11 MAY 1901, Page 15


(To TELE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] Sin,—In the Spectator of May 4th you say of the Coal-tax, that it" will have in practice none of the terrible results foretold by Sir William Harcourt, but the principle on which it rests is not a sound one." There is a little-read work of John Stuart Mill's, "Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy." Mill writes (p. 21) :-- "The question naturally suggests itself whether any country by its own legislative policy can engross to itself a larger share of the benefits of foreign commerce than would fall to it in the natural or spontaneous course of trade. The answer is it can. By taxing exports, for instance, we may under certain circum- stances produce a division of the advantage of the trade more favourable to out selves. In some cases we may draw into our coffers at the expense of foreigners not only the whole tax, but more than the tax ; in other cases we should gain exactly the tax; in others less than the tax."

Under certain conditions, then, of exchange, Mill recognises a national economy in an export duty.—I am, Sir, &c.,