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whether the sum necessary for the public exigency, should be raised in some other manner. It was not his intention to propose to the House, (as he had already announced) a renewal of the property tax.

With some, it was a matter of doubt, whether that tax should be suffered to cease; but his own opinion was, looking to the ratification of the treaty with America as an event almost certain of taking place, that it ought to expire at the stipulated time. He was bound, however, to state, according to the best of his judgment, that the House could not, on account of any expression of feeling in the country, be precluded from entering into the consideration of the propriety of renewing the property tax, if circumstances rendered its re-enactment necessary. The parliament of 1803, or of 1806, could neither bind themselves, nor succeeding parliaments, not to consider with reference to this tax, circumstances which they could not foresee. He could not conceive any such thing as a contract between the Commons in parliament assembled, and the Commons at large, by which the former stipulated that they would not, under any circumstances, resort to a particular measure. Whatever might be the situation of parliament, they could not enter into a contract or bargain with the subjects of the realm at large, whose representatives they were, and whose interests were identified with their own. The public, represented in parliament, might indeed take possession of individual property, by the borrowing of money, and in many other ways: and parliament was bound by the contract with that individual, because the parties were in such a case separate and distinct; but between parliament and the public in general, there could be no contract. The parliament could not forego that power by which it was authorized to legislate-- to frame such laws as the necesar

sities of the country required : a proposition, he conceived, which a little consideration would prove to be indisputable, notwithstanding what had been repeatedly advanced to the contrary, by those who spoke of a compact having taken place between the parliament and the people, on the subject of this particular tax. Having stated however, that it was not his intention to propose a renewal of the property tax, he begged leave to call the attention of the House to the very important benefits which the country had derived from it. A right hon. gentleman (Mr. Tierney), not long since, had begged pardon of God, and of the public, for the part he had taken in imposing this tax, in the year 1806. He hoped the right hon. gentleman's conscience was not so tender, as to give him much pain for that offence. For his own part, he must confess, that, having taken a far more prominent share in the imposition of the property tax than the right hon. gentleman had done, there was no circumstance of his public life to which he looked back with greater pleasure and satisfaction. The property tax and the other war taxes, formed the means by which the public credit had been upheld. They had enabled Great Britain to persevere in that arduous but necessary contest, which had been recently terminated, and by which the deliverance of the world from slavery and oppression, was happily effected. By the war taxes, a funded debt of 305, 000,0001. had, since the peace of Amiens, been saved to the country, which was thus freed from an annual charge of above 14,500,0001. There had been actually paid by the property tax, 126,000,0001. of money by which an additional charge of above 180,000,000l. of stock and almost 9,000,000l. of permanent taxes had been avoided. With this would the country have been burthened if it

had not been for the operation of this tax, which had been so much reprobated. If indeed the property tax, productive as it had been to the public service, was of a nature so extremely odious and offensive as some persons imagined, however it might be justified by the necessity of the case, it was a measure which he could not, except under most extraordinary circumstances, venture to recommend. But greatly differing in his opinions on that subject, he wished it to be considered as a great and powerful resource, which, in times of public emergency, might and ought to be resorted to. They had been told of the inquisitorial nature of this tax, and of the tyrannical manner in which the powers derived under it were exercised. He, however, believed, that the commissioners (speaking of them with the indulgence justly due to men subject to human infirmity) had always acted according to the fair dictates of their judgment. He was convinced that their motives were most pure, patriotic, and laudable. It should be recollected, that the duties created by the Act, were not performed by men appointed or paid by the crown, or having any interest divided from the mass of their fellow-subjects. They were performed by the same set of gentlemen to whom the country was indebted for the preservation of tranquillity; by that set of gentlemen who were in the commission of the peace, and who administered the internal affairs of the kingdom in a way highly honorable to them, and no less beneficial to the nation in general. Perhaps no circumstances more honorably distinguished this country or more contributed to its prosperity, than that the whole of its internal regulations were managed gratuitously, by gentlemen generally of ability, and in every instance, strongly impelled by feelings of public spirit. Any observations which might be levelled at the character of this meritorious class of individuals, he should always repel to the utmost of his power. With respect to the authority exercised under the Act, he believed it would be found, that, although it might be capable of amendment, yet there were none of its provisions that could not be fully justified by a reference to enactments made in the best times this country had ever seen, and which were not adopted until they had received the most mature consideration. He was sure that no gentleman could resort to a period more dear to the friends of liberty than that which immediately followed the reign of king William. He would call the attention of gentlemen to the Act of queen Anne, passed on the renewal of the French war, for the purpose of defraying the subsidies of that time. He alluded to the 1st of Anne, sect. 2, ch. 15. After agreeing to the land-tax, several acts were passed for raising the necessary supplies. By one of these a duty of 50s. per cent. was imposed on the capital of stock in trade; 25s. per cent, on debts at interest ; 48. in the pound on pensions and annuities; and 4s. in the pound on professional profits. Thus it appeared that the Act he now adverted to was similar with respect to the general nature of the charge to that which was about to expire. But it had been said, it would be better to contribute 15 or even 20 per cent to the exigencies of the country in any other

way, than to pay ten per cent. collected in a manner so inquisitorial and oppressive. Now he would ask, what were the powers under which those imposts were collected in the reign of queen Anne ? The collectors and assessors were compelled, under penalties, to undertake the execution of the Act. The commissioners were authorized to summon before them any person who neglected to make a return; and the same commissioners, or the

major part of them, had a right, under this Act, to examine on oath, and to take all lawful means to find out the truth of the statements made by those who appeared before them. All traders were called on to give a full and particular statement of the whole quantity, kinds and value of the stock-in-trade for which they were liable to be assessed and, in suspected cases, assessors were empowered to enter any shops, ware-houses, or other places whatsoever,

to take an account thereof, and to view and value the same; the value to be calculated at the rate the goods are worth to be sold for at the time of assessment." Individuals were, in like manner, compelled to give in a statement of the gross sum of money they had at interest ; and if they neglected to deliver it, or produced an erroneous account, they were subject to the summons and investigation of the commissioners. Under the Property-tax Act the path of a party chargeable is, in all cases, conclusive; but by that of queen Anne, although the parties may swear that debts are desperate, “ the commissioners are to inform themselves, and to charge or discharge, as they see cause,

Now with respect to the property tax, it would be found, that wherever it was possible to make an estimate by reference to the property to be charged, and without ulterior inquiry, it was always preferred. Like all other efforts of legislative wisdom, the Act undoubtedly had its imperfections. With regard to funded and landed property, the mode of charge was clear and plain. With respect to funded property it might be considered as absolutely perfect, as it admitted no possibility either of evasion or overcharge; and with respect to landed property, it approached very nearly to perfection. But with reference to trade it was obviously imperfect. An extensive power was inevitably and necessarily obliged to be given to the come missioners for the purpose of procuring regular returns. If, at any future time, the tax should be renewed, with such

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