already stated, an income of £85,000,000 annually derived from land. Take three-fifths, or £51,000,000 of this sum, as absorbed annually by mortgagees and annuitants holding real and preferable securities over land, and there will remain £34,000,000 annually to the holders of land and houses. Now on this
Clear Income as above
£34,000,000 the real burdens above mentioned, amounting to £12,900,000 a-year, are fastened. If to these be added the income-tax paid by the land, amounting, by the incometax returns, to £2,112,000, the clear income derived by landholders from the real property of England, with the direct taxes paid by them, will stand thus
£34,000,000 Deduct direct taxes levied exclusively on
land £12,900,000 Income-tax paid by land
£19,600,000 Thus it appears that, out of thirty-four millions of clear rental left to the owners of real property in England, above fifteen millions, or nearly a half, is taken from them annually in the shape of direct taxes which they cannot by any possibility avoid! How long would the commercial or urban industry of England stand direct taxes to the amount of 46 per cent on their clear income? If that had been the state of their finances, we should have had no clamour in 1831 for enlarged representation, or in 1846 for the destruction, to their advantage, of all the protection to other branches of industry. We should have had no AntiCorn-Law League subscriptions of £100,000 to buy up all the venal talent in the form of itinerant orators and pamphleteers in the country. We should have had no sudden changes of national policy from a pressure which it was said could not be withstood. In social, not less than military warfare, the longest purse carries the day; and the party which is the heaviest burdened is sure to be in the end overthrown.
III. The abolition of the Corn Laws, partially at present, entirely at the end of two years and a half, by the bill of 1846, not only has made this enormous burden of 46 per cent on their clear income, deductis debitis, a permanent load on the landowners, but it has rendered it a hopeless one, because it has destroyed every means which they previously might have possessed of indemnifying themselves for its weight, by sharing its oppression with other classes. This is a matter of the very highest importance, which will soon make itself felt, though, in consequence of the nearly total failure of the potato crop in the west of Great Britain
and Ireland, it has not yet been so.
The usual resource of persons who are burdened with heavy payments to government, is to lay as much as they can of it on others, by enhancing as much as possible the price of their produce. It is in this way that indirect taxes fall in general on the consumer ; and it is on this principle that, in estimating the burdens exclusively affecting land, we have not included the malt duty, because it is in great part at least paid by the consumers of beer or porter. But, of course, if it becomes from any cause impossible for the party burdened, in the first instance, to raise the price of his produce-or if, on the contrary, he is compelled to lower it—the whole tax will fall direct on himself, because he will be without the means of laying it on the purchaser from him.
Now, the abolition of the Corn Laws has done this. In two years and a half the whole grain of Poland and America will be admitted into the English market at the nominal duty of a shilling a quarter. It will be impossible for the farmers and landowners after that to keep up the price of grain of any sort in the British market beyond the prices in Prussia, and with the addition of 5s. a quarter for the cost of transit, and perhaps half as much for the profit of the importer. Wheat, beyond all question, will fall on an average of years to forty shillings a quarter, barley and oats to twenty. This is just as certain as the parallel reduction of average prices of wheat from 87s. a quarter to 56s. has been by the money law of 1819. Accordingly, now that the stress is over, and they have no longer an interest to conceal or pervert the truth, the Anti-Corn-Law journals are the first to proclaim this result as certain; and they coolly recommend the English farmers to abandon altogether the cultivation of wheat, which can no longer be expected to pay, and to lay out their lands in pasture grass and the producing of garden stuffs. But amidst this general and now admitted decline in the price of grain, the 46 per cent of direct burdens on land will continue unchanged ; happy if it does not receive a large augmentation. The effect of this will be to augment the weight of the burdens to which they are already subjected on the landholders by at least twenty per cent, and, in addition, to throw upon them the whole malttax, now amounting to £4,500,000 a-year. The moment the