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be fairly discussed without including the sinking fund. In order to put the matter in a way in which it would be more intelligible, he should take it thus:-The surplus of the consolidated fund, after considering the income as opposed to the charge upon it, he took to be L. 214,000. But did the Noble Lord state what was to be done with this? He would explain the matter. There was an old debt upon that fund of L. 3,300,000; upon this the noble lord was also wholly silent. Then he (Mr Tierney) should say, that before one farthing of the surplus of that fund could be made available to the expenses of the current year, the whole of the old debt upon it must be wiped off. If then this sum or surplus were added to the debt of last year, there would be an improvement in this year of L. 2,000,000; and on the 5th of January 1820, all the advance which the country would have made would be to get clear of the old debt. It was evident, then, that this surplus of the consolidated fund could not be taken into the ways and means of the present year; and what was to be taken into those ways and means? There were the land and malt tax, the war and excise taxes, and the lottery; the whole of which would not, after deducting all expenses of collection, exceed more than L. 7,000,000. Beyond those L. 7,000,000 there was nothing else that any one knew of. He might, perhaps, except the million which was due from France, and which the country were led to expect would be paid upon the evacuation of the French territory. Well, then, how was the difference between the income (L. 7,000,000) and the expenditure to be supplied, or how would the noble lord support the argument that both ends would
meet, that the income would be equal to the expenditure, and that there would be a surplus? The noble lord said he should be glad to take advice where he could with propriety. He did not suppose for a moment, that his advice, or the advice and wisdom of Seneca, would have produced any impression on the honourable gentlemen opposite, if not supported by the countersign of the public. It was the recent strong and general expression of public opinion, the unanimous calls for economy from one end of the kingdom to the other, which had made an impression on the noble lord and his colleagues, and to which was due any forced effort of theirs to economise. But supposing the whole of the reductions to make the expenditure this year less by a million than that of the last, there would still remain an expenditure to be provided for amounting to L.20,000,000. Then admitting L.1,000,000 less for the present year, how was it to be met? He had shown, that the right honourable gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had not ways and means that any person yet knew of, exceeding L.7,000,000. How were thirteen more to be made up? for after all the reductions, there would still remain that sum to be provided for. How could any man in his senses say, that with an income of only L.7,000,000, and an expenditure of L.20,000,000, both ends would be made to meet, and a surplus left? Where was the sinking fund, or what had been said about it? It would be said that there was a sinking fund of L.14,000,000, at least it would soon be nearly that sum; but to support it, it would be necessary to borrow L.13,500,000. Arguments founded upon the strength of that fund, as applicable to
the public service, would be found to be a gross delusion. It was absolute mockery, to talk of the advantages of a sinking fund, whilst the Government was obliged to borrow a sum of L.13,000,000 a-year to support it. He should again ask-for in looking at this crippled state of finance, the question naturally arose-how, under such circumstances, could the Bank be expected to pay while Government were confessedly unable to make good their engagements to them? And yet in this very state of things, the right honourable gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was about to call upon them that night to vote L. 24,000,000 of Exchequer-bills, without coming to the point of whether that would relieve the country from its difficulties. Would the noble lord say, with these facts staring him in the face, that the country was in a most prosperous state, that we were going on flourishingly, and were the astonishment of the world? He did not mean to deny, that if peace was of long continuance the country possessed resources which, if properly applied, might bring us out of our difficulties. He was as sanguine on that head as any member of his Majesty's Government could be; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer might as well think of raising the dead as of raising another large loan. He did not mean any of those observations to apply to the right honour. able gentleman as an individual, for he looked upon him only as the organ, and he was the most faithful organ, which a besotted Administration, on the subject of finance, ever possessed; but he applied them collectively to the whole body of Ministers acting together. He could not see any reason why the people were to be taxed L. 14,000,000, when L.12,000,000
were to be borrowed; and could only consider it as another insult which was to be offered to them.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a few observations, contending that the reductions which had taken place were great and surprising beyond all belief. He would not hesi tate to say, that if any individual had been told in 1792, before the war commenced, that we should be engaged in a series of hostilities for five-and-twenty years, that these hostilities should leave us with an unre. deemed debt of L. 800,000,000, and that, notwithstanding, at the end of the third year of peace, there should be a surplus of L. 3,000,000 or L.4,000,000 in the revenue, that individual would have returned for answer, "It is beyond all hope, it is beyond all credibility, it is a fairy prospect that can never be realized."' And yet such was the state of facts, even after L. 18,000,000 of annual taxes had been remitted to the country.
The question for appointing the committee being then put, and carried unanimously, the following members were elected to compose it, viz. Lord Castlereagh, Mr H. Bankes, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Binning, Right Hon. R. Peel, Mr B. Wilbraham, Mr Hart Davis, Sir George Clerk, Right Hon. W. Huskisson, Mr F. Lewis, Sir G. Hill, Mr Tremayne, Mr N. Calvert, Mr D. Gilbert, Mr Lyttleton, Mr Gooch, Mr Calcraft, Mr J. H. Smyth, Lord Clive, Mr Holford, and Mr Courtenay.
On the 3d of June the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who stated his an. xiety to draw the House into a more elaborate discussion of our financial arrangements than could convenient. ly take place when the budget was brought forward, moved the follow
ing resolutions: "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 L. 18,000,000 per annum, have expired, or been repealed or reduced: That by an act passed in the 56th Geo. III. c. 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 L.4,561,353, and the charge of the funded and unfunded debt of Ireland was L.6,446,825, including therein the sum of L.2,434,124 as the sinking fund applicable to the reduction of the debt, which charge exceeded the whole net revenue of Ireland by the sum of L.1,885,472, without af fording 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: That the supplies to be voted for the present year by Parliament may be estimated at twenty millions five hundred five hundred thousand pounds: That the existing revenue applicable to the supplies cannot possibly be estimated at more than L. 7,000,000, leaving the sum of L.13,500,000 to be raised by loan, or other extraordinary resource: That the sinking fund applicable to the national debt in the present year may be estimated at about L.15,500,000, exceeding the above sum necessary to be raised for the service of the year by about L. 2,000,000 only That to provide for the exigencies of the public service, to make such progressive reduction of the national debt as may adequately support public credit, and to afford to the coun
try a prospect of future relief from a part of its present burdens, it is absolutely necessary that there should be a clear surplus of the income of the country, beyond the expenditure, of not less than five millions; and that with a view to the attainment of this important object, it is expedient now to increase the income of the country by the imposition of taxes to the amount of L.3,000,000 per annum.'
On the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the House on the 8th resolved itself into a Committee on the Finance Report, when he proceeded to explain the resolutions which he had on a former evening laid on the table. Whenever an opportunity arose for Parliament to take into its consideration the financial arrangements of the country, it was natural to expect something more than a statement of the provisions made for the immediate service of the year. In order to explain his plan in the most satisfactory manner, it was desirable that a general view should first be presented, and that the technical details should be reserved for the budget of the year. His object at present was to exhibit the leading features and general principles of the financial arrangements for the year; and the truth was, that whatever details they might enter into, the great leading question would always be, whether the income was equal to the expenditure. He was first to give a general view of the resolutions which he had laid upon the table, and he would then more particularly state the mode in which he proposed to carry those resolutions into effect. The first resolution stated, "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
L.18,000,000 per annum, have expired, or been repealed, or reduced." For illustrating that resolution he had laid an account upon the table, formed from the several accounts which had been previously produced. By this account it was made manifest that taxes had been reduced since the peace to the amount of L.18,700,000. The second resolution stated, "that by an act passed in the 56th Geo. III. c. 98, the revenues of Great Britain and Ireland were consolidated." The act here mentioned had thrown the revenues of the two countries into one general mass. And here he wished to state, that he would by no means be understood to say that Ireland had not paid a fair proportion of revenue. At the period when the union of Ireland with Great Britain had taken place, it could not have been foreseen that for fourteen years there would be an uninterrupted course of the most expensive war ever known. If any human foresight could have calculated the expences, the enormous magnitude of the sum would have astonished and appalled the stoutest heart. The revenue had been then apportioned to Great Britain and Ireland. Whether more revenue might not then have been obtained, and more taxes imposed in Ireland, it was now impossible to say: but in consequence of the internal commotions and expensive measures that had taken place in the years 1798 and 1799, the taxes in Ireland had become so great, that if a larger proportion of revenue had been immediately proposed, it would have proved a strong obstacle to the Union. The consequence, however, was, that while Great Britain raised a large proportion of the supplies, Ireland had recourse to loans. Be tween the union of the two kingdoms, and the union of the treasuries, the
public debt of Great Britain increased as one to seven; that of Ireland eightfold. The 3d, 4th, and 5th resolutions stated, "that in the year preceding the said consolidation, the net separate income of Ireland was L.4,561,353, and the charge of the funded and unfunded debt of Ireland L. 6,446,835, which exceeded the whole net revenue by the sum of L. 1,885,472, exclusive of the civil list and other permanent charges of Ireland, and of the proportion of the supplies to be defrayed by that part of the united kingdom; that no provision has been made by Parliament to supply this deficiency; and that the supplies to be voted by Parliament for the service of the united kingdom, for the year ending the 5th of April 1820, may be estimated at L. 20,000,000." Those resolutions contained no statement which could be controverted, or which required elucidation. They served principally to introduce the remaining four resolutions, "that the existing revenue applicable to these services cannot be estimated at more than L.7,000,000, leaving the sum of L. 13,000,000 to be raised by loan or other extraordinary resources; that the sinking fund annually applicable to the national debt may be estimated at 15,000,0001. exceeding the above sum necessary to be raised for the service of the year by L. 2,000,000 only; that to provide for the exigencies of the public service, to make such progressive reduction of the national debt as may adequately support public credit, and to afford to the country a prospect of future relief from a part of its present burdens, it is absolutely necessary that there should be a clear surplus of the income of the country beyond the expenditure of not less than L.5,000,000; and that with a view to the attainment of this
important object, it is expedient now to increase the income of the country by the imposition of taxes to the amount of L.3,000,000 per annum." The whole substance of the above resolutions was, that in order to have a clear sinking fund of L 5,000,000, it was necessary to raise L.3,000,000 more than the present income. The foundation of this necessity had been laid by the repeal of the property tax, and other war taxes, in 1816. He was far from arraigning the honour and humanity which had insisted up. on that repeal, but he must maintain upon his conscience as a man, and his responsibility as a minister, that it had not produced the advantages which had been held out to the country as its consequences. He was ready to admit that it had afforded relief in the time of great embarrassment and distress, and contributed to the restoration of credit and industry. But at the same time it was evident that credit could not be supported, and that industry could not long have free scope, by any means so sure and permanent, as by placing the revenue beyond the expenditure of the country. What he proposed to be done this day was to place the revenue in the same state in which it would now have been, if the property tax had not been repeal ed. If, instead of the total repeal which had been made in 1816, the property tax had been continued for two years longer, at the modified rate which had been proposed, the imposition of new taxes would have now been unnecessary. The consequence of its continuance would have been, that L.18,000,000 of debt would have been spared to the country, and the difficulty now felt, of paying to the Bank, would have been avoided, because a new debt would not have been contracted. The measures which
had been resorted to in consequence of the repeal were the best which could be adopted in the situation of the country. Although they were temporary expedients, yet they brought the country to its present condition, without diminution of credit, without any imputation on its character, and without any tax on the necessaries of life. When the property tax had been repealed, a considerable part of its produce had not been recovered. The sums of this description, afterwards received, contributed very materially to lessen the inconveniences which would otherwise have been felt. The Bank, knowing the necessity of preparing for cash-payments, had begun to reduce their issues; but it had been obvious that cash-payments could not be at once resumed. Their treasury had been exhausted during the war, and time had therefore been given to make that preparation which was necessary. During the three years that had elapsed since the peace, no inconvenience had been felt in resorting to the Bank. Labour, which had suffered greatly from the restriction of the circulating medium in 1816, was revived by the increase of Bank issues to the amount of L. 1,500,000, and by the issue of Exchequer-bills. But they were now called upon to adopt a more permanent and systematic arrangement, and to ascertain the real amount of income necessary for the expenditure of the country. The resolution which stated the sinkingfund to be only L. 2,000,000 was taken from the first report of the Finance Committee of the present year. But the Finance Committee had made reports before the revenue had become greater than the expenditure, and their reports extended from that period till now, when the