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C H A P. VI.
Finance-The Budgel-Proceedings connected with Elections—Charges
brought against the Corporations of Northampton and Leicester Proceedings with a view to the Disfranchisement of Penryn and East Retford— Bill for preventing corrupt Practices at Elections-Game Laws—Bill declaring the using of Spring Guns illegal—Mr. Peel's Improvements of the Law-The Court of Chancery.- Prorogation of Parliament.
HE attention of parliament But, the sum of 5,500,000). being
was so much occupied with applicable by law to the Sinkingthe Corn-laws and with discussions fund, there was an apparent deficienrelating to the state of parties, that cy of 4,500,000l. But, in the expenthe financial arrangements of the diture of that year, were included country attracted less than their 1,200,0001., the aggregate of adusual share of notice. Indeed, vances made by the Exchequer, the new minister announced, soon under several acts of parliament, after his elevation, that it was not for public works, and for the purthe intention of the government
chases of beneficial interests, upon to engage in any financial inves- which the country had available tigations or inquiries, except so far and outstanding claims, carried to as might be necessary for getting the account of the xpenditure; through with the business of the and, further, the payment of exyear, and that the minute consi- penses which had not been conderation of such matters was to be tracted in that year, amounting postponed, till a Finance Committee also to 1,200,0001. If these two was appointed, which Mr. Canning sums of 1,200,0001. were deducted stated it to be his intention to from the apparent deficiency of propose in the following session. 4,500,0001., there would be left a
On the first of June, Mr. Can- clear deficiency of 2,100,0001. inning brought forward the budget. cluding the payments made on acThe method which he adopted was,
count of the Sinking-fund. to state, first, the financial situa- Taking the years 1823, 1824, tion of the country at the end of 1825, and 1826, the total inthe preceding year ; secondly, to come of those four years was combine and to compare, that one 229,204,2611., or, in round numyear with the several years which bers, 230,000,000l. The total exhad preceded it; and lastly, to penditure of the same period was suggest the provision to be made 209,242,1811. ; or, in round numfor the service of the present year, bers, 210,000,0001. The surplus and the grounds on which he of income which remained applifelt himself justified in looking cable to the Sinking-fund of forward with confidence to the re- 1823, 1824, 1825, and 1826, was sult. At the end of 1826, there 19,962,6771. ;-in round numbers, was an actual surplus of 1,000,000l. 20,000,0001. The total aggregate
[173 amount of the income of the
country, present year, is 5,700,0001. Add for those four years, was, therefore, this Sinking-fund to the expendisomething under 230,000,0001.; ture, and the total demand for the the total expenditure, something present year will be 57,500,0001., under 210,000,000l. ; and the sur- leaving a deficit, to be provided plus remaining applicable to the for, of 2,900,0001. Omitting so Sinking-fund was almost within much of the income of the four a fraction of 20,000,0001. The preceding years, as accrued from amount of the Sinking-fund which, repayments from public works, &c. by law, was applicable to the re- and so much of its expenditure as duction of the national debt, dur- arose from grants and loans, the ing the same period, was about income of the last four years, 21,500,000l. ; leaving, therefore, exclusive of such repayment, upon the whole of the four amounted to 228,000,0001. The years, an apparent deficiency of estimated income of the present income applicable to the discharge year is 54,600,0001. The total of the whole expenditure, in- actual and estimated income of cluding the Sinking-fund, of the five years, exclusive of re1,265,6871. But against this ap- payments, is 282,600,000l. The parent deficiency was to be placed expenditure of the last four the amount of the advances from years, exclusive of advances, was the Exchequer, under different acts 205,667,0001. The estimated exof parliament, either for loans, for penditure of the present year is carrying on public works, or on 51,810,0001., making together a account of beneficial purchases, total expenditure, for the five which the public had in their years, of 257,477,0001. The differpossession, as available securities
ence between the aggregate of the for the repayment of the money income, and the aggregate of the exwhich had been so advanced. penditure, may therefore be taken at
The amount of excess of ad- something more than 25,000,0001. vances beyond repayment, for the The Sinking-fund, by law, four years, was something short amounted in the years 1823, 1824, of 2,400,0001. Deducting from 1825, and 1826, to 21,227,7651. this sum the amount of the de- Its legal claim, in the current year, ficiency of a million and a quar- is 5,700,0001., making in the whole ter, there remained a real surplus the sum of 26,927,7651., and, conof income beyond expenditure, in sequently, leaving a deficiency of those four years, after providing income, on the five years, to meet for the whole of the Sinking-fund, the Sinking-fund required by law, of something more than 1,100,0001. of 1,804,7651. :-a deficiency, say
Mr. Canning then proceeded to of two millions, accruing on an exstate, the income and expenditure penditure of nearly 300,000,0001., of the current year.
and spread over a period of no less The estimated receipt of 1827, than five years. said he, founded on the actual It may be said, continued Mr. receipt of 1826, is 54,600,000l. Canning, that there is a fallacy in The estimated expenditure of 1827, this statement arising out of what not including the Sinking-fund, is is generally designated by the 51,800,0001. The Sinking-fund, name of the “dead-weight.” I applicable to the debt, during the admit, that the dead-weight is open to the vice of obscuring and of The question to be decided was, complicating the national accounts. whether the deficiency of about But, in respect to this particular 2,000,0001., was to be provided for account, it has not only not open by any extraordinary course, or rated badly, but, in fact, has whether it would be expedient to proved of very considerable advan- take credit for the amount in the tage to the country. The contri- present year on the consolidated butions, during the last four years, fund, and wait until it should be from the commissioners of naval and seen in the next session, what meamilitary pensions, have amounted sures of a more decisive character to 7,600,0002. When this mean should be adopted. The mode of sure of the dead-weight was first making up the deficiency which introduced, taxes to the amount of suggested itself to him, was by two millions annually were re
an addition to the amount of Expealed. Before, therefore, it can chequer-bills already afloat. At be assumed, with any degree of the present moment, the 1001. fairness, that the addition of this Exchequer-bill was bought at a 7,600,000l. has a tendency to give premium of 50s., it bearing only an exaggerated appearance to the three per cent interest. The whole statement of the national income, amount of Exchequer bills afloat we ought to consider what would was 23,800,000l. That amount have been the produce, during the would be increased (supposing the same time, of those taxes which whole of the present deficiency to were repealed, because this sys- continue at the end of the year, tem of contribution-and only be and the revenue to go on at the cause this system of contribution- same rate at which it had gone on was established. Those taxes, if for the last four months) to no more they had continued unrepealed than 26,700,000. Of this amount (which, by hypothesis, would have of Exchequer-bills, one-fifth was been the case, inasmuch as the totally different from the remaintemptation to the House to sanc- ing four-fifths, being issued in retion that scheme of contribution spect of sums advanced by governwas the enabling it to arrive at the ment for carrying on several public repeal of such taxes) would have yielded 8,240,000l. So far, there years) is extravagant enough ; but it is fore, from the amount of the pub- still more extravagant to suppose, as lic income being unfairly swollen
Mr. Canning does, that a loan is conby the introduction of this dead- repeal taxes. The question is—Whether
verted into income, if it induces us to weight, it shews a total of the amount of the national income is 640,000l. less than it would other- fairly represented in certain accounts ? wise have amounted to, by reason
Those accounts state as income money of the dead-weight having been unthrifty of all modes of borrowing.
borrowed, and borrowed in the most substituted in the place of those Money borrowed is not income, but the repealed taxes. *
contrary of income ; neither can re
pealed taxes constitute income. WheTo include as income 7,600,0001. iher it is prudent to borrow in order to of borrowed money (borrowed, too, un- obtain present relief from taxation, is a luckily on the most mischievous terms, fair question ; and this question Mr. that of being repaid by a deferred an- Canning confounded with a mere quesnuity, thus throwing the whole burthen tion of fact, as to the amount of the both of principal and interest on future national income.
vorks, and which were now due. efforts to the matter, and to call These represented, not a loan to the House into council on the government, but so much advanced subject. The resolutions proposed on public works, loans, and other by Mr. Canning were assented to securities, which might be made without opposition. available at any time. This re- As is usual in the first session duced the whole sum to 5,000,000l. of a new parliament, the reports less than the amount he had stated. of the election committees disclosed As to the supply and ways and more than one sceneof gross bribery, means, the amount already voted or badly-managed treating. Colo
nel Maberley brought the conduct For the Army
.£8,194,000 of the corporation of NorthampNavy.....
6,125,000 ton at the general election before Ordnance
1,649,000 the House by a motion. The Miscellaneous
case which he stated was this. Interest on Exchequer bills.. 650,000
On the dissolution of parliament, In addition to this, Mr. Canning the corporation, or at least a mastated he would have in a short jority of its members, had come to time to call for a vote of credit for a determination to support any 500,0001. for the contingencies of ministerial candidate who would our troops in Portugal, making a stand, and to share with him in total of 18,893,0001. The ways bearing the expenses of his elec and means were-Surplus of ways tion. Accordingly, at a meeting and means, 800,8001., naval and held for the purpose, they had military pensions, 4,150,0001. ; passed a vote, dissented from by debt from the East India company, only two members, who had petipartly for naval and military pen- tioned the House, granting 1,0001. sions, and partly for naval expenses of the corporation funds toward during the late war, 100,000l. ; the expenses of such an election. duties
on sugar and personal estates, This, Mr. Maberley argued, was 300,000l. ; proposed grant from the such an abuse of the corporation consolidated fund, 11,600,000l.; funds as demanded the interference besides the 500,0001. of Exche of the House. There was quer bills. The supply of this remedy, either at law or in equity. year exceeded that of last year by In the case of the mayor of Col. 800,0001. This difference was chester, the court of King's-bench caused by the army extraordinaries had decided that it had no jurisand the vote of credit rendered ne- diction to command restitution of cessary in consequence of the af- property so misapplied, or to profairs of Portugal. He was far ceed criminally against the parties from saying that to reduce the ex- accused of the misapplication; and penditure to the scale of last had told the complainers to go year was all which the House had into Chancery, where they would a right to demand, or that the go- find a remedy. But when the vernment proposed to do. He in- complainers did go
into the tended to bring that expenditure equity court, the lord Chancellor to the lowest possible scale, con- told them, that no redress could sistently with the public service; be obtained there. Sir Samuel Cand it was the determination of Romilly, likewise, had given his
government to apply their best opinion, that there was no remedy
in Chancery for a case of this na- Mr. Abercromby, lord Althorp, and ture. There being thus no other lord John Russell, supported themomode of redress for so flagrant a tion, principally on the ground that wrong, it fell under the jurisdic- there was far more in the case than tion of the House of Commons. the mere misapplication of certain He moved, therefore, “that a se
The purpose to which lect committee be appointed to these funds had been misapplied take into consideration the petition was a thousand times more importpresented to this House, complain- ant, and directly affected the priing of the conduct of the corpora- vileges and constitution of the tion of Northampton.” The At- House of Commons. Therefore it torney-general (sir C. Wetherell) was that the case was a fitting one to replied, that, if the case were beinvestigated by a committee. The really as it had been stated, and freedom of election, and the purity if the corporation had been guilty of parliament, were at stake. If of a breach of trust, then colonel one corporation might so act, so Maberley's law was
erroneous, might all corporations ; and, for there was an undoubted re- throughout England, it would be medy in the court of Chancery. impossible for individuals to strugThe dictum of sir Samuel Romilly gle against the wealth of corporawhich had been referred to had tions so applied. The House not been given on a cool consider- would degrade itself, if it sancation of the case ; it was not of that tioned the Attorney-general's going calm and deliberate kind which before any court, whether of law the House ought to act upon; and or of equity, to obtain the decision the Colchester case had been alto- of that court on the propriety or gether misunderstood. The lord power of the House to interfere in Chancellor had not there decided, cases of this nature.
If the case that he had no jurisdiction in such which had been stated against the cases; he had merely said, that, incorporation of Northampton were taking into view all the circum- a true one, it would be the duty of stances of that particular case, he the House, in the first instance, to could not determine that he had a take its own measures in regard to right to interfere; and the great so rank a job, and then to order point in that case was, that the the Attorney-general to assert in claim against the corporation had the courts the rights of that chabeen referred to, and fully dis- rity from which the funds excussed before an arbitrator, with pended had been diverted. the understanding that the parties Mr. Peel was not prepared to should abide by his judgment. If accede to the proposition, that every the corporation of Northampton application of corporation funds to had been guilty of a breach of other than corporation purposes, trust in misapplying its funds, it a misapplication of these would be compelled to refund by funds. If this were law, what filing an information in Chancery, was to be said of the corporation which was generally done by the of London which had lately voted Attorney-general — the ordinary 1,000l. to the Greeks? However and legal mode of obtaining re- proper or improper that grant dress in such cases.
might be in itself, it certainly could Mr. Spring Rice, Mr.H.Gurney, not be vindicated as a grant for