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which might be derived from professional skill or personal labour, except in so far as the past earnings of that professional skill or personal labour might have been accumulated into money on other property, in which case the accumulated money or other property of the professional and trading classes was taxed under the clause fir3t quoted, in the same way as the accumulations of all other classes; and this is also the leading principle of Mr. Bright'3 plan. The plan had not then been invented which now prevails, of relieving laud of its fair share of taxation by making professional and mercantile men who earn, say, £1,000 a year by their skill or personal labour, pay the same amount of property-tax as the men who get £1,000 a year from estates, for which they invested £30,000. The clause taxing the holders of public offices is as follows:—
"All persons exercising any public offi.cs or employment shall pay unto their Majesties the sum of four shillings for every twenty shillings which he or they do receive in one year by virtue of any salaries, gratuities, bounty, money, reward, fees, or profits to him or them accruing." There is no limitation as to the amount of the emoluments of these public officers at which the tax is to commence. Four shillings in the pound was made chargeable on what each person received, whether his emoluments were great or small. Mr. Bright proposes that local committees should be appointed in every district or town to aid the Government in laying on the tax fairly. This was also the plan adopted in the Act of Wiliiam and Mary.
The question whether professional and trading incomes as such should be taxed apart from the capital which such parties may possess connected with their several professions and occupations, or which they may have invested in some separate and distinct form, is one on which much difference of opinion exists. The late Joseph Hume's Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed in 1852, took a great deal of valuable evidence on the subject, to which those who wish to go deeply into the matter would do well to refer. Many actuaries and other eminent men, including Dr. Far, of London, contended that all such incomes ought to be taxed, but only after being first capitalised into a sum which would fairly represent the present value of the probable earnings of such parties during their whole lives. In this computation, these witnesses would take into account not only the probabilities of life, but also the probability of sickness or successful competition diminishing the present income, and all other considerations which might render the incomes uncertain. Thus, an income of £1,000 a year might, in certain circumstances, be valued at ten years' purchase, or £10,000, and a property-tax of, say, 5 per cent, in place of being levied on £1,000 a-year and charged at £50, would be levied on the interest of £10,000 at 4 per cent, per annum, or whatever was considered a fair rate of interest for the time being. In this way the interest being only £400, the 5 per cent, property tax would be charged in that sum, and thus the professional or mercantile man would have to pay only £20 in place of the £50 which he is forced to pay by the present iniquitous system. Mr. Bright's plan, like that embodied in the Act of William and Mary, disregards all these niceties of calculation, and charges the professional man only on the value of his library, his house, his furniture, horses, carriages, pictures, plate, money in the bank, including therein the whole of his annual or quarterly savings, and on any separate property he may have invested in other forms; in short, it charges him on what his executor would say he was "worth" if he were to die immediately after the proper time for making out his tax schedule had arrived. The mercantile man would be charged for the same kind of property, and also for all the capital, fixed and floating, employed by him in his mercantile affairs. Which of these would be the better plan it is not our province to determine; but it ought to be remembered, that so long as only twenty-seven out of sixty-seven millions of gross revenue are proposed to be levied in the form proposed by Mr. Bright, the question is not one of great pecuniary magnitude. The usual objection is put in the form of a question: "What would you do with the man who earns £1,000 and saves nothing, for by this plan he would pay no taxes?" The answer is, that in spending his £1,000 a-year, although he would altogether escape Mr. Bright's tax, he would pay his share of the other forty millions of taxes on that expenditure of £1,000, and thus would contribute more to the national revenue than the man who earning £1,000 a-year, always saved £500 of it, and continued to pay 8s. on every £100 of this accumulated capital, because he would pav his share of the forty millions of taxation only on his expenditure of £500 a-year. But if the whole national,, revenue were to be raised in this new form, the question would be one of a great pecuniary magnitude and importance, as would also be the question, "How would the working classes contribute their fair share of the national debt?" Since, however, Mr. Bright's proposal does not contemplate this result, it is not necessary at present to go more deeply into these questions. Thanks to the untiring energy and perseverance of Mr. Cobden, the enlightened liberality of the Emperor of the French, and the distinguished financial ability of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Financial Reforms which we have been discussing must come into more or less general operation much sooner than many even of the zealous friends of the cause contemplated at the time when Mr. Bright delivered his able address. A commercial treaty with France will no doubt require, in addition to reducing the wine duty to one shilling per gallon, and abolishing the duty on silks and other articles of French manufacture, that the duty on French brandy should be reduced to the same rate as the duty on Colonial Bpirits, which is now 8s. 2d. per gallon, which will occasion an additional loss of revenue not included in Mr. Bright's computations. The duty on brandy and other foreign spirits amounted last year, at 15s. per gallon, to £893,370; and a reduction to 8s. 2d. would therefore occasion a loss of about £426,000. This financial loss would, however, be a great moral gain, because, in addition to the benefits arising from the increased intercourse with France, the temptation to smuggling would be greatly diminished by tlie reduction of the duty; and if a proper reduction were, at the same time, made on tobacco—the only remaining article on which customs duty would be chargeable if Mr. Bright's plan were adopted—threefourths of the enormous expense now incurred for the coastguard service might be saved, in addition to saving probably seven-eighths of the otherwise connected expenses with the customs department. The late Joseph Hume obtained a great deal of evidence respecting the quantity of tobacco smuggled into this country; and he estimated the quantity which paid duty at only one-third of the quantity really consumed. He always argued that a reduction of the duty from 3*. Id., the present rate of duty, to Is. per pound weight would extinguish the smuggler, and ultimately be no loss to the public revenue; and many other able men have arrived at similar conclusions. But supposing the duty were reduced to one shilling, and the quantity taxed were only to be doubled—which is certainly a very moderate calculation—the loss of revenue would be about £1,850,000. Adding the loss on brandy, as before mentioned, the total loss, not included in Mr. Bright's schedule, would be £2,276,000; and this would require his 8s. tax to be increased to rather more than 8s. 6d. on every £100, if there were no saving of expenses arising out of the reduction; but with the large savings, which certainly would follow, 8s. 6d. on every £100 would be more than sufficient for all purposes.
We have hitherto dealt with the saving to be effected by the abolition of the customs duties, as if they were all simply ordinary taxes, and not protected duties; but many of them are plainly protective, as, for example, the duties on corn amount to £582,863; the duty on butter to £94,71)5; on cheese, £44,220; eggs, £23,864; tallow, £84,932; timber, £574,239; and silk manufactures, £295,073. These duties tend to increase the price of all articles of the same description produced in this country; and thus, from the great quantity of such home productions, occasion an enormous amount of additional, although unseen taxation, far beyond what the public have any idea of.
The value of corn and similar articles of ordinary food imported is, of itself, enormous; although forming only a small proportion of the value of the articles of food produced and consumed in tin's country—all of which are more or less enhanced in price by the tax, or protective duty, imposed on some of the imported articles, the several amounts of which have been already stated. According to the official rates of valuation (Finance Accounts, p. 92), the value of the corn, meal, and flour imported last year was £14,523,771; rice, £2,780,600; sago, £241,517; potatoes, £858,610; butter, £560,590; cheese, £551,375; tallow, £1,311,822; lard, £179,652; bacon, pork, hams, and beef, £682,151; fish, £234,757; oxen and sheep, £83,209. Although a small proportion of these articles was afterwards exported, the quantity which remained shows that we are dependent on foreign countries for very large supplies of food; and that, although the value of the imported articles may, perhaps, not average more than one tenth part of the value of the homegrown produce we consume, the other ten parts must all he increased in price to some extent by the duties, however small, imposed on the foreign articles which come into competition ■with our home-grown produce; and the same remarks 'will apply to the duties on timber, French silks, gloves, and all other protected articles. As respects the duty on corn, the Tythes Commutation average prices of corn for the last seven years were published in the London Gazette of the 6th Jan., and they show that the average price of wheat was 59s.; barley, 36s. 4d.; and oats, 25s. The aggregate cost of one quarter of each is £6 Os. 4d., and the duty on each quarter being one shilling, the average protective duty on corn has thus been, for the last seven years, two-and-a-half per cent—a large wholesale profit; but on oatmeal, the food of a large portion of the poorer classes in Scotland and Ireland, the duty, according to our usual rate, has been larger—• equal to four per cent, on the average value of the oats. It has been correctly stated, that in order to ascertain the real extent of the burdens caused by our system of indirect taxation, we must not only calculate the amount of each tax, the profits of the trader thereon, and the expenses connected with its collection, but we must "enter into the minutiae of the unrecorded, but not the less felt, charges added both to duty and to cost of its collection, on each article of food, apparel, and domestic use, by the shackles which the baneful system imposes upon trade, commerce, and agriculture—thus often adding three to five hundred per cent, on the prime cost of the article, by the absurd and ruinous impediments it throws in their way." The estimated amount of the loss to the country occasioned by the combined operation of these causes on the whole of the existing indirect taxes, is estimated in "the People's Blue-Book" at one hundred and four millions of pounds on every seventy millions collected; and the Financial Reformer, quoting this authority, observes that any attempt to controvert these figures "would only end in showing how very much this estimate is under the truth; and if the whole truth were stated, it would be so astounding as to be incredible." (P. 118.) We are not, however, prepared to endorse those opinions to the full extent, -although, as we have already proved, the burden must be enormous.
In concluding our paper, we cannot refrain from expressing our approbation of the principles of Mr. Bright's measure of Finance Reform, however modified they may be in its special details; and while we cannot vouch for all the glowing results to follow it which the enthusiasm of the orator portrays, we are convinced that his expectations, though perhaps too sanguine, are based on the soundest evidence, when he says, that " if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would put the eight shilling tax in the hundred pounds, and the whole of these other taxes could bo taken off, trade would be extended, intercourse with all nations would be vastly and immediately increased; shipping, manufactures, commerce, and agriculture would all feel new life at once; and, what is better than all, and the grand result of all, the comforts of the great body of the people would be enormously increased; shopkeepers, retailers, traders of every kind would be benefited, and would find business much improved; while the whole aspect of the country would be changed beyond everything we can imagine. Since 1846, when a large impulse was given to trade in consequence of the repeal of the corn laws,—though it cannot perhaps be wholly laid to that change, there is no doubt that it was mainly owing to it,—the exports of this country have been more than doubled in twelve or thirteen years. Make the alteration I am proposing, and a change woidd be effected in the condition of the country generally, and the gratulation among the people would exceed, beyond the power of language to describe, that which has been experienced during the last twelve years."
Miscellasies. By Cliarlps Kingsley. 2 vols. J. W. Parker and Son. 1859"
We placed these two pleasant-looking volumes in the hands of a gentleman from whum we expected to receive a careful estimate of Mr. Kingsley's power, and a brief analysis of the good and evil elements of his influence over the middle classes of our English people. He has thought proper to put his criticism in the shape of a letter. HLs vivacity of manner well compensates for the gravity of a review, .which we desiderate. At any rate, though he assumes the egotism of the " I," his judgment is as reliable as if he were masked in the infallible "We."
"Editor of Eclectic
"Mr. Edit or,—You and I remember very well the excitement with which we used to read some of the earlier of Mr. Kingsley's articles in the "North British"—how vivid, how hearty,
how vehement they were! The "North British" was sowing its wild oats then, and we were confounded by the daring and impetuosity in which its editor permitted his staff to indulge. It has become steady as a mill-horse or a luggagetrain now, and on the whole the change is for the better; but the life and glow of its more erratic epoch have departed. Whether Mr. Kingsley's fame will be heightened by the re-publication of these impassioned declamations—criticisms they never were —may be doubted. In the " Review," we rushed through them in hot haste, with all the enthusiasm with which Mr. Bright's audiences listen to his wonderful speeches ; in these volumes we cannot help reading them with the quiet, critical humour with which these same speeches are read by old red-tape heroes in the Times next morning. It would be easy to select passages which look very rough on close inspection, which, when read