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Up to the period when the Lib- the unity of the Exchequer. The eral party bolted at Mr Gladstone's variation now desired in rate of bidding from their principles and customs and excise entails the reespoused Home Rule, no respon- establishment of the customs barsible statesman of any party had rier which the Act of Union was tolerated the suggestion of inquiry planned to abolish. as to the taxable capacity of geo With regard to direct taxation, graphical areas within the King. if a man enjoys an income of dom, holding one and all that it is £1000 per annum, or succeeds to people and not areas that are taxed. a fortune of £10,000 in a less Mr Gladstone, when Chancellor of wealthy district, can it be urged the Exchequer in 1853, distinctly that his capacity to pay taxes is declined to admit “geographical less than it would be in a wealthier principles” in matters of finance. and more prosperous district ? No; Sir Stafford Northcote, Chancellor because if there is any difference of the Exchequer in 1875, insisted at all, the man in the poorer disthat the taxation of either country trict has more capacity rather than could not since the amalgamation less, since his house-rent, wages of the exchequers be allowed to bill, and certain other expenses, depend on estimates of aggregate will be distinctly lower. wealth ; and Mr Lowe said in the Turning to indirect taxation, same debate : “They spoke of the the revenue derived from people taxation paid by England, by Scot- in Ireland is 22s. per head, and land, and by Ireland, whereas of from people in Great Britain 24s. course taxation was not paid by Conceding at once that there are geographical areas but by individ- more per thousand in comfortable uals." "Mr Cobden, advocating the circumstances in Great Britain extension of the income - tax to than in Ireland, conceding that in Ireland, was equally emphatic: a greater proportion of cases the “There must be a perfect equality payment of 248. per head in the between the two countries, and former leaves a more liberal marevery tax paid by this country gin than of 22s. in the latter, can must be paid by Ireland.”

it be allowed that justice requires The argument is laboured, in a gift to all consumers, rich and the Report, that the Act of Union, poor, in Ireland, of half or some though providing for the union of other great proportion of duties on the exchequers, though only main- commodities? taining for a time separate ex The argument is, Taxation chequers in consequence of in- should be so arranged that the equality of indebtedness, declared poor man is only called upon to that the imposition of equal taxa- contribute to the revenue in protion should be “subject to such portion to the margin left after particular exemptions or abate- the necessaries of life have been ments in Ireland and Scotland as bought; and as there are many circumstances may appear from poor men in Ireland, the level of time to time to demand." As taxation at large should be reduced. already shown, Ireland still enjoys There are many poor in Ireland, exemption from her share of taxa- but there are more poor in Scottion, amounting to over 4 millions land and England, and it would in Great Britain ; but this being be a monstrous injustice to the direct taxation, can be varied or latter that 2 millions more than omitted without interfering with at present should be extracted

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from British taxpayers in order vide a larger proportion of annual that all classes in Ireland, the few expenditure than was found to be rich as well as the many poor, possible, but in fact she never did should get their tea, tobacco, and provide it, because she was relieved spirits at a lower price. The in 1817 of the debt incurred in the poverty of thousands upon thou- effort. sands in our great towns—London, After the amalgamation of the Edinburgh, Glasgow-and in the exchequers in 1817 large differremote districts of the Highlands ences in the scale of taxation in is such that they have no visible the two countries remained. Tea margin for taxation, and if pres- duties were at once levied at the ents of cheapened commodities are same rates; in 1819 tobacco was going, they have, at least, as good put in the same position; stamp a title to receive them.

duties were assimilated in 1842; A word should be said as to the duties on spirits were for a long historical argument. Is anything period less than one - half the due to the Irish people now to British scale, but in 1858 the make up for unfair usage in the charge in both countries was fixed past? On this point the report by at 8s. per gallon, and has moved Lord Farrer is admirably clear and in harmony since that

that date, conclusive. The Act of Union in standing now at 10s. 6d.; income 1800 did not immediately unite tax was extended to Ireland in 1853. the two exchequers, but fixed the There still remain taxes yielding contribution of Ireland towards in Great Britain £4,188,000 which general expenditure at two-seven- have never been extended to Ireteenths of the whole. The Irish land. Since these are levied on debt at that period was less than the richer classes, and the protwo-seventeenths, hence it would portion of wealth may be taken at have been unfair to Ireland to one-twentieth, the annual charge amalgamate the exchequers and payers of direct taxes in Ireland spread the burden of both debts are still excused should amount over both peoples. During the to over £200,000. The estimate next seventeen years expenditure of probable yield is, however, increased so heavily that the Irish stated by Sir Alfred Milner at only Exchequer was unable to meet its £150,000. There is now complete obligations out of taxation, and equality of taxation-save for the incurred a debt of 84 millions. remissions still existing in favour The debt of Great Britain had in of Irishmen-throughout the Kingthe same period been increased by dom. 291 millions. On a comparison of Sir Robert Giffen maintains the two debts of the two exchequers that equal rates of taxation can be at the close of the great war, it was levied throughout an empire and found that the Irish debt bore to yet unequal burdens be placed on the British debt a larger proportion the shoulders of particular groups than two-seventeenths. Hence it of persons within that empire, and became possible, both in terms of the whole legitimate grievance of the Act of Union and with full taxpayers within these three kingjustice to the smaller country, to doms depends upon the value of complete the union of the ex his reasoning. The most striking chequers and 'unite the debts. illustration is derived from an From this it will be seen Ireland imaginary union of England and was required by the Union to pro- France under one exchequer.

If

a parliamentary majority imposed The spirit-drinking Irishman is

heavy tax on wine and allowed said to contribute more to the beer to go free, the French people revenue than the beer - drinking would contribute the major portion Englishman; but the Commission of the revenue ; if the reverse, beer entirely fail to take note of the being taxed and wine free, the equally important fact that the burden would lie mainly upon the spirit - drinking Englishman conEnglish people. Thus under nom- tributes more than the beer-drinkinally equal taxes one population ing Irishman. To remedy the or the other might be oppressed. former, they propose either to take This is unanswerable

, but the less from the Irishman's spirits, in Commission seem to give it an which case his English confrire erroneous application. Under a would have more right to complain wine tax there is a minority in than ever, or to make a free preEngland who would be just as in- sent to Irishmen at large from a juriously affected as the majority fund raised by English taxation. in France, and under a beer tax The term English rather than a minority in France would suffer British has been here used because as much as the majority in Eng. this line of argument necessitates land. The partiality of such a some reference to England and scheme of taxation would not be Scotland as distinct areas. In a partiality for or against countries, 1853 and 1854 the duty on Scotch but against groups of taxpayers. spirits was increascú hi Mr GladThe remedy, therefore, should be stone from 33. 8d. to 6s, a gallon, sought not in direct efforts of and in the following year by Sir mitigation to the injured country, George Lewis to 8s., since which for that would leave the case of date it has been at the same rate the minority in the favoured coun as that levied in England. Now try untouched, but rather in a re the following table gives the preadjustment of the duty so that sent taxation paid per head by the the beverages of the people at people of the three kingdoms on large might be as nearly as possible the principal articles of consumpequally taxed.

tion:

Scotland,

Ireland.

Spirits Beer Wine Теа. Tobacco

England. 8 d. 8 11 5 9 0 8 19

10 9

%. d. 17 6 19 06 18 51

1

Total

2 2 5 1

22 5

26 6

21 0

In the case of tea and tobacco compared with the Scotchman's the differences are inconsiderable, ls. 9d. The total contribution and afford ground for no complaint. for alcoholic liquors per head of The results in regard to spirits, population is-Scotland, 19s. 9d.; beer, and wine are, however, very England, 135. 4d.; Ireland, 138. striking. Each Scotchman pays 9d. If, therefore, the Irishman is on account of spirits 175. 6d. to hardly used because his spiritthe revenue as compared with the drinking propensities are costly, Englishman's 88. 11d., while the much more grievous is the position latter pays 5s. 9d. on his beer as of the Scotchman, who drinks less

a parliamentary majority imposed The spirit-drinking Irishman is a heavy tax on wine and allowed said to contribute more to the beer to go free, the French people revenue than the beer - drinking would contribute the major portion Englishman ; but the Commission of the revenue ; if the reverse, beer entirely fail to take note of the being taxed and wine free, the equally important fact that the burden would lie mainly upon the spirit - drinking Englishman conEnglish people. Thus under nom tributes more than the beer-drinkinally equal taxes one population ing Irishman. To remedy the or the other might be oppressed. former, they propose either to take This is unanswerable, but the less from the Irishman's spirits, in Commission seem to give it an

which case his English confrère erroneous application.

Under a would have more right to complain wine tax there is a minority in than ever, or to make a free preEngland who would be just as in sent to Irishmen at large from a juriously affected as the majority fund raised by English taxation. in France, and under a beer tax The term English rather than a minority in France would suffer British has been here used because as much as the majority in Eng- this line of argument necessitates land. The partiality of such a some reference to England and scheme of taxation would not be Scotland as distinct areas. In a partiality for or against countries, 1853 and 1854 the duty on Scotch but against groups of taxpayers. spirits was increascú hy Mr GladThe remedy, therefore, should be stone from 3s. 8d. to 6s. a gallon, sought not in direct efforts of and in the following year by Sir mitigation to the injured country, George Lewis to 8s., since which for that would leave the case of date it has been at the same rate the minority in the favoured coun as that levied in England. Now try untouched, but rather in a re the following table gives the preadjustment of the duty so that sent taxation paid per head by the the beverages of the people at people of the three kingdoms on large might be as nearly as possible the principal articles of consumpequally taxed.

tion :
England.
8. d.

8. d.
Spirits

8 11 17 6 10 9 Beer

9

27 Wine

8

6 Tea.

19

2 2 Tobacco

4

5

Scotland.

Ireland.
8. d.

9

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5

1 0 1 5

8
1

1

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In the case of tea and tobacco compared with the Scotchman's the differences are inconsiderable, ls. 9d. The total contribution and afford ground for no complaint. for alcoholic liquors per head of The results in regard to spirits, population is—Scotland, 19s. 9d.; beer, and wine are, however, very England, 15s. 4d.; Ireland, 13s. striking Each Scotchman pays 9d. If, therefore, the Irishman is on account of spirits 178. 6d. to hardly used because his spiritthe revenue as compared with the drinking propensities are costly, Englishman's 8s. 11d., while the much more grievous is the position latter pays 53. 9d. on his beer as of the Scotchman, who drinks less

128
Is Ireland really Overtaxed ?

[Jan. lightly taxed beer and more heavily 11 gallons of spirit. The duty on taxed spirits than anybody. If 100 gallons of beer is 18s. 9d., and the position of the Irishman re on 11 gallons of whisky £5, 15s. 6d. quires any one of the drastic con Hence the intoxicating property cessions recommended by the differ- pays more than six times as much ent groups of commissioners, much to the revenue in the form of more urgent is the Scottish case. whisky as in that of beer.

We state this not as a valid The Legislature, in fixing the reason why Scotchmen should agi- beer duty and in increasing the tate, but as an argument why duty on spirits to so enormous a no departure should be tolerated figure and so huge a proportion of from the system of identical rates the value of the article—the deof taxation, which is the corner clared value of rum on importation stone of our financial fabric. To is ls. 4.d. and the duty 11s. 4d.do so here would be not to re has not been solely moved by a demove but to augment inequalities, sire to tax alcohol. There has been for if the duty on spirits were re a desire to check by high taxaduced in Scotland and Ireland, tion the consumption of alcohol the spirit-drinkers in various parts in its more deleterious form, and of England, where the preference any suggestion that spirits should for spirits over beer is just as be relieved of any considerable general, would suffer flagrant in- part of their present burden, and so justice.

made cheaper to the people, would Is there, then, no injustice or be regarded with strong disfavour inequality in the existing fiscal on other than financial grounds. system? In regard to direct taxa- May it not be owing to the high tion none, for wealth is wealth taxation of spirits as compared wherever it may be found, whether with beer that from 1880 to 1894 in Whitechapel or Westminster, there has been in Ireland a decrease Kilkenny or Caithness, and should in the consumption of spirits of be equally taxed; in regard to tea 1,034,000 gallons or 18 per cent, and tobacco none that is percep- and an increase in the same period tible, for these luxuries are of in that of beer of 2,032,000 gallons general use in every locality and or 49 per cent ? If so, the result by every society; but in regard to has been beneficent. It is very imbeer and spirits there is not equal probable that the duty on spirits ity. The injustice has nothing to will be materially reduced, but do with geographical expressions, there are necessitous times in probut permeates all sections of the spect at the Imperial Exchequer, people. Each beer-drinker gets and an augmentation of the tax on his stimulant at a much less charge beer would not only yield a golden than the spirit - drinker. How harvest, but would redress inmuch less ? 'The Board of Inland equalities of burden among the Revenue have provided an answer people. which may be assumed to be ac To illustrate broadly this procurate. The spirit duty is 10s. 6d. position. If the tax on

beer per proof gallon, and the beer-duty were doubled, the figures given 68. 9d. per 36-gallon cask. The above would be altered, so that quantity of spirits present in beer the contribution on intoxicating is about 11 per cent, and in 100 liquors per head of population in gallons of beer there will be found England would be about 21s. 2d., in

129
1897.)

Is Ireland really Overtaxed ?
Scotland 21s. 6d., practically iden- poor some districts may be as com-
tical, and in Ireland 16s. 6d., her pared with others, direct taxation
comparative contribution being cannot operate unequally - for
much reduced. Sir Alfred Milner where there is no wealth, no in-
in his evidence pointed out that come, no succession, there there
if the tax on alcohol in beer were will be no tax; and that while the
raised so as to equal that of habits of the people may render
alcohol in spirits, the beer revenue equal taxes on commodities more
would be killed right away. He burdensome to some than to others,
estimates the usual price of a 36- this can only be redressed by ad.
gallon cask of beer at 40s., on justment of the rates of duties as
which the duty is 6s. 6d. If the applied to all and not by relief to

Sir David
duty were sextupled so as to geographical areas.
equalise the tax on alcohol in both Barbour and Sir Thomas Suther-
beverages

, the duty on 36 gallons land alone report in this sense, the
would be 39s., equal to present other members of the Commission
value. If the duty were doubled — having either boldly gone in for a
even this is an extreme suggestion, policy involving Home Rule or
made only by way of illustration - else propounded schemes which
the cost would be enhanced by sink beneath the weight of their
little more than 2d. per gallon or own extravagance.

It is the 1 farthing per pint, while the rev. remedial measures advanced by enue-assuming consumption did the several groups of commis. not decrease-would profit to the sioners which demonstrate the extent of 10 million pounds. We absurdity of their conclusions. should regard any

serious

augmen. Again, the extravagance of Irish
tation of the beer duty as a mis- establishments as compared with
fortune ; but if it be considered those in England and Scotland
necessary to adjust the burden of has been abundantly demonstrated.
taxation so that the inequality be. By a return laid before Parlia-
tween groups of taxpayers, wher- ment in August last it appears
ever they live and quite irrespec. that the revenue collected in Ire-
tive of nationality, may be mitigat land was £8,034,000, or 7-46 per
ed or removed, some step in this cent of the whole, while the
direction may be forced on the local expenditure in Ireland was
Chancellor of the Exchequer. £5,938,000, or 15:53 per cent of

It is time to consider in what the whole. The distinct estab-
way the Commission has done lishments of a smaller country are
service to the country. It has necessarily dearer in proportion
proved to demonstration that, ex- than the establishments of a larger.
cept in preparation for Home Rule, But Scotland is as small as Ire-
it ought never to have been con- land, and the Scotch revenue much
stituted; it should never have higher, £11,435,000, or 10-61 per
been asked to find out the relative cent of the whole, yet the Scotch
taxable capacity of two parts of expenditure is no

more than
the United Kingdom on a national £4,143,000, or 10·83 per cent of
basis except as a preliminary to the whole. Why is this? Partly
the dissolution of the United the cost of the Irish Constabulary,
Kingdom. Individuals are taxed, which has no counterpart in the
and not nations. It has estab- sister countries, and partly ex-
lished by evidence that, however travagance. The following are a

VOL. CLXI.-N0. DCCCCLXXV.

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as

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Scotland 21s. 6d., practically iden poor some districts may be as comtical, and in Ireland 16s. 6d., her pared with others, direct taxation comparative contribution being cannot operate unequally - for much reduced. Sir Alfred Milner where there is no wealth, no inin his evidence pointed out that come, no succession, there there if the tax on alcohol in beer were will be no tax; and that while the raised so to equal that of habits of the people may render alcohol in spirits, the beer revenue equal taxes on commodities more would be killed right away.

He burdensome to some than to others, estimates the usual price of a 36 this can only be redressed by adgallon cask of beer at 40s., on justment of the rates of duties as which the duty is 6s. 6d. If the applied

applied to all and not by relief to duty were sextupled so to geographical areas. Sir David equalise the tax on alcohol in both Barbour and Sir Thomas Sutherbeverages, the duty on 36 gallons land alone report in this sense, the would be 398., equal to present other members of the Commission value. If the duty were doubled having either boldly gone in for a even this is an extreme suggestion, policy involving Home Rule or made only by way of illustration, else propounded schemes which the cost would be enhanced by sink beneath the weight of their little more than 2d. per gallon or own extravagance.

It is the 1 farthing per pint, while the rev remedial measures advanced by enue-assuming consumption did the several groups of commisnot decrease—would profit to the sioners which demonstrate the extent of 10 million pounds. We absurdity of their conclusions. should regard any serious augmen Again, the extravagance of Irish tation of the beer duty as a mis establishments as compared with fortune; but if it be considered those in England and Scotland necessary to adjust the burden of has been abundantly demonstrated. taxation so that the inequality be By a return laid before Parliatween groups of taxpayers, wher ment in August last it appears ever they live and quite irrespec that the revenue collected in Iretive of nationality, may be mitigat- land was £8,034,000, or 7.46 per ed or removed, some step in this cent of the whole, while the direction may be forced on the local expenditure in Ireland was Chancellor of the Exchequer. £5,938,000, or 15:53 per cent of

It is time to consider in what the whole. The distinct estabway the Commission has done lishments of a smaller country are service to the country. It has necessarily dearer in proportion proved to demonstration that, ex than the establishments of a larger. cept in preparation for Home Rule, But Scotland is as small as Ireit ought never to have been con- land, and the Scotch revenue much stituted; it should never have higher, £11,435,000, or 10:61 per been asked to find out the relative cent of the whole, yet the Scotch taxable capacity of two parts of expenditure is

than the United Kingdom on a national £4,143,000, or 10.83 per cent of basis except as a preliminary to the whole.

the whole. Why is this? Partly the dissolution of the United the cost of the Irish Constabulary, Kingdom. Individuals are taxed, which has no counterpart in the and not nations. It has estab- sister countries, and partly exlished by evidence that, however travagance. The following are a VOL. CLXI. —NO. DCCCCLXXV.

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