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could be levied upon the consumer, even the advantages were obvious and indisputin that case, it fails in one of the most able, which the present Tax would afford essential qualities of a good tax, for a the wealthy shop-keeper over his neighbour good tax is that which takes and keeps who traded upon a more slender credit or out of the pockets of the people as little as capital ; which had a necessary tendency possible above what it returns into the to prevent competition, and of course to public treasury. In a former administra- promote monopoly, one of the most banetion, when a penny a bottle duty was laid ful principles that had ever obtained adon Port wine, how did the retail traders mission into a commercial country. Was meet this Tax? Why, by raising the price there not a petition now upon their table, of their wine in many places six-pence, in signed by 120 out of 150 of the very most places three-pence per bottle. Was persons who are appointed assessors by not this a mischievous imposition upon the commission, stating their experience of consumer, taking from him from 200 to the oppression of the Tax, with their con500 per cent. more than found its way into viction, that the shop-keepers cannot raise the public treasury? If the present Tax it upon their customers by advancing the had admitted of being levied upon the price of their goods. Sir John said, that consumer in the manner above stated in he would cheerfully submit to bear his the Wine-tax, they would not, after three proportion of any imposition in whatever years experience of it, have had all the shape it should reach him, that should retail shop-keepers petitioning the House supply the place of the Shop-tax, which for its repeal. Very few, if any, shop he asserted to be unjust, oppressive, and keepers can, and none that he knew of impolitic in the largest sense of these had yet attempted, by advancing the price words. of his commodities, to indemnify himself Mr. Pitt said, that it was so painful to against the Tax; he was sure he never had him to impose fresh burthens on the peopaid the Tax in the price of the articles he ple, or to adhere pertinaciously to any tax had purchased. Would any gentleman already imposed when represented as opassert, that he had paid the Shop-tax in pressive, that he should be extremely the price of the articles he has purchased ? ready to acquiesce in the repeal, were he Let him but demonstrate that to him, and not prevented by his duty to the public, he would vote with him that night. What which required that he should relinquish bookseller, for instance, could raise the no means of putting the finances of the price of his shop-goods, without drawing country on the most advantageous footing. down ruin and bankruptcy upon himself The Tax, in his opinion, was not such as and his family? Would he not, in that the complaints had represented it; and case, be immediately undersold by those while he retained that opinion, he could of larger capitals, of longer established not, consistently with his duty, give it up, and more extensive credit and custom, whatever degree of unpopularity his conwho can not only live but prosper upon duct might incur. Those who supported, profits so small as must be his inevitable and those who opposed the measure had undoing? The prime cost of the trader's already been at issue on the principal goods, is the only true guide to their sale. question, that the Tax must operate as a Has the Shop-tax the most distant refer- personal tax, unless the shop-keepers had ence to this? Most certainly not; but the means of levying it on the consumers. very much the contrary. It was held out He had heard no argument to convince to be a Shop-tax, while in reality it was him that this was not in their power, or an additional House-tax. It had inva- that they had not done it; for the rise on riably fallen short of 120,0001. for which the price of any single article that would it was given in : and made no very distin-be sufficient to pay the Tax must prove guished figure amongst their articles of so small as to be scarcely felt. That they ficance. Sir John asked, if any man in had it in their power to make a greater rise, that House had a right to deliver over as so as to derive a profit from it, he did not victims to a tax any particular description believe; for their mutual competition of his fellow citizens, from which he takes would always compel them to sell at such especial care to see himself totally ex- a profit as would defray the expense of empted? Is this just? is it honest? is it carrying on their respective trades, and constitutional ? Where, Sir, is the man afford a reasonable overplus to maintain amongst us hardy enough to risk the asser-themselves. With less than this, no trade tion. Sir John proceeded to state, that could be carried on, and more mutual competition would prevent them from , be a shop, on account of some things that exacting. The argument, therefore, that were sold from it by the workmen. As if they could levy ihe amount of the Tax | well might a gentleman's baru be called a they would levy more, would fall to the shop. Places where shops had been, but ground; and as to what had been said of had been pulled down, were assessed to persons being assessed according to their the Tax, because shops had once been rent, and not the extent of their business, there. He was going to pull down a particular situations were considered as church under an act of parliament, to more advantageous than others; and if cbtain an opening, and some other those who occupied such situations did not houses with it, and he should not be find their account in paying a higher rent surprised if the ground on which the for them, they would not on the same church stood, was to be assessed, because principle of competition continue to do it. shops had once been near it. The shopNo tax could be devised, that would not keepers were a description of men enbe attended with some inconveniencies, titled to the indulgence of the legisla. and to which some persons would not pay ture; they did not merely supply the a greater proportion than others. That home consumption, but they contributed the Tax bore heavier on the inferior shop- to diffuse our manufactures over the face keeper than on the higher had been consi- | of the globe. dered, and provision made for it; because Sir James Johnstone said, that the Shopit was reasonable, that if the balance must tax had put to death 3000 pedlars, and incline to one side or the other, it should unless the repeal of it could effect their incline to favour those who were less opu resurrection, it ought not to take place. lent than their neighbours. The cases in Sir Watkin Lewes said, that as evidence which shops made no part of the house, against the Tax had been produced at the he believed were not many; and if the bar, and none to refute that evidence, customers of a shop that made part of a there was, prima facie, ground for repealhouse should pay a small advance on any one / ing it. article, he did not think they would leave Alderman Newnham said, that the Act it on that account, and a very small ad. was construed to extend to persons whom vance would be sufficient to make up the it was not meant to comprehend: dyers difference of the Tax. In one of the cases were made shop-keepers, and the barber mentioned from Bath, the shop he under- who cut the hair from a porter's chin. A stood was part of a large inn, and it was member of that House had formerly said assessed according to the rent of the that the bankers wished to be included in whole house; but it would not surely be a the Tax. He knew of no such desire on very great hardship on the shop-keeper to the part of the bankers: the Chancel. change his situation, and to look out for lor of the Exchequer had expressly one not subject to such a disadvantage. declared, that it never was in contemplaSuch were the general grounds on which tion to include bankers; and yet the surhe opposed the repeal. Of the commis- veyor of the Crown, under that very Act, sioners who had signed the petition, some had assessed the bankers. The commishad qualified but lately, and many had sioners, indeed, had given them redress; never attended to the business at all. but the judges had decided against them: They were therefore very incompetent a very extraordinary decision he consijudges of the grievance stated in the peti- dered it to be;' for no judge could ever tion to which they had put their names. convince him that he was a shop-keeper.
Alderman Sawbridge expressed his asto- | He held the right hon. gentleman to be nishment to hear a tax defended, the prin- pledged, that the bankers should not be ciple of which was abandoned. The Re- included; and he repeated the question ceipt Tax had at first given rise to com- which he had last year put to him, withplaints; but as soon as it was understood out obtaining an answer, whether it was and felt to be fair, those complaints his intention that they should be included. ceased. This had not been the case with Mr. Pitt replied, that it certainly never the Shop-tax; but, on the contrary, the was his intention to include the bankers ; complaints against it increased every day. but he could neither direct nor over-rule
Alderman Watson said, that the Tax was the decision of the judges; and if the hon. unequal and oppressive. Ship-yards and gentleman chose to bring in a bill for dock-yards had been considered as shops : exempting the bankers from the Tax, he even Greenland.dock had been stated to would not oppose it.
Mr. Mainwaring wished to know from ration of Mr. Rolle, that he had always Mr. Pitt, if there was any probability that conceived that the Act of 1784, would the circumstances of the country would admit of the construction put upon it by soon permit him to abandon this tax. . the Bill in agitation, and mentioned that
Mr. Pitt answered, that although the gentleman's having, when called upon to revenue was in an improving state, yet he state why he was of that opinion, affirmed could never admit that as a sufficient that he grounded it entirely upon the reason for abandoning any tax, if the wording of a particular section of the Act principle of that tax was such as could be of 1784 ; the construction of which, Mr. defended.
Powys said, had never conveyed to his Mr. Fox said, that he could not avoid mind any such idea. lle expatiated on considering with surprise the extraordi- the nature of confidence and faith in a pary manner in which the Chancellor of minister, observing that faith was the the Exchequer had argued that the Tax evidence of things upseen. Matters of so. was paid circuitously by the consumers. much importance as the powers which had The shop-keepers had universally de- in the course of the debates on the present clared, that they could not levy it on their Bill been claimed, ought to be clearly customers; their customers said they did stated and defined, and not to rest on the not pay it; of course, then, the shop- interpretation of ministers on the one keeper received it, and the consumer paid hand, or on the blind confidence of their it, without knowing any thing of the mat- friends and supporters on the other. The ter. He contended, that it was a tax, Board of Control claimed povers far beunequal both in a general and in a parti- i yond any which the Court of Directors cular view.: it was unequal with respect to had conceived them to possess under the the different streets of the metropolis ; it Act of 1784. He should therefore move was unequal with respect to the cities of to insert after the words “ impowered to,” London and Westminster; for Westmins- the words “ exercise all and singular the ter paid more than London, and London powers and authorities, touching the civil more than all the rest of the kingdom, or military government or revenues of the
The House divided, on Mr. Fox's said possessions, which at the time of motion :
passing the said Act were vested in, or Tellers.
lawfully exercised by, the said Directors, Yeis Mr. Alderman Sawbridge 2 together with such further powers as are Mr. Alderman Newrham }
by the said Act conferred on the said
Board of Commissioners.”
Mr. Flood said, that he agreed that the
House ought not by any declaratory law So it passed in the negative. - to make any alteration in a previously
existing compact, neither ought the EastDebate in the Commons on the East India India Company to be deprived of their Declaratory Bill.7 March 12. The Hcuse chartered rights. He had professed himproceeded to take into consideration the self a friend to chartered rights four years Report of the East India Declaratory Bill. ago, and he was a friend to chartered
Mr. Powys said, that the words of the rights still. The Act of 1784 did not deBill stated, that doubts had arisen re-prive the Company of their chartered specting the powers of the Board of rights, but the present Bill did, and thereControl, as given in the Act of 1784. fore it could not be a trae declaration of The Chancellor of the Exchequer. had the law of 1784. The charter of the contended, that the Bill afforded a true Company had been guaranteed to them construction and exposition of that Act: by different acts of parliament, and should a learned gentleman had asserted, the be considered as sacred. To take it away, same, but confined himself solely to the upon light grounds, upon a problematical legal construction of the Act. It had view, or upon motives of political expesince been debated on different grounds, diency, would tend only to create confuand various opinions had been maintained sion, and to induce the most dangerous on both sides of the House. Mr. Powys consequences. He had approved of the briefly adverted to the sort of line which arguments urged against Mr. Fox's Bill. the arguments had taken, marking their | The country had also approved of them. several contradictions, and inconsistencies. The same arguments, he conceived, closely He particularly noticed the broad decla. applied to the present Bill. He wished [ VOL. XXVII. 1
to ask gentlemen, whether a difference the construction of the Act of the 24th existed between the two Bills sufficient of the King; an Act which, he said, did to cause a great revolution in the nation ? not repeal any charters. The minister, in Whether such a difference existed as was the year 1784, had declared, that it did sufficient to convulse the state to its not, and the House had passed the Bill foundation, and make the King start under that express declaration. Would from his throne? Would any man have any man then say, that the House ought believed, when the Bill was brought in to repeal chartered rights by construction ? at the end of 1783, taking from the He denied that the Board of Control Company their rights, and the whole could have the power to originate and act nation was convulsed, that a deprivation in the first instance from the very nature bill would be afterwards brought in and of their institution. The Board was insticarried, without an alarm either of the tuted to superintend, control, and amend. Directors or the nation ? Could any man It was expressed in the Act, that if the believe, that in the jubilee year of the Court of Directors did not send dispatches rights of the Company, they would quietly in due time, the Board of Control might, have submitted to a bill, if they had con- in that case, originate. The very excepceived it likely to go to a deprivation of tion proved that they could not generally their rights? It was evident, therefore, originate; the power of originating must that no such suspicion was entertained at therefore have existed elsewhere; and the time. The present Bill could not be where could it exist, but in the Court a true exposition of the Act of 1784. The of Directors. If the Board of Control bad right hon. gentleman who brought it in, not been convinced that it did not exist had argued the question thus: “ You in the Court of Directors, how came they have given the Board of Control power, in October last, in a time of alarm and -you must give them responsibility,- tumult, to make application to that court
and they cannot exercise responsibility for their consent to the embarkation of the • without the right to apply the revenues of four regiments in dispute ? if they had not
India." Could any man doubt that power been so convinced, why did they, at that was the result of responsibility, and not moment: come to parliament for a declaresponsibility the result of power? Butralory law? Would any man say, that he would maintain, that the Board of the Act of 1784 was considered by the Control had not responsibility: and for public in any other light than as an act of this reason: because they were desti-control, and not as an act of deprivation ? tute of power. If the Bill had been an Would any man say, that it was not the epacting, and not a declaratory bill, he meaning of the Act of the 24th to establish should have opposed it; not from indis- a board of control, instead of a board of position to the right hon. mover of it, but power? Were the case otherwise, the from a sense of justice. The subject of Board would, in fact, not be a board of the declaration was a subject in which the control, but a new East India Company. pation was interested. The charter of Was it not absurd to give a board of conthe East India Company was in the nature trol to control themselves, and yet if they of a lease; the legislature was the land were a board of power, that was taken lord; the Company were the tenants. It from them over which they were to exer. was therefore unbecoming the justice and cise control. The mischief in that case dignity of that House, so circumstanced, would be infinite. By blending power and to interfere judicially. Would they con- control together, there would actually be fess themselves a party, and come to a no control at all, not even the ultimate declaratory law on their own case? Nor control of all, the control of parliament ! was it at all necessary. If a dispute had It would be better to make the Company arisen as to what was to pay the troops in a board of control themselves, because India, that might be adjusted afterwards. they would be subject to the control of
The Company's ships, he understood, parliament, which a ministerial board of were ready to receive them: the troops, control would not, but would be more therefore, might be embarked, and the likely to control and over-awe parliament. question in dispute tried at law; and, if The object of the legislature had been to it could not be brought to an issue before have a board of control over the East India the end of the session, the minister might Company; but, the minister being inade bring in a conditional bill to provide the East India Company, instead of having against the event.Mr. Flood spoke of two controls as at present, and one East India Company, they would have two worth while, therefore, to consider what East India Companies, and no control at was the power of the Crown in Asia alall. The right hon. gentleman thought ready? The Commander-in-chief and proper to maintain that the commercial Governor-general were subject to the rights of the Directors had been left unin- Crown and independent of the Company, jured. He denied that fact. Commerce The Supreme Court of Judicature was also could not be carried on without territory, subject to the Crown. At home, the without influence, without investment. Crown had the power of raising recruits, as If the Board of Control had the right of well as the power of making the condition anticipating the revenues, they could anti- of renewing the Company's charter, and a cipate the investment and they could thus variety of subordinate sources of influence. destroy commerce. He entertained too This naturally led him to a farther consihigh an opinion of the abilities, the integri- deration. He wished to ask if gentlemen ty, the head, and the heart of Mr. Pitt, to were prepared to pronounce it a wise mea. believe him to be the author of the present sure, at the expiration of the Company's Declaratory Bill. He was persuaded he charter, when it could be done without was not; but he was sorry to find him any violation of justice, to take the terriprostitute his great name, and submit to tories in India into their own hands, and stand forward as an apostate. With re- to annex them to the Crown of Great Brigard to the checks and guards against tain. He should conceive that such an patronage provided in the present Bill, idea would be not only an inexpedient, but that patronage would, in spite of all an impolitic and unwise measure in every guards, rest with the Board of Control. view of it. The territorial possessions of The Court of Directors could not hold it. India had always been considered, and so The patronage of the slave was necessarily they ought to remain, as a fortuitous acthe patronage of the master. The Court quisition of commerce, and they were by of Directors must not only suffer the Board no means fit either to be made subject to of Control to exercise their patronage, but imperial sovereignty, or annexed to the offer it to them; nay, not only offer it, but Crown of Great Britain. From the very dare not complain of its having been ex-moment of their being determined to be a torted from them. They could no more part of the British empire, the dearest hold the patronage while the Board held concerns of this country would be pledged the power, than a man on the ground to their preservation. Mr. Flood conwith money in bis pocket could say it was tended that the true meaning of the Act of his own, while another man was standing 1784 was to institute a board of control over him and had a drawn sword at his and superintendance ; with this distinctbreast. Patronage was not, according to ion, that the political part of the Comthe general idea, the mere power of pany's affairs ought to be controlled, but appointment and dismission to and from the commercial part not; yet, if the Board office; but it was every thing that created was admitted to be a board of power, the influence. The power of applying and end of the Act of 1784 would be defeated ; appropriating the revenues gave considera- } the control of parliament, as well as the ble influence, and, consequently, consider control of the Court of Directors would be able patronage. Making contracts was pa- at an end, in the instance in question ; tronage ; and a variety of other exercises of and the Board of Control would not prove power gave patronage. If, therefore, the the best control in the world over themBoard of Control had all that power, what selves. was to control them? No man had a greater Mr. Hardinge said, that the subject respect for the power of parliament than naturally divided itself into three queshe had ; and therefore he did not wish to tions, and no more: first, whether the Bill see the power of parliament sapped and in hand spoke the true construction of the undermined, as it would be, if the minis. Bill of 1784: secondly, whether it was ter were suffered to appex all the enormous / expedient or necessary to speak it then, degree of influence deducible from the and in the form of the Bill; and thirdly, patronage of the East India Company to whether the checks contained in it were his Board of Control. Four years ago sufficient guards against the power of the they were told, that the influence of the Board of Control, so as to prevent any Company would make a small body supe-danger arising therefrom. Previous, howrior in power to the Crown itself. Besides ever, to his entering on the discussion of the power of the Board of Control, it was those questions, he begged leave to ram