The Chancellor of the Exchequer is steering his Budget pretty
safely through the rocks. He has conciliated the Irish by imposing the additional whisky-tax for a year only, and baffled the economists who laughed at him and pointed oat that if he did that no whisky would be taken out of bond in 1894-95, by extending its operation up to August ; there is no fight in the brewers, and the fierce discussion will all rage round the equalisation of the Death-duties, and the graduation of the Probate-duty. The point of the landed gentry is that as they pay rates, they ought to retain the existing exemptions from the Death-duties. On Tuesday, however, their advocates did not make much of it. Mr. Chaplin made a half-sentimental speech on which we have commented elsewhere; and Sir M. Hicks-Beach made a businesslike one, to show that the new arrangement really increases the burden on land; but the speech of the evening was Mr. H. Fowler's. He was so full of detailed knowledge that it was difficult to follow him, but his speech when read is unanswerable. He showed that of all local taxation, £28,000,000 in all, the purely agricultural dis- tricts raise little over two millions, the great cities paying 17} millions and the mixed districts 9-1. He also showed that the old rates on land, which are, in fact, rentcharges, have declined; the Poor-rate, for instance, having shrunk from ls. 6d. in 1868 to ls. lid., while the highway rate had scarcely altered during the century. There have been, of course, new rates, but the total of tz,tv local taxation on rural districts was only 4d. in the pound,—certainly no ruinous sum. (Mr. Fowler ought, however, to add the heavy payments for voluntary schools.) The matter will have to be threshed out much further, especially with regard to assessments ; but the truth seems to be that in towns and residential counties the owners have a real claim to be relieved by the extension of the rates to personalty, which, in the purely rural districts, can hardly be said to be valid. The amounts are too small. We may note that Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, a new Member, made out the best case for the great proprietors who are to be taxed on properties which, though valuable to sell, really yield so little income that the nominal owner will be a mere collector for the State. This, however, is an unavoidable consequence of the difference between the selling value of an estate and its actual yield in income.