of any particular proposition, it is always considered a
mere formal affirmation, and the merits of the question
remain open to further consideration. k But the budget
submitted on April 4, 1867, was an exception to the
general rule. Being simple, concise, and generally
acceptable, the resolutions of ways and means were
moved, debated, agreed upon, and ordered to be re-
ported to the House at the same sitting. 1
h Hans. D. v. 185, p. 499. k Mr. Gladstone, Hans. D. v. 185,
1 Duty on Dogs Bill, Ib. v. 185, p. 489. Ib. v. 186, p. 1130. Ib. v.
p. 474. 195, p. 433 ; v. 205, p. 1531.
J Sugar Duties. Ib. pp. 348, 355. ' Ib. v. 186, pp. 1110-1159.
May, Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, p. 693.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 791
All taxes are not necessarily proposed in the Com- Taxes
mittee of Ways and Means. Though the distinction is commit-
not always observed, it is the usual practice to confine *J J and
the deliberations of this committee to such taxes as are Means, or
more distinctly applicable to the immediate exigencies
of the public income; and to consider, in other com-
mittees of the whole House, all fiscal regulations, and
alterations of permanent duties, not having directly for
their object the increase of revenue. 111 Accordingly, it
is irregular to move, in Committee of Ways and Means,
a general motion concerning taxation as, ' that it is
expedient to equalise the duties levied on the descent
of real and personal property ; ' or, an amendment de-
precating an addition to the funded debt though it is
quite competent for a private member to propose a
scheme of taxation, to raise the supplies required for
the service of the year, by way of amendment to the
It is the invariable course, in Committee of Wayi
and Means, to submit to the House resolutions which
alter or impose taxation before those which are intended
simply to repeal taxation. Upon the moving of the
first resolution, though it may refer to but one specific
proposal, members may discuss the whole financial
Duties are either annually voted, upon the recom- Annual
mendation of the chancellor of the exchequer, in his manent
budget, or they are imposed for a term of years, or taxafclon
made permanent, by special Acts of Parliament. 11 Oc-
casionally certain duties heretofore voted annually are
made permanent ; r but while it is in the discretion of
ra May, Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, p. Mr. Gladstone, Hans. D. v. 224,
693. p. 290.
n Mir. of Parl. 1840, p. 3CM2 ; and Northcote, Financial Policy :
Ib. 1841, Sess. 2, p. 468. As to the passim.
right of members to propose schemes r Hans. D. v. 162, p. 1981 ; v. 174,
of taxation by way of substitute to pp. 1986, 2021. Smith's Parl. Hem.
the government plan, see ante, p. 711. 1864, p. 77. Hearn, Govt. of Eng.
Hans. D. v. 162, p. 1330. p. 357.
792 THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
government to propose to Parliament a greater or less
amount of permanent taxation, from time to time, it is
not desirable ' to vary the constitutional practice of
always maintaining some large amount of taxation to
be annually voted by the House.' s It is right that the
great bulk of the revenue arising from taxation should
be levied under permanent Acts, in order to maintain
the public credit on a firm footing, and for the security
of the commercial interests of the country, which
would suffer if existing imposts were liable to frequent
Time to be it j s an important privilege of the House of Com-
consider mons that sufficient time should be allowed for de-
liberation upon any proposition submitted by govern-
tions. ment relative to taxation or public expenditure." No
resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means should
be reported to the House on the same day on which
they were agreed upon in committee ; except upon
' urgent occasion.' v When reported, they may be
agreed to, negatived, or re-commit ted. w It is customary
to report such resolutions, and move the concurrence
of the House thereto, upon the day following that upon
which they have been agreed to in committee, in order
to avoid loss to the revenue by further delay/ Bills
are then ordered to be brought in to give effect to the
same, and every exertion is made by the government
to pass such bills with as little delay as possible ; con-
sistently with a due regard to the rules of Parliament
regulating the procedure in matters of taxation/
Pending the ultimate decision of Parliament upon
Hans. D. v. 90, p. 1343. Smith, Parl. Kememb. 1860, p. 123.
1 Ib. v. 128, p. 951. Lord w 3 Hats. Free. 180.
Derby, Ib. v. 163, p. 724. Sir S. x Hans. D. v. 133, p. 46.
Northcote, Ib. v. 166, p. 1361. But y See case of Income Tax and In-
see Mr. Disraeli's observations on habited House Duties Bill, withdrawn
this point, Ib. v. 159, p. 1489. for certain irregularities of procedure.
u Ib. v. 137, pp. 1639, 1648. Hans. D. v. 206, p. 631.
' Ib. v. 158, pp. 1161, 1208.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 793
any Bill, for the imposition or alteration of taxes, it is
customary for the executive government, upon their imme-
own responsibility, to give immediate effect to resolu- enforced
tions altering existing rates of duty, or imposing new
duties, as soon as they have been reported from com-
mittee, and agreed to by the House ; z unless, of course,
the resolutions had been agreed to pro forma, and with
a view that substantially the judgment of the House
should only be taken at a future stage. 3 But this does
not prevent the substance of such resolutions from being
again discussed, at future parliamentary stages, with a
view to their amendment or rejection. b But no new tax
imposed, or temporary tax continued, for the service
of the year, can be increased, except in Committee of
Ways and Means. A proposal to diminish a permanent
tax, however, or a tax already existing, whether origin-
ally submitted in Committee of Ways and Means or in
another preliminary committee, may be modified in the
committee on the Bill, provided only the existing tax is
Meanwhile, the new taxes are authorised to be col-
lected by government, from the day named in the reso-
tion, or from the date of passing the same, because it is
not doubted that the Bill which imposes them, as from
the date of the resolution whereon it is founded, will
become law, by the concurrence of the two other
branches of the legislature. If such concurrence be
withheld, the resolution becomes inoperative, and the
duties levied by anticipation must be repaid to the
parties from whom they had been collected. 11
When there is any material reduction of an excise
duty, it is customary to allow a drawback to the manu-
1 Hans. D. v. 170, p. 636. 683-687.
Ib. v. 195, pp. 479, 631. d See the Att.-Gen. observations,
b Hans. D. v. 117, p. 1416; Ib. v. Hans. D. v. 99, p. 1316. Also Ib.
158, p. 930, &c. v. 166, p. 1274 ; v. 160, p. 1827.
e May, Parl. Pract. 1883, pp. 564,
794 THE KOYAL PREROGATIVE.
facturers and wholesale dealers in respect of their
stocks ; but upon the reduction of a duty of Customs,
no such drawback is allowed. 6
New rates It is the invariable practice, when the duty on any
how" 1 * 7 particular article is raised, to levy the new rate of duty
levied. on stocks in bond, and cargoes afloat, when they are
entered for consumption. This sometimes operates preju-
dicially to the interests of merchants who have imported
largely of the article in question, with the expectation
that the duty will remain unchanged. But the hard-
ship is unavoidable, as it would not be consistent with
usage, or with the policy of government, to announce
beforehand their intentions in such a matter.*
The United States Tariff Act of 1861, which was passed on
March 2, and imposed new duties from April 1 of that year, con-
tained a clause ( 33), exempting 'merchandise in deposit in ware-
house or public store on April 1,' and merchandise 'actually on
shipboard, and bound to the United States, within fifteen days after
the passing of the Act,' from the additional duties. s
Duties Whenever the duty on spirits is increased by resolu-
tion of the House, it is customary to charge the increased
rate of duty upon all spirits in the hands of distillers,
whether they hold it in bond or duty paid ; but not to
charge the additional rate on spirits which have passed
into the hands of wholesale dealers, even though they
may have taken large and unusual quantities out of bond
in anticipation of the increased duty. In 1855 the
government desired to subject the article in the hands
of dealers to the increased rate of duty ; but precedents
were against it, and they abandoned the attempt. 11
On the other hand, if the duty on any foreign coin-
e Hans. D. v. 201, pp. 1770, 1786, Act of 1862, c. 163, 21, goods
1797. in bonded warehouses, &c. were
f Chanc. of the Excheq. Hans. D. exempted from additional duty, but
v. 99, p. 1315. not goods on shipboard. So also
g See also similar (though not the Tariff Act of 1864, c. 171,
identical) provisions in the United 19.
States Statutes for August 1861, h Hans. D. v. 137, p. 1789; Ib. v.
c. 45, 5. By the U. S. Tariff 140, p. 1853.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 795
modity be reduced, it is customary for the reduction of Duties on
duty to come into operation the day after the adoption j|j[JJ_
of the resolution by the House ; and it is entirely con- dities.
trary to the usage of Parliament to allow any drawback
upon stocks of the article in the hands of dealers, whole-
sale or retail ; or to allow time for the disposal of their
stock before the new duty should be enforced. 1 But a
distinction has been drawn between manufacturers and
dealers ; and in 1870, upon the reduction of the sugar
duties, ministers agreed to allow a drawback of duty
on sugar remaining in any bonded warehouse, or under
process of manufacture on the premises of refiners, and
on stocks of manufactured sugar * in quantity not less
than 100 cwt., and in packages unbroken in the hands
of refiners,' when the reduction of duty took place. j
On May 4, 1865, the case of the retail tea dealers, who are Case of
obliged to keep large stocks on hand of duty-paid tea, and who the tea
would be great sufferers by the sudden reduction of duty thereon,
and the consequent influx of fresh stocks of tea at the reduced rate
of duty, was brought before the House. The chancellor of the
exchequer declared that, ' as a general principle, the time at which a
reduction of duty shall come into operation is regulated by large
considerations of public policy, and not by the convenience of retail
dealers ; ' and that he knew of ' no case, during the last twenty
years, in which, in regard to any article not about to undergo a
process of manufacture, but simply to be distributed to the cus-
tomers, time had been given to get rid of the stocks of the retailers.'
Nevertheless, as in the present instance there had been an expecta-
tion to the contrary, specially founded upon a declaration of the
government in 1863 in respect to the tea duty, he would consent
to postpone the reduction from May 6 to June 1, with an entry on
the Journals that the delay had been granted ' on special grounds.'
The resolution was amended accordingly. 11
The financial operations of government are not con-
fined to propositions concerning supply and taxation,
but necessitate various proceedings in the money market
1 Hans. D. (Chanc. of the Excheq.) J Ib. v. 201, pp. 1409, 1789.
v. 178, p. 1241 ; v. 195, p. 585 ; v. 200, k Ib. v. 178, pp. 1471-1500.
pp. 1680, 1720; v. 201, p. 1787.
796 THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
for raising the supplies voted by Parliament, as well as
for the regulation and management of the public debt,
AH finan- But the spirit of the constitution requires that all im-
tions tcTbe portant operations which a finance minister may under-
laid before ^ a k e f or fa e p UD ii c service should come under the review
ment. of Parliament before they are carried into effect. Until
the year 1861 the government had the power, through
the medium of the commissioners for the Reduction of
the National Debt, of funding and re-funding exchequer
bills of every description (including supply exchequer
bills, deficiency bills, and ways and means bills), with-
out the cognisance of Parliament ; thus converting an
instrument which had been issued, under the sanction
of Parliament, for a temporary purpose, in anticipation
of the produce of the ordinary public revenue for the
year, into a part of the funded debt of the country. In
1861, however, a measure was passed, at the instigation
of the government, and in conformity with the recom-
mendations of the Public Moneys Committee of 1857, to
do away with this objectionable practice by amending
the law in regard to exchequer bills. 1 This Act, to-
gether with an amending statute, passed in the follow-
ing year, m has deprived the government of the power
of making any addition to the funded debt without the
authority of Parliament ; and it virtually requires the
chancellor of the exchequer to submit to the judgment
of Parliament all his financial transactions which may
effect any change in the condition of the funded or
unfunded public debt. n
The government have no right to fetter the judg-
ment of the House of Commons in any matter involving
a pecuniary liability upon the Exchequer. But when-
financia" d ever a l an > or financial contract, which has been
1 24 Viet. c. 5. And see Mr. Glad- v. 165, p. 181.
stone's speech on introducing the Bill, n Mr. Gladstone, in Hans. D. v.
in Hans. P. v. 161, p. 1309. 170, p. 104 ; Ib. v. 186, p. 751.
m 25 Viet. c. 3. And see Hans. D. Ib. \. 186, p. 751.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 797
entered into by government upon its own responsi-
bility, is submitted for the approval of Parliament, the
sense of the House in regard to the same should be
expressed with as little delay as possible. 5
It is the practice to give immediate effect to reso- stocks,
lutions of the House of Commons with regard to the
commutation and redemption of public stocks ; and the
Speaker notifies parties concerned as soon as the reso-
lutions have been agreed to. q
In the exercise of their constitutional functions, the
House of Commons not infrequently dissent from the
financial propositions of ministers. Thus, in 1711, a
duty on leather was proposed, and rejected on a di-
vision by a majority of the House. But ministers did
not give up their point. They also brought forward a
motion for the same amount of duty upon ' skins and tan-
ned hides ' that is, leather under another name which
was agreed to by the House/ In 1767, on a proposal Budgets
to continue the land tax of four shillings in the pound amended*
for one year, an amendment, to reduce the tax to three J7 the
* . . House
shillings, was carried. This was the first occasion, since
the Eevolution, on which a minister had been defeated m
on any financial measure. 8 Throughout the French war
the Commons, with singular unanimity, agreed to every
grant of money, and to nearly every new tax and loan,
proposed by successive administrations.* But in 1796,
Mr. Pitt proposed a succession duty upon real property,
which being agreed to only by the casting vote of the
Speaker, he was reluctantly obliged to abandon." Again,
in 1805, Mr. Pitt's budget was amended by the rejecting
of the duty upon husbandry horses, against which the
landed gentry combined/ But in 1816, after the close
of the war with France, when the government were
P Hans. D. v. 132, p. 1490. * May, Const. Hist. v. 1, p. 471.
Ib. v. 126, p. 321. Stanhope's Pitt, v. 2, p. 369.
1 Parl. Hist. v. 6, p. 999. v Ib. v. 4,p. 267.
16. v. 16, p. 362.
798 THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
desirous of continuing the property tax for a longer
term, in order to get rid of a portion of the burdens
occasioned by that protracted struggle, the feeling of
the House was so strongly opposed to the continuance
of war taxes after peace had been obtained, that the
chancellor of the exchequer was defeated, on the 18th
March, in Committee of Ways and Means, upon his
motion for the renewal of the property tax. After
this, he voluntarily abandoned the war duties upon
malt, amounting to about 2,700,000/. Altogether it
has been computed that the government lost, on this
occasion, about twelve millions of anticipated revenue- w
Donotne- It is somewhat remarkable that the great ministerial
changeo? defeat, recorded in the preceding paragraph, was so
ministry, quietly accepted by the government, and did not lead
to a ministerial crisis. But the true doctrine on this
point is that which was expressed by Lord John Eussell,
in 1851, after the government had sustained a defeat on
some financial proposition. He remarked that e ques-
tions of taxation and burdens are questions upon which
the House of Commons, representing the country, have
peculiar claims to have their opinions listened to, and
upon which the executive government may very fairly,
without any loss of its dignity, provided they main-
tain a sufficient revenue for the credit of the country
and for its establishments, reconsider any particular
measures of finance they have proposed.' 3 " To the
same effect, Mr. T. Baring, the under secretary for war
in Lord Palmerston's administration, said, in 1861, after
the rejection by the House of Lords of the Bill for the
repeal of the Paper Duties, which formed part of the
financial measures of government for that year, ' I am
happy that we live at a time when experience has shown
Hans. D. (1816), v. 33, p. 451. Hans. D. v. 116, p. 634. Sir R.
Knight, Hist, of England, v. 8, p. 53. Peel had expressed a similar opinion,
Yonpe, Life of Ld. Liverpool, v. 2, in 1841. See ante, p. 207.
pp. 270, &c.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 799
that a budget may be modified or rejected without any
change in the position of the ministry. I am glad that
we have seen budgets withdrawn, and fresh ones intro-
duced. We have seen taxes remitted, or taxes, the
remission of which, when proposed, has been refused,
without any effect upon the cabinet. In fact, a change
of the budget does not involve a change of ministry,
and I rejoice that it is so, because I think it would be
most unpardonable obstinacy on the part of public men
to adhere to the terms of a budget which was opposed
to the wishes and feelings of Parliament. It would be
unfortunate for the free exercise of the judgment of
this House, if the rejection of any portion of a budget
were to be construed into a vote of want of confidence.' y
In proof of the extent to which the financial mea- Prece-
sures of government have been subjected, from time to budgets
time, to modification at the hands of Parliament and amended
'. . or rejected
to point out under what circumstances the rejection of by the
their financial policy has been regarded by an adminis- commons.
tration as a token of their having forfeited the con-
fidence of the House of Commons the following par-
" ticulars are given of the various budgets which have
been amended or rejected by the House, from the epoch
of the Reform of Parliament in 1832.
The first budget submitted to a reformed House of Commons was Prece-
opened by the chancellor of the exchequer on April 19, 1833. Its dents,
details gave rise to no discussion at the time ; but shortly after-
wards several motions, on behalf of the agricultural interests, were
introduced and debated. One of them was, at the first, successful.
This was a motion proposed on April 26, by Sir W. Ingilby, to
reduce the malt tax from 20s. 8d. to 10s. per quarter. Notwith-
standing the opposition of ministers, the motion was carried by a
majority of ten. z On the next sitting day the chancellor of the
exchequer informed the House that this vote had considerably
embarrassed the government, the more so as its success might
probably lead the House to agree to another motion, about to be
submitted, for the repeal of the assessed taxes ; and that it would
y Hans. D. v. 162, p. 901. And see 205, p. 1658 ; v. 215, p. 1351.
Mr. Disraeli's observations, Ib. v. z Mir. of Parl. 1833, p. 1486.
800 THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
Prece- occasion a loss of revenue amounting to 2,500,000?. Accordingly,
the government determined to afford the House an opportunity
1833. of reconsidering their vote, by moving (in amendment to the
motion to repeal the house and window taxes), on April 30, to
resolve ' That a great deficiency of revenue would be occasioned by
the reduction of the malt tax to 10s. per quarter, and by the repeal
of the taxes on houses and windows, which could only be supplied
by the substitution of a general tax upon property ; and that, as the
effect of that course would be to change the whole financial system
of the country, it would at present be inexpedient to adopt it.' a At
the time appointed this motion was proposed and agreed to ; an
amendment to omit therefrom so much as related to the malt tax
being negatived by 285 to 131. Whereupon Sir W. Ingilby moved
that the previous resolution be read, and that leave be given to
bring in a bill pursuant to the same. But on a division of 76 to
238, leave was refused. b On May 21 a motion for the repeal of the
taxes upon houses and windows was negatived by a large majority.
1841. None of the budgets presented to the House of Commons from
1833 to 1841 underwent any material alteration at the hands of the
House of Commons. But on April 30, 1841, Mr. F. T. Baring, chan-
cellor of the exchequer in Lord Melbourne's administration, sub-
mitted his budget to the House. One of its most prominent features
was a proposal to reduce the duty on foreign (or slave-grown) sugar
from 63s. to 36s. per cwt. The government at the same time
announced their intention to propose an alteration in the corn laws
by a reduction of the amount of protection then afforded to
the agriculturists of Great Britain. On May 7, Viscount Sandon,
on going into Committee of Ways and Means, moved to resolve that
the House was not prepared to consent to the proposed reduction of
the duty on slave-grown sugar, in view of the immense sacrifices
heretofore made for the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade, and
in prospect of a supply of free-labour sugar from the British colonies.
After a protracted debate from May 7 to May 18, Lord Sandon's
resolution was carried. The government, instead of regarding this
defeat as decisive of their fate, gave notice of their intention to move
for the adoption of the usual annual sugar duties. Sir Robert Peel,
not wishing to offer any factious opposition to the government,
or to stop the supplies, supported this motion ; but, in order to elicit
the opinions of the House in regard to the ministry upon a direct
issue, he proposed a vote of want of confidence, which, being agreed
to on June 4, led to the dissolution of Parliament. A majority
Mir. of Parl. 1833, p. 1502. ing, when it was cited as a precedent
b Ib. p. 1548. See tlie observa- on a similar occasion. Hans. D. v.
tions of Mr. Disraeli on this proceed- 75, p. 1028.
CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT OVER SUPPLIES. 801
adverse to the ministry were returned to the new House of Com- Prece-
mons ; they were again defeated upon an amendment to the address, dents,
when they retired from office, and were replaced by the administra-
tion of Sir Robert Peel as first lord of the Treasury, the Right
Hon. Henry Goulburn being chancellor of the exchequer.
Sir R. Peel continued in office for five years, but he was so uni-
formly successful in his financial policy that the progress of his
financial measures through Parliament seldom gave rise to any
formidable opposition. But an exception must be made to the
budget of 1844, which excited great hostility, and was nearly the
occasion of the overthrow of the government.
The annual financial statement for the year 1844 was made by 1844
Mr. Goulbum on April 29. He adverted therein to the question of
the sugar duties ; but it was not until June 3 that the proposed
alteration in these duties was formally submitted to the House. On
the eve of the expiration of a treaty with the slave-holding state of
Brazil, which, while it lasted, bound Great Britain to admit Bra-
zilian sugar on as favourable terms as that of the free countries of
Java or Manilla, the government proposed a 24s. duty on British,
and a 34s. duty on foreign free-grown sugar. These rates did not
satisfy the West India interest, who (after an amendment had been
proposed, and negatived, for the admission of slave-grown sugar on