A deputation from the Property and Income-tax Association waited onthe Chancellor of the Exchequer, at his official residence, yesterday at one o'clock. Major Reed M.P. introduced them, and stated their wishes —to obtain a reduction in the amount of poundage and an amendment of the mode of assessing it. Mr. Deputy Barnard, Mr. Nieholay,
Shaw of Huddersfield, and Mr. (lowing of Ipswich, also addressed the Chancellor.
Sir George Lewis said, that a full answer to the statements of the deputation would require from him an anticipation of the state of the expenditure and revenue—a statement he could not now make ; but he would give such answer as he could. Remarking that some of the objections urged go to the very nature of the tax, and that the difficulty that would beset a plan for a differential duty between permanent and precarious incomes does not seem to have been sufficiently estimated, he proceeded to "the practical part of the question."
"I will begin at once by saying that you must discharge from your minds i the idea that the Government have any love of taxation n the abstract, or that they have any wish to maintain taxes which are not absolutely necessary for the public service. They have no desire to take advantage of the wording of an act of Parliament for the purpose of continuing taxation. which is not necessary for the wants of the country-. Let us, as an illustration, look at the taxes imposed for the service of the war. There was first the tax on malt. With reference to the war taxes I may say different forma of words were inserted in different statutes with regard to the period of their termination. The extra duty on malt was declared to end on the 5th of July first after the termination of the war, or after the ratifications of peace were exchanged. The result of that was, the extra duty on malt came to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment that it could come to an end, —namely, in the beginning of the' quarter next after the ratifications were exchanged. Although the expenses of this year have been very heavy, consequent on the withdrawal of our troops and the winding-up of the afibirs of an extensive war, I did not take any steps to continue that tax, or to propose the repayment of the heavy drawback to the extent of 800,000/. So you will observe that already, by the termination of that act of Parliament, the Exchequer has lost, not only the additional Malt-tax since the 5th of July last, but also the repayment of the drawback on the stock in hand, which will fall not far short of 1,000,0004 I mention this to show that no attempt was made to alter the intention of the Legislature with regard to that statute. The war duties on tea, sugar, and coffee, will terminate on the 5th of April next by law. No proposal was made last session to prolong the period for the cessation of those duties. Well, it so happens that the words used in regard to the Income-tax continue the war part of the tax for a year after the 5th of April next; and all I can say upon that point is that the Government will not take any advantage of the peculiar wording of that statute. They will act in the manner which it was stated by one of the deputation they had done with regard to the Sardinian loan, where the letter of the act of Parliament was in favour of this country and against the Ring of Sardinia. We thought in that case it would be desirable and to the honour of the country not to take advantage of a few days in the wording of an act of Parliament, and we therefore continue the payment of the additional million. In the same spirit, of course, the Government would not avail themselves of the strict letter of another act of Parliament, and so continue a tax which was not needed by the requirements of the public service. But having made that statement with regard to the rate of the Income-tax, it is ci queation not of taxation, but of expenditure. The question is, what will be the expenditure of the following year. With regard to the in. terest of the debt, there will be sense increase ncrease in consequence of the loans contracted during the war but that increase will not be very material. There will be 2,000,0(10/. of Exchequer Bonds which fall due in course of next year. Of course, they will fall within the expenses of next year. Well, the civil hat and the expenditure for civil purposes will not vary very much, and you may learn what their probable amount will be from the statement of last year. The question of what will be the public expenditure of next year will turn mainly on the amount of the Army and Navy Estimates. The question, in the present state of the country, is, what amount will be required for the services of the Army and Navy ? I can only state that these estimates are sent to the Treasury for their approbation and that, as they have not yet been officially communicated by these departments, the Government are not in possession of the details of the definitive estimates of the expenditure for the coming year, upon which expenditure the ways and means will depend. There is a difference in the way in which the House of Commons proceeds in providing for the expenditure of the country from that adopted by a private gentleman. A private gentleman, if he be prudent, first considers his income, and then regulates his expenditure according to his income. The House of Commons, on the other hand, votes supplies to meet the service of the year, and, having done that in Committee, then in a Committee of Ways and Means votes the money to cover that expenditure. They first inquire what is the expenditure of the country, and then vote the ways and means that will meet it. Then, if I understand you rightly, what you mean is, that the Government should reduce the taxation by 13,000,000/. What I say is, that the House of Commons would begin the proceeding in a different manner, adapting the income to the expenditure, and not the expenditure to the income. That is all I can say at present; but I have stated the matter with as much candour as I can, and as explicitly as the circumstances in which I am placed will admit." In reply to a remark from Mr. Hightail, to the effect that the act of Parliament increasing the tax from 14d. to 16d. was without precedent in the mode of defining the date, Sir George Lewis said there had been no mistake in wording that act.
"The correct expression is the 'ratification,' not the signature,' because a treaty does not take effect until it is ratified. The interval is usually short, but sometimes it is protracted. With regard to the treaty of Amiens, for example, there was an interval of six months between the signature and the ratification. A country does not disarm after the signature of a treaty, as the treaty may be disavowed and the expenses may therefore be kept up.
I repeat, however' that nothing practical will turn upon the precise words of the act." Government, he repeated, will be guided by the substantial wants of the country alone, and will not deal with the question in a pettifogging. way or with anything like chicanery. Major Reed, in thanking Sir George for his courtesy and candour, said he felt assured that the statement he had made, that the Government has DO disposition to insist on a strict literal construction of the act of Parliament in question, would give satisfaction to the whole country.
The Liverpool Financial Reform Association invited Mr. Roebuck to attend their annual public meeting, and he accepted the invitation. The meeting was held on Thursday ; Mr. Lawrence Hepworth M.P. in the chair. A resolution was adopted, declaring that it would be sound policy to extend the operation of the principles involved in the fiscal changes introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel, so as to secure still greater freedom to commerce manufactures, and industry. Mr. Roebuck, concurring with the Association in the main, and holding that in the manner of levying the Income-tax some approach should be made to equality between the tax on permanent and precarious incomes, proceeded to expound the views and objects of the Administrative Reform Association,—the forming of an independent party in Parliament, the exposure of that corruption to be found from the very top to the bottom of standing permanent departments," action to the utmost directed "to affect the coming elections." "Wears here in this hall," he said, "in what I would call, in the cant phrase of the day, an abnormal condition. It is not our proper business to undertake the business of the House of Commons; but we ought to have a House of Commons which would supersede such meetings as this."
Mr. Horsman attended a meeting of his constituents at Stroud on Thursday, and stoutly defended the principle of the Income-tax ; intimating that its abolition might bring about a reimposition of protective duties. Rigid economy should be insisted on and the country ought to prepare for a revision of our whole system oetaxation.
At a meeting in Dublin on Thursday, the Lord Mayor in the chair, a resolution was carried calling for the entire abolition of the Income-tax after the 5th April.
The Globe announces that Sir Andrew Agnew will second the Address in the House of Commons.
Telegraphic intelligence has been received from Teheran, via Marseilles, to the 19th December. The Shah of Persia had visited his arsenals, and concentrated his troops on the Eastern frontiers of his empire. In the Southern provinces, he had caused a holy war to be proclaimed. Russia had taken possession of the islands of the Caspian, without the consent of Persia. Some revolted and barbarous tribes were carrying terror into several of the Persian provinces. The Imaum of Muscat was seeking to annex the province of Aloghastan to his territories.
Another despatch from India, via Constantinople, is published this morning. It states that "the English met with little resistance when they took possession of Karrak and Bushire. The small garrison of Bushire retired into the interior. Brigadier Chamberlain's force had returned to India."
Intelligence, we understand, has reached Vienna from Constantinople, that upon the fall of Bushire the Persians accepted the proposals of the British Government. —Globe.
Accounts from Constantinople, of the 16th instant, forwarded by the telegraph from Trieste, announce the closing of the conferences relative to the Principalities. Ten thousand Turkish troops will occupy the Principalities during the election of the Divans, with a view to the maintenance of order. A Circassian chief has arrived at Constantinople, charged ?with an official mission. Feruk Khan had an interview with Count Walewski on 'Wednesday, and presented his credentials to the Emperor on Thursday.
The Gazette of last night announces that the Queen has given orders for the appointment of Major-General Vivian, late Commander of the Turkish Contingent, and John George Shaw Lefevre, Esq., Clerk of the Parliaments, to be Knights Commanders of the Bath ; likewise of Colonel Ferryman, Eighty-ninth Regiment, and Henry William Gordon, Esq., late Principal Storekeeper to the Army in the East, to be Companions of the Order. Mendelssohn's Athalle and Rossini's Stabat Haler were performed by the Sacred Harmonic Society last night, for the first time. The narrative poem which connects the musical portions of the Athalie was recited by Mr. Phelps ; and the solo parts were sung by Madame C. Novelle, Miss Dolby, and Madame Lemmens. In the Ste/sat Mater, the airs and concerted pieces were sung by Madame C. Novelle, Miss Dolby, Mr. Sims Reeves, and Signor Belletti. Though a first performance, it was one of the best that the Society has given for a long time ; and, from its reception, it is evident that these beautiful works will be very frequently performed in time to come.