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of dealing, are so many premiums of insurance on the hazardous risk which each, excepting the dealer for ready money, incurs, and which premium has too often been found unequal to the risk.
The whole sum of advance on the duties may be divided between the great and often repeated risk of debt, loss in quantity, interest of money, and the greater profit required by each dealer through whose hands the goods may pass, for his maintenance and support: but the greater proportion may be resolved into risk of debt ; certainly, with few exceptions, not any part, into the means of acquiring property, or of living better.
If only twenty-five per cent. be added to meet these advances, the repeal of duties, amounting to twenty-nine millions, would, in effect, be the removal of burden from the public, to the extent of, at least, thirty-six millions."
The immediate advantages from this extensive remission of duties would not, however, be bounded by the consideration of the great weight from which the community would thus be relieved.
The judicious arrangement of the duties, to be either partially or entirely repealed, would be the means, to great extent, of repressing illicit distillation and illicit trade, in all articles, excepting a few of the finer manufactures, and, consequently would compensate, to considerable extent, for the reduction of duties.
The consumption would increase, at a low duty; the whole, or nearly the whole, of the supply would be submitted to regular entry, and some proportion of the expense, both civil and military, for the repression of smuggling would cease.
Regular trade would be restored and increased in the like ratio.
The temptation of a high revenue system to extensive and habitual violence and fraud, would be removed.
The effect of this vast extent of relief could not fail to be so felt by every description of proprietor, as to render the proposed liquidation of the debt a measure not only desirable in the highest degree in which any object of social interest can be desirable, but of
great practical facility : for the more distinct view and evidence
If any part of the repeal should fall upon a description of revenue not embraced by the customs or excise, the calculation must be reduced accordingly. But if the assessed taxes, for instance, were to be repealed, the sinple amount of the taxes would be the amount of the public relief, in that respect. The repeal of duties would be the repeal, in effect, not only of the amount of duties, but of all the advances thereon paid by the consumer.
of which, the several classes of proprietors will be considered, separately, in the order already stated.i
The cultivator of the soil is the first and the last object of legislation, and the distress of the cultivator is the pressing and immediate ground for desiring the liquidation of the public debt : the protection and encouragement of the cultivator are the commanding reasons for prosecuting that object to the final extinction of the debt. The security of the cultivator is a principal ground upon which national loans are objectionable, and the assurance to the cultivator of a liberal return is the first object to be proposed in the remission of duties and taxes.
If, for instance, it be supposed that ten shillings for the bushel of wheat, and ratably for other grain, be necessary to the adequate compensation of the grower, and that the price of wheat be eight shillings only for the bushel, and ratably for other grain : in this case, the earliest measures ought to embrace relief to the cultivator, equal to two shillings in the production of a bushel of wheat, and ratably as to all other grain ; that is to say, before the reduction of the price of grain.2
The sum to be contributed by the proprietors of the cultivated lands of England and Wales is estimated at one hundred and twelve millions and a half, or five millions six hundred and twentyfive thousand pounds annually.3
The immediate or early beneficial results, to be anticipated by the landed proprietor, are,
The conversion of a nominal into a real rent.
cation for parish or public assistance. The opportunity of obtaining relief from the burden of main
taining the unemployed capab le poor. Under this view, it is difficult, if not impossible, to suppose any case, in which an English estate would be exposed to difficulty, as a consequence of the proposed impost.
If the proprietor possess the means, either as a public annuitant, or otherwise, without having recourse to his landed property, of paying the principal sum assessed, his estate may be relieved, the country be relieved, and an equal amount of the public debt be extinguished for ever, with simplicity and ease.
· P. 4.
2 The illustration is limited to grain, because the insufficiency of price is felt, principally, in respect of grain, but it may be carried further, at the will, and according to the information and judgment of the reader.
4 See Appendix (E.)
If the proprietor do not possess such means, but be limited to the means which his estate alone presents for the payment of the sum assessed, or the interest thereon, he will pay the interest on the amount of the assessment, until convenient to pay the principal sum.
The lands of England are now declining in power to yield rent; and if the consideration be limited to the farmer being ena. bled to pay the present nominal rent, sufficient inducement and facility are presented for the payment by the proprietor, of the interest on the amount of the proposed assessment; and to this consideration are to be added the great reduction in personal and domestic expenditure, and the anticipated reduction in parish rates.
If an estate be let for 1000l. per annum, and be valued at 25,0001., or twenty-five years' purchase, the principal sum assessed would be 3,7501, or, annually one hundred and eighty-seven pounds ten shillings.
In the present state and progress of affairs, what premium would assure the payment of the rent? Is it to be conceived that taking the average of all England, the payment of the rents could be assured at a premium of twenty per cent.? And if paid, and again expended, what proportion is expended in parish rates, and indirectly, through the medium of consumption, to the revenue ? These questions cannot be accurately answered; but the advantages to the proprietor are too obvious to admit any question of difficulty in this case. It is not only fair to calculate that the proprietor would be enabled to pay the annual interest on the assessment, but probably would further be enabled to reduce, and eventually to complete, the payment of the principal sum assessed, by means of annual accumulation, without altering his scale of living
If it be supposed that the estate be under mortgage, the adoption of the measure becomes the object of more anxious desire. In the instance of an estate worth 60,0001., under mortgage for 40,0001., the great effect of the incidental relief would be experienced by the mortgager. Upon him, the effect of the earlier deficiencies of rent would fall, over him the risk of foreclosure and sale (through "his inability arising from the nonpayment of rent) impends; the relief in respect of the whole estate is the relief of the proprietor, and the relief in respect of his personal or individual expenditure, is, also, proper to himself. The price of that great range of be. nefit, so long as the mortgage continue, must be borne to the extent of two-thirds, by the mortgagee. The whole class of property under mortgage, would therefore, be assisted and relieved in a peculiar and unexpected manner. It is not possible that objection
or difficulty can arise on the part of this description of proprietor.
And the mortgagee would have sufficient motive for the cheerful payment of the contribution to be required of him, if he expend the income of the mortgage within the kingdom, in the great relief which he would experience in the removal of the general burdens. If the mortgagee do not expend the income of the mortgage within the kingdom, or do not expend it any where, the advantage of the measure must be seen still more forcibly, in the subjection to contribution of a class of persons, who would otherwise receive large advantages under the social compact, without making any social return.
It would of course be necessary that provision should be made in respect of entailed and settled property, as in the instance of the redemption of the land tax.
The sum to be contributed by the proprietors of the cultivated lands of Scotland is twenty-two millions and a half, or, annually, one million one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds.?
By the proprietors of the cultivated lands of Ireland forty-five millions, or, annually, two millions two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and excepting relief from the charge of maintaining the poor, the considerations which have been suggested with reference to the proprietor of the cultivated lands of England and Wales apply, in like manner, to the proprietor of the cultivated lands of Scotland and Ireland.
And the same considerations, excepting as to some points of detail in respect of minerals and timber, apply to the 'tithes belonging to the laity, to mines, minerals, canals, tolls, timber and fisheries; the collective assessment whereon is estimated at thirty-two millions two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, or, annually, one million six hundred and twelve thousand five hundred pounds.
And also to dwelling-houses, the assessment whereon is estimated at fifty-one millions, or, annually, two millions five hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
The principal of these several sums, which amount to two hundred and sixty-three millions two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, 4 would be redeemable, with only trifling exception, at the will of the proprietor.s
The mortgagee might, perhaps, attempt to throw the whole of the contribution upon the proprietor, which, if necessary, might be gnarded against by legislative provision. See Property Act, 46 Geo. III. c. 65.9 195. 2 P. 4. 3 Ibid.
+ P. 3, 5 Should it be observed that the stockholder would be left in uncertainty VOL. XVI. Pam.
The assessment on agricultural live and dead stock is estimated at thirty-four millions and a half. The want of security in the substance of this branch of assessment renders the accommodation to be proffered to the owner of fixed property impracticable, and, consequently, renders necessary somewhat more of pressure in the levy of the assessment.
It is not, however, apprehended that a claim after the rate of three per cent. per annum, for five successive years, on the amount of agricultural stock, and the interest of five per cent. per annum, until paid, would be found to press with undue or extreme severity, since it would be preceded by the relief incident to the discontinuance of a large proportion of the present imposts, the great burden and weight of which cause the distress of the agricultural class. It may fairly be considered, that the state and condition of the farmer would be retrieved by the restoration of the country to animation and vigor, and that less capital would be required for his purposes, under the change contemplated.
The assessment on commercial property, including steamengines and other machinery, manufactured goods and goods in process of manufacture, foreign merchandise deposited in warehouses, either paid for, or virtually paid for, by debts owing to this country by foreigners, and British shipping, is stated, collectively, at forty millions and fifty thousand pounds. It would, of course, be a nice and delicate duty, to fix the assessment, in detail, upon this class of property : some uneasiness and some evasion are
as to the time of payment, it is to be considered that stock would continue to be the subject of transfer and sale until finally paid and discharged.
Suppose the stock to be assessed at the value of 20001.; the sum to be paid for the first year would be
60 and interest on 601. for one year 3-63 If collected half-yearly, the statement would vary accordingly. The various relief to a farmer in the clear possession of stock of the value of 2000l, could not fail, during a course of five years, to be far more than equal to this claim. The relief in parish rates only, might, in frequent instances, be expected to greater extent. It may be presumed that the assessment on this description of property would be made with the largest allowance for decline in monoy prices, and a farmer could only be assessed upon his clear nett property, in respect either of stock or other effects, after the payment of every debt and obligation,