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Exchequer makes his second Financial
of April–He explains at length the en in making his Propositions to the tions in his Plans—He proposes a total l of the Alteration before propounded, the Agricultural Interest which had Budget meets with a more favour!. THE INCOME TAX.-Mr. Herries n alleviation of that Impost—He is
the Exchequer-Speeches of Mr. zring, Mr. J. Wilson, Sir R. Inglis
, 's's Resolution is rejected on a diviSecond Reading of the Income Tax ind Mr. Muntz, but without effectMr. Hume moves that the Grant be ect of having the whole subject conThe Amendment is opposed by the in and Mr. Sidney Herbert—It is , Mr. Miles, and Mr. Disraeli
, and reat cheering from the Opposition hn Russell declares the intention of the Amendment-Remarks of Mr. 3 much difficulty in nominating a Tax-Discussion as to the object of of those who had supported it-ReSir. C. Wood-A Committee is at
r FINANCE.—On the 30th of June solutions respecting the Financial ntry, and the Policy of the Governered by the Chancellor of the Exgate, Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Hume, ons are negatived by a majority of COFFEE AND TIMBER.—The former t agreed to by the House~Mr. T. nalory of the Adulteration of Coffee
is opposed by the Chancellor of the ebate by 5 votes only~On a second ? Baring is outvoted by 199 to 122. mored by Mr. Cayley-His Speech and other Members of the Agricul
on foreign timber. So far as the country labourers were concerned, that relief might be deemed complete; but there was another class which still required consideration —he meant that part of the labouring population who were cooped up in dark and unwholesome dwellings in the towns. Sir C. Wood referred in some detail to the evidence which had been elicited by inquiries on this subject. It had been his endeavour, in his former propositions, to remove the evil so much complained of, and, so far as financial measures could effect that object, to improve the sanitary condition of the poor by allowing the free admission of light and air into their dwellings. This measure, at least, he still hoped to carry. Referring next to the subject of coffee, Sir C. Wood said that it was impossible to meet the incessant complaints made of its adulteration by sending an army of excisemen into all the grocers' shops, but he had proposed to meet the evil in the most legitimate way, by reducing the duty and cheapening the price of the imported article. With regard to the reductions of the local charges for lunatic asylums, and of the duty on agricultural seeds, so much objection had been made against them by those for whose benefit they were intended, that he should not attempt to force them upon parties who repudiated the favour.
Sir Charles Wood then proceeded to explain his intentions as to the Window Tax. A loud demand had been made on him for an unconditional repeal of the Window Tax: it was enough for him to answer, that the Window Duty was 1,856,000/., and the surplus 1,892,000/. What had been the language of the deputations who
had so urged him on this subject? Not that they came to ask a remission of pounds, shillings, and pence, but to ask the removal of a burden affecting the dwellings of the poor, and one which pressed unfairly on the assessment of houses. The principle of an uniform tax on old and new houses was undoubtedly the just one; but no uniform rate would give anything like equal relief. Sir Charles Wood therefore proposed to omit all reference to the number of windows —leaving it out of consideration what number of windows or openings there might be, and getting rid of every objection which could be stated upon sanitary grounds, and affording great relief to all or nearly all parties. "I propose to take a uniform rate of 9d. upon dwelling-houses, and 6d. upon those houses which contain shops. It will be remembered that I proposed before, as to new houses, that a duty of is. in the pound should be imposed upon dwelling-houses, and a lower rate of duty upon those dwelling-houses a portion of which was used as shops, or which were occupied by innkeepers, or used as farm-houses. Shops pay at present a lower rate, and I propose to continue that distinction. The duty which I shall propose will be an uniform rate upon all houses, old and new, of Qd. in the pound upon their annual value, and 6d. upon any house a part of which is a shop, or which is occupied by a victualler or held for the occupation of land. It will be remembered that I proposed to exempt from taxation altogether all houses not exceeding MI. in annual value; I propose to retain that exemption." In this way, they would get rid of all reference to windows in any shape whatsoever; reduce the number of houses paying tax at all from 500,000 to 400,000; exempt, for the first time, shops, Tictnallers' houses, and houses used in the occupation of land; and diminish taxation to the amount of 1,136,0001.—for the tax he would retain would be about 730,000/. instead of 1,856,000/. In reference to the incidence of the tax. Sir C. Wood said—" It is true there are some few cases in which even under this proposal a house will be raised in taxation; there are some cases so anomalous, that it is utterly impossible to deal with them on principle. I find, for instance, that in one street in Liverpool there are two houses which have eight windows, paying 18*. Id. and assessed at 130/. a year: a proof of the inequality of the Window Tax, and of its utter unfairness in reference to value." The better streets, where the value was high, would not be relieved to the same extent as those in which the value is depreciated. Houses in the country, where the value was less in proportion to the number of windows, would be relieved more than those in the fashionable parts of town. The old-fashioned houses of country gentlemen would be relieved—he could not speak as to new houses. The houses of most country clergymen would be relieved. A relief would be extended to farmers paying between 200/. and 3<I0/. a year, which would not be afforded by any reduction of Income Tax: for farm-houses upon farms of 200/. a year paid Window Tax, but there was no Income Tax upon a rent of less than 300/. a year, whereas, by the present proposal, in almost every case there would be a very material reduction of the tax paid, and in most cases of this amount
a total exemption, because very few farm-houses, where that was the amount of rent, would be assessed at 20/. a year or upwards.
The effect of the alterations Sir Charles explained by a mass of instances. "In Marylebone and St. Paneras, the amount at present paid for Window Duty is 02,000/.; under my plan it will be 50,000/., being a reduction of 42,000/. In Regent Street the present payment is 2200/.; it will in future be 1900/., being a reduction of 300/. In Finsbury Square the present payment is 725/.; the future will be 250/., being a saving of 475/. In Portman Square the present payment is 740/.; the future will be 610/., reduction 130?. In Belgrave Square there will actually be an increase of 101.; the present payment is 990/., the future will be 1000/. The gentlemen who reside in Belgrave Square, however, will probably have houses in the country also, and the reduction of the tax upon those will indemnify them for the slight increase in the duty payable on their town houses. Taking the two things together, they will be as much benefited by the alteration as those who do not live in so fashionable a quarter as Belgravia. It is difficult to get any return showing the operation of the tax in an exclusively rural district. I have, however, procured a return of 42 of the best houses—those paying the largest amount of Window Duty—in six counties, and I find that the effect of the change I propose will be the reduction of the duty payable by them from 2040/. to turn. In Liverpool the reduction will be from 19,600/. to 9500/.: in Manchester, it will be from 30,000/. to 15.000/.; in Birmingham, from 18,400/. to
the Exchequer; he rejoiced at this result, because it not only indicated the prosperity of the country, but reinforced the proposition he now made. He would assume the data of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with this difference— that he expected a larger surplus, believing that, instead of 1,898,000!., it would turn out 9,200,000/. or 2,300,000/. He assumed, further, that Sir C. Wood meant to continue the Income Tax as it now existed. This was the first legitimate occasion, Mr. Herries remarked, of considering this tax under the aspect of a permanent impost: it had originally arisen out of the financial mal-administration during the fire or six years prior to 1840; but Sir R. Peel originally proposed the tax expressly for special and temporary purposes; and Lord John Russell—who had previously proclaimed " the inequality, the vexations, and the frauds " inherent in this tax—in 1848 asked for its continuance solely on the ground of "the almost unparalleled difficulties" of the crisis. Mr. Herries cited strong denunciations of the tax by Mr. Labouchere, Lord Howick, Sir F. Baring, and Sir C. Wood, and called upon the Government to state the grounds upon which, without necessity, with a surplus revenue, they proposed the continuance of a tax admitted to be full of inequality, taxations, and fraud, and which ere could be no doubt would, in olation of the obligation which House had contracted with country, be made permanent, would be action. for lought ty
Tax might be remitted, which would be R relief to the extent of 1,550,0001., far greater than the removal of the Window Tax, and it would afford a prospect of the ultimate extinction of an impost denounced and stigmatized by those who now recommended its continuance.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer maintained that his proposal to continue this tax, which he disliked as much as ever, was perfectly consistent with the policy of Sir R. Peel, which it was intended to carry out to its full extent. Almost the whole of Mr. Herries' argument, he observed, had proceeded upon the supposition that the proposal which he (Sir Charles) had made was for a permanent .Income Tax, whereas he had never said a syllable to that effect. He did not think it safe that a tax of this kind should be placed upon the footing of an annual vote; but Mr. Herries was not precluded from proposing its reduction next year. He showed the difficulties attending the modification of the tax, and the injustice of applying it, as Mr. Herries suggested, to Ireland; and then entered into details as to the policy he had pursued in reducing duties upon articles of consumption and upon industry; observing, that the more popular a tax was the more productive it would prove. Under the Income Tax, the revenue had, by a wise legislation, greatly improved; and by a perseverance in this legislation—the removal of taxes more objectionable than the Income Tax—the improvement of the revenue would be accelerated. It was in furtherance of this theory of legislation that he had proposed the reduction of the duties upon coffee and timber, and