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considerable relief. The most important of these was the extent to which it had been thought necessary, at the sacrifice of our own, to support the credit of Ireland. It was a matter that required immediate investigation, because it might be deemed one of the roots of the evil. What was the condition of the sister kingdom in the year 1812? Last year the interest upon her debt was 4,400,0001. exceeding by half a million the whole amount of her revenue ; so that, in fact, she had no revenue at all which was productive of benefit to the kingdom in general. Since the Union, in the course of 12 years, the addition made to her public debt was 68,500,0001. the interest upon which was 3,190,0001. and the increased revenue intended to provide for the payment of that interest, did not exceed 1,370,0001. This was the actual condition of her financial concerns since the Union, so that, year after year, they had been gradually proceeding from bad to worse, nor did it appear that they were now in a train to amend. The increase of the charge for the management of the revenue was not less singular. Before the Union it was 350,0001. and now it was no less than 900,0001. although the revenue itself to be collected had only been augmented 1,370,000/.; so that no less than 550,000l. was charged for managing 1,370,0001. Such a state of things, in his view, imperiously demanded minute and immediate investigation-(hear, hear!) Although her finances were in this reduced condition, no gentleman denied that no part of the united kingdom had been, or continued to be more rapidly improving ; the rent of land had enormously risen, the progress made in agriculture had been great, and her manufactures were not materially injured by the war in which we were engaged-yet under all these circumstances it was not a little singular, that nearly all the produce of the taxes imposed in Ireland had of late years declined in proportion to her prosperity, and her consequent means of paying them. In the year of 1799, the impost upon leather gave a revenue of 55,0001. and in 1811 it had fallen to 40,0001. though the employment of that article must have amazingly augmented. The same remark would apply to the tax on malt. In 1799, the average quantity on which the duty was charged, was 12,000 barrels, and in the last year it was only 7,000. To what then was this diminution owing ? The honourable Member charged no individual, but it appeared to bim certain that, besides great laxity in the collection of revenue, there was something like
WAYS AND MEANS.
321 a connivance at fraud-(hear!) The country was deeply indebted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland for the unceasing pains he had taken to procure a more adequate collection of the taxes, but he had failed, since nothing but a complete change of system, in Mr. Huskisson's opinion, could effect so desirable an objeci. The defalcation would appear the more remarkable, when it was known that in Ireland not one direct tax was-im posed, and in this respect her situation was better than that of any other country of the world, with the exception of the United States. The truth was, that the public credit of Ireland stood much higher than that of Great Britain, and yet this country was lending to her assistance she could by no means afford. He would venture to assert that if, by this circumstance, the public credit of Great Britain had not been so grievously injured, the Loan just negociated might have been contracted for on terms five per cent. better than those actually obtained-(Hear!)– To correct defects in the various respects he had hitherto pointed out, was by no means all that was necessary, because if the system hitherto pursued were to be continued, a revision of our foreign and domestic establishment would be absolutely necessary -(Hear, hear!)-the naval and military branches of our expenditure must be closely examined ; and it was impossible for any individual, even though he should have spent his whole life in public concerns, to form even a vague calculation as to the result: that it would be highly advantageous to the finances of the nation was clear, and that it would not be detrimental to its safety and interests, was equally certain ; much might, bowever, be effected by the revival and invigoration of the public credit, and let whoever would be Ministers, they would not deserve their stations if they did not make the attempt. It was now too late in the present year to accomplish the design, but he trusted that in the interval between this and the succeeding session, some plan would be digested calculated to effect the object in view. It was far from his intention, in the present melancholy state of the interior, to produce despondency; such a feeling shonld at no time be indulged in a state that only existed to any purpose while it was free, but he was yet to learn that any advantage was to be derived from shrinking from facing our dangers, as, in his opinion, nothing could be gained from a concealment of our real situation. It was true, that in the manufacturing districts disVol. III.-1812.
tress existed, which cast a general gloom over the prospect of public affairs, but the cloud was transitory, sunshine would soon be restored; and although we might not long be able to continue our foreign exertions to the extent to which they had hitherto been carried, yet he was convinced that the stamina of the nation were unimpaired, and that its resources were in a state of progressive improvement(Hear, hear!)-Further and great sacrifices might be necessary to enable us to support the arduous struggle in which liberty and justice fought against tyranny and artifice, aud if they were called for he was so firmly pursuaded of the public spirit of the people, that they would never be backward to supply the means for continuing the triumpbs of our fleets and arinies.
Lord A. Hamilton expatiated upon the impossibility of pursuing the present extended system of policy, and recommended that the Income Tax should be extended to Ireland. He likewise expressed his strong disapprobation of the terms of the recent loan.
Sir J. Neroport, in consequence of the remarks made by Mr. Huskisson upon the state of Ireland, in many of which he concurred, would not defer what he had to say upon the subject until the Irish Budget were introduced to the notice of the House. The honourable gentleman had certainly noticed many remarkable facts, but one of the most surprising was the comparison of the nominal taxes imposed since the Union, and the real amount which they bad produced. In 1799, the revenue of Ireland was 2,400,0001. at present it was 4,170,0001.; and since that year nominal taxes had been laid calculated to produce 4,751,0001. ; so that if the duties had been fully collected, and the revenue before the Union entirely destroyed, there would have been a surplus of nearly 700,0001.". The truth was, however, that they had produced nothing, and the revenue at this moment was 400,0001. less than in 1808, although taxes had been resorted to, to the amount of 1,200,0001. It was not so much by new imposts that the revenue was to be augmented, but by the exertion of former laws, and, perhaps, even by the recluction of some duties that hitherto had existed only in the Act of Parliament. In the article of malt, although four-tenths had been added to the duty, the sum received had not been increased more than one-seventh. The revenue derived from leather, as had been stated, was diminished, notwithstanding the greater quantity that must 323 necessarily have been employed in consequence of the conversion of Ireland from a grazing into an arable country. The difference between the expence incurred in the collection of the revenvie' was not less remarkable. In 1808 the Customs were collected for 9l. 148. 11d. per cent. and in 1811 for no less a sum than 201. per cent. The augmentation in the excise department had been in nearly as rapid a ratio. From what did this state of things arise? The hon. Member had freely stated that it in a great degree originated in connivance at fraud by corruption, and he (Sir J. Newport) had formerly exposed to the House, and entered upon 'the Journals, a system of bribery existing in whole bodies of the public officers, although the Government would not allow that papers should be produced to make the conviction": formally complete. One man, convicted of corruption, had been promoted to a high office, where he had the superintendance and controul of a 'most important branch of the revenue-(Name, name! from Mr. W. Pole)-Mr. Beauchamp Hill, and when he (Sir J. Newport) moved for documents to prove the fact, he was met by the previous question! He hoped that the British Parliament was at length aware of the 'necessity of inquiring into circumstances which he had never shrunk from stating year after year-(Hear, hear!)--On such occasions the only reply he obtained was, that the search for 'honest revenue 'officers would be vain, and that it would be far better to be contented with expe rienced rogues than to substitute ignorant honest men(laughter)-The honourable baronet then proceeded to draw a comparison between the state in which he had left the affairs of Ireland in 1808 and their present condition. When he quitted office he left a surplus of one million. What was now the fact?' [Mr. W. Pole walked towards the door.] He intreated the right honourable gentleman to stay a few moments, unless the contrast was too strong for his feelings. The statement of the actual situation of the finances of Iree land at present, 'doubtless,
' was most painful to the right hon. gentleman who had the management of them—(Hear! and laughter. )-- And as the House, as well as Mr. Pole, must be well acquamted with the deplorable condition in 'which they weré now found, he would not press further the paintúl comparison. The'honourable baronet then quoted an adage of King James, that gentlemen résident on their estates were like ships in port, their value and magnitude was felt and acknowledged, but when at a distance, as their
Size seemed insignificant, so their worth and importance was not duly estimated. He therefore implored Irish Members not to remain absent from their possessions when their presence was so useful. He concluded by deprecating the introduction of the Property Tax into the sister island, since its assessment, from the non-residence of the gentry of the country, might be intrusted to improper hands.
Colonel Bastard stated his determination to vote against any new taxes before an economical reform were made, or the attempt enforced by some strong resolution of the House. At a iime when on ibe one hand the nation was threatened with bankruptcy, and on the other with famine, he thought that Government could not do a wiser thing for the revenue or the people, than to promote the general inclosure of waste lands.
Mr. W. Fitzgerald could by no means concur with the honourable Member who spoke last, that because an economical reform was not accomplished, it was fit that the vast machine of Government should be stopped, and that no supplies should be voted. He concurred in many of the remarks made by the honourable baronet, and particularly in that in which he rather recommended that old laws should be enforced, than that new taxes should be imposed. Much had been said of the great increase of expence in the management of the revenue, but it had not been recollected, or at least not stated, that many causes produced this effect, and among others the increase of the salaries of the Officers of the Customs, and the purchase of land for the improvement of the Docks of Dublin, both of which had absorbed a sum of not less than 200,0001. The Post-Oflice hitherto had not produced any profit, although the expenditure was charged as a part of the management of the revenue. Last year the revenue had been collected at a less per centage than during the year preceding. As to the tax upon leather so long dwelt upon, it should not be forgotten that it was confessed on all bands that great frauds existed, which it was impossible to prevent without a complete change of system, as the right honourable baronet had bimself frequently confessed. With regard to the productiveness of the taxes recently imposed, he would ask Sir John Newport, whether the imposts he had resorted to when in office had produced the full amount he expected :-(Hear, hear! from Sir J. Newport). He was bappy to find that he had been more fortunate than the preceding or the succeeding. Governments.