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would be imperceptible to ordinary minds. the claims of the ministry against an attack But the House of Lords had been apparently upon its general policy. Instead of assailing well canvassed. As was afterwards the case the House of Lords, the prime minister gave in the Church Rate Bill, the majority in favour notice that he should move for a select comof the repeal of the paper duty had dwindled mittee to examine the journals of the House in the House of Commons. A considerable of Lords for precedents for the course which number of the members of the Upper House had been adopted in that house with regard went down to have their fling at the chancellor to the bill for the repeal of the paper duties, of the exchequer and the free-traders. When and disclaimed any intention on the part of the Paper Duties Bill was brought up it was the government of taking steps which might rejected on the second reading by a majority bring the two houses into collision. The comof eighty-nine, and the Lords had assumed a mittee was appointed. It was little more than right, which it was afterwards averred they a formality; but it served to delay agitation, had been distinctly prohibited from claiming and delay to popular agitation usually means by repeated decisions entered upon parlia- its prevention. As a matter of fact, however, mentary records, to the effect that the whole though there was a good deal of apparent exprovision for supply and for the taxation, or citement, which was kept up by the popular the remission of the taxation of the country, cheap newspapers and by those who felt in rested with the Commons alone. To say the its full force the antagonism of the Lords, least of it, this action of the Lords was a very the public took the matter almost as coolly as serious challenge to the Lower House, and a Lord Palmerston did. Not because they were direct claiin of power to annul its financial altogether indifferent to the question in its plans. It was expected that a collision be- relation to free-trade, nor because they did tween the two houses must follow, and there not understand the danger of the precedent was some surprise, if not actual disappoint- which the House of Lords sought to establish; ment, when it was found that Lord Palmer- but for the reason that they refused to believe ston was quite unlikely to accept the decision in the probability of the House of Commons against the paper duties as a reason for a ultimately giving way. On this occasion, as ministerial crisis. Probably he cared almost on many others, Palmerston had pretty accuas little about the remission of the duties, or rately noted the temper of the country. He the free importation of foreign paper, as the thought he saw a possible way out of the diffimajority of the opponents of the measure; culty by giving time for the antagonists of the but he cared a great deal about not being Paper Duties Bill to reflect. The committee exposed to the necessity for resignation or for took two months to consider what they should the dissolution of parliament, or even for say. What the majority agreed to say was in raising a whirlwind of defiance of the Lords. effect, that they could hardly decide that the He was growing old; he was in power, and privileges of the House of Commons made it was likely to remain so for some time longer. actually unconstitutional for the House of He had no desire to initiate or to champion Lords to reject a bill imposing a particular further political reforms, and the free-trade tax. Mr. Bright, who was on the committee, movement had gone rather beyond the tether was in the minority, and drew up a statement which he had regarded as the extent of its contending, and giving weighty reasons for operations. His policy was to quiet both the contention, that the power to refuse the houses, if possible to induce the Lords to repeal of a tax, when that repeal had been recede by making the way to back out easy voted by the House of Commons, was equirafor them, and to avoid the break up of the lent to depriving the latter of its absolute government, which might follow the persistent coutrol over the taxation of the country. rejection of the scheme of the chancellor of the There can be little doubt that this view was exchequer, on whose financial achievements sound, or the principle of taxation and reprehe afterwards had to rely in order to support sentation going together would have to be PALMERSTON'S RESOLUTIONS.
abandoned. However, when the discussion their party otherwise than embarrassing. The came on (on the 5th of July), numbers of Conservative party, Mr. Disraeli said, were in petitions were presented, praying the house no way inclined to take advantage of this to maintain its right of dealing with all mea- state of things. On the contrary, they were sures for taxation.
prepared to support the government; all they It may be assumed that there were special required from them in return being that they reasons for Lord Palmerston's reluctance to should state explicitly the principles of their injure the susceptibility of the Lords, or to policy, and not enter into a line of what he provoke the opposition by violently resenting termed 'democratic finance. These remarks the rejection of the Paper Duties Bill. It is were made without reserve, and in communipossible that he may have recognized among cating their tenor to Lord Palmerston (24th the leaders of the Conservative party an in- January) the prince added :-'Mr. Disraeli clination to give his government a general
said no minister since Mr. Pitt had been so support on certain conditions. That this in- powerful as you might be. The Conservative clination existed soon afterwards we learn party was ready not only to give general supfrom a passage in The Life of the Prince port to a steady and patriotic policy, but even Consort, which mentions that on the return of to help the minister out of scrapes if he got the court to Windsor on the 12th of January, into any.” 1861, among the visitors was Lord Palmerston, The increased armaments had, in fact, been with whom arrangements were then made for suggested by Prince Albert himself after he the dowry and annuity to be asked for from had noticed the Cherbourg defences and the parliament upon the marriage of the Princess augmentation of the French navy; but Lord Alice, who was betrothed to Prince Louis of Palmerston showed himself willing to take up
the scheme of providing for the “national "One of the visitors who followed Lord defences” with remarkable celerity. Mr. Palmerston was Mr. Disraeli, from whom the Gladstone, on the other hand, was opposed to prince gathered the general views of the the expenditure, for such a purpose, of the Conservative opposition as to their policy in revenues which had been secured by the the approaching session. Their strength was operation of "democratic finance" so far as it considerable, composed, as they were, of a had gone, and he was committed not only to compact body of three hundred members; but a free-trade budget, but to upholding that they had no wish for the return of their leaders portion of it which was included in the Paper to office, and, indeed, were anxious to streng- Duties Bill against the interference of the then the hands of the government in a bold House of Lords, which he designated “the national policy. A movement for a reduction most gigantic and dangerous invasion of the of the expenses of our armaments, which had rights of the Commons which has occurred been initiated by Mr. Cobden and his friends, in modern times." and had taken the shape of a letter to Lord But to return to the meeting of parliament Palmerston, signed by about sixty members on the 5th of July, 1860. Lord Palmerston's of parliament, calling for such a reduction, pacific attitude towards the House of Lords had shown the existence of a considerable was then made manifest. The house was division in the ranks of the usual ministerial crowded: the gravity of the situation had supporters. Many of the latter had, however, produced considerable excitement. Notices declined to sanction this appeal, believing, to had been given of strongly expressed resoluuse the expression of one of their number, tions on the question of privilege. They General de Lacy Evans, 'that it was neither gave way to Lord Palmerston's intimation that safe nor expedient to disarm the country.' he had resolutions to bring before the house. But the working majority of the government
Those resolutions were : was not so large as to make the defection, on 1. " That the right of granting aids and questions of finance, of so large a section of supplies to the Crown is in the Commons
alone, as an essential part of their constitution; | Milner Gibson nor Gladstone were likely to and the limitation of all such grants, as to regard them with complacency; and though matter, manner, measure, and time, is only in the latter said that they had done all that lanthem.
guage could do, to defend the honour of the 2. “ That although the Lords have exercised house, he was prepared to go further and to rethe power of rejecting bills of several descrip- serve to himself the right of acting. The pretions relating to taxation by negativing the cedents quoted, he said, had not touched in the whole, yet the exercise of that power by them slightest degree the case under consideration. has not been frequent, and is justly regarded There was a great difference between the by this house with peculiar jealousy as affect- House of Lords advising an alteration in a ing the rights of the Commons to grant the money-bill and rejecting the repeal of a tax. supplies, and to provide the ways and means The House of Commons had declared that for the service of the year.
they could spare from the revenue of the 3. “That to guard for the future against an country £1,125,000 of the taxation, and having undue exercise of that power by the Lords, an option between the tea and the paper and to secure to the Commons their rightful duties as to which they should remit, they control over taxation and supply, this house chose that which they believed would prove has in its own hands the power so to impose more beneficial to the country, though, perand remit taxes and to frame bills of supply haps, not the most popular. The result had that the right of the Commons as to the mat- been that the House of Lords had chosen to ter, manner, measure, and time may be main- assume to themselves the power of dictating tained inviolate."
to the House of Commons, and of saying that These resolutions were carried, but they the country could not spare such a remission were not received with any great satisfaction. of taxation. Mr. Gladstone maintained that It was felt by the Liberals that they evaded the house had the undoubted right to select that vindication of the rights of the House of the manner in which the people should be Commons which might have been demanded, taxed, and they were bound to preserve intact and that the House of Lords was treated with that precious deposit. He reserved to himself a studied forbearance which was too much like the privilege of submitting such practical deference. Palmerston himself felt that this measures as would give effect to the resoluwas the conclusion which might be drawn tions. from his resolutions, and commended them to Those practical measures were that the parliament with the ratherdubious explanation remission of the paper duties was brought that as the House of Lords had been encour- forward again in a house where five hundred aged by the diminished majority in the Lower members, including the speaker, were present, House on the third reading of the proposed a very unusual number in a house near the end bill, it would be better to be satisfied with a of the session, but they come in response to mere declaration of constitutional privileges. urgent appeals. Mr. Gladstone represented
There was something of Palmerston's usual that the question involved great commercial adroitness in these resolutions. His bio principles and obligations of honour and policy grapher has told us that while he wished to in relation to a contract with France. For build a bridge for the retreat of the Lords, he the sake of the paper-makers themselves it had two colleagues in his cabinet who were would be desirable at once to settle the quescommitted far too deeply by their expressions tion. In the opinion of the law officers of the of wrath at what they termed an outrageous crown the obligation of the treaty was uninvasion of the liberties of the people, to per- doubted, and the legal authorities of France mit them passing the matter over in silence. concurred in this opinion. The question was The resolutions were accepted, but neither also one of policy, and this last article which
claimed protection was the touchstone to be 1 The Hon. Evelyn Ashley.
applied to old and to new friends of free-trade.
GLADSTONE'S BUDGET OF 1861.
His proposition was to remove so much of the Mary Queen of Scots is made to say of hercustoms duty on foreign paper as exceeded the self, I have been much hated, but I have also amount of the excise duty on that at home, been much beloved,' and I think I may say and it was carried by a majority of thirty- with equal truth that the financial legislation three. The announcement was received with a of last year, while I do not mean to contend burst of cheering from the Liberal benches that it was not unacceptable to many, met, as which lasted for some minutes, even after the a.whole, with signal support from a great body chancellor of the exchequer rose to propose of public opinion in this country.” The past that the remission of the paper duties should year, he reminded his hearers, had been sigbe extended to other countries beside France, nalized by the commercial treaty with France, which was also agreed to.
by the removal of great national burdens, and The question of total abolition of the duties by the abolition of the last protective duty was deferred till the following session, and from our system, but it was a year of the during the interval was widely discussed largest expenditure that had occurred in tine throughout the country. What will the of peace, and it was characterized by an upLords do? and what will Gladstone do? paralleled severity of the seasons. Apart from were the two questions that were asked the consideration of two millions voted for the when the house met in 1861 and everybody fortifications at the close of the year the estiwas anxiously awaiting the statements of the mated expenditure had been £73,664,000, budget. If the budget of 1860 had aroused while the actual expenditure was only intense interest in the country, that of 1861 £72,842,000, leaving a balance of £822,000. was still more exciting. Every avenue to the But while the revenue in 1859 had been house was crowded by persons hoping for £71,089,000, it was only £70,283,000 in 1860, a chance to gain admission, while within the making a decrease of £800,000, so that while walls every seat was appropriated. The win- in 1859 there was a favourable balance of ter of 1860 had been terribly severe, and there £1,200,000 there was in 1860 an apparent dewas much suffering in many parts of the ficiency of £2,559,000, which, with certain country, especially in Lancashire. There had deductions, would actually stand at £221,000, been a deficient harvest, and in some respects the difference being partly accounted for by the revenue had been overestimated. How the fact that the preceding year was leap-year, would he provide for a probable deficiency? and that Good Friday and the day following Would “the financial freaks of the chancellor had been reckoned in the one year and not in of the excheqner,” as Lord Derby at the begin- the other. The revenue from customs had ning of the session called the financial policy somewhat exceeded the estimate, and that of the government, avail to enable him to from excise had fallen rather below it, accordmaintain his position in remitting the paper ing to the rule that in a bad year what was duty ?
lost by excise would be gained by customs. He was able to do that and more. The The loss on articles on which duties had been audience which sat almost breathless to listen reduced fell below the estimate, that on wine to the masterly scheme which he propounded being only £493,000 instead of £830,000, were once more constrained to admire the which was the amount calculated. There had clear explanations, the telling emphasis, the been a considerable increase in the importation complete acquaintance with every detail, dis- of French wines, but it was necessary for the played in a speech which added the charm of public taste to undergo some change before a clear musical voice of sustained power and the full effect of the reduction of duty would tone to an unhesitating delivery, and was emi- be experienced. nently successful in enforcing comprehensive The deficiency in the excise arose on three statements of facts and figures by the appeals articles, hops, malt, and spirits. With regard and the illustrations that belong to oratory. to the question of trade as affected by the “In the beautiful tragedy of Schiller,” he said, | French treaty: had there been a want of em
ployment among the people of this country, or which would cause a loss to the current finanhad other circumstances been such as to dim- cial year of £850,000, and to repeal the duty on inish the revenue below an adequate amount, paper on the first of the following October, the provisions made by the previous year's by which the revenue would lose about provident legislation would have been seen to £165,000. It had been pressed upon the govhave had a still more marked effect in pre- ernment that there should be a remission of venting what would have been a very unsatis- the duties on tea and sugar; but these it had factory condition of affairs.
been decided to continue in favour of the He emphatically told the house that look- greater benefits to be derived from taking the ing at the whole course of proceedings, from penny from the income tax and abolishing the first to last, no one could conceive a more loyal, 'thorough, intelligent, unflinching deter- In considering the financial condition of mination than had been exhibited by the the country, it had been necessary to advert ministers of France, under the animating to the growing expenditure. In 1858 the spirit and guidance of the emperor, to give sum voted was under £64,000,000, while in full effect alike to the terms and to the prin- | 1861 it was nearly £74,000,000-an increase ciples and spirit of the treaty, not for the sake of £10,000,000 in three years; £9,000,000 of of British interests, nor with any mere wish taxes being imposed to meet those requireof conciliating England, but for the sake of ments, while of temporary resources only the interests of France. With regard to the £2,700,000 had been called in aid for that effect of the measures of 1860, the export purpose. The balances in the exchequer in trade of the previous year was £136,000,000 March, 1861, were £6,522,000. As regarded of declared value (as against £130,000,000 in the national debt, £1,000,000 of exchequer 1859), and this was the largest ever known. bonds had been paid off, but replaced by a new There had been an increase in several imported set to the same amount. The addition to the articles: butter, cheese, eggs, and rice gave an debt, exclusive of money for fortifications, was increase of £7,000,000 in 1860, as compared £160,000. As compared with 1853 there had with £4,000,000 in 1859; and these were been large remissions of taxation and unfaarticles on which small customs duties had vourable seasons; but although 1860 was far been abolished. The importation of corn had worse in this latter respect, it would be found risen from some £17,000,000 in 1859 to that the immediate and palpable effect of £38,154,000 in 1860, a fearful proof of the remissions of taxation presented a remarkfailure of production in this country, but an able contrast. In 1853 there were remitted equally cogent proof of the value of that £1,500,000 of customs duties, which loss was legislation which had removed all obstruction made up, and more, by the end of that year. to the importation of that article of necessity. The gain on the year in excise duties was Articles of import on which the duties still £900,000. In 1860 the excise ought to have remained had been about the same. The produced a gain of £1,945,000, but it had only articles on which there had been a reduction produced a gain of £265,000. But the exof duty in the previous year were in value, in penditure of 1854 was, of imperial expendi1859, £11,346,000, and in 1860 £13,323,000, ture, £56,000,000; and local expenditure, while those on which the duty had been abol- £16,000,000: total, £72,000,000. In 1860 the ished in the previous year were in 1859, in imperial expenditure was £73,000,000, the value, £15,735,000, and in 1860 £22,630,000, local charge £18,000,000: total, 291,000,000, an increase of nearly six millions and a half. or an increase of nearly £20,000,000 in seven
The estimated expenditure for the coming years. year was £69,900,000, and the estimated In reference to this enormous augmentation revenue £71,823,000. It was therefore pro- of expenditure Mr. Gladstone concluded his posed to remit the additional penny which financial statement by saying :had been imposed on the income-tax in 1860, “We have seen this country during the last