Slike strani

oblige him to vote for the rejection of the reviewed the acts relating to legacies, bill. He should now, however, only de passed in 1780, 1783, and 1789, every sire that this bill should be delayed, until one of which, he said, permitted the inthe bill for taxing landed property should spection of private concerns.

The bill, be brought forward.

on the whole, provided for the ease and The Solicitor General said, that there convenience of executors, by obviating was not a necessary connexion between numerous inconveniencies; and he was the two bills. The principle of both was persuaded it would be acceptable to the already recognized in the act imposing a country. duty on legacies of 20s. per cent. when Mr. W. Smith thought the clause in the legacies was above 1001., and of 40s the bill respecting the disclosure of comper cent. when it exceeded 400l. It had mercial property so objectionable, that, if been argued that the bill was impolitic, it was understood by the public, he was because it went to lay open the state of convinced it would occasion serious oppoprivate property. Such investigations sition to the measure. The mercantile were sanctioned by the laws in Jamaica, world were totally unaware of the clause ; and there they had been productive of no and this was a reason why time should be bad effects. But, upon the provisions of given for farther consideration. the present bill, there was no necessity Mr. Pitt said, that in the course of the for any such investigation because it debate it had been asserted, that if the would be always in the power of an exe- House agreed to the tax on collateral cutor to avoid it by proposing a composi- succession, they would establish the printion. The mode of taxation proposed in ciple by which a tax might attach on dithe bill took nothing from the actual en- rect succession. How little was this joyment of any person upon whom it ope- argument consistent with the idea thrown rated. The case of illegitimate chil- out by gentlemen opposite with respect dren was somewhat hard, but it would be to illegitimate children! They thought impossible to make an exception in their the case of illegitimate children distinct favour ; besides, it would be in the power from that of strangers ; that they stood of the father to provide for the payment in a more intimate relation to the testator. of the tax, by making an additional allow. Yet illegitimate children stood, in the ance to his natural child.

construction of the law, as absolute stranMr. Grey thought the bill would ope- gers, and, except an express provision rate as a considerable hardship upon those was made for them, were not entitled to persons who, though not illegitimate them claim any thing. Yet they who affected selves, derived their existence from an to complain of the hardship in this inillegitimate source, as they would be stance, affirmed, that in the present meastrangers in blood, and be made liable to sure there was no distinction of principle incur the whole expense.

Whatever from the case of the immediate succession might be the policy of Jamaica, it had of legitimate children. The present bill always been contended here, that to oblige introduced no new principle of inquiry. a person to make a discovery of his pri- It had existed for a long series of years; vate concerns would be fatal to the com- and to those who were best acquainted mereial credit of the country. The with its operations he appealed, whether learned gentleman said that the bills ought it was attended with any of those fatal to be divided, because the provisions consequences to commercial credit, which, were different, though the principle was it was stated, would result from the prethe same: now, he thought, that, if the sent measure. principle was the same, they ought to be The question being put, That the word discussed together.

'now'stand part of the question, the The Attorney General said, that the House divided : first objection to the bill was, that there

Tellers. was no exception for illegitimate children.

Mr. E. J. Eliot
Now, such had always been the case with
former acts, and he conceived it proper.
This act, however, was lenient, in compa-

Vr. Ald. Newnham

}16 rison with other acts : for if the testator stated his legatee to be his child, although April 5. The bill was read a third illegitimate, he would enjoy the exception time. On the motion, That the bill do made in favour of the lineal descent. He pass,

} 46

Yeas {Mr. Sargent
Noes { Mr. Rashleigh

} 16

Yeas { Mr. Ard? Newnham
Noes { Mr. Hobart

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Mr. Alderman Newnham begged gen. The question being put, “That the detlemen to consider how oppressively the bate be adjourned till this day fortnight,” act might in some cases operate. By a the House divided : succession of deaths in a family, the same

Tellers. property might be taxed five or six times in one year. If the bill passed, however,

Mr. some people might think this the best country in the world to live in, it cer.

Mr. Solicitor General

} 64 tainly would be the worst to die in.

General Smith objected to the principle The Bill was then passed. of the bill, and to all its provisions. "If such a bill had been introduced forty Debate in the Commons on the Bill for years ago, it would not have been toler- granting a Duty on Succession to Real Es. ated. He reminded the House, that the iates.] April 21. Mr. Pitt presented a cyder tax was so extremely offensive, be- Bill for granting a Duty on Succession to cause it empowered persons to enter pri. Real Estates. The Bill was read a first vate houses, and disclose the secrets of time. On the following day it was read a families. There were some things which second time, and committed. ought to be held sacred; but they would be violated by this detestable tax, which May 5. On the motion, “ That this was neither more nor less than the estab. Housé will immediately resolve itself lishment of an inquisition.

into a committee to consider further of Mr. Fox rose also to object to the whole the said Bill,”. principle of it. It was a new principle, Mr. Rashleigh said, that this tax was which, if followed up, would be extremely liable to the same objections which he dangerous. He had heard it stated, that had urged against the personal succession this tax would not be just, unless a tax tax bill

. It paid no regard to the different was levied

upon landed property also. He values of the lives of persons on whom would therefore move to have the present succession devolved. He was decidedly debate adjourned till it was found prac. against it, and would therefore move to ticable to bring in a bill to levy a similar leave out the word “immediately," and tax upon landed property, because, insert the words “ upon this day three although the principle of the two bills months" instead thereof. was the same, he understood the provi- Mr. Fox opposed the bill upon two sions were different, and therefore, grounds; first, the novelty of the prin. although it had been found practicable to ciple, as a tax upon capital; and seraise a tax upon the descent of personal condly, the iniquity of the application. It property, to raise a tax on landed pro- was a system which, if acted upon in the perty, might be found impracticable. He extent to which the principle might be would therefore move, “ That the debate carried (and he admitted the present in. be adjourned till this day fortnight." stance to be only a slight degree) would

Mr. Pitt agreed, that the principle on enable the state to seize upon the whole which the two bills were founded was property of the country. Of all the much the same, and that if this passed, shapes in which despotism had ever ex. it would be very desirable that the prin- isted, that, in his opinion, was the highest, ciple should be extended to real property. which rendered the sovereign heir to the He, however, by no means admitted, that whole capital of the country. This he the House being satisfied of the propriety admitted the present bill did to a very liof imposing a duty upon personal pro- mited degree; but if the principle was perty, should give up a productive tax, once adopted, the progress was easy, and because the principle could not be ex- it was impossible to calculate how far it tended to real property. The bill for the might be extended. From brothers and tax upon real property would soon be in relations in a collateral line, it might in troduced, and, he hoped it would appear time reach to children, and from four or that its provisions were practicable ; but five per cent. the tax might be increased if, upon fair investigation, it should seem to ten or twelve. This was his principal impossible to extend this principle to real objection to the bill. He had another, property, he saw no reason why the prin- however, grounded upon the particular ciple should be given up in this case, in hardship which would in certain cases which it was perfectly practicable. attend its operations. In cases of mar. riage settlement, children were most fre- The Attorney General said, that the quently the objects for whom provision bill was, indeed, a tax upon the produce was made; but sometimes collateral rela- of land, but could not be called a land tions had an interest in the settlement. tax. The discovery of the state of a A case of that kind had come under his man's affairs was not of the dangerous own experience. In case of the death tendency insisted upon. of his nephew, lord Holland, he was to Mr. Jekyll said, that the bill would opesucceed to the estates of his elder brother, rate as a tax upon land. The discovery by an article in the marriage settlements. that would take place would evidently be As it happened, he had not given any attended with every circumstance of pubconsideration for the contingent benefit licity. of this settlement. He might, however, Sir. W. Pulteney thought the bill highly have paid his brother some consideration exceptionable. It was a direct tax upon for it, and in this case, were the tax to capital, and might be increased, whenever attach upon this property, the contract it was thought convenient. He thought would be violated, because he would not this a worse measure, that it was to be receive the value of it in the same paid in the four first years. It was levycircumstances in which it stood when he ing in this time what might be put upon concluded the bargain.

ten or twelve years, and, lest a man should Mr. Pilt said, that the principle of the die, making the most of him immediately. bill had been already recognized in the It was the advantage of the taxes in this personal succession tax, and also in the country that they were optional, and duty formerly existing upon legacies. It therefore sat more lightly. Here, howhad been urged, that it would swallow up ever, the hardship would be more felt, the whole landed capital of the country. because it was a tax that the person subIt had no such tendency. It had been ject to it was positively obliged to pay. stated also that the tax might be paid Mr. Bastard said, that if there were no several times over. This could not be other way than by adopting this bill to done by the same persons; nor was it avert a national bankruptcy, he might likely that it could be done by the same vote for it; but not otherwise. If this estate, when the chances of direct suc- bill should pass, the management of the cession were fairly calculated. In no land tax must be put into other hands ; case, however, was it a tax upon the car for surely those who had its present mapital; nor would it ever diminish the real nagement would give it up. Was any value of the estate, because the tax was one prepared to say he would put au arof such a nature, that it could easily be bitrary fine upon a njan? And yet this paid by the occupier in the course of the must be the case under the bill ; for how four first years after his succession to it. was a person accurately to estimate the As to its affecting contracts formerly value of the interest which each person made, it could have no such tendency: had in an estate which was the object of and in the case particularly mentioned, the taxation ? This would create ill blood tax would not attach at all.

all over the country. Mr. Grey insisted that the bill proposed Lord Sheffield said, that a more partial a partial and bad mode of levying a land tax could not be imagined. It had been tax. The right hon. gentleman had said, said that the funds should not be touched; that it was not a tax upon the landed ca- but in preference to this tax, he would pital, but upon the landed income. Why, recommend a stamp on the transfer of then, did he not lay it directly upon those stock. in existence, and not upon posterity ? It

Mr. Alderman Newnham reprobated the was to all intents and purposes, a tax bill, which, with the tax on collateral sucupon landed capital, and could not, cessions, he had no doubt would be found in most instances, be paid by annual in. so odious, that some future administra. stalments. A tax upon the capital of tion would be obliged to repeal them. of any country could not fail to hurt its Mr. J. H. Browne contended, that the prosperity, and the discovery of the bill could not come under the denomina. state of property to which the levying of tion of an act to enforce an additional the tax would necessarily lead, would land tax. prove a source of vexation, and might The question being put, That the word become an instrument of influence to a immediately" stand part of the question, minister over the landed gentlemen. the House divided :

} }


to be a tax upon income. In such a Mr. Solicitor General

country as this, all taxes on capital were YEAS

64 Mr. Douglas

dangerous. He believed that much of

our prosperity was owing to the comMr. Rashleigh Noes

24 plete disposal of property which was enMr. Jekyll

joyed. If this tax had been laid on the The House then went into the Com- transmission of property by sale, no man mittee.

would have denied its bad effect; but

when freedom of disposal even at death May 9. On the motion, That the Re- was impaired by annexing burthens to the port of the said Bill be now taken into transmission, the bad consequences would, farther consideration, Mr. Crewe moved, in a certain degree, be felt. In all cases to leave out the word “ now," and to where the payment of the tax depended add the words 66 upon this day three upon the terms of succession, production months.”

of deeds was inevitable. It was not the Lord George Cavendish said, that the extent of the sum to be levied, but the tax was liable to two principal objections : precedent that was dangerous: it might the insecurity which it would give to be extended to direct succession; and he landed property, and the production of saw no difference in the principle. Upon deeds, which, from the power vested in the whole, there was no principle of taxathe commissioners it would render neces- tion more destructive than that which sary. It would tend to equalise all pro- tended to destroy the power of exchange perty, and would operate as a confiscation and transmission, and thereby lessen the of all the great landed estates in the coun. desire of acquisition. And, as this bill try, for the use of the government. encroached upon this principle, he hoped

Mr. Pitt said, that the degree in which the House would consider seriously the the bill would affect landed property, was

consequences that might follow from so so small, that it could not have the effect unprecedented a system of taxation. of equalizing it in the way stated. It Mr. Windham said, that the main obwas a tax that never could diminish the jection to this tax was, that it was a tax capital in any material degree. It never upon capital ; but it was not so clear as could be paid with reluctance; because was represented that all taxes upon capithe persons by whom it would be paid, tal were bad; on the contrary, it was the would stand in such a degree of relation- opinion of many writers of great eminence ship, that they would feel little or no that a tax upon capital was the best mode hardship in paying the tax out of that of taxation, provided it could be laid on property which they did not expect to equally. Now, this tax operated in the enjoy. It had been said, that this tax fairest manner, and at the time when would compel a production of title deeds, there was the least objection to pay it, and a consequent exposition of tenures, viz, at the moment when a person came and the incumbrances that estates might to the possession of the estate. Gentlebe subject to. The fact was, that the men contended, that it was impolitic to bill, in no instance, went to compel the burthen the transfer of property in a comdisclosure of any such circumstances. mercial country like this: it certainly

The Solicitor General said, that the was to be avoided as much as possible ; principle of the measure had been long but property must be taxed, and the ques. before the House. It was, in fact, a tax tion was, whether this was not as unobon income, to be paid by instalments jectionable a mode as any that could be during the first four years of possession. derised? Another objection to this tax

Mr. Fox said, that all the objections to was, that in a course of years, it would this measure remained in full force. It swallow up the whole capital ; it certainly was, in fact, what he had stated it, a tax would. Every tax must, in a great numupon capital; for it was levied in propor-, ber of year:, have that effect. tion to that capital. Ifit was really a tax General Smith thought the bill a paltry upon income, why not fairly lay it upon expedient for raising a trifling sum, which income? It was said, that it was to be could have been much better supplied by paid by instalments during the first four other means. years; but if the same was paid by the Sir W. Pulieney objected to the bill, as man who enjoyed four, and the man who containing a principle, which, if adopred, enjoyed forty years, it could not be said would establish a fatal precedent. The

first bill went entirely to tax the capital ; | that could be proposed, and he hoped that as landed property was valued at 28 years it would meet the approbation of a great purchase, and the present bill was only majority of the House. substituted on account of the objection- Mr. Sheridan said, that the present was able nature of the former ; but although the most execrable measure of finance it was more mild, it did not vary in its that had ever come before parliament. He principle. It had been contended, that it had no scruple to say, that the bill was was not a tax upon capital, but upon in- utterly impracticable, and if time were come; he nevertheless asserted, that it allowed, any gentleman who examined it was a tax upon capital, levied in a most with a keen eye would see that it abounded insidious mode. It attached at first only with the grossest errors and inconsistenupon collateral, but in a short time it cies. He was against any tax that shifted might be extended to lineal heirs, and the burthen to posterity; for he thought from a small tax to a greater amount, till that those who submitted to measures it swallowed up the whole capital of the which necessarily produced taxation, kingdom. He had also a weighty objec- should themselves feel the burthen, as it tion to the bill, on constitutional grounds. might operate to prevent them from supThe taxes in this country, generally porting the present irrational system of speaking, fell equally upon all; but in warfare. this instance, a tax was imposed upon a The question being put, “ That the particular class of individuals. To this word "now" stand part of the question," partial mode of taxation, the loss of the House divided : America was to be attributed. The apo

Tellers. beyt noe stamps, which at first only Yeas {Mr. Macche Montagu - } 81 yielded a trifle, at this time produce an annual revenue of a million sterling ? The

Mr. Crewe

Noes best time to check innovations, was when

Lord George Cavendish' } 52 they were first proposed ; if once allowed fairly to commence, there was no cal- May 12.

The question being put, culating to what lengths they might be - That the said bill be now read a third carried.

time," Mr. Bastard attacked the bill upon the Mr. Francis said: – Mr. Speaker ; I ground of its being partial and oppres- should indeed be sorry that this pernicious sive, and tending to excite disputes be- bill should finish its progress through the tween landlord and tenant, in one word, House, without my having had an oppor. to embroil the peace of the community. tunity of expressing my opinion of it more By the provisions of the bill, the commis- explicitly and distinctly than by a silent sioner of the tax was authorized to inter- vote. I do not mean to enter into any fere between the landlord and the tenant, observations on the particular provisions and to settle the differences which might of the bill. The objections to it in detail, subsist between them, according to his on the score of injustice, hardship, and caprice. Why, if the bill were only a impracticability, I believe, are endless; I tax on income, were not pensions and hope they are insurmountable. Let the places in reversion made equally liable bill pass as it is, with all its vices and all with land?

its absurdities. The more it is loaded with Sir Adam Fergusson objected to the tax them the better; for that, I fear, is the altogether, as one that would be particu- only chance we have of ever seeing it larly unpopular in Scotland, where a strong repealed. My objections are on principle, partiality for family estates prevailed, and fundamental. They are the result of à partiality which it was wise to encour- the most careful attention and consideó ago, but which the bill tended to diminish. ration, which I am capable of giving to

The Attorney General asserted, that the any subject. I do not believe that it is bill was a tax, not upon capital, but upon possible for any human ability to answer income, which was to be paid by the heir them fairly. 'I look upon the bill not in the course of the first four years after merely as an act of taxation, but as a his succession; so that it did not effect political measure, immoderately increasing the value of the inheritance: it was mere, the influence of the crown, and full of ly a tax upon his life estate. He con- danger in its obvious consequences to the icnded that the tax was as eligible as any constitution and freedom of the country.

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