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It should be observed, however, that the rule con-
fining the initiation of all taxation to ministers of the
crown is one of constitutional practice merely, and is
not enforced by any standing order. Accordingly it has
not been invariably insisted upon. n But if not positively
forbidden, it is nevertheless highly inexpedient for a pri-
vate member to introduce a measure affecting the public
revenue. It is only when such measures are in the
hands of ministers that legislation upon them can be

Prene- On March 25, 1830, Mr. Poulett Thomson moved for the appoint-

dents. ment of a committee to consider of revising and re-arranging the
general system of taxation. The motion was strenuously and suc-
cessfully opposed by Mr. Secretary Peel, as being an unprecedented
attempt to deprive the ministers of the crown of one of their most
important and peculiar functions. He remarked that proposals for
the imposition of taxes belonged peculiarly to the crown ; custom
and sound policy having long ago devolved upon ministers the duty
of submitting such questions to the consideration of Parliament.?
So, also, a motion on March 14, 1844, by a private member for a
committee to consider of imposing a certain probate duty on real
estate, was objected to by the Speaker and by Sir Robert Peel (the
prime minister), on the ground that it ought not to be offered, except

> Hans. D. v. 182, p. 592; v. 228, n Hans D. v. 115, pp. 660-668.

p. 1781. May, Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, 11. v. 186, pp. 160, 1849.

p. 674. P Mir. of Parl. 1830, p. 1032. See

m Sir T. E. May's evidence before also similar motions, proposed and

Joint Com e . on Despatch of Business, negatived, on March 26, 1833 ; on

Com. Pap. 1868-69, v. 7, p. 185. Aug. 7, 1848 ; on May 10, 1849; and

liana. D. v. 215, p. 1676. on May 10, 1864.


in committee of ways and means, nor unless it could be shown that
the public exigencies required it. After some debate the motion
was withdrawn.*!

In committee upon the Stamp Duties Bill, on August 4, 1859, a
private member having proposed a clause to extend the probate duty
upon property above the value of one million, the government con-
sented to this impost. But, in point of form, it was considered
necessary for a resolution to this effect to be proposed by the chan-
cellor of the exchequer, in committee of ways and means, and after-
wards introduced into the Bill. 1 "

It is also an invariable rule of constitutional practice Enquiries
that ministers are not required to answer questions in-
volving an explanation of their intentions as to matters


of taxation, until they may deem it expedient to the
public interests to declare them. 8

The general question of a revision of a certain class of Amend-
duties having been submitted to the House by the crown, g ovrn-
it is perfectly competent to any member, in committee ^eme
of ways and means, or in committee of the whole House taxation,
upon the Customs or Inland Eevenue Acts, to offer an
amendment to a particular rate of duty proposed to be
levied, either for the increase or diminution of the same :
it may even be proposed to insert in the schedule a new
rate of duty, provided it relates to an article which is
already included therein.* And when the House re-
solves itself into a committee of ways and means to
consider of raising supplies for the service of the current
year, it is competent for any member to propose another
scheme of taxation of equivalent amount, as a substitute
for the government plan. u But a proposition made by
the chancellor of the exchequer, in committee of ways
and means, to require licenses to be taken out by brewers,
cannot be amended, upon the motion of a private mem-

i Hans. D. v. 73, p. 1052. u May, Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, p.

r Ib. v. 155, p. 991. Com. Jour. 675. And see a case on June 20,

v. 1 14, p. 348. 1836, where a member proposed a

5 Mir. of Parl. 1840, p. 1203. reduction of the soap duties in lieu of

Hans. D. v. 158, p. 1879; v. 181, p. the government scheme for a reduc-

963. tion of the duty on newspaper stamps.

* Com. Jour. 1842, p. 367. Hans. Mir. of Parl. 1836, p. 1963. Mr.

D. v. 75, p. 1020 ; v. 218, p. 1041. Gladstone, Hans. D. v. 223, p. 389 .


Amend- ber, by extending such licenses to other manufacturers,

ments to . 11-11

taxation, iron-masters, and coal-owners ; inasmuch as this would
be a new and distinct tax, and not the mere increase of
a duty upon an article already recommended by govern-
ment for taxation/

On July 1, 1853, in committee of the whole House
on the stamp duties, the opponents of a proposed rate
of duty on advertisements succeeded in negativing the
government proposition altogether.* And on May 12,
1862, in committee on the Customs and Inland Revenue
Bill, so much thereof as imposed a tax for brewing beer
in private houses was struck out ; the government
agreeing to the same, in deference to the wishes of the
House/ And if a proposed tax which has been an-
nounced in the budget excites general dissatisfaction, it
is not unusual for the government to acquaint the House,
at a subsequent stage of proceeding, that they have
resolved to abandon it. y

The budget submitted to the House of Commons by Mr. Lowe,
chancellor of the exchequer on April 20, 1871, contained a pro-
posal to impose a tax on matches, which though formally agreed to
by the House on that day, afterwards excited general disapproba-
tion in Parliament and in the country. 2 Accordingly, on April 25,
Mr. Lowe informed the House that the measure with regard to
matches would not be pressed, but that he should go on with an
additional penny to the income tax, and legacy and probate duties.*
However, on April 27, Mr. Gladstone announced that in view of
the adverse opinions expressed in the House in regard to the finan-
cial propositions of ministers, they had resolved to withdraw the
resolutions relating to the probate, succession and legacy duties,
and instead thereof to propose an addition of twopence in the pound
to the present rate of income tax. b On May 1, it was moved to re-
solve that it is inexpedient to increase the income tax to the extent
proposed by government, but after a long debate the motion was
negatived, ministers having declared that they ' had reached the

T Hans. D. v. 202, p. 307. v. 170, pp. 846, 1102, 1125, 1365,

* Ib. v. 128, p. 1129. 1395.

* Ib. v. 166, p. 1574. * Hans. D. v. 205, pp. 1418, 1528,
y Proposed duties on club-houses, 1585-1659.

and on charities in 1863. Hans. D. * Ib. p. 16S5. b Ib. p. 1780.


bottom of their resources,' and ' had no further plan,' and should,
therefore, consider an adverse vote as equivalent to a vote of want
of confidence. 6 This induced the House to give a reluctant consent
to the new budget. d Accordingly on May 4, an attempt to reduce
the addition to the income tax to fivepence instead of sixpence was
negatived, on division. 6 On May 18, before going into committee
on the Bill, Mr. Disraeli called attention to its remarkable features,
in providing ways and means differing from those proposed in the
original budget, and in proposing to provide for a deficiency of more
than double the amount announced in the budget but he did not
take a division thereon. f

In vol. ii. precedents will be found, showing the ex-
tent to which the financial propositions of the govern-
ment have been modified by the House of Commons
since the reform of Parliament in 1832.

The introduction of a Bill or resolution for the re-
duction or repeal of an existing rate of taxation, whether
for fiscal purposes or for the regulation of trade, is a
parliamentary question, in which the crown has no direct
concern. g The strict right of a private member to take
the initiative in such a proceeding cannot therefore be
denied, and has been acknowledged of late years by

U leading statesmen. 11 It is nevertheless in the highest
degree inexpedient under parliamentary government for
private members to assume the responsibility of pro- members
posing such questions to Parliament. It is an important duce such
financial principle, that ' the House, should not be called q uestions -
upon to condemn taxes which they are not prepared on
the instant to repeal,' i as by so doing they unsettle the
minds of commercial men in their business transactions,
and occasion embarrassment to the government in their
plans for the regulation of the public finances. Abstract Abstract
resolutions advocating changes in the scheme or distri-


c Hans. D. v. 205, p. 2024. Hans. D. v. 211, p. 1903.
d Ib. v. 208, p. 1660. h By Mr. Disraeli, Hans. I). v. 125,

Ib. v. 206, p. 242. p. 1174. By Mr. Gladstone, Ib. v.

f Ib. p. 964. 16], p. 1667.

Ilearn, Govt. of Eng. p. 351. ' Mr. Gladstone, Ib. v. 125, p.

May, Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, p. 684. 1149; v. 173, p. 1402.


bution of taxation, or the imposition of new duties ; 3 or
the reduction of particular branches of taxation, have
been not infrequently submitted to the House of Com-
mons by private members, but they have been generally
resisted by the government as being inexpedient and

Prece- The following precedents of motions for the reduc-

tion or repeal of particular taxes may be cited, as
illustrating the practice of Parliament, and, moreover,
as showing that, sooner or later, ministers always defer
to the recorded judgment of the House of Commons
upon matters of taxation.

Income First, in regard to the question of the income tax. The attention

tax. o f t ne House has been frequently invited to the consideration of this

question, by private members, who from time to time have pro-
pounded various schemes to relieve certain classes of the community
from the unequal operation of this impost. On May 2, 1851, Mr.
Hume induced the House to agree to an amendment to a govern-
ment Bill for continuing the property tax for three years, whereby
its operation was limited to one year, with an express view to an
enquiry into the mode of assessing and collecting the income tax.
Such a committee was formally appointed on May 8, with authority
to consider whether a more equitable mode of levying this tax could
be devised. Both the premier (Lord John Russell) and Mr. Disraeli
expressed their disapprobation of this committee as an unwise inter-
ference with the functions of government ; but, nevertheless, con-
sented to its appointment, in order to carry out the previous
determination of the House. 15 The committee encountered great
difficulties in the investigation of this question, and, after devoting
two years to the subject, confined themselves to reporting the
evidence they had taken to the House, without expressing any
opinion thereupon. 1 On February 19, 1861, on the motion of Mr.
Hubbard, a select committee was again appointed, to consider of
some more equitable mode of levying the income and property taxes.
The motion was opposed by the chancellor of the exchequer (Mr.
Gladstone), and by Sir Stafford Northcote, an eminent leader of
the Opposition, but was carried by a majority of four. After full
enquiry, the committee reported to the effect, that the objections to

J Com. Jour. v. 88, p. 336; v. 94, > Com. Pap. 1851, v. 10, p. #39;

p. 510; v. 102, p. 580: v. 103, p. 1852, v. 9, pp. 1 , 403. See also Peto

886. Hans. I), v. 229, p. 778. on Taxation, p. 90.

k Hans. 1). v. Ii6, pp. 726-732.


this tax were rather to its essence and nature than to its incidence ; Prece-
and that it would be unjust to reconstruct its mode of operation dents,
without at the same time revising other parts of our fiscal system.
Notwithstanding the adverse report of this committee, Mr. Hub-
bard, on May 13, 1862, submitted to the House a resolution in
favour of a re-adjustment of the income tax, in respect to certain
alleged abuses. The motion was opposed by the chancellor of the
exchequer, and negatived by a large majority. Nothing daunted
by this defeat, Mr. Hubbard renewed his attack in the following
session, by moving, on March 24, 1863, a similar resolution for the
re-adjustment of this impost. The motion was again opposed by
the chancellor of the exchequer, who characterised Mr. Hubbard's
scheme as being visionary and impracticable, and as affording no
adequate remedy for the admitted irregularities of the income tax.
Without any further debate, the motion was then put and negatived. 11
On April 23 following, Mr. Roebuck moved to resolve that on a
renewal of this tax, a lower charge should be imposed on precarious
incomes than on permanent incomes. The motion was opposed by
the chancellor of the exchequer, and, after a short debate, was
withdrawn. On July 3, 1874, Mr. C. E. Lewis moved the adoption
of a resolution, in favour of the further reduction of the income tax
(then only twopence in the pound) and its ultimate repeal, at the
earliest possible moment. After a long debate, the motion was
negatived, by a large majority. On March 11, 1875, Mr. Sandford
moved, to resolve that incomes not exceeding 300?. per annum
should be exempt from this tax, but it was negatived.

In 1850, and again in 1851 and in 1853, Lord R. Grosvenor _
brought in a Bill to abolish the annual duty payable on attorneys', certiti-
&c. certificates. The principle of this Bill was affirmed by the cates.
House, on division ; but the government succeeded in delaying its
passage. On May 19, 1865, on motion of Mr. Denman, an abstract
resolution in favour of the abolition of this duty was agreed to by
the House, notwithstanding the 'stout resistance of the govern-
ment,' both on the ground of principle and expediency.? In 1867,
a Bill to reduce this duty was brought in by Mr. Denman, and read
a second time, notwithstanding the opposition of ministers, but the
third reading was put off for three months, n

On April 14, 1853, Mr. Milner Gibson moved the House of

Commons to declare that the advertisement duty ought to be re- Adver( ise-

____ J ment

m Com. Pap. 1861, v. 7, p. 4. negatived on division. See Mr. Hub- U J '

n Hans. D. v. 169, p. 1848. On bard's observations on this tax. Ib.

June 14, 1864, Mr. Hubbard again v. 178, p. 1501.

moved a resolution, condemnatory of Hans. D. v. 170, pp. 614-625.

the inequalities and injustice attend- P Ib. v. 179, pp. 564-577.

ing the operation of the existing > Ib. v. 185, p. 1064; v. 188, p.

property and income tax ; but it was 922.


Prece- pealed. The government opposed the motion, but it was agreed to
on division. 1 " Nevertheless, the chancellor of the exchequer refused
to give way. Some days afterwards the House went into committee
of ways and means, when the chancellor of the exchequer pro-
posed to fix the rate of this duty at sixpence. The opponents of the
duty again succeeded : the proposed rate was struck out, and no
other amount inserted in the resolution. 8 After this, the govern-
ment acquiesced in the abolition of the duty. 1

Taper On the same occasion (April 14, 1853), and as a part of his

duty. scheme for the abolition of taxes on knowledge, Mr. Milner Gibson

moved a resolution condemning the continuance of the paper duty
as a permanent source of revenue, as being impolitic and incon-
sistent with the efforts of Parliament for the encouragement of
education. The previous question was proposed on this resolution,
and negatived. On June 21, 1858, Mr. Gibson again brought for-
ward the question, upon a motion ' That this House is of opinion
that the maintenance of the excise on paper, as a permanent source
of revenue, would be impolitic ; arid that such financial arrange-
ments ought to be made as will enable Parliament to dispense with
that tax.' The chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. Disraeli) stated
his readiness to agree to the repeal of this tax when a favourable
opportunity should arise, but he strongly objected to the latter part
of the motion, as being a ' highly impolitic and inexpedient '
endeavour to hamper the government by an abstract resolution
concerning a tax, at a time when it would be impossible to act upon
it. He suggested the withdrawal of the latter part of the motion,
from the word ' impolitic,' which was also advised by Lord John
Russell and other leading members, on the same ground. This
being consented to by Mr. Gibson, the former part of the motion,
condemning the permanent continuance of the paper duties, was
agreed to without a division." In 1860, Mr. Gladstone (the then
chancellor of the exchequer) included the abolition of the paper
duty in his financial measures for the year, and a Bill for that pur-
pose passed the House of Commons, but was rejected by the Lords. v
Next session a similar proposition was inserted in a Bill respecting
customs and inland revenue, which passed both Houses, and became

Hop duty. O n March 5, 1861, Mr. Dodson moved to resolve 'that the main-
tenance of any duties upon hops is impolitic ; and that in any
remission of taxation or adjustment of financial burdens, provision
should be made for the removal of such duties.' The chancellor of

r Hans. D. v. 125, p. 1187. * Lords' Debates, May 21, 1800

s Ib. v. 128, p. 1128. A narrative of this celebrated case

* Ib. v. 161, p. 166S. will be given in vol. ii.
1J Ib. v. 151, pp. 110-135.


the exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) asked no one to give an opinion on Prece-
the merits of this duty, but objected to the motion on the ground " ents -
that it was an abstract resolution relating to the matter of finance.
Without denying the right of the House, under any circumstances,
to pass such a resolution, he characterised the same as being a rash
innovation on the practice of the House in former times. He held
up the paper duty resolution as an example which ought to be a
warning to the House not to commit itself to a similar proceeding,
but to await the proper time when the financial condition of the
country could be considered as a whole in connection with the fiscal
propositions to be submitted to it by the government. Acquiescing
in these views, the House negatived the motion by a large majority. w
The budget laid before the House by the chancellor of the exchequer
in the following session contained a proposal for the repeal of the
hop duties, so that the sentiments entertained by the House on this
question ultimately prevailed.

On May 4, 1860, and again on March 8, 1861, Mr. H. B. Sheridan Fire
moved for leave to bring in a Bill to reduce the duty on fire in- insurance
surance. On both occasions the motion was opposed by the ministry, U y '
and negatived by the House. In 1860, the motion was made after
the budget had been opened by the chancellor of the exchequer,
and he objected to it because it was ill-timed, as it would effect a
considerable loss of revenue that could not be spared, and because,
even if its operation should be postponed, no tax ought to be con-
demned until the House is prepared to reduce or abolish it. x In
1861, the chancellor of the exchequer objected to the motion on the
ground that no proposal should be made to reduce a tax until after
the budget had been brought forward, when, if it should appear that
there was a sui'plus revenue sufficient to justify an abatement of
taxation, the proposed claim for relief could be put into competition
with similar demands, and be fairly considered by the Housed On
April 1, 1862, Mr. Sheridan again proposed his Bill. This time, as
on the previous occasion, the budget had not been submitted to the
House. The chancellor of the exchequer, in opposing the motion,
said that it was 'the duty of every government a duty always
acted upon to object to any individual and isolated proposals for
the repeal of taxes before the House had within its view the
general state of the revenue and charges of the country.' ' The
popular principle of government, and the control of it by the House
of Commons, depend on nothing so much as this, that it should
narrow into a single measure the financial operations of the year.'
If brought forward after the introduction of the budget, the same
objections to this motion would not apply. On this point it was

- Hans. D. v. 161, pp. 1448-1457. * Ib. v. 161, p. 1667; and see v

* Ib. v. 158, p. 728. 172, p. 813.


Prece- also contended by the premier (Lord Palmerston) that it was a
principle of our constitutional system, that the discretion of pro-
posing to Parliament the necessary financial arrangements for the
year should be left to the chancellor of the exchequer, as the organ
of the administration, and that any objections to be offered, or
alterations to be proposed, should be reserved until after the opening
of the budget. Nevertheless the motion for leave to bring in the
Bill was carried against the government. 2 Subsequently, on intro-
ducing the budget, the chancellor of the exchequer briefly explained
the impossibility of carrying out the reduction of this tax, stating
that there was no surplus revenue available for the purpose. He
added that he was sorry to reflect that the only security for a
chancellor of the exchequer lay in his utter destitution. ' If he does
not possess a surplus you cannot take it from him ; or, according to
an old proverb current in the northern portion of this kingdom,
which I will translate for fear of offending Scottish ears by a de-
fective accent, " It is difficult to deprive a Highlander of a par-
ticular garment which he does not wear.'" a Accordingly the Bill,
though formally presented on April 10, was not proceeded with,
because the mover ' took the vote of the House to imply rather a
recognition of the principle of reduction than the empowering a
private member to interfere with the financial arrangements of the
government.' b On July 14, 1863, the subject was again submitted
to the House of Commons by Mr. Sheridan, in the shape of an
abstract resolution, recording the opinion of the House that the
duty upon fire insurances is ' excessive in amount, that it prevents
insurance, and should be reduced at the earliest opportunity.' The
motion was opposed by Mr. Gladstone on the general grounds of
constitutional practice previously urged by him, but was never-
theless carried against the government by a majority of thirty-six.
On March 15, 1864, Mr. Sheridan declared his intention of again
taking the sense of the House in regard to this tax, but would
defer so doing until after the budget had been opened. On April 7,
in his budget speech, the chancellor of the exchequer stated that,
'in deference to the convictions entertained by the House, the
government had determined to recommend that the duty on fire in-
surances should be reduced one-half.' Dissatisfied with this con-
cession, Mr. Sheridan moved to resolve, upon going into committee
of ways and means, that a further reduction would be more in
accordance with the wishes of the House in agreeing to the fore-
going resolution. He was opposed by the chancellor of the ex-
chequer ; and, upon division, the motion was negatived. d On

1 Hans. D. v. 166. pp. 385-309. e Ib. v. 174, p. WK).

Ib. p. 464. d Ib. p. 1431-1450.

b Ib. v. 172, p. 799,


March 21, 1865, Mr. Sheridan again submitted to the House a Prece-
motion to declare the expediency of reducing this duty to a uniform dents,
standard of one shilling and sixpence on all descriptions of insurable
property. It was strenuously opposed by the chancellor of the
exchequer, who moved the previous question ; but on division the
previous question was carried, and the main question agreed to.
On proposing the budget on April 27 following, the chancellor of
the exchequer announced that, in deference to the unmistakable
expression of opinion by the House on this subject, the government
had decided to recommend a reduction of this duty to a uniform
rate of one shilling and sixpence, from June 25. e This concession,
however, failed to satisfy Mr. Sheridan and his friends. Accord-
ingly, in the session of 1866, both Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Hubbard
gave notice of separate motions regarding this tax. Mr. Hubbard's
motion, which was first proposed as an amendment to the motion
for the second reading of the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill,
was to declare the inexpediency of retaining, as part of the Inland
Revenue for the service of the year, the present duties on fire and
marine insurances, for certain reasons alleged. After a short de-
bate the amendment was negatived without a division/

On March 7, 1876, Mr. Spinks moved to resolve, that the rail- Railway

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