LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE GOVERNMENT AND THE REVENUE.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE U SPEOTATOH.1 SIR,—In your last week's issue, " Statistician " comments upon a statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that "the Tory Government took less of the people, and spent more for their
benefit, than its predecessors." Will you allow me a few lines of comment upon " Statistician's " "fair and accurate" figures ? In order to show that a Tory Government took, not less, but more, of the people, he gives a column of figures from Mr.
Childers' Return (pp. 300, 1878), which he calls "The total charges in taxes, according to this Return." The figures which he quotes are, however, headed in the Return, "Total Charges on Taxes," i.e., expenditure, not revenue derived from taxes, as he leads us to suppose.
I imagine that no one, least of all the Chancellor of the Ex- chequer, would deny that the present Government have to pro- vide for a larger expenditure than their predecessors. It would be easy to show that the increase is due, not to mere extrava- gance, but to a definite policy which has approved itself to the nation. But this is not the present question, which is whether
the Liberals or the Conservatives have taxed the people more heavily.
To turn to the column which is really in point, that showing the "taxes actually received, less stamps in lieu of fees " (column 10), which Mr. Childers (a high authority) considers to be the proper measure of the burden imposed upon the taxpayer, we find the taxes in,-
1869-70 amounted to £66,563,000 population 31,205,000 1870-1 33 60,485,000 „ 31,513.000
1871-2 71 64,188,000 11 31,835,000
1872-3 33 65,905,000 „ 32,121,000 1873-4 33 65,353,000 „ 32,426,000
1874-5 71 63,227,000 1, 32,749,000 1875-6 77 64,462,000 17 33,093,000 1876-7 32 65,596,000 33,446,000 1877-8 33 66,098,000 11 33,799,000
Dividing the figures here given by the population of the respec- tive years, we find it to be a fact that the Tory Government have taken less out of the people per head of population (which a" Sta- tistician" will admit to be the point of Sir Stafford's argument) than their predecessors, whether you test the question by taking the average of the respective series of years, or the last year, for which each is responsible.
The reasons why, with so much greater expenditure, the taxes are practically lighter, are threefold. First, because the business departments, such as the Post Office, are more profitable ; secondly, on account of the additional taxation which was re- quired to produce the large surpluses of the late Administration, which averaged £3,390,000 a year for five years ; and thirdly, on account of the increased number, and it may be added, wealth, of the people.
Lastly, with regard to a " Statistician's " remarks upon the Debt. In order to give the figures "fairly and accurately," he has excluded from the additions made by the Liberals a sum of £7,000,000, on the ground that that debt was "created for re-
productive expenditure." I will only ask him why he has not also excluded, from the years 1874-8, the sum of £13,730,000,
which it is stated, in the very next foot-note to the one he quotes, was also "created for reproductive expenditure."—I am, Sir, &c., J. A. K.