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in a permanent Act of Parliament, its annual control over the sugar duties, to avoid the inconvenience of an annual discussion on their nature and amount. In the year I have selected as an illustration, the amount received from permanent taxation far exceeded the amount paid out to meet permanent charges. If I am not mistaken, the income tax and the tea duties are the only considerable branches of revenue the continuance of which now depends upon the vote of the House of Commons.
The effect of this is that there is a large portion of the revenue of the United Kingdom placed entirely beyond the control of Parliament—it is levied by law and paid away by law. Of course there is a sense in which it is under the control of Parliament, as the property and liberty of every man in the country is under that control. A new Act of Parliament might change the existing law, but until that law is changed the receipts and payments go on wholly irrespective of existing Parliaments. If the Queen had thought fit not to convene a Parliament in the year 1867, or if the House of Commons had thought fit not to grant the supplies, thirty millions of money would have been paid into the Exchequer and paid out again, exactly as it was paid in and paid out.
Indeed a far larger sum would have been paid into the Exchequer, although if the law was observed, it must have lain there for want of any legal authority for paying it out.
Of the expenditure, to which Ireland is bound to contribute, a portion is regulated by those permanent statutes, and provided for by permanent taxation, which is levied at this moment in Ireland as well as England.
I am already transgressing the limits of a tract like this. It would far exceed these limits to enter on an analysis of the permanent taxation to which Ireland is subject for permanent charges upon the revenue. It is enough to say that it appears to me that as to these charges the principle upon which they ought to be dealt with is plain.
A careful examination should be made of their nature. Many of them, as for instance the salaries of the English judges, belong properly to the English expenditure; others, like the salaries of Irish judges, to Irish. Of the national debt, a large proportion has been incurred for English purposes, and with this Ireland cannot properly be charged. When the account is so taken as to exhibit the permanent charge to which Ireland is bound to contribute, the right course would be that this charge should be provided for by some permanent tax, never to be remitted except by the authority of the Imperial Parliament.
I would prefer that it should be provided for by Imperial taxes, levied equitably through the United Kingdom. Taxes might be selected, the pressure of which would be proportioned to the wealth of the country. This would be the case with a property tax.
It is not 30 with an income tax. An income tax presses most unjustly upon a poor country. It is, I believe, matter of demonstration that an income tax takes a far larger proportion of the whole income of a poor country than it does of a rich one.* A succession duty falls on a country proportionately
This may appear at first a paradox, but I mean by the income of a country, all the material products that are raised within it in each year. These constitute the fund out of which the income of all classes in the country must come. It is evident that of this income a large proportion pays income tax several times. A country gentleman with a rental of £3,000 a year, pays income tax on the whole £3,000; but if he has the misfortune to be in bad health and spends £200 or £300 a year on his doctor, the income tax is paid over again by the physician. If he has the misfortune to be involved in litigation and spends the same sum on his professional advisers they also pay the tax over again. From each of their hands we might trace the income into those of others who pay it a third time. By the time the wealth, which is represented by the country gentleman's rental, comes to
to its wealth. So does a probate and legacy duty. So, probably, does a stamp duty upon deeds and upon bills of exchange. I would suggest that when the permanent charge was ascertained which should fall in common on all portions of the United Kingdom, this should be provided for by the imposition, permanently, of some general Imperial taxes of this nature, imposed by authority of the Imperial Parliament, and only to be remitted by the same.
These observations apply, of course, only to these permanent charges which exist now by law, for which taxes are raised by law, and from which Ireland has no power to escape.
But assuming that we were able, as I think we might be, to select modes of taxation which would fall on each part of the United Kingdom in proportion to its wealth, the very same modes of taxation might be used to provide for that expenditure which the Imperial Parliament would be authorized to raise by annual grant. The power of the Imperial Parliament to raise taxes would thus be restricted to certain purposes, but it would also be restricted to certain modes of taxation, and these the modes which would ensure that the tax would be distributed through every part of the United Kingdom in proportion to its ability to bear it.*
be really consumed, a great deal has paid toll three or four times at least. The income tax in these cases is really a tax upon the transfer of income. Almost all the income tax paid by those whom Adam Smith calls unproductive labourers on income earned by their own exertions, is income tax paid a second time. I cannot follow out the inquiry in a note like this; but remembering that the income tax is levied only on incomes over £100 a year, it is, I think, perfectly capable of proof that of the entire fund of products actually raised in each year in England and in Ireland, the
aggregate of national income which must be distributed among all—an income tax extracts a far larger proportion in Ireland than it does in England.
* In the Act incorporating the Canadian Dominion the reverse of this principle is adopted. The Provincial Parliaments are prohibited from
The Federal arrangement which I contemplate is one which would preserve the Imperial Parliament in its present form. It would leave to that Parliament all its present control over everything that affected the Imperial Crown, its dominions, its colonies, and its dependencies—over the foreign relations of the Empire, and all questions of peace and war. It would leave it still the power of preventing any tampering with the permanent taxation, which is the security for the payment of the interest on the national debt, and the other charges on the revenue to which the faith of the Crown and Parliament is pledged. It would leave it still the power of providing by Imperial taxation for Imperial necessities, including an army and a navy such as it judged necessary for the safety of the country, either in peace or war--imposing only a guarantee in the nature of the taxation that the levy should be one to which each member of the United Kingdom should contribute in proportion to its ability and its means.*
raising any revenue except by direct taxation. This was done to prevent the possibility of separate tariffs, or even the possible exclusion of the goods of one part of the Union from another. This is just one of the points in which the contiguity to each other of their provinces makes their case wholly different from that of England and Ireland. Whatever restriction might be imposed on the Parliament of England and Ireland, as to custom regulations, ought to be embodied in the Federal Constitution; but, subject to this, there is no reason why each country should not have full control over its own taxation, and full command over its own trade.
* It is plainly of the essence of a Federal Union that either the constitution itself or some central authority must regulate the whole amount of forces which may be called for for common purposes, and the quota which is to be furnished by each member. In the Germanic Confederation of 1815, this was determined by the Articles of Confederation.
The next consideration is whether they should be in the form of a common army raised by the central authority, or an army composed of fixed contingents of each member of the Confederation.
And, lastly, supposing that it is to be one central force, is the quota of expenses falling on each member of the Confederation to be raised by
I am far from supposing that in this sketch I have indicated all the matters which on reflection and discussion it might be found advisable to reserve to the Imperial Parliament. In America the criminal laws relating to offences against the union, and the regulation of the criminal procedure relating to their trial are vested in congress and not in the legislature of each state. In Canada, while each province regulates the civil procedure of the courts, the procedure in criminal cases can only be altered by a law of the parliament of the dominion. It would be easy to suggest other matters in regard to which some reason might be urged for leaving them to the Imperial Parliament. I have suggested those which occur to me as sufficient.* I am sure that in such a Federal arrangement the less interference the central authority has with local action the better. But there would be no difficulty in arranging all
taxation to be levied by itself, or as a part of some general taxation under the control of the central authority.
The latter is the system of the United States. We cannot propose, with any chance of success, a Federal Constitution for Ireland without leaving the Imperial Parliament the same powers in this respect as that of Congress.
If we devise a tax, as I think we can, which will fall on each country in proportion to its resources, then each country would contribute to the expense of the Confederation exactly in proportion to the practical benefits it derived from it. Imperial taxation might safely be limited to a property tax imposed equally in Ireland and Great Britain.
I have heard it suggested that among the matters to be placed beyond the
power of our Irish Parliament should be the establishment of any religious ascendancy, or any alteration of the Act which settled Irish property in the reign of Charles II.
A provision against establishing any religious ascendancy is to be found in the American Constitution. If the reservation of the points I have mentioned would calm even unreasonable apprehensions, I believe few Irishmen would object to a provision that no Act affecting any question of a religious establishment, or the settlement of property should be passed except with the sanction of the Imperial Parliament.