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ON THE FINANCIAL MEASURES OF A REFORMED PARLIAMENT.
THE WHIG BUDGET.
“ De mortuis nil nisi bonum," is Those to be imposed were on the charitable maxim of private life; and it admits of application to the
Transfers of Funded Property. political projects of legislative, as Transfers of Landed Property. well as the characters of individual On Canadian Timber. life. The Whig Budget is now ex
On Steam-Boats. tinct: The good sense of the nation On Raw Cotton. has revolted against its absurdity; On Cape Wine. but important instruction may be drawn from its character, as to the The reduction of the duty on seafuture measures of finance to which borne coals was a just and judicious we are to be subjected by a reform- measure. Being a local tax, which ing government.
pressed with severity on a necessary That the Whig Budget is the most of life in the metropolis, from which complete failure which has occurred a great part of the country was exin the memory of any man living, is empted, its removal was expedient. now admitted, even by the warmest The reduction of the duty on partisans of Ministers. Between candles, though not perhaps so imconcessions to avoid, and retractions portant a boon as the removal of the consequent on defeat, hardly a vès- tax on soap, or some other articles tige of it remains. With the excep- of primary necessity, may also be tion of the little fragment of the considered as unexceptionable. steam-boat tax, not one of the pro- With these exceptions, the Budget posed new taxes is preserved; and was a tissue of philosophical and pohow Government are to meet the litical error. public expenses with the duties they What could be more absurd than have abandoned, without any to sup- the abolition of the duty on tobacco ? ply their place, is a problem which Can any object be a fairer subject of it remains for them to solve.
taxation than one which is neither a That the Cabinet contains several
necessary nor a convenience of life, able men is quite certain. No one but which, nevertheless, from its gecan have heard Lord Brougham's, neral use, yielded so large a revenue Lord Grey's, or Mr Charles Grant's as L.800,000 a-year? What could speeches, without being convinced have induced any rational man to of that fact. How then has it hap- have contemplated a reduction of pened, that from such a source, so this duty, it is difficult to imagine. miserable a project has proceeded; It is, literally speaking, a tax on a one which wars alike against philoso. disgusting luxury, which degrades phical principle, national integrity, the higher, and brutalizes the lower and important interests? The an- orders, which has been adopted by swer is to be found in the known fops from the imitation of foreign fadifference between men of specula- shion, and by operatives from the extion and men of action, and in the ample of foreign grossness. It may homage which those who rest on the safely be affirmed, that the habit of support of the populace are com- smoking permanently injures the pelled to pay to their wishes. manners of the lower orders, and can
never become general without lowerThe taxes proposed to be taken off ing the national character; and there are those
is a reason for this, of universal ap
plication-Women nowhere smoke, On Sea-borne Coals.
and the practice is everywhere reOn Candles.
volting to their feelings. The prevaOn Tobacco.
lence of this custom, therefore, is a On Calico Prints,
continual indulgence of selfish gratification on the part of man, to the because it fell on a branch of indusexclusion of the comfort of the other try which ministered to luxury or sex: In other words, a continual ap- comfort, not necessity ;-to foreign proach to the selfishness and bruta- export, because it was directed lity of savage life.
against a manufacture in which, more Something was said about the de- perhaps than any other, the division moralizing effect of the smuggling of labour, and application of machiof tobacco on the west coast of Ire- nery, were capable of effecting an land, as the real motive for the re- indefinite reduction of price. The moval of this duty. This reason is continual and astonishing reduction an exact counterpart of the grounds in the price of printed cottons since assigned for the fatal reduction of the peace, is the clearest proof of the duty on spirits, so strongly press the capability of machinery to reed on the late administration by the duce the cost of its production. An Edinburgh Review. The answer to article of this description, which in both is, that the evil sought to be re- 1814 cost fifty shillings, can now be duced is local and partial. The mis- produced in Glasgow for six ; being chief done by removing it is general, a reduction in the price of producand of incomparably greater extent. tion, to less than an eighth-part of For thousands demoralized by High- its former amount. This being the land smuggling, tens of thousands case, it is evident that fabrics of this are ruined by cheap whisky. For description were, of all others, the every man whose habits are injured fittest subjects of taxation, because, by Irish tobacco smuggling, twenty from the nature of the manufacture would be brutified by the more ge- employed in producing them, any. neral use of that noxious weed. subsidiary burden was capable of
Besides this, it is evidently impos- being much more than compensated sible to impose a tax on objects of by the increased skill and diminishconsumption which will not prove ed cost of production! And, in burdensome to some class, and af- truth, the tax was paid neither by ford a bounty for smuggling in some the consumer nor the producer, but quarter. The evils of contraband the talent of the manufacturer, called trade, how great soever, are insepa- into existence by the tax, and which, rable from a system of indirect taxa- but for it, would have Jain dormant tion: They are the price which the in the mind of the mechanist. nation pays for the immense advan- But of all parts of the Budget, the tages of raising a revenue, without its most extraordinary and ruinous was, weight being perceived by those who the proposed tax on transfers of stock. pay it, or being imposed on any but To understand the merits of this articles of voluntary consumption, question, it is necessary to recollect, This being evident, the repeal of the that the acts creating the stock bad duty on tobacco, if accompanied by declared, in the most express terms, an increase of duties in some other that, “ in no time coming should any quarter, was not a diminution of the tax, duty, or burden whatsoever, be evils of smuggling, but only a trans- imposed upon the sale, or transfer, ference of them from one quarter of of the said stock.” This was the the empire to another.
condition solemnly sanctioned by The reduction of the duty on ca- many acts of Parliament, on which lico prints was equally unfounded in the money was advanced by the pubprinciple and expedience. It was lic creditor, and on the credit of not felt as burdensome—it was not which it had passed through innuthe subject of any vehement com- merable bands, and was now held by plaint. Ingenuity and machinery the proprietors of the stock. How had more than compensated the bur- was it possible to violate this condiden; and in spite of it, the British tion, without breaking faith with the manufactures of that description had public creditor-in oiher words, una most extensive and unprecedented doing the public faith of Britain ? sale. To sacrifice L,500,000 a-year, It was urged by Ministers, that the by reducing that branch of taxation, income tax was a violation of this was impolitic, both with reference original compact; and a speech of to domestic consumption and foreign Mr Pitt was quoted by Mr Charles' export. To domestic consumption, Grant, in which that great statesman
declared," that he did not regard it cially of the middling and lower oras any violation of the slightest faith ders. This is sufficiently demonof Government to impose a tax on strated by the fact, that the funded the income derived from stock, when proprietors are 280,000 in number, imposed equally at the same time on and that two-thirds of the three per the income derived from every other cents are in the hands of persons who source, because the nation was not permanently use their stock as a pledged to keep the income derived source of income. The tax, therefrom the funds entirely free of taxa- fore, was not a burden on the bankers tion, but only not to impose any par- of Lombard Street, or the capitalists ticular tax on that species of proper- of London, but on the little stock of ty.” These words, thus cautiously the shopkeeper, and the savings of guarded and restricted to the imposi- the poor. The great and meritorious tion of an universal tax,were seriously investments of the Life Insurance quoted by Mr Grant as supporting a Societies, the resource of the midparticular duty of one half per cent dling, and of the Savings' Banks, the on the transfer of funded stock. No- deposit of the poorer orders, were thing can be clearer than that the all threatened by the proposed meaprinciple of Mr Pitt had no sort of ap
No less than L.13,000,000 is plication, unless the proposed trans- lodged in the three per cents from the ter duty on stock were extended at the Savings' Banks, and this sum, from same time to every other alienation. its belonging to the bumblest classes, Now, the tax proposed was solely is, in an especial manner, liable to on transfer of stock and land. The be frequently drawn out, that is, to sale of manufactured articles to any be frequently brought under the opeamount : of ships, furniture, mova- ration of the tax. bles of every sort, cattle, grain, farm But the ruinous tendency of this produce, &c. were entirely free from tax is not to be measured by its acany imposition. Here, then, was a tual and immediate operation. It is particular duty laid on the fund and as a precedent of violation of national landholders, directly contrary to the faith that it is chiefly of importance. plighted national faith to the former Considered in this view, it would of these parties. It is idle to pretend have inflicted a lasting and irremethat such a measure, if carried into diable wound on the national credit, effect, would not have been a direct of which the bitter fruits would have breach of national faith.
been experienced in the next crisis Supposing it had been as true as of the national fortunes. In vain it in reality was false, that Mr Pitt would government, on the recurhad, by the income-tax, infringed the rence of similar scenes of financial condition on which the stock was difficulty with those which were so subscribed, was that any reason why. common during the late war, have so great a violation of faith should sought to impledge the national rebe repeated? Because a man, un- sources for immediate assistance; der the pressure of extreme want, the fatal precedent of 1831 would has once committed theft, is that any have risen up in judgment against reason why thecrime should be again them, and the nation been under the committed, when no such palliating necessity of guaranteeing the capicircumstance exists? Because the talist against future spoliation by the nation, during the difficulties of a severity of present exaction. Good mortal conflict, was obliged to tax faith with nations is like honesty with the fundholders, along with other individuals ; it can never be violated classes, is that any excuse for the im- without the consequences visiting position of a similar burden on him thechildren unto the third and fourth alone, during a period of profound generation of those who have broken peace ?
it. It may be added that the tax on Nor would this first grand precethe funds, apparently directed against dent of injustice have been less fatal, the rich, was, in reality, levelled at as a measure of relief, to succeeding the most meritorious and valuable of governments. We have seen how the poorer classes. The public debt gladly the ministers recurred to the constitutes the great deposit of the precedent, so little in point, or rather savings of the nation, and more espe- so decidedly against them, of Mr
Pitt and the income tax. How gladly, against this salutary species of inunder the influence of the same mo- vestment. tives, would succeeding administra- This is a matter of the very utmost tions have recurred to the Whig importance for the future habits of budget! How triumphantly would the lower orders. No man knows they have referred to this grand ex- better than Lord Brougham the ample of a concession to necessity powerful influence of habits of fruto justify future violations of good gality and foresight on their characfaith, from still lower motives, or ter, or the necessity of a secure inunder the pressure of inferior diffi- vestment to promote the growth of culty !-Majus et minus non variant such habits among them. In his Cospeciem is a maxim of morality not lonial Policy he has pointed it out in less than law; the first step in the the clearest manner. How, then, career of iniquity is the one which has it bappened that a Whig cabinet, must be resisted; when it is once composed of men professing the uttaken, the difficulty of ulterior resist- most regard for the labouring classes, ance is increased with every devia- should begin their career by a meation from rectitude which has been sure calculated to weaken these hamade.
bits; to prevent altogether the purThe proposed duty on transfers of chase of land, with all its consequent land was as objectionable, on the blessings, by the industrious poor, footing of political expedience, as that and to diminish the security and proon funded property was on principles fits of that great investment, which of public justice. If there is any one embraces nine-tenths of the savings circumstance more than another to of the nation ? be regretted in the present political The duty on Canadian timber, now state of Britain, it is the small extent fortunately abandoned, was another to which the investments of the poor part of the Budget utterly inexpliare directed towards land, and the cable, both on the previous principles consequent engrossing of estates in of the Cabinet, and on the plainthe hands of a few great proprietors est dictates of expedience. Lord -while the landed proprietors of Brougham's work on Colonies was France are above 4,000,000, those expressly intended to point out the of Britain do not exceed 50,000. superiority of the Colonial over the This is an evil of the very first mag. Foreign Trade, on account of the nitude, both with reference to the profit being double to the nation, from stability of the state and the habits the intercourse with its colonies, and of the labouring classes. Nor is it single only on its commerce with fodifficult to perceive from what cause reign states. And there can be no this anomalous state of things has doubt that this observation was well arisen. The expense of making out founded. Colonies are to be regardfeudal titles, and the heavy duty on ed, according to his well-known exthe disposition, operate as a complete pression, as " distant provinces of the bar against the investment of small empire.”+ The wealth gained by savings in land. The ad valorem the trade with Canada, enriches both duty of one per cent, coupled with the British merchant in the St Lawthe expense of legal titles, amount- rence who exports timber, and the ing to at least five per cent more on British manufacturer in England who small properties, are such serious exports cottons. The profit is felt burdens, that the lower orders never, “at both ends,” and both flow into think of investing their savings in the British treasury. But the trade that species of property, but either with the United States enriches only put them in a bank, or in the funds, one of these parties, viz. the English which costs comparatively nothing. manufacturer ; the profit at the Because these burdens were not al- other end goes into the pockets of ready sufficiently great, the Ministers the American merchant; and instead proposed to put an additional tax of adding to the sum of British of half a per cent on transfers of wealth, tends directly to strengthen land; the effect of which would have the resources of his rival. This disbeen to close the door altogether tinction is of the utmost importance,
and illustrates the great superiority North America are only 3646+ These of the colonial over any other foreign facts demonstrate the importance of trade; of the trade in timber with this traffic, both as a nursery for seaCanada, for example, over that with men, a vent for manufactures, and a Norway
storehouse of naval resources. It is But, farther, the timber trade is rapidly increasing, having quadruconnected with another and a still pled in the last ten years; and at a more momentous consideration. It similar rate of progress it would is of the utmost moment to a mari- soon amount to a half of the whole time power to have its naval re- foreign trade of Great Britain. sources within itself, and to depend Extreme delicacy is required in on no foreign power for the mate the management of these colonies. rịals of its national defence. This Though warmly attached to the mostate of things was fast approaching ther countries, their inhabitants are of in this country. The Canadian fo. an extremely jealous and irascible rests were yielding an inexhausti- disposition. Many very serious disble supply of timber for the navy; putes have arisen between the British and its climate promised to render governor and the colonial legislature. that important dependency the nur- The tenure of our authority is exgery of all the stores required in tremely slender. It might be snapped ships. The alleged inferiority of asunder in a moment; and the Ame. the wood was disproved by the fact, rican dominion established from the that, at the very time when the Frozen Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Budget was brought forward, the The advantages afforded by the prenewspapers contained advertise- sent low state of the duties on timments for a great supply of Canadian ber, is at present the chief link which timber for the use of the royal navy. unites them to the mother country. For many purposes, the American What the consequences would have wood is fully as good as the Norwe- been of the removal of this advangian; and if for others it is not so, tage, may easily be foreseen. the difference is compensated by the What were the advantages progreat difference in price. Of the im, posed to counterbalance these enor: portance of having our naval re, mous evils in the proposed change of sources within ourselves, ample evi, the duties ? Nothing; but that Nordence was afforded by the armed way timber should be encouraged in neutrality of the northern powers in preference to Canadian; in other 1 780, the coalition of the Baltic words, a stranger's property rather states against England in 1800, and than our own subjects. So obstinatethe closing of all friendly harbours ly did Ministers cling to this deterin that quarter after the treaty of Til mination to encourage foreigners insit in 1807. Of this immense advan stead of ourselves, that after they tage the nation was to be gratuitous- had been compelled to abandon the ly, and without any compensation, proposed increase of the duties, they deprived by the proposed duty on brought in a prospective resolution the timber brought from our Trans- to lower the duties on Norwegian atlantic possessions.
timber in 1832; that is, since they The trade with Cañada has become could not impose a burden on their of immense importance. It amounts own subjects, they were at least deto 400,000 tons annually, being about termined to take it off the inhabita fifth part of the whole trade of the ants of foreign states ! empire; while the trade with North It is no doubt desirable to purchase America employs only 80,000.* good wood cheap; but this is a Great Britain enjoys the exclusive trifling object in comparison of the right of supplying these colonies disadvantages at which it was to be with manufactures; and articles of acquired. The trade with Norway is that description, to the value of important; but it is not of a tenth L.2,700,000, are annually sent to her part of the importance of the CanaAmerican colonies. The seamen en- dian commerce-to sacrifice the ployed in this trade are 18,700; while great and vital interests bound up in those engaged in the intercourse with the colonial timber trade to the pros
• Hall's America, i. 404.
+ Part. Papers, 5th May, 1829, No. 197.