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the same footing with free) contended for a proportionate reduction
of duty on sugars from the British colonies, so as to leave the pre-
sent relative rates unchanged. Accordingly, on June 14, in com-
mittee on the Sugar Duties Bill, an amendment was proposed by
Mr. Miles, to reduce the relative rates above mentioned from 24s.
and 34s. respectively, to 20s. and 30s. ; and further to impose
a discriminating duty in regard to certain descriptions of foreign
free-grown, sugar of 14s. This amendment was carried against the
government by a majority of 20. The vote was taken on the
question, ' That the words proposed to be left out [i.e. the govern-
ment scheme] stand part of the clause,' which was negatived. The
committee then reported progress. On the next sitting-day the
committee again sat, and Sir R. Peel announced the intentions
of government. He stated that ministers felt it necessary, on
grounds of commercial and financial policy, to adhere to their
original proposition, and that he must ask the committee to reconsider
their vote. He therefore moved, as an amendment to the motion
that the words proposed by Mr. Miles, in lieu of those struck out of
the clause by the vote of June 14, be inserted, that the rates of
duty originally proposed by government be substituted. In the
course of the debate which ensued, Sir R. Peel having intimated
that, if defeated upon this occasion, ministers would consider that
they had lost the confidence of the House, the government amend-
YOL. I. 3 P


Prece- ment was agreed to. Objections were taken to this proceeding on
dents. the point of form, but they were overruled. 11

1848. On February 18, 1848, Lord John Russell being the first lord

of the Treasury, and Sir Charles Wood chancellor of the exchequer,
the budget was brought forward by Lord John Russell. His scheme
was received with great disfavour by the House of Commons, and
by the public at large, especially the proposed renewal and increase
of the income tax. Though an adverse motion on this subject, by
Mr. Hume, was negatived, the feeling in the House against the
increase of this tax was too strong to be disregarded. Accordingly,
on February 28, the chancellor of the exchequer made a new
financial statement, in which he announced that the government, in
deference to the wishes of the House and the country, would not
press for an increase of the income tax. Later in the session, on
June 30, Sir Charles "Wood made another statement, consequent
upon the great loss of anticipated revenue by the withdrawal of the
proposed additional income tax, without the adoption of other
measures for making up the deficiency. Finally, on August 25, he
produced what was called his ' fourth budget,' in which he reviewed
at length the financial prospects of the year. 6

1860. The budget of 1850 was brought forward by Sir Charles Wood

on March 14. It included a proposal for the revision of the stamp
duties, which, although intended to reduce this tax as a whole,
would have the effect of increasing it in certain cases. In conse-
quence of the opposition which this part of his financial scheme
encountered, the chancellor of the exchequer was induced to agree
to a material reduction of his proposed rates ; but this concession
failed to satisfy his opponents, who carried an amendment for a
further reduction of the duty. After this defeat, the government
took no more steps in the matter for about a month, when Sir
Charles Wood stated that they were prepared to proceed with the
Bill, with a small advance on the proposed rate, as amended. This
arrangement was accepted by the House. f Besides their defeat on
this question, the government were defeated in respect to two
other questions of taxation, by the introduction of Bills for the re-
peal of the duty on attorneys' and proctors' certificates, and in rela-
tion to the duty on bonded spirits in Ireland. The first-mentioned
Bill was carried through to a third reading, notwithstanding the
opposition of the government, but was finally thrown out at this

c Hans. D. v. 75, pp. 907, 986, f The total loss of revenue by

1011, 1082, 1162. Com. Jour. June the remissions of this Bill amounted

14, 17, and 20, 1844. See Martin's to about half-a-million per annum,

Prince Consort, v. 1, p. 226. being 200,000/. more than had been

d Hans. D. v. 75, p. 1019. contemplated by government when

' Northcote, Financial Policy, pp. they introduced the measure. Annual

100-110. Register, 1850, pp. 119-123.


stage. The other Bill did not proceed beyond a first reading, owing to Prcce-
the lateness of the session. Both these measures were again brought dents,
forward in the following session, but, through the exertions of the
government, were finally rejected. 8

Next year, the budget was introduced on February 17. It met 1851.
with an unfavourable reception from the public. February 21
was fixed upon for its discussion in committee, but, before that day
arrived, the government sustained a defeat on Mr. Locke King's
County Franchise Bill, and resigned office. Their retirement was
however attributed, at least in part, to the unpopularity of their
financial policy. Owing to the inability of the Conservative party
to form an administration, the late ministers resumed their places.
On April 4, Sir Charles Wood again brought forward his budget in
nearly the same shape as before. But, on May 2, Mr. Hume suc-
ceeded in carrying an amendment, to limit the duration of the
income tax to one year, instead of three years as proposed in the
budget. He afterwards obtained the appointment of a select com-
mittee to enquire into the mode of assessing and collecting this
impost. Twice during this session the ministry sustained defeats
upon a motion of Lord Naas respecting the mode of levying the duty
on home-made spirits when taken out of bond. But at a subsequent
stage they retrieved their position, and succeeded in negativing the
Bill introduced by Lord Naas to carry out his project. 11 Notwith-
standing these defeats, the government remained in office until their
final overthrow in February 1852, when they were replaced by a
Conservative ministry. 1

On December 3, 1852, the budget was introduced by the new 1852.
chancellor of the exchequer, Mr. Disraeli. It met with formidable
opposition at the outset, and although an attempt, on the part of
Mr. Thomas Duncombe, to dispose of it as a whole, on the question
that the Speaker do now leave the Chair, was unsuccessful ; yet, as
soon as the House went into committee, and the first resolution by
which it was proposed to double the existing house tax was submitted,
all the opposing parties combined against it. Rival sections found
themselves able to join in defeating the ministerial scheme in the
aggregate, though differing amongst themselves as to the merits of its
several parts. After a protracted debate, the government were
defeated on December 16, by a majority of 19, whereupon they re-
tired from office. At this time, ministers had no assurance of sup-
port from the majority in the House of Commons, upon their policy
generally ; accordingly it was expedient that they should retire,
although constitutional usage did not necessitate their resignation.*

g Northcote, Financial Policy, pp. ' Northcote, pp. 142-165.
124. 165. J Ib. pp. 174-181. And see ante,

h Ann. Pee-. 1851, p. 102. Hans. p. 222.
D. v. 116, p. 631.

3 v '2


"Prece- On April 18, 1863, Mr. Gladstone, as chancellor of the exchequer,

dents. introduced his first budget. Though full of startling conceptions

1853. an d new financial ideas, it was received on the whole with consider-
able favour. In one or two particulars, however, Mr. Gladstone
was compelled to modify his scheme. A proposition for the revision
of licenses upon certain trades, though not rejected by the House,
met with so much opposition out of doors that it was ultimately aban-
doned. Mr. Gladstone was also unsuccessful in his endeavour to
effect a readjustment of the advertisement duty. Before the budget
was brought in, a resolution had been carried, in opposition to the
government, in favour of the total repeal of this duty. In conse-
quence of this defeat, the government were obliged to give way, and
consent to the abandonment of this duty. The Bill for the repeal of
the attorneys' certificate duty was again introduced, notwithstanding
the resistance of government, but it was defeated at a subsequent
stage. In other respects the financial measures of the government
were passed through the House of Commons without much diffi-
culty. 1 *

1854. The budget for 1854 was introduced by Mr. Gladstone on March
6, but the growing demands of the war with Russia rendered it
necessary for him to bring forward a second financial scheme on
May 8. These measures gave rise to much debate, but were not
subjected to any alteration.

1S60. Nothing occurred in respect to any of the budgets of the suc-

ceeding years to call for remark until that of February 10, 1860,
which was presented by Mr. Gladstone. It included a proposal for
the repeal of the paper duty, thereby remitting taxation to the
amount of more than one million pounds. 1 The Bill to give effect to
this measure was strenuously opposed in its passage through the.
House of Commons, and was thrown out in the House of Lords. m
This circumstance had no other remarkable result except that it led
to the adoption, in 1861, of different arrangements in reference to
the fiscal legislation required for the service of the year. Instead of
introducing several distinct Bills upon the resolutions reported from
the Committee of Ways and Means for the imposition of taxes, the
several propositions were all included in one Bill. In this way the
government were enabled to renew their measure for the repeal of
the paper duties, and to carry it successfully through both Houses.
Much dissatisfaction, however, was expressed at the magnitude and
complexity of this Bill, and at the curtailment of the opportunities
for discussing the various points involved therein, on account of

k Northcote, pp. 183-217. ings in both Houses in regard to this

1 Hans. I), v. 162, p. 908. case, see post, p. 809.

m For a narrative of the proceed-


their being all embraced in one measure. Accordingly, in com- Prece-
rnittee on the Bill, it was agreed that it should be divided into three, dents,
namely, the Inland Revenue, Stamp Duties, and Spirits Sale Bills,
all of which received the concurrence of the House of Lords.

In 1862 the budget propositions were again included in one Bill, 1862.
which was probably the largest ' Money Bill ' that had ever been
introduced into the imperial Parliament, as it dealt with between
twenty-two and twenty-three million pounds of public taxation. On
this occasion no attempt was made to alter the form of procedure,
though it was severely commented upon in both Houses. 11 The only
alteration that was made in this budget was by the introduction in
the House of Commons, on May 12, of an amendment in respect to
beer and spirit licenses, to which the government gave their consent.

The budget of 1863 contained two proposals which encountered 1863.
serious opposition within and without the walls of Parliament. Of
these one was a provision to subject charities to the operation of the
income tax, from which they had been previously exempt. Mr.
Gladstone defended this item of his budget with great skill, in an
elaborate argument. Nevertheless, he declared at once that the
government had no wish or intention to press its acceptance upon
the House ' by the means which a government may exert.' ' The
House must be responsible for its rejection.' After a full debate, in
which no * independent member declared himself ' favourable to the
scheme, Mr. Gladstone withdrew this provision without taking the
sense of the committee upon it. The other obnoxious recommenda-
tion in this budget was a proposal to impose a license duty upon
clubs. In deference to the requests that were made to him ' from
all quarters,' Mr. Gladstone consented to withdraw this item.P

The financial proposals of the government contained in the budget 1864.
of 1864 were adopted substantially as they were submitted to the
House of Commons. <i

The budget of 1865 contained propositions affecting the stamp 1865.
duties, income tax, and the duties on tea and on fire insurances.
These were severally agreed to by the House of Commons. But a
question arose in regard to the time when the proposed reduction
of the duty on tea should take place. The government proposed
that the new duty should go into operation on May 6 ; but a strong
case was made out for delaying the time until June 1 ; and although
opposed on general principle to the amendment, the chancellor of
the exchequer finally consented to the adoption of a proviso, to be

n See Hans. D. May 12 and 30, impose a Legacy Duty on Charitable

1862 ; and ante, p. 176. Bequests in Ireland. Ib. p. 1773.

Hans. D. v. 170. pp. 1102, 1125. P Ib. pp. 846, 1365, 1395.

He also withdrew a resolution to q Ib. v. 176, p. 1858.

808 .




added to the resolution, ' That, on special grounds, the said reduc-
tion shall not take effect until June 1, 1865. >r

The budget of 1866 was introduced by Mr. Gladstone, the chan-
cellor of the exchequer, on May 3. In the month of July a change
of ministry took place. On July 23, the new finance minister, Mr.
Disraeli, informed the House, that in order to raise the necessary
funds to meet certain supplementary estimates which the incoming
administration had felt it their duty to submit to Parliament, they
had resolved upon relinquishing the Bill, which had passed its
second reading, for the conversion of certain terminable annuities
towards the liquidation of a portion of the national debt. This
was the only alteration effected in the financial proposals of the

In proceedings in Parliament upon matters of supply
and taxation, the two Houses do not stand on precisely
the same footing. Although the consent of both Houses
is indispensable to give legal effect and validity thereto,
yet, from a very early period, the Commons have suc-
ceeded in maintaining their exclusive right to originate
all measures of this description. They have gone
further, and have claimed that such measures should
be simply affirmed or rejected by the Lords, and should
not be amended by that House in the slightest par-
ticular. The Lords have practically acquiesced in this
restriction ; although they have never formally con-
sented to it. 8

A similar question has been frequently raised as to whether
Legislative Councils in the colonies, whether elected or nominated,
can claim the right to amend Money Bills. This claim has been
sometimes, though rarely, admitted by the Houses of Assembly,
who generally insist upon the strictest limitation of the powers of
the Upper Chamber, in conformity with the prevailing practice of
the imperial Parliament.

A very strong argument in defence of amendment was made by
the Legislative Council of South Australia, in 1857, to a Bill to
repeal tonnage duties on shipping.*

r Hans. D. v. 178, pp. 1 471-3500. and 101. This case is also noted in

s Ib. v. 163, pp. 720, 722. Forster's South Australia (London,

' Proceedings Parl. S. Australia, I860), pp. 169-177.
1857-8, v. 1, passim; v. 2, Nos. 71


The difficulties which arose in South Australia between the two
Houses in regard to the amendment of Money Bills led to a formal
agreement, adopted in November 1857, which merely conceded to
the Legislative Council the right of making formal amendments to
such Bills, though not to money clauses therein ; but admitting
suggestions to be offered by the Legislative Council even in respect
to the parts of such Bills which deal with money or taxation. This
arrangement has since continued in operation, and has worked

In the session of the South Australian Parliament, which closed
on November 17, 1876, 'the Legislative Council suggested that the
House of Assembly should strike out from the second Loan Bill, for
887,800?., the item of 123,760?. for improvements at Port Victor,
and the Bill was returned to the Assembly ; but that chamber, by a
majority of fifteen, decided not to adopt the suggestion of the
Council. That body decided, by a majority of one, not to withdraw
the suggested amendments, and the measure therefore dropped. The
government introduced another Bill, omitting the items objected to
by the Council, which was passed.' v

A similar conflict took place between the two Houses in New
Zealand in 1872, which was complicated by the terms of a colonial
statute, passed in 1865, which expressly conferred upon both Houses
the privileges exercised by the imperial House of Commons. It
was finally agreed that the questions involved in this dispute should
be referred for the opinion of the law officers of the crown in
~England. w They were of opinion that the Parliamentary Privileges
Act of 1865 did not confer upon the Legislative Council any larger
powers than they had antecedently possessed in regard to Money
Bills, and that the particular amendment made by the Council was
one which would not have been allowed by the imperial House of
Commoiis. x

The questions in controversy between the two Houses
in matters of supply have been elaborately discussed in
the 3rd vol. of Hatsell's Precedents, and in May's Trea-
tise on the Practice of Parliament : it would therefore


'The Colonies','" Jan. 20, 1877, ' w N. Zealand Pap. 1872. A. No.

p. 2. For statement of respective con- 1, p. 05.

stitutional rights of the two Houses * Ib. A. No. 1, B. Ib. Parl. Deb.

in matters of supply, see report ol Sel. Sept. 3, 1872; Com. Pap. 1860, v.

Com 6 . Leg. Ass*. Victoria, on 300ct. 46, p. 466.


be superfluous to enter upon them here ; suffice it to
say that the proceedings between the two Houses on
this subject are now in strict conformity with the reso-
lution of the Commons on July 3, 1678, which declared
Supplies, that ' all aids and supplies, and aids to his Maiesty in

the snlfi -r> v i r in

-Parliament, are the sole gift of the Commons ; and all
Bills for the granting o? any such aids and supplies
ought to begin with the Commons, and that it is the
undoubted and sole right of the Commons to direct,
limit, and appoint in such Bills the ends, purposes, con-
siderations, conditions, limitations, am qualincations7)f
such grants ; which ought not to be changed or altered
by the House of Lords.'

Without abandoning the abstract right of dealing
with Bills of supply and taxation as they may think fit,
the Lords seldom attempt to make any but verbal
alterations, in which the sense or intention is not
affected ; but even in regard to these, when the Com-
mons have accepted them, they have made special
entries in their journal recording the character and
object of the amendments, and their reasons for agree-
ing to them/

Of late years an attempt has been made, by an
ingenious process of reasoning, to establish a distinction
between the right of the Lords to reject a Bill imposing
a tax and one repealing a tax. But this distinction is

*^ i^J^***^^^*^^

fallacious, and is not warranted either by precedent z or
by constitutional authority. 11 The only ground for such
a difference is the fact that taxes being levied on behalf
of the sovereign, when she, by her responsible financial
advisers, is desirous of renouncing any specific tax, and
the Commons assent to the repeal of the same, it is not
customary, under ordinary circumstances, for the Lords

i See May's Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, Com. Pap. 1860, v. 22, pp. 125-134-
p. 030, citing precedents. See Cox, Inat. p. 188.

* Report of Com 6 , on Tax Bills,



to oppose the wishes of the sovereign and of the other
House. The control of the public finances by the House
of Commons is a constitutional right, and they are pre-
sumed to be the best judges of the financial condition
of the state, its obligations and requirements. Never-
theless, every Bill to impose or repeal a tax involves
other considerations besides those which are purely
questions of revenue ; it necessarily includes principles
of public policy, or of commercial regulation, and on
points of this kind the Lords, as a co-ordinate branch
of the legislature, are constitutionally free to act and
advise as they may judge best for the public interests.
It is true that the peculiar privileges of the Commons
in regard to supply and taxation should ordinarily
restrain the Lords from intermeddling with the details
of financial schemes propounded by the government
and agreed to by the popular branch, but circumstances
may occur when the exercise by the House of Lords
of their right to accept or reject any measure affecting
the finances of the nation may be most beneficial to the
-interests of the community at large; and it would be
unwarrantable to deny them the possession of this right
because it might be expedient that it should be re-
sorted to upon extraordinary occasions.

The relations between the two Houses in matters of supply and Paper
taxation will be further illustrated by a narrative of the paper duties
case. We have already seen b that in the year 1858 the House of
Commons, by the adoption of an abstract resolution, condemned the
continuance of the paper duty as a permanent source of revenue.
Accordingly, in 1860, a measure for the repeal of this impost was
submitted by the chancellor of the exchequer in his budget, and in
due course was sent up to the House of Lords in a separate Bill.
The paper duty yielded a revenue of 1,300,000?. per annum, to
make up for the loss of which it was proposed to add a penny in the
pound to the income tax. This recommendation was agreed to by
both Houses ; but the Lords refused to concur in the remission of
the paper duties, on the ground that the state of the public finances,
and the condition of the country, then on the eve of war with China,

b See ante, p. 716.


Paper did not warrant the sacrifice of such a large amount of revenue'.
Other injurious consequences were also predicted as likely to result
from a repeal of the duty on this article of manufacture. Where-
upon the second reading of the Bill was postponed for six months.
After the House of Commons became officially cognisant of this fact,
by the report of a committee appointed to ascertain the fate of the
Bill, they appointed a committee to search the journals of both
Houses, in order to ascertain the practice of Parliament with regard
to the several descriptions of Bills imposing or repealing taxes.
On June 29, this committee reported numerous precedents, which
were set forth with great care and perspicuity ; but they refrained
from offering any opinion, or from making any comments upon
the practice of each House, except to illustrate and explain. On
July 5, Lord Palmerston c (the premier) proposed to the House of
Commons the following resolutions :

' 1 . That the right of ^granting aids and supplies to the crown is in
the Commons alone, as an essential part of their constitution ; and
the limitation of all such grants, as to the matter, manner, measure,
and time, is only in them. 2. That although the Lords have ex-
ercised the power of rejecting Bills of several descriptions relating
td taxation by negativing the whole, yet the exercise of that power
by them has not been frequent, and is justly regarded by this House
with peculiar jealousy, as affecting the right of the Commons to
grant the supplies and to provide the ways and means for the
service of the year. 3. That to guard for the future against an
undue exercise of that power by the Lords, and to secure to the
Commons their rightful control over taxation and supply, this
House has in its own hands the power so to impose and remit taxes,
and to frame Bills of Supply, that the right of the Commons as to
matter, manner, measure, and time may be maintained inviolate.'

It was not proposed to follow up these abstract propositions with
any action in reference to the Bill for the repeal of the paper duties,
because the legal and technical right of the Lords to refuse their
assent to that Bill was not disputed by the government, who never-
theless thought it necessary that the protest implied in the adoption

Online LibraryAlpheus ToddOn parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 77 of 85)