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country, by the imposition of taxes to the amount of three millions per annum.'
These resolutions were adopted by Parliament; and bills were passed, framed upon them : So that the grand result of all our finance plans is shortly this First that instead of being relieved by the Peace from taxation, by the repeal of all war taxes, Customs war duties have been made permanent to the amount of 2,760,000l.; Excise war duties have been continued to 1821, to the amount of 3,500,0001.; and they also must be also made permanent, to accomplish the object of these resolutions: while, in addition to these war taxes so continued, new taxes have been imposed, estimated to pay in to the Exchequer the net sum of 3,190,0001. Secondly, that instead of an efficient sinking fund of 22,195,9001., * to reduce the national debt, we have onc, on paper, of 5,000,000l., but, according to the probable production of the revenue, one which will fall very far short of this sum.
Under all these circumstances, it becomes a question of infinite importance to determine, What can, or ought to be done, to restore our finances; for we take it for granted, that no man of sound understanding can suppose that they should remain where the finance plan of the last Session has placed them. Let us just glance calmly and dispassionately at a few of its items, First, there is our Peace Establishment, amounting to 18,000,0001. a year. Will any candid man say, that it is really impossible to reduce it to a much smaller sum ? It is true, no doubt, that the question involves that of the whole policy of our Government: For if Catholic emancipation were granted to Ireland, 20,671 men could not be necessary to assist the civil power, in times of acknowledged tranquillity; and if public opinion were at all consulted in Great Britain, and such concessions made to it as the state of the country obviously requires, 29,895 men could not be necessary to induce us to obey the laws:-Nor, if the defence of our colonies were entrusted to our Navy, could 30,275 men be wanted for their garrisons. We are persuaded, therefore, that very great and material reductions might be made under this head, by the simple policy of-recurring to a government that will condescend to rule upon the old cheap system of the Constitution. In respect to our Navy, whether it is because this service is no longer in fashion, or that it is not applicable to the existing system of domestic government, there has been no difficulty in reducing the num
* The income of the sinking fund has been reduced 7,632,969). by the operation of Mr Vansittart's plan of finance of 1813.-Parl. Papers, 1819, No. 68. p. 10.See 53 Geo. III. c. 95.
ber of seamen nearly to what it was in 1792; but great reductions might still be made in all the civil establishments of the Navy. In regard to the Ordnance expenditure of 1,190,0001., it appears to be quite enormous for the fourth year of Peace; since, in 1797, the fourth year of War, it was no more than 1,321,024). But retrenchment may be carried on, though with less effect, not only in the expenditure peculiarly belonging to the defence of the country, but also in that part of it which re lates to the various establishments for managing the revenue, and for carrying on the civil governinent. The following statement, taken from the Resolutions already quoted, will show the great progress of profusion in these departments, in which the expenses of 1797, the fourth year of war, are compared with those of 1819, the fourth
Cost in 1797. In 1819. The office of Secretary at War
L.31,290 L.55,290 Ditto of Paymaster
19,280 30,506 Ditto of Comptrollers of Army Accounts 4,470 12,458 Civil Department of the Ordnance
51,618 82,891 The Civil Departments of the Navy amounted, in 1792, to 125,1091.; to 572,3731. in 1813; and to 506,0001. in 1819.The total expenditure upon the public departments that are employed to manage and audit the public money, after it has' come into the Exchoquer, appears to amount to 1,100,0001. a year. The expenses of the offices of the three Secretaries of State, have advanced from 39,8241. in 1796, to 122,8801. in 1819; and those for the civil government of Scotland, from 84,1671. to 129,6271. It seems at first sight to be very unaccountable, that these establishments should be, in peace, many of them, higher than they were in war; but the matter is in some degree explained, by the complaint so justly made by the Committee of the House of Commons in 1810, of the system
of progressive additions which have been made to the experi
diture in all the public departments, by augmentations of • salaries, by official incidents, by allowances, by superannua• tions, and, above all, by compensations.'
The more we examine this subject of office establishments, the more we are convinced of the necessity and practicability of effecting a considerable retrenchment in their expenses: But the work must be gone about relentlessly and in good earnest; patronage must be sacrificed:- the distressed state of the finances must always be held in remembrance; and every salary, allowance, and pension, ought to be revised with a reference to the means we possess of paying them, and not with a reference to what is their existing amount, fixed as it has been, in times of
unexampled public prodigality, and in a currency of depreciated value. Government are naturally interested in sustaina ing the patronage of the Crown; and their official information gives them the means of bringing forward some plausible justification for keeping every office, and every salary, just as it now is. But the glaring facts which we have stated, showing, that, (luring a period of vigorous and expensive war, the civil establishments were almost all of tl:em much lower than they now are in peace, are sufficient, we think, at once to expose the delusion; and to prove beyond all dispute, both the practicability and the necessity of reducing all these establishments at least to their former condition.
Passing now from the Expenditure to the Income of the country, there are two questions that naturally present themselves. First, Whether the income is likely to be as high as it has been estimated by Ministers? Second, What course is to be taken, in the event of its continued or progressive deficiency? The diminished receipt, in the last October quarter, of 1,100,0001., and the still further diminution of 150,0001. up to the 10th of December, have naturally led many persons to apprchend, that the future income will be far short of the estimated amount of 56,753,9371. : But as the Excise revenue still keeps its ground, and as the general depression of trade, which has occasioned the falling off in the Customs, may only be temporary, the trial may justly be said to be too short to justify any decided conclusion on the subject. The real wealth of the country, consisting in the rent of land, the profits of trade, and the dividends on the debt, is undoubtedly still very great; and we would fain hope may be ultimately found equal to bear the whole burdens imposed on it. But if the income should fall so much below the estimated amount, that there should not be a sufficiency to pay the dividends (which will speedily be the case, if the Revenue continues to fall off for the future, as it has fallen of late), what must then be done? Must the deficiency be made good by an annual Loan, or by imposing new Taxes; or must the plea of irresistible necessity be set forth, and the public creditor be deprived of a part of his Dividend? One of these three ways of proceeding Must be pursued; and, should the course of events impose upon Parliament the necessity of choosing one of them, it will have a moredifficult task to perform, than any that has ever been imposed on it. To obtain, by annual loans, the means of paying the annual dividends, is plainly quite impossible; and therefore the choice would be, between the imposition of new taxes afier the failure of the old had shown that the legitimate sources of taxation
were exhausted, the reduction, for a time at least, of the dividends of the public creditors. Now, it is no doubt true, that the first duty of Government, in matters of finance, is to keep faith with the public creditor; and it was on this principle that Parliament imposed the new taxes of the last Session.. But if, eve:1 with these new taxes, such a deficit were to arise as we are now contemplating, it is impossible not to see, that a case would be made out for the country, and against the stockholder, to which no former practice or acknowledged principle would any longer be applicable. So long as taxes can be levied from the free income of the subject, so long the most rigid faith must be kept - with the public creditor. But, when they come to encroach on the capital, and, of course, to diminish those springs of wealth from which all expenditure must be supplied, their increase becomes not only oppressive, but impossible, and their cessation a matter not of nominal, but actual necessity. In such a state of things, therefore, which can no longer be represented as extremely unlikely to occur, we shall soon become familiar with other maxims than those to which we have been so long accustomed ; and after having witnessed the facility with which the public was led to approve of the application of the Sinking Fund to the current expenses of the State, we should not be at all surprised to find the reduction of the dividends become a topic of general speculation, and even a favourite project of finance. We mean reither to argue the question here, nor to express any opinion of our own with regard to it; but we have no doubt that a multitude of plausible arguments will very speedily be mustered up for its support-and that, besides assimilating the purchasers of stock to the purchasers into any other concern, where the prospect of gain is compensated by the risk of loss, it will be strongly urged that they are, in strict justice, bound to submit to some deduction on account of the increased value of the currency, since the period when at least 300,000,0001. of the existing debt was borrowed. Had the depreciation been openly avowed at the time, no subscriber could have objected to its being made a condition, that he should be repaid with a sum equal in value, though smaller in nominal extent, to what he had actually advanced.
Those things may become necessary. But even though they should be submitted to, they would afford but an imperfect relief: For the practical evil is not in the paying of the dividends, but in withdrawing, by the loans, such an enormous proportion of the capital of the country from the support of its productive industry. The payment of the dividends is little more than the transfer of so much money from the right hand to the left. VOL. XXXIII, NO. 65.
The general wealth of the State is but little diminished by that operation; since, whether it be the contributor of the tax, or the receiver of it, who consumes or accumulates so much value, is a matter of little importance to the bulk of the conmunity.
It is not, therefore, from means like these, that any effectual or permanent relief can be expected, since it is only by retrenching our expenditure, and by accumulating the savings from income, that the national capital can be increased. If this be effected, there needs be no alarm about the revenue, or the dividends, however appalling their nominal amount may appear. The only policy about which we should be at all anxious, is that which will build up again the dilapidated capital of the country, and secure, from the fruits of its industry, a surplus beyond the necessary charges and total expenditure of its owners. If this point were once gained, all the rest would soon fall into good order ;-and it is chiefly as inconsistent with its attainment, that the increase of taxation is to be deprecated. Some diminution, on the contrary, ought almost at any hazard to be effected: And, to make a beginning of so good a work, we would humbly suggest, that all those taxes which restrain, or altogether prevent, the natural extension of our manufactures, ought to be repealed ;--for instance, the tax of 5s. 6d. a lib. on the importation of raw silk;—the effect of which is, to limit our manufacture almost entirely to our home supply, and to give France a decided superiority in the foreign markets; since, but for this tax, we should have the raw material, particularly for all the coarser goods, at least as cheap as cur neighbours, whom we already excel in skill and machinery. On the same principle, the taxes on cotton, foreign wool, hemp, flax, hides, soap, ashes, dyewoods, and all other things which are either the raw materials, or necessary ingredients in our manufactures, ought to be repealed. If the revenue were lowered in this way to the amount of the three millions of new taxes imposed last Ses- , sion, we will venture to say, that the greatest benefits would result, not only to our manufactures, but to the Revenue itself; the great increase of our manufactnres naturally increasing the consumption of all taxed commodities, and consequently the produce of the other taxes.
Another obvious means of improving the national capital, would be the total extinction of those barbarous prohibitory duties which belong to the old and exploded system of excluding foreign manufactures. If this system were once abandoned, the great consumption of foreign goods which would be its necessary result, would lead to an increased exportation of our