13 MARCH 1852, Page 12


IF any one asks us where we obtained the subjoined report of the speech which the great financier will have delivered on introdu- cing his budget, we must peremptorily decline to answer. It is evidently a rough draught, but we feel ourselves fully authorized to contradict any report that the speaker means to turn it into verse for the occasion. And we are bound to state, that he has not thrown in the " cheers," &c., as speakers have been known to do beforehand—with less want of discretion than the uninitiated sup- pose, since any experienced man knows exactly -where the audience will perform its part of the monologue.

" Mn. BERNAL, " Called to her Majesty's Privy Council, and appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer rather than Secretary of State by her Majesty's special preference, I rise to perform the duty which devolves on me, not without the solicitude natural to one who addresses this House in Committee, for the first time from so eminent a station, but relieved of much of that anxiety by a conviction that the statement which I shall have to make as Minister of Finance will be satisfactory not alone to the House of Com- mons, the constitutional guardian of the public treasury, but to the entire people. I am the more confident that it will be satisfactory to this House, since it will at least present that novelty in the history of budgets, a short, clear, and perfectly frank speech. I am the more confident that it will be satisfactory to the entire body of her Majesty's subjects, since I am happy to hasten to declare that it will not be necessary for me to pro- pose new taxes. (" Hear, hear !") I hasten not less eagerly to declare that the principles which I have felt it my duty to support in Opposition, I shall feel it my duty, at the proper time—("Hear, hear !")—to support on the Treasury-bench. The noble Lord cheers : surely the tyranny of innovation has not attained such gigantic proportions, that her Majesty's present Ministers should have no choice but to follow the example of their predecessors in office, and to make it the rule to introduce their measures at an improper time ? (Cheers and laughter.) But I will give the noble Lord the opportunity for another cheer—I will avow that I do not forget that we are no longer in Opposition : I will confess that the impetuous ascent of that arduous path, at the giddy summit on which I now stand, is succeeded by the calm- ness of possession; that the fervour of attack is exchanged for the deli- beration of defence ; and that the heated urgency of Opposition is suc- ceeded by the serenity of official contentment, which dreads the change that in the other position seemed so desirable, and seeks to defer what was before precipitated. (Ironical cheers.) You cheer that sentiment ; but I ask you whether, in the history of party, it has not been ever thus, that the solicitous impatience and promissory blandishments of courtship are succeeded on possession by the calmness of conjugal rationality? ("Hear, hear! ") It must be so; it is not in human nature to be otherwise : but it is by the instrumentality of party, rather than by the observance of a priori theoretical rules, that this coun- try has attained to its greatness, and that the constitution under which it is our happiness to live has developed itself to the vast proportions which expand like the wings of the majestic eagle to the lucent air of the em- pyrean, which supports while it opposes. (Loud cheers.) Let me hasten to pass from a topic which it needs so little proof to enforce. " Sir, I stated, and the noble Lord cheered the statement, that I should endeavour to enforce in place those principles which out of place I had upheld; but that I should reserve to myself the choice of the proper time. This is no more than I stated last year, when I declared that I should not endeavour to bring back Protection in disguise, and that I

should not renew in the present Parliament any attempt to disturb the present commercial system. We have had enough of dm turbanee, and harassed Britannia pants for the repose which, in the restlessness of superannuated ambition, the Ministry of a jaded party could so little re- solve to accord. I shall not disturb with an importunate and untimely affection the goddess whose image adorns the humbler coins of the realm. In laying before the House of Commons the proposition of last year, I said, It is in consequence of your new commercial system that I have felt it my duty to make this motion, and to try to adapt, if I can, the position of the owner and occupier of land to that new commercial sys- tem.' I repeat that declaration ; and while I retain my own long- cherished opinions on the subject of external commerce, I shall await the fiat of the country, invited m the proper course by the exercise of her Majesty's prerogative.

" It may be that I am relinquishing advantages which would be very welcome to the occupant of the office which I have the honour to hold, and which the right honourable gentleman the Member for Halifax would probably have been scarcely so willing to relinquish. Sir, the honour- able gentleman the Member for the West Riding, who has been called by an humhle Member of this House the oracle of the West Riding,' has confessed to a congenial audience at Manchester, that if a five-shilling duty had been levied on imported corn, a revenue of twelve millions and a half within the last six years would have been available to the public service. ("No, no !") My authority is an uncontradicted report in that great organ of publicity the Times newspaper, which contained these words : Since the day we laid down our arms '—[meaning the year 1846, when the Minister of that day, no longer amongst us, surrendered to the unadorned eloquence of the honourable gentleman]—there has been imported into this country in grain and flour of all kinds an amount of human subsistence equal to upwards of 50,000,000 quarters of grain.' Now, Sir, I say that a duty of five shillings on each quarter of this fifty millions would have yielded us a re- v enue of twelve millioris and a half. (Ministerial cheers.) That is a tempting statement, and it is a valuable suggestion coming from such a quarter. But I waive the glittering bait, and postpone enriching with it the resources of the country, until I shall have the permission of the country, constitutionally expressed by the electoral manifestation of the nation. I shall postpone that splendid augmentation of the revenue,-,- which might save so many taxes burdensome to the order to which I be- long and to the industrial activity of the humbler classes,—I shall post- pone it, I say, till that period at which all the achievements of the noble Lord are accomplished, I mean next session.' (Laughter.) I will at least promise this House that I will not trouble it in the course of a single session with two budgets. (Cheers.) I will only call to mind now, that it may go forth to the country, that the boasted glory of the Whigs—Free Trade—is not theirs, but that it belongs to the Tory party; which knew, however, to temper that invaluable boon for the consumer with considera- tion also for the producer.

" One important branch of the resources available to the Chancellor of the Exchequer I purpose to leave untouched so far as change is concerned —I mean the Income-tax. Rashly proposed for a tortuous purpose, con- tinued by those who could adopt splendid mistakes which they had not the invention to originate, and great wrongs which they had not energy or honesty to redress, it has borne in its nature the impress of its unna- tural birth, and by high decrees has been marked on its front with the sign of its odious generation and its abhorrent crime, the doom of inexorable extinction. It was with that view that, last year, I supported my vene- rated friend the Member for Montrose, whose fiscal affection has been bestowed on the party that most thwarted his economical intentions, and has bestowed all his pains on keeping out the true financial reformers' : but the Committee which was the result of that motion, succumbing to the drowsy atmosphere which enfolded everything under the reign of the noble Lord, has not yet found the waking-time to make its report. It would not be respectful to the House of Commons if an individual un- worthily advanced to a distinguished office were to flesh the maiden sword of his finance on so important an item as the Income-tax; and therefore, however impatient to make such alterations in the incidence of that tax as would deprive it of its justly odious character—(Loud cheers)— we intend not to disturb that blessing of the Free-trade system, until we are duly informed by the revived Committee, and authorized by the voice of the nation in this ancient assembly of the Commons of England.

" Sir, I now approach a part of the subject with which some use has per- haps made the individual who now addresses you more familiar, though he has hitherto enjoyed familiarity on that side only which resides on your left hand; and I approach it, Sir, with full confidence in a liberal construction. Sir, I last year submitted to the House a suggestion of various measures which I then, speaking in Opposition, thought calculated to relieve the owners and occupiers of land from the burdens which bear with peculiar pressure upon them. Sir, since that period, circumstances have materially altered. (Laughter, and cries of " Oh, oh ! " ) I throw myself with confidence on the candid consideration which always dis- tinguishes the Great Council of the Nation, without distinction of side or party. (General cheers.) Last year, I suggested that relief from the oppressive effect of the Tobacco-laws would peculiarly alleviate the agricul- tural interest—(" Hear, hear ")—but, called as we have been to her Ma- jesty's service, for no fault of our own—summoned by the peremptory man- date of Royal favour to the conduct of public affairs, and especially of finance which parting inefficiency had left in a state of indescribable disorder— anxious as we are to disturb nothing until we can settle—and short as the time must be comparatively before we obtain from the country the warrant to revise our whole financial system—we think it impor- tant not to loosen the venerated foundations of the Customs by con- cussion on that keystone of the ancient arch—tobacco. We proposed a repeal of the Malt-tax ; and I showed how that might be effected with- out any risk to the British monopoly of the malt-market. Thus we stood last year : but the legacy of a disordered finance checks our anxiety to emancipate beer. Tobacco will bear with us, and beer will await in a generous patience the development of our policy. The twelve millions sterling of local burdens clamour to be transferred to the Imperial shoul- ders of the Consolidated Fund : but here again we encounter the dilatory difficulties of a party that makes it a practice to carry from office the cry for those popular measures of which they can never find the reality in office; and we shall await the report of the Committee on the Law of Settlement before we tamper with the appanage of the poor. It will be Our part to restore to the investigatory functions of your Select Committees an activity that has been suspended under the oppressive weight of that organized slumber which it is our misfortune to succeed. But the doz- ing chairman will start into action at the cheerful horn of renewed questioning; the awakened witness will scatter the treasures of invited knowledge; and the Committee will hasten to Parliament with the blue' fruit of its industrious labours. If even the question of partnership en commandite, which I last year recommended as a stimulus for the appli- cation of capital to land, and this year hinted at as a reconcilement of the conflicts of labour and capital, is in a state lees unprepared, Parliament and the country will take into consideration the difficulties of our position, and will not expect in office an instant fulfilment of promisee made while we were excluded from the advantages of official information. The equivalents' remain on record, a splendid illustration of the ideas which Protectionist invention can strike out; and with the ardour of young love, still young so long as unsatiated, Protectionist faith can still hope on.

"'Sir, I hasten to dismiss the less agreeable reminiscences of a time of conflict, and pass to a subject of more practical and harmonious character. On entering office so abruptly, we find prepared the Estimates for the year. We have not been responsible for composing those Estimates ; but we propose to accept them as they stand, and only to take credit for any improvements in them which subsequent strictures may indicate. The Army we find set down at a total of 6,010,3721.—an increase upon last year of not more than 84,000L ; the Navy is set down at 5,622,4881.—a decrease upon last year; - the Ordnance at 2,437,1631.—an increase of only 25,0001. The Civil Estimates, not yet laid on your table, we may take at last year's amount-4,400,8311. ; confident, from our knowledge of our predecessors' peculiar abilities, that the sum will prove ample to provide for the public servants, augmented as their number must have been during a late regime. Sir, it is with great satisfaction that I anti- cipate a revenue at least equal to that which accrued last year ; an ex- pectation justified by its continued rise under the screw of that coercive policy which we condemn, without any rash haste untimely to reverse it: and it is an important corroboration of that expectation, that when her Ma- jesty's present Ministers entered office, the Public Funds rose in price. The British stock-broker, watching the eddying stream of events from the bill whose feet are bathed by the Thames while its head is crowned by the palatial grandeur of a Tite, rushed into the British Rialto proclaiming the advent perchance of the Semitic element to the bench of 2i t ; a radiant joy illumined the face of stockbrokery, hosannahs resounded in the palace of the Oriental merchant nobles, and the quotations rose. Shares felt a sympathetic exaltation ; the City awakened to a new existence, and re- solved to displace from its representation that son of the house which rose on the ruins of the Church transmitted through Rome from Judaia to Eng- land—that descendant of the spoiler, who had forgotten his pact with the Baron of the European house claiming to sit beside the Barons of Eng- land. The house of Frankish nobility sinks to its decline, while the sons from the cradle of the human race ascend the Throne-steps of Imperial England, and 1-8th marks the event in tho symbolic character of the Arabian science.

"Sir, the Estimates which we have thought it our duty provisionally to adopt promise to us a surplus of 2,700,0001. I must confess, for I seek no reserves, that this surplus will sustain a material defalcation through the expenses incurred in African wars, by that noble Sempronius who could not command success however he may have deserved it. I see, Sir, that in a brochure which may be considered to possess an official charac- ter, since it comes from the able and authorized pen of the right honour- able gentleman the Member for Herefordshire, the cost set down for the Caffre War is 300,0002 Such is the fine paid by this country for the mis- conduct of that officer whom the late noble Secretary for the Colonies dis- missed with a just and inexorable severity for the crime of a too fatal be-

cause too strict obedience; the burden which the scapegoat bore off into the wilderness was in reality far more costly. In Extraordinary Credits' for his African wars, the noble Lord rivalled a neighbouring state whose ruler he so eloquently championed. The item for the Caffre war must be an unknown quantity. That is in regard to the past : in regard to the fu- ture, it will be the part of her Majesty's present Ministers, by improved border relations with the frontier tribes, to bring to a close that war, which England will not reckon up in the same catalogue with Crecy or Waterloo, . with Quebec or Moulton ; for Shem will teach Ham to sit quiescent in the tents of Japhet.

"I do not propose to cast forth the remaining surplus for a scramble among the clamourers for reduction of taxes. We shall be permitted to retain that surplus until the country shall have conveyed to us, through its constitutional utterance, the instructions that we shall await. In so doing, we shall conform to the rule laid down by a distinguished member of the party opposite, honest Lord Althorp.' In so doing, we shall re- tain for a time only thrift riches which the sun of taxation exhales to be dispensed in the fertilizing dew of expenditure ; the riches will fructify in their reservoir ; they will render the holder powerful to be generous, and at no distant period, dispersed Jovelike from the hand of benignant power, they will rain over the land the influence of strength, wealth, and happiness.

It will be perceived, Sir, that, diffident of intruding upon the country measures conceived in a spirit of antagonism or devised in haste, I have fallen back upon a course which is almost always safe, and intend at pre- sent to accomplish that which will at least be harmless—nothing. In the mean time, I am consoled by reflecting, that although the labouring classes find protection for industry inevitably delayed, they will enjoy a luxury overrated perhaps but not to be despised—cheap bread ; the farm- ers will enjoy those equivalents' which are so justly their due, in pros- pect at no distant period ; the territorial aristocracy will enjoy the return of their party to supremacy, to which they are entitled by every charge on hereditary shields borne on every field of glary; and we shall have the exquisite delight of reflecting that our gracious Sovereign will be once more surrounded by a Noble Guard, whose gallant devotion will defend the Throne against the surges of the revolutionary storm to which it has been too long exposed, but which is now happily succeeded by sunlit calm in the splendid reign of Order."