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poor, so that it may bear on all classes of the community who have property, and even incomes, with equal pressure; bringing all of them as near as may be into a relative state of privation of property and of comfort.
It is supposed that the present expenditure is about 70,000,000l. a year; a sum exceeding the existing rental of all the land and all the houses, &c. in the kingdom. That there is such excess of Taxation may be collected from the returns to the Property Tax ; made even when the rental was taken at its highest scale.
This expenditure requires unfortunately that all the circulating medium of the country, as it consists of money and of Bank Paper, taken at 17,500,000l. should pass four times, and taken at 23 millions, should pass three times in every year through the hands of Government in payment for Taxes!! and is not this a subject for alarm, and for the exertions of all good men in the great work of public œconomy?
The tax is on a population of 18,000,000 of persons, and is about 41. for each person, or 20l. a year for each family consisting of five persons; thus every family, even that of the poorest laborer consisting of five persons to a family, may be considered as paying in indirect Taxes, at least 10l. a year, or more than half his wages at seven shillings a week, or one shilling a day; being 187. 5s. a year!! Can we then wonder at an increase of Pauperism? or can we press with justice the reduction of wages to agricultural labor?
The income of the Landed Property of the country, including Houses, Canals, &c. might on a fair cess of actual value, and estimating wheat as producing, with certainty, the average price of 80s. a quarter, be computed at 90 millions a year. Even at this Rate, (highly estimated,) the taxation is equal to 7-9th parts of the rental. The returns to the Property Tax would not, as already noticed, bring the Rental to this amount; and since the Property Tax was assessed, the Rental is reduced in its amount at least 1-4th perhaps 1-3rd part. Still however the Rental may now, under the system which is to be proposed, be computed at full 90 millions a year; whilst if the present system of depreciation should not be arrested in its rapid career, the rental will be reduced to less than 45 millions a year. A depreciation of corn at the rate of one shilling a bushel, with a corresponding depreciation of the value of live stock, would wholly annihilate the Rental of land! The sale price of Land and of Houses is reduced in more than a relative proportion with the Rental: some of the best Estates in the kingdom, are selling at a depreciation of 50l. per cent. One of the finest grass farms in Somersetshire sold lately at 10 years purchase. This Estate was the property of Messrs. Pyke and Co. Bankers of Bridgwater. Estates in Cardiganshire late of Herbert
Lloyd, Esq. being lands of an inferior description, sold at the pub. lic sale room of the Court of Chancery, in August 1816, even at a still lower Rate.
Of the 70 millions a year, about 12 millions belong to the public as the income of the Sinking Fund. About 25 millions more of the total are for the expence of the Establishment.
The Sinking Fund has its advantages and its disadvantages.
1st. Its advantages consist in keeping up the price of the funds, and even advancing the price; and by that means reducing the value of money, or, more correctly speaking, the rate of interest usually given for money. The Sinking Fund could not be wholly withdrawn, without increasing the difficulties of the times, by depreciating the 3 per cent. annuities to 30%. per cent. and increasing the real value of money to 10%. per cent. per annum.
2dly. This Fund is disadvantageous in drawing 12 millions a year from the sources of industry into the pockets of those owners of the funds, who buy funded property for speculation, and for the purpose of increasing their capital, and not as the means of a permanent income.
By keeping on foot Taxation, to answer the Sinking Fund, the power of accumulation of capital is denied to the proprietors of the soil, farmers, merchants, manufacturers and tradesmen, and the money withdrawn from the country, as taxation for this purpose deprives the proprietor and cultivator of the soil, of the power of expending that money in labor. On this topic some further observations will be added.
A determined system of Retrenchment may be calculated to produce a saving of 5 millions a year; for example-no Governor of an Island or Colony should be allowed more than 5000l. a year, while some have 20,000l. a year. No one person in any department, or holding several offices under Government, should receive more than 10,000l. a year from the Government; and of these officers there should be very few; only the Cabinet Ministers who have official duties requiring eminent talents and their whole attention. To those who may urge that 5,000,000 a year cannot by any possibility be saved by retrenchment, the short answer is, produce a list of salaries and duties, and let an investigation of the catalogue take place, and a correct opinion on this point may be formed!! And it should always be remembered that every 187. a year paid to any placeman or pensioner, beyond a fair remuneration for his time, &c. withdraws from the public the means of giving active employment to one individual, as the head of a family; thus depriving 5 persons of the means of sustenance from the fruits of honest industry and active labor, and rendering them
Pursuing this or some such system, and reducing the military Establishment, without abridging the pay of the private soldiers in
the Army or the Sailors in the Navy, 5,000,000 might be saved, being th of the present expenditure. The difficulty, if any, of saving more than this sum proves the enormity of Taxation and our distressed situation. After this reduction the expenditure would be 20 millions a year, and the amount of Taxation would be 65 millions a year. A property Tax, taking from every payment under government, including the funds, and with the exception of the soldier and sailor, 10 per cent, would reduce the burden of Taxation to a sum not far exceeding 57,500,000, being the balance of 70,000,000 after deducting 5 millions of retrenchment and 5,500,000 of per centage. In consideration of this reduction, &c. the pro perty of the country, as estimated at about 90 millions a year, should bear a Tax of 10 per cent, computed at 9 millions a year, thus adding a sum of about 9 millions a year to the amount of the present Taxes, in the place of those taxes which press most severely on the industry of the country. However, to enable the landed interest to bear this Taxation, and in short to preserve any rental, the burden of the Poor Rate should be so regulated that it may be borne by the community at large in just proportions. For the purpose of the poor rate the rental should be computed at 90 millions; placemen, &c. at 20,000,000; and the funded property at 45 millions, making an aggregate amount of 155 millions a year; and houses, docks, &c. should be computed, for the purpose of this tax, at double their annual rental value, as the means of taxing personal property, and thus there would be an addition of at least 20 millions, making together 175 millions.
These sources must contribute at least 10 millions to the Poor Rates, thus making 1s. 9d. in the pound for the Poor. Beyond all doubt the present expence of the poor exceeds the 10,000,000. By a system of good management this expenditure may be reduced to 5,000,000. It is essential that every parish should maintain its own poor under the present system. Parishioners are the best guardians of the conduct and the most competent judges of the necessities of the poor. The country should add to the contribution of each parish from Poor Rates a just proportion of the Tax imposed on pensions, places, and funded property; thus each parish would receive about th part of its expenditure. An expenditure in any parish below a certain rate, say 1s. in the pound, should subject that parish to a contribution in aid of the general fund, so as to enable the general fund to provide for the relief of parishes heavily burthened. The plan would require that farms only, and not houses for occupation unconnected with farms should be assessed to the present Poor Rate; and the new assessment should be on houses, canals, &c. corporation dividends and funded property, and on persons receiving any annual payments from governVOL. IX.
ment. By this arrangement parishes would have an interest as at present against encouraging an increase on the Poor Rate, since that increase must add to the burthen of the parish.-This scheme would provide for the present race of paupers. In the ensuing session
of parliament the attention of the House of Commons is pledged to the formation of a plan to guard against a succession of paupers, and every well disposed person, especially those individuals who wish to see the independence of the human mind cherished, and protected from the wretchedness of pauperism, will cordially co-operate in devising some liberal and beneficial arrangement for this purpose. A more general resort to the system of parish apprentices as it prevails in the western counties would be found a most useful and benevolent part of a radical change in the system of many districts. No peasantry are better fed or instructed, or rendered more useful members of society, than that part of the community who enter life through this channel. The best servants, men and women, and frequently the best farmers, tradesmen and mechanics are to be found among those who have had the advantage to be thus maintained and educated in their youth. Under this system all the children dependant on the Poor Rate, and even the children of the industrious labourers are at the age of seven years settled very comfortably, and highly to the satisfaction of their parents; and except in some few instances, to the ultimate advantage of the masters and mistresses, among the gentlemen, the farmers, and the artisans in parishes; and among the shopkeepers in the towns, and in sea ports among the owners and masters of vessels; &c. and by selecting proper situations, the children are placed under the care of those to whom they will be most useful, and with whom they can be brought up in the manner most beneficial to themselves.
It is a great favour on the one hand to the parents, to obtain situations they deem eligible for the children; and on the other hand, the persons who are liable to have apprentices bound on them, are particularly anxious to have the children of honest and virtuous parents; and it frequently happens that the child is placed with the master by whom the father is employed. In some instances the child as an apprentice, and the father and the grandfather as labourers, are in the service of the same master. The ties thus created, and the hope thus excited of providing for the children, and the general habits formed by the plan, may account for the superiority in the characters of the labourers of the western counties in which this practice, (a species of patriarchal system,) prevails.
For the first three or four years the apprentice may be some expence to the master. In the succeeding years he more than reimburses by his services, the expence thus incurred.
The most thrifty farmers, master mariners, and proprietors of shipping are those who have most parish apprentices well trained in a regular succession, so that a large part of the work is performed by the apprentices; and on farms, they are fed from the produce of the farm, and thus the expense of labour is light, or rather a home market is in effect provided.
That the servitude is for several years under a contract not easily dissolved, secures good behaviour, and keeps the mind easy and contented, from the knowledge that each party is bound to the other, and must perform the contract.
To an apprentice who has behaved well, a suit of good cloaths for Sundays is commonly presented at the end of the apprenticeship, and these cloaths are worn for many years in grateful remembrance of the donor, and honest pride from the gift.
No children are sent from these districts to the manufactories. A general resort to this excellent system would be a great advance towards relief from the pressure of the poor rates, under the existing system.
The next step, and an essential one, to enable the landed interest to bear their burdens, to arrest the present ruinous depreciation of land, and to bring the capitalist into a just contribution towards the expenses of the government, will be to annihilate all loans of money by way of redeemable annuities preparatory to the great and important measure of reducing the legal rate of interest of money from 5 to 4 per cent. By that arrangement, and it is one of the first necessity and greatest utility, the capitalist would contribute towards the burdens of the state; and persons engaged in commerce and manufactures would be assisted by the low rate of the interest of money; protecting them from a diminution of their profits, to the extent of this one per cent. or one fifth of 5 per cent. The more the writer of these observations has heard or read, within or without the walls of parliament, on the subject of the reduction of the rate of legal interest for money, or examined the arguments, by way of comparison with his experience, the more fully is he convinced of the utility and expediency of the reduction. The benefit will be still greater should redeemable annuities be annihilated. Without this previous measure, it would, indeed, be in vain to attempt a reduction of the rate of interest. The form of the bill he contemplates for accomplishing this object will be found in the Appendix.
The statute of Ann, which reduced the rate of legal interest from 6 per cent. to 5 per cent. will be the proper precedent for a further and corresponding reduction. That statute was framed in times renowned for the wisdom of those who were in the law departments.