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last augmentedand regulated, many persons blocked up several of their windows, to avoid paying it; now a tax on windows, so much heavier was imposed, it was natural to expect that they would block up more, by which means, not only the efficiency and productiveness of the new tax would be checked, but the productiveness of the old window tax would be diminished.
Mr. Fox, after various arguments against the general principle and the probable operation of the bill, spoke to several of the clauses, and animaverted on the mode in which Mr. Rose had answered Mr. Eden's remarks. The general reply, he said, had been, “Oh, we shall bring up a clause for that,” and this had been repeated several times, which was a pretty strong proof of the necessity of re-committing the bill. His right honourable friend had contended very wisely and ably, that if gentlemen having three houses were not to pay for more than two, that by a parity of argument, those who had two houses ought not to pay for more than one. This was undoubtedly fair reasoning, and the fact was, that if the present were a tax on houses, and were meant to be such, every house in the possession of any person ought to pay; if he had three, all three; if four, all four: on the contrary, if it was really designed as a mere substitute for the tea tax, in that case, only one house belonging to any gentleman ought to pay it, and that the house where he himself resided, as that would be the house undoubtedly in which tea would be drunk. He declared, the only reason that struck his mind, that could be urged against charging every house belonging to gentlemen who had several, was, that it was recollected the right honourable gentleman, in opening the proposition originally, had stated, that individuals would save by paying the tax instead of paying the high prices upon teas, and it was thought that after such a declaration, it would be too much to ask a gentleman to pay for four houses, for the privilege of drinking tea in one of them. He adverted to the question about minors and guardians, and said the honourable gentleman had not answered that, by asking whether the Duke of Bedford ought not to pay the tax? Undoubtedly he ought; but as the bill stood, the mischief was, that the Duke of Bedford and a minor of a certain description, who had a fortune, not only far inferior, but scarcely equal to his support, were to pay the same exactly. Mr. Fox dwelt on this for some time, and pointed out, that by the inaccuracy of wording one of the clauses, if a person possessed a thousand, or any great number of houses, let out to more than one family each, he had it in his power to pay the tax upon no more than two of them. He explained this, by shewing, that the bill stated, that where two houses were let to more than one family, the
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landlord should, in that case, be taken to be the occupier; and in another part of the bill it provided, that any person occu-. pying more than two houses, should pay only for two. This, however, he stated rather as a proof that the bill wanted verbal correction and amendment, than as a serious objection to it.
An honourable gentleman had compared the present proposition, which compelled, all persons, whether they drank tea or not, to pay a tax for it, to the custom of obliging every person in France to pay a tax on salt, but greatly in his mind to the injury of the mild spirit of French taxation. There was, he said, no degree of comparison on the score of necessity between the use of salt and of tea. The latter was clearly a luxury, and no way conducive to health, perhaps far otherwise, as many had thought. Salt, on the contrary, was a necessary, and, therefore, it was far less oppressive to oblige all the subjects in France to purchase as much salt as it was supposed a person of any given description in life would have occasion for. Mr. Fox reprobated Mr. Rose's expression, that he had a clause to bring up as a rider, at the third reading. He declared, he never had heard such a reply come from a secretary of the treasury, when a bill was in progress. Bringing up clauses by way of rider, was not a regular matter, but a mere matter of resort, when any material circumstance had, through inadvertency, escaped notice, till it was too late to insert it in the body of a bill; it was therefore an additional reason why they ought to re-commit the bill. He said, the great amendment he wished for was, that total and material alteration of the principle of the bill, the making it optional, and not compulsory. That alone, in his mind, could cure the defects of it; but as he did not imagine he could prevail on the right honourable gentleman to make that alteration, he must join issue with the honourable baronet, who had said he hoped, as the present was a bill of experiment, it would bemade only a temporary bill. He thought it ought not to be rendered permanent, and indeed he heartily wished the right honourable gentleman would consent to postpone going on with the bill till the next session. A few months could make no great difference, and the matter did not press in point of revenue, The whole of the bill might be re-considered by the right honourable gentleman during the recess, and be brought forward next year under considerable improvements, Mr, Fox reca. pitulated his several objections, vize that the bill held out a deception to the public on a subject on which they ought to be treated with plain dealing and with confidence;' that it was compulsory when it ought to be optional; that it ground the face of the poor, and imposed a general tax on all persons, as
well those who drank tea, as those who did not drink it, and that it did not appear to him likely to put an effectual end to smuggling. Were he certain that it would operate as a material check upon smuggling, he owned he should like it much better; but he feared it would not. In the course of his speech, Mr. Fox often glanced at the East India company; and before he sat down, he reminded gentlemen, that according to the forms of the House the motion must be negatived before they could re-commit the bill; all those, therefore, who thought as he did, would join in attempting to negative the proposition.
ADDRESS ON THE King's SPEECH, AT THE OPENING OF
THE SESSION. .
January 25, 1785.
* My lords and gentlemen ; “ After the laborious attendance of the last session of parliament, it has given me peculiar pleasure that the situation of public affairs has admitted of so long a recess. Among the objects which now require consideration, I must particularly recommend to your earnest attention the adjustment of such points in the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland as are not yet finally arranged; the system which will unite both kingdoms the most closely on principles of reciprocal advantage, will, I am persuaded, best ensure the general prosperity of my dominions. I have the "satisfaction to acquaint you, that notwithstanding any appearance of differences on the continent, I continue uniformly to receive from all foreign powers the strongest assurances of their good dispositions towards this country.
“Gentlemen of the House of Commons; I have ordered the estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before you; I confide in your liberality and zeal to grant the necessary supplies, with a just regard, as well to the æconomy requisite in every department, as to the maintenance of the national credit, and the real exigencies of the public service. .
"My lords and gentlemen; the success which has attended the measures taken in the last session towards the suppression of smuggling, and for the improvement of the revenue, will encourage you to apply yourselves with continued assiduity to those important ob. jects. You will, I trust, also take into early consideration the matters suggested in the reports of the commissioners of public accounts, and such farther regulations as may appear to be necessary in the diferent offices of the kingdom. I have the fullest reliance on the
continuance of your faithful and diligent exertions in every part of your public duty. You may at all times depend on my hearty concurrence in every measure which can tend to alleviate our national burdens, to secure the true principles of the constitution, and to promote the general welfare of my people.”
An address, which, as usual, was an echo to the speech, was moved by Mr. Philips and seconded by Mr. Gerard Noel Edwards. The total silence which the king's speech observed, relative to the affairs of India, called up Mr. Burke; who adverted to what he considered as an unpardonable omission therein. This silence, said Mr. Burke, is indeed an alarming confession of that distress which it forbears to mention. After dwelling for some time on the enormous degree of profusion and peculation prevalent in our government in the East Indies, he pledged himself in the most solemn manner, to support his assertions with proofs the most irrefragable; and concluded by moving the following amendment to the address proposed : “ Convinced, as we are, by the most decisive and most melancholy experience, that all waste of the public treasure, in the East Indies, immediately or mediately applicable to the company's use, and all division of that treasure from public service to the private emolument of individuals, must not only bring an unsupportable burthen on the natives of those countries (multitudes of whom are our fellow citizens, and ought to be the objects of our most tender concern), but has a tendency to bring home the same burthens on the inhabitants of Great Britain, we will, with a care worthy of the magnitude of the objects which such an abuse may effect, employ our most diligent researches to discover, and our best endeavours to bring to condign punishment, the authors of such misdemeanors, if they shall be found to exist."
Mr. Fox rose next, and began with declaring, that though he most cordially concurred in every thing that his right honourable friend had said on the subject of India, and thought it highly necessary that some notice should have been taken of it in his majesty's speech, nevertheless he should give the address his assent; and that he should do so, whether the amendment was carried or not. He then went into a discussion of Indian affairs, declaring that he begged pardon of the East India directors for having supposed that no system of government for India could be so bad as that carried on under their direction. Experience had shewn, that under the present absurd and miserable board of control as much peculation and corruption was carried on in India as ever. But as this subject would soon be brought forward in the House, either for advice or crimination, he would dismiss it for the present.
He desired not to be understood as pledging himself to any particular measure, by giving his consent to the present address. As far as what was in it went towards a declaration that the measures lately pursued for the prevention of
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smuggling had been effectual, he had no objection, because he had been told they had; but if any thing like an approbation of that wild, unjust, oppressive and severe burden on the public, the commutation tax, as it was called, was implied under the approbation of the measures against smuggling, to that he did not assent, because he held it in utter abhorrence. It reminded him, he said, of a language that had been held during the administration of the Earl of Shelburne, of increasing the revenue by taking off taxes; an idea as absurd as ever entered into the mind of man. The commutation tax had acted exactly in the contrary way; it had added to the burdens of the people, without increasing the revenues of the country.
Having stated the hardship put upon the public by the commutation tax, and particularly reprobated it as a most ill-timed measure, it being suggested and carried at the very hour when the public were unavoidably to be galled by new and burdensome taxes, Mr. Fox spoke of the unanimity which Mr. Pitt had mentioned with so much satisfaction as marking the proceedings of the day, and advised the chancellor of the exchequer not to draw too flattering a presage from the circumstance. He put him in remembrance that the two last addresses at the opening of the two last sessions of the old parliament, had been carried unanimously, and that nevertheless the two administrations then respectively in office, had been speedily afterwards overthrown; a circumstance as little to be expected by them, and as little probable at the time, as a sudden overthrow of the present administration was or could be. — With regard to what had been said on the subject of a parliamentary reform, Mr. Fox de clared himself a fast friend to a measure of that tendency, but he could not but conceive that the minister's proposing a specific proposition was the most unlikely means of obtaining the end. He proceeded to remark on a letter circulated by the reverend Mr. Wyvill, wherein the chancellor of the exchequer was said to have promised his support to the measure « as a man and as a minister.” * -Of this he required
* The following is the copy of a circular letter sent by the Rev. Mr. Wyvill, to the chairmen of the several committees of the counties and cities associated for the purpose of obtaining a reform in the representation of the people.
. “ Nerot's Hotel, King Street, St. James's, Sir,
« December 27, 1784. « I am authorised by Mr. Pitt to declare, that he will bring the subject of a parliamentary reformation before the House of Commons as early as possible in the next session ; that he will support his intended proposi