The Budget has practically got itself through, the last important
vote having been taken on Monday. The clause imposing an extra spirit•duty of 6d. a gallon was then recom- mitted, and carried by a majority of only 198 to 185, a majority of 13. The Parnellites voted against the Government, and several Anti-Parnellitee were absent unpaired. There was, however, no real intention of defeating the clause. The argument against it was entirely perfunctory ; and the argument for it put forward by Sir William Harcourt, that without the Liquor- duties indirect taxation would be impossible, was known to be unanswerable. Alcohol is unpopular, even with those who consume it, and therefore we must tax that. We believe that argument to be as correct as it is cynical, though we doubt whether Democracy has said its last word upon finance. It intends to spend for the benefit of the poor, and when it comes to planning will probably decide that this object and the supply of the Treasury, can both be attained most easily by universal and compulsory insurance. Sixpence a week from every man and woman, paid from eighteen to sixty, would enable the State to offer benefits in the way of guarantees against sickness, slackness of work, and old age, of which at present we cannot dream, and this kind of calculation is being slowly taught by the Benefit Societies. The Unionists have made a mistake in their opposition to this Budget, whinh is a crude but not an unwise one; but fortunately the mistake- is not of great importance. It has made Sir William Harcourt• a bigger man, but that does not greatly signify.