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moral character, and that it vilified the individual who had been subjected to it to the last day of his life. He was con vinced, that after this experiment had been tried for twelve months, there would be no complaints from officers, that they found any difficulty in controlling their men without having recourse to flogging. Mr. W. Smith said, he perfectly coincided with his gallant friend, that it was the nature of the punishment and not the severity of it, which was to be objected to. He thought some other mode might be devised equally effectual; such as stoppage of pay or provisions; at any rate, any expedient was preferable to flogging. There might be some few individuals in the army of such base and callous minds, that nothing but flogging could have any effect upon them; but it was neither just nor proper, that in order to meet these few peculiar cases, the comfort and credit of the whole army should be sacrificed.

Sir F. Blake deprecated the infliction of corporal punishment.

Colonel Johnson said, that the whole argument of the gallant general opposite, went to prove, that the chief good to be derived from the soldier must first be flogged into him. For his own part, he thought that if commanders would only contrive to command their own tempers, there would be but little recourse to that disgraceful, unnecessary, and detestable punishment.

Lord Palmerston said, he did not wish to put the question on unfair grounds. He was ready to admit, that whenever punishment was accompanied with ignominy, it must necessarily have the effect of hardening the offender; but he conceived that the doing away with this punishment would have the effect of introducing other and greater evils. There was something in the constitution of an army which required some stronger and more speedy power to control it, than was necessary for the regulation of a mere civil body. Indeed, the history of every age and country showed this; and he would assert without fear of contradiction, that corporal punishment had prevailed in every army which had ever existed; and whether that punishment was administered with a cane or with a lash, did not seem to him to make much difference; at least with regard to the ignominy of it, which appeared to be the greatest objection which had been raised against it. He could assure the House that a dispo

sition existed in the highest quarter to have recourse to corporal punishment as seldom as possible; and when, from the returns made to the commander-in-chief, it appeared that corporal punishment had been frequently inflicted 'in a regiment, the conclusion which he universally drew from it was, that the officers had been remiss in their duty. The argument of his gallant friend had been totally misrepresented, when it was imputed to him that he had ascribed the courage of the Roman and English armies to the system of flogging which prevailed in them. When it was considered that our army was raised by voluntary enlistment and not by conscription, it would be readily conceived that there must necessarily be no small difficulty in controlling a body of such different tempers and habits. He looked upon the proposition of the hon. member for Aberdeen, for confining the system of flogging to the troops employed in our colonies, and abolishing it at home, as highly objectionable, and he would conclude by re-assuring the House, that there existed a very strong disposition in the high quarter which had the direction of the army, to mitigate corporal punishment, as far as it could be mitigated, with a due regard to the maintenance of proper discipline in the army.

Sir R. Fergusson said, he was convinced from the speech which the noble lord had just made, that he agreed in opinion with his hon. friend who had brought forward this motion, though in his situation it might not be prudent to avow it. The analogy which a gallant general bad endeavoured to draw between the soldiers of foreign powers and our own army ought not to be permitted for a single moment. The former were the subjects of despotic powers; the latter were the subjects of a free state. As far as his own personal experience went, he had always observed, that the best discipline was preserved in those regiments where corporal punishment was least frequently inflicted. From this he inferred, that whilst regiments were employed on home service, their discipline could be maintained without having recourse to the whip, or the cato'-nine-tails.

General Townshend observed, that having been in the performance of regimental duty for thirty years, he might be permitted to say, that he brought at least the benefit of experience to this question. Corporal punishments had formerly been

very prevalent in the regiment of Guards to exist at the present moment. But

to which he had the honour to belong; but he was happy to say, that of late the frequency of its infliction had much diminished. He was, however, of opinion that gentlemen were much mistaken who thought that the discipline of the army could be maintained without corporal punishment.

The committee divided. For the clause 47; Against it 99; majority 52;


Monday, March 13.

FINANCIAL SITUATION OF THE COUNTRY.] The House having resolved itself into a committee of Ways and Means,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to make his promised exposition of the Financial Situation of the Country, and addressed the committee as follows* :

Although, Sir, the circumstances under which we are now called upon to review the situation of our finances, differ in some material respects from those which existed at the corresponding period of the last year, yet there is nothing, in my mind, in the present aspect of public affairs, which ought to create either alarm or despondency. There may be grounds, and no doubt there are grounds, for much of individual sympathy for the severe distress which recent events have brought upon many classes of the community; and it is impossible that the causes which have tended to produce that distress should not, at the same time, be accompanied by much public inconvenience and embarrassment. But, Sir, I think I may venture to say, that the violence of the storm has passed away; that the clouds which impended over us have begun to disperse; and that, by the very conflict of the elements, the atmosphere has, to a certain degree, been cleared and purified.

If, indeed, there were any thing doubtful in the situation in which we now stand, and in the difficulties by which we have been so recently surrounded;-if there were any thing obscure or mysterious in their nature;-if they had arisen from causes beyond our comprehension; -then, indeed, there might be much more reason for uneasiness than appears to me

From the original edition printed for J. Hatchard and Son.

in all the discussions which have taken place in parliament upon this subject in the course of the present session,-although there has undoubtedly been a great difference of opinion as to the precise extent to which different causes may have operated to produce certain results, there has prevailed among us, I think, but one sentiment as to the general nature of those causes, and as to their general operation in producing such consequences. I confess, therefore, that to my mind, this circumstance is a source of no ordinary consolation.

In the course, however, of these discussions, there has been, in my opinion, a great deal of very unnecessary contest between those who are sneeringly denominated philosophers, and those who designate themselves by the more humble title of practical men. I call it " unneces sary contest," because I consider it to be the bounden duty of the legislature to endeavour at all times to render available the sound reasoning and theory of one class, by applying to them the practical experience of the other. It is only by a just application of the lessons of experience to the development of sound principles, that parliament can be enabled to determine upon its course; it is only by a judicious combination of these, the two elements of all wise conclusions, that the House and the public can be empowered to form a just estimate of the situation in which the country may be placed, and to arrive at an accurate and satisfactory decision. But, if those who have to prepare their minds for the consideration, or for the determination of subjects of this nature, are to be told that books must be thrown aside, and elementary reasoning rejected, I know not at what fountain they are to drink, if they are to be driven from those springs where science and knowledge are the presiding deities. Sir, when we find that in every class of the community knowledge has extended, and is extending itself to a degree, which but half a century ago would have been deemed impossible, are we who sit here, some of us as the ministers of the Crown, and all of us as united in the important act of legislating for a great country,are we, I ask, to be behind-hand in availing ourselves of the increasing lights of human intelligence? Is it not, on the contrary, our duty to struggle to be foremost in the race? Knowing, as we do,


that the progress of human knowledge | to recall the attention of the committee to must, in the first instance, be gradual and the course which has been pursued with limited, it is our business to take care respect to our financial system during the that, instead of being out-stripped, we last two or three years. And I am the lead the way; and, by assisting the judg- more anxious to do this because I have ment of our countrymen, enable them to been reproached,-and reproached in no avoid the errors into which they might very equivocal terms-with having, on otherwise fall, in regard to those great former occasions, used warmer language questions which so nearly affect their own, than I ought to have used, and with and the national interests. I am aware, having contributed by that language to Sir, that there are some persons who think the production of much of that mischief this general diffusion of knowledge the which we all so deeply deplore. Sir, it misfortune of the age; but, for my own may be true, it undoubtedly is true, that part, I confess that I cannot conceive how in adverting to the situation of the counthat mind can be constituted which con- try in the last few years, during which it templates the progress of human know- has been my lot to have any concern in ledge with an eye of fear. On me it pro- matters of this kind, I have used strong duces an impression diametrically the expressions of congratulation. It is true, reverse. I am convinced, that the more I say, that, on such occasions, I have accurately the mass of the people is in- described the country as in a condition of formed, the more they are in a condition prosperity. And, Sir, I do not now regret to see and comprehend what is essential that language; I do not now depart from for their good, and the means by which that declaration; for surely the country is that good is to be attained; the more not to be considered in a state of decalikely are they to abstain from the use of dence because some untoward circummeans which would be prejudicial in their stances may have occurred, to interrupt her operation, and which would be calculated to progress, and even throw her back, for the prevent, rather than to forward the attain-moment, in her course. But this I will ment of the good which they naturally desire to possess. If, then, all men (I was going to use that despised term, all philosophers) are agreed in the maxim, that" knowledge is power," the general diffusion of knowledge becomes of incalculable value to a nation; for if, with reference to our present difficulties, and to all difficulties of a similar kind in which we may be placed hereafter, we find the people at large, if we find the legislature in accordance with the people, and if we find the government in accordance with the legislature-all building their conclusions on sound principles, all proceeding on the foundation of correct reasoning, I confess I think we may treat with comparative indifference the recurrence of the dangers by which we have lately been assailed; partly, because the chance of their recurrence will be diminished, and partly, because, if they should recur, we shall know better how to meet them.

Sir, it is under these circumstances that we are called upon to look at the situation in which our finances now stand, and to consider what are the prospects of the country for the future. I think, however, that before I can satisfactorily proceed to explain the view which his majesty's government takes of what it is fitting to do under existing circumstances, I ought

venture to add, that however I may have erred in the terms which I have employed; however, from the delight which every honest man must feel in seeing his native land flourishing and happy, I may have congratulated the House on the result with more of earnest warmth than of calculating hesitation, I have, in no case, stated any thing as fact but that which was strictly true: and, I think I can satisfy the committee, upon a reference to what I have led them to expect during the last three years, and to the results which have actually ensued, not only that I have not intentionally deceived the country (though that, indeed, has, I believe, not been imputed to me) but, that no deception at all has been practised.

When, in the year 1823, it first became my duty to submit to the House a view of our finances, I ventured to assume that, in the course of that year, a certain amount of revenue would be realised; and allow me to ask, what was the result? It was found that my estimate, not formed upon any over-confident anticipation of improvement and increase, but upon the plain and simple basis of the revenue which had been already received, was far below the actual amount. I assumed, in that year, that the Customs, the Excise, the Stamp duties, the Assessed Taxes, and




sundry miscellaneous items, would pro- The actual receipt for 1823 was
duce an income of 52,200,000l. In the
course of that session, we repealed taxes
to the amount of about 3,200,000l.; of
that sum 1 calculated that about a million
and a half would be lost to the revenue in

the course of 1823; so that in point of
fact, my original estimate would have
been borne out, if the receipts had been
1,500,000l. less than 52,200,000. Now,
what was the result? Why, that the
actual revenue, after sustaining the loss
that I have mentioned, amounted to

52,017,000l.; being less by 183,000l. only than my first estimate; and exceeding, by 1,318,000l., what would have been sufficient to realise my anticipations, after the reduction of taxes had been adopted. In regard to the year 1823, therefore, it is clear that I held out no expectations which were not justified by the event. And if the committee will examine the accounts for the following year, they will be led to the same conclusion. In the year 1824, I estimated the probable produce of the revenue at 51,265,000l. In the course of that session, however, taxes were repealed to a very considerable amount; and I calculated that the loss which the revenue would immediately sustain in consequence, would be 630,000l. But what was the fact? The actual receipts of the year, notwithstanding such a reduction of taxes, were considerably beyond the original estimate which I had formed: for, the estimate being 51,265,000l., the actual produce was 52,562,000l.; being an excess of nearly 1,300,000l. Again, in 1825, I assumed that the revenue derived from the same sources would be 51,975,000l. From the repeal of taxes, subsequently enacted, I expected that in the course of that year the loss upon that assumed amount would be about 650,000l. Yet, the actual receipt, notwithstanding the defalcation occasioned by that cause, and by the commercial difficulties and pressure that began to be felt at the latter end of the year 1825, was 52,259,000; or, 384,000l. above my original estimate in the statement of the Budget; an estimate founded upon an hypothesis which had no reference to any reduction of taxes in the course of that year.

The result of all these statements is this: The estimated revenue for 1823 was £.52,200,000 51,265,000 51,975,000

1824 .... 1825 ...

[blocks in formation]

£.52,017,000 52,562,000 52,259,000


It thus appears, that in those three years the actual receipts exceeded the estimates by the sum of 1,398,000l.; notwithstanding the concomitant repeal of no less than 8,000,000l. of taxes. I say, then, and I say boldly, that I have not erred as to facts; and that I have not been guilty, even involuntarily, of deluding the country by the language which I employed.

Allow me, Sir, here to advert to another point, to which it is material that the attention of the Committee should be called. I have already stated, that in the course of the three years to which I have been alluding, taxes to the amount of 8,000,000%. were repealed. But I think I should give a very imperfect view of the situation of our finances, and of what has been done in respect to them, if I did not request the committee to go back with me a little further, namely, to the year 1816, when, after winding up all the expenses of the war, parliament was enabled to establish and pursue something like a systematic diminution of our burthens. It is very material, Sir, that this subject should be adverted to, because it has been argued, in the course of the present session, that in fact the reduction in the burthens of the people which has been made since the conclusion of the war, is not worth speaking of; that it is but a feather in the scale, opposed to the general amount of our expenditure; and that it has not been more than sufficient to balance the difference which has taken place in the value of our currency. It has also been maintained, that it is impossible for us to return to a more sound currency (for the purpose of returning to which, measures have lately been, and now are, under the contemplation of parliament)-that that perilous experiment, as it is described to be, cannot safely be hazarded, unless his majesty's ministers are prepared decidedly and essentially to curtail the whole expenditure of the empire at once, inasmuch as it would be impracticable to effect the melioration of our currency, and at the same time continue to levy the amount of taxation of which the Exchequer is at present in the receipt. Sir, I consider these two propositions to be wholly unfounded in fact and in reasoning. I think I shall be able to show the committee, that there is

Adverting, in the first place, to the reduction which has taken place since the year 1816, I will state to the committee the precise process of the reduction which originated at that period-the different items on which it has been made-and the principles by which it has been regulated. And, when I have made this statement, I think the committee will see that parliament has not been asleep upon its post; that it has not neglected the great dutyfor a great duty I must always consider it -of endeavouring, in a time of peace, to relieve the people, as much as possible, from the oppressive burthens which have been unavoidably imposed during the continuance of war.

no ground whatever for the assertion that | and 315,000l. from the diminution of the we have done nothing,-or rather that we duty on Malt and Spirits in the same have not done enough. When I say that country. The total amount of taxation we cannot justly be charged with not hav- thus repealed in 1816 was 18,288,000/. ing done enough, I do not by any means In the year 1817, partial relief, under the wish to be understood that we ought to heads of Shop-windows, Husbandry stop in the course of reduction, where we Horses, &c. was afforded, to the extent of are; that is far from being my view, or my 280,000l. In 1818, various assessed taxes feeling, on the subject; but I am prepared were reduced in Ireland, to the amount of to prove, that there is no truth in the state- 236,000. In 1819, the policy pursued by ment, that we have been doing little or parliament was of a different character; nothing; and just as little in the assertion, and a very considerable addition, to the that the melioration which we are endea- amount of 3,190,000l., was made to the vouring to effect in our currency is incon- taxation of the country. In 1820, no sistent with the present scale of our ex- alteration whatever took place. In 1821, penditure, and the present amount of our the repeal of the Agricultural Horse tax taxation. lessened the burthens of the farming class of the people by 480,000l. In 1822, the duty upon Malt was reduced one shilling a bushel, and the public were relieved thereby to the amount of 1,400,000. Nearly the whole of the impost upon Salt was also removed, being a reduction of 1,295,000l.; there was likewise a reduction of half the duty upon Leather, 300,000%. ; the Tonnage duty, 160,000l.; and the tax upon Hearths and Windows in Ireland, 200,000l.;-so that the total amount of taxes repealed in the year 1822 was 3,355,000l. In 1823, various assessed taxes in England were repealed, to the amount of 2,250,000; whilst the relinquishment of the whole of them in Ireland, saved the inhabitants of that country the In 1816 (the first year in which any re- payment of 100,000l. Added to this, was duction of taxation took place), the Pro- a reduction of the duties on Spirits, both perty tax was repealed. I know very well, in Ireland and in Scotland, to the extent Sir, that the repeal of that tax was effected of 800,000l.; and a reduction of 50,000l. contrary to the opinion and recommenda- in several minor branches of the Customs. tion of his majesty's government. It is The total relief in 1823, therefore, was undoubtedly true, that under the circum- 3,200,000. In 1824, the following duties, stances of the time, government was de- to the following amount, were diminished: sirous that the Property tax should be viz.-on Rum, 150,000l.; Coals, 200,000l.; continued for two years longer. The Law Stamps, 200,000l.; Wool, 350,000!; House thought otherwise; they thought Silk, 527,000l.; Union duties, from 1822, it ought to be repealed immediately, and 300,000l.;-making a total of 1,727,000!. repealed it was. It is not my purpose now-The total repeal in 1825, was not less to inquire whether government was right in proposing to retain it, or the House in resolving to take it away; but, at all events, the people gained the advantage of the repeal of a tax, the annual amount of which was no less than 14,320,000l. In the same year, the War Malt duty of 2,790,000l. was abandoned; and further relief was afforded, in the diminution of war-customs, duties on tonnage, and coasting duties, to the extent of 828,000l. To these are to be added, 35,000l. arising from a small reduction of the assessed taxes in Ireland,

than 3,146,000l.; and it was produced in the following manner :-by the relinquishment of the remainder of the Salt duty, about 200,000l.; of the duty on Hemp, 100,000l.; on Coffee and Cocoa, 150,000l.; on Wine, 900,000/.; on British Spirits and Rum, 1,250,000l.; on Cyder, 20,000Z.; on Assessed Taxes, 276,000l.; and, finally, on Customs, in various minor articles of commerce, 250,000l.—Thus, Sir, it appears that the grand total of taxes repealed from 1816 to 1825, amounts to the sum of 30,712,000l. ; from this, however, must

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