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without being at the trouble to attend for having his bonds cancelled, or for taking out debentures for the drawbacks; all which, I conceive, must be a great ease to the fair trader; and to every such trader the preventing of frauds must be a great advantage ; because it will put all the tobacco traders in Britain upon the same footing: which is but just and equal, and what ought certainly to be accomplished, if it be possible.
Now, in order to make this ease effectual to the fair trader, and to contribute to his advantage, by preventing as much as possible any frauds in time to come, I propose, as I have said, to join the Laws of Excise to those of the Customs, and to leave the one penny, or rather three farthings per pound, called the farther subsidy, to be still charged at the Custom-house, upon the importation of any tobacco; which three farthings shall be payable to his Majesty's Civil List as heretofore : and I propose, that all tobacco for the future, after being weighed at the Custom-house, and charged with the said three farthings per pound, fhall be lodged in a warehouse or warehouses, to be appointed by the Commisfioners of Excise for that purpose; of which warehouse the Merchant importer shall have one lock and key, and the warehouse-keeper to be appointed by the said Commissioners shall have another; in order that the tobacco may lie fafe in that warehouse, till the Merchant finds a market for it, either for exportation or for home-consumption ; thus, if his market be for exportation, he may apply to his warehouse-keeper, and take out as much for that purpose as he has occasion for; which, when weighed at the Custom-house, shall be discharged of three farthings per pound, with which it was charged upon importation; so that the Merchant may then export it without any further trouble : but if his market be for home-consumption, that he shall then pay the three farthings charged upon it at the Custom-house upon importation; and that then, upon calling his warehouse-keeper, he may deliver it to the buyer, on paying an inland-duty of 4 d. per pound weight, to the proper officer appointed to receive the same.
And And whereas all the penalties and forfeitures to become due, by the laws now in being, for regulating the collecting of the dụties on tobacco, or at least all that part of them which is not given to the informers, now belonging to the Crown; I propose that all such penalties and forfeitures, so far as they formerly belonged to the Crown, shall for the future belong to the public, and be applicable to the fame uses to which the faid duties shall be made applicable by Parliament: and for that purpose, I have his Majesty's commands to acquaint this House, that he, out of his great regard for the public good, with pleasure consents that they shall be so applied: which is a condescension in his Majesty, that I hope every Gentleman in this House is fully fenfible of, and will fully acknowledge.
I know there has been an objection made ; I expect to hear it again made in this House, against what I now propose. The objection is this ; that a great many of his Majesty's subjects will be liable to be tried in a multitude of cases, by the Commissioners of Excise, from whom there is no appeal, but to Commissioners of Appeal, or to Justices of the Peace in the country, áll named by the King, and removeable at pleasure ; from whom the appellants cannot expect to meet with justice or redress.' I am far from thinking there is any ground for this complaint; I am far from thinking that any man ever had just reason to say that he was wronged, or unjustly dealt with, either by the Commissioners of Appeal, or by the Justices of Peace at their quarter-feffions: but, in order to obviate any objection of this nature, I propose that all appeals in this case, as well as in all other cases relating to the Excise, shall for the future be heard and determined by two or three of the Judges, to be ramed by his Majesty, out of the twelve Judges belonging to Westminster-hall; and that in the country, all appeals, from the first sentence of his Majesty's Justices of Peace, shall be to the Judge of Asize upon the next circuit which shall come into that county; who shall in all cases proceed to hear and determine such appeals in the most summary way, without
formality of proceedings in courts of law or equity. From such Judges, and from such a manner of proceeding, every man must expect to meet with the utmost dispatch, and with the most impartial justice: and therefore I must think, that what I now propofe can be no inconvenience to those, who may thereby be subjected to the Laws of Excise ; but that if there was formerly any ground of complaint, it may be a great relief to those who are already subjected to such laws.
This is the scheme which has been represented in such a dreadful and terrible light: this is the monster, that manyheaded monster, which was to devour the people, and to commit such ravages over the whole nation : how justly it has been represented in such a light, I shall leave to this Comınittee, and to the whole world without doors to judge; I have said, I will say it again, that whatever apprehensions and terrors people may have been brought under, from falfe and malicious repre. fentations of what they neither did nor could possibly know or understand, I am firmly persuaded, when they do come to know and fully to understand the scheme which I have now had the honour to open to you, they will view it in another light; and that if it has the good fortune to be approved of by Parliament, and comes to take effect, the people will soon feel the happy consequences thereof; and when they feel those good effects, they will no longer think those people their friends who . have fo grosly imposed on their understanding.
I look upon it as a most innocent scheme; I am convinced it can be hurtful to none but smugglers and unfair traders ; I am certain it will be of great benefit and advantage to the pub. lic revenue; and if I had thought otherwise of it, I never would have ventured to have proposed it in this place : therefore I fall now beg leave to move that it may be resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the subsidy and additional duty upon tobacco, of the British Plantations, granted by an Act of the 12th of King Charles IId, and the impoft thereon, granted by an Act of the first of King James IId,
and also the one-third fubsidy thereon, granted by an Act of the second of Queen Anne, amounting in the whole to 5 d. per pound, for several terms of years in the said respective Acts mentioned, and which have since been continued and made perpetual, subject to redemption by Parliament, shall from and after the 24th day of June, 1733, cease and determine.
Sir Robert Walpole, March 14, 1733.
. When I first heard of this scheme I was in the country, and there I must say, that it had been represented in such a light, as created a general dislike to it, and raised great apprehensions in the minds of most people. It was represented as a ; fcheme for introducing a general Excise ; such a scheme I own I would not allow myself to think was contrived or approved of by any Gentleman in Administration. I did imagine that all those in the Administration were very well convinced, that a general Excise was what the People of England #ould never quietly submit to; and therefore did not believe, that any of them ever would countenance a scheme which had the least tendency that way. But now after having heard it opened, and fully explained by the Honourable Gentleman (Sir Robert Walpole) on the floor, I cannot but think that it is a wide step towards establishing a general Excise, and therefore I must be excused affenting to it.
How far it relates to trade, with which it certainly has a very close connection, I thall leave to be explained by others more conversant in those affairs ; nor will I take upon me to say how far it may be a remedy for the frauds mentioned hy the Honourable Gentleman; but there is another concern which I always Mall, while I have the honour to fit in this House, have a particular eye to, and that is, the Liberty of my Country. The danger with which this scheme feems to threaten many of my fellow-fubje&ts, is alone of fufficient force to make me give my negative to the Question. Let Gentlemen but reflect, let them But cast their eyes back on the several laws that have been made
since the Revolution, they will there finid, that there has been already more power vested in the Crown, than may be thought altogether consistent with the Constitution of a free Country; and therefore I hope this House will never think of adding to that power, which there may be some ground to suspect is already too far extended.
The Laws of Excise have always been looked upon as most grievous to the subject. All those already subjected to such Laws, are, in my opinion, so far deprived of their Liberty ; and since by this scheme, a great many more of his Majesty's faithful subjects are to be subjected to those arbitrary Laws, let the advantages accruing to the public be ever so great or many, they will be purchased at too dear a rate, if they are purchased at the expence of the Liberty of the meanest of his Majesty's subjects; for even the meanest man in the nation, has as natural and good a right to his Liberty, as the greatest man in this, or any other kingdom.
Let us but take a view of the neighbouring nations in Europe ; they were all once free ; the people of every one of them had once as many Liberties and Privileges to boast of as we have now; but at present they are most of them reduced to a state of Slavery; they have no Liberty, rio Property, no Law, nor any thing they can depend on. Let us examine their histories, let us enquire into the methods by which they are deprived of their Liberties, and we shall find a very near resemblance to the schemes now proposed to us. Alnost in every country in the world, the Liberties of the People have been destroyed, under pretence of preserving or rescuing the People from some great evil, to which it was pretended they were exposed. This is the very case now before us; in order to enable the Crown to prevent fome little frauds, pretended to have been committed in the ancient method of collecting the public revenue, it is proposed to us to put such a power in the hands of the Crown, as may enable fome future Prince to ensave the whole nation. This is really the light in which this VOL. I.