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An Act (5 & 6 Vict. Cap. 35) for granting - [INCOME TAX] - 1842. [3241295]
London: printed by George E. Eyre and Andrew Spottiswoode. 1842. 8vo., 283 + (1)pp., original cloth lettered in black on upper cover, the cloth faded, spine browned, else a fine copy with the early ownership signature of Craufurd of Craufurdland> in Ayrshire. 'In 1842, then, Peel was addressing himself through the fiscal system to the health of the economy and to the morale of the nation as a whole. He resolved to redistribute the tax burden by reducing duties upon articles of mass consumption and reintroducing the income tax which had been abolished after a back-bench revolt in 1815. Reducing duties would help to get the nation back to work and take the momentum out of the Chartist movement. Peel did not recognize the political aspirations of the Chartists, and (unlike his father) he would never himself propose statutory restrictions upon the hours of labour. But he understood hunger, and he wanted thoughts of ‘seditionÂ’ to be forgotten ‘in consequence of greater command over the necessaries and minor luxuries of lifeÂ’ (Hansard 3, 87.1048). Imposing a peacetime income tax would demonstrate that the British state was an equitable one, in which burdens were placed (despite the warnings of political economists who identified income as the source of savings and the route to capital formation) upon those best able to bear them. These measures had to be sold to a party which was still solidly protectionist. Accordingly, in 1842, grain was singled out for separate treatment and dealt with first, and on 9 February Peel announced a thorough revision of the sliding scale of 1828—to make it more defensible. Then, on 11 March, when he introduced the budget—which he did himself (the complaisant Goulburn stepping aside)—he began by making much of the deficit. Having worked up a sense of urgency he explored and rejected alternative remedies (lower expenditure, increased duties, and the ‘wretched expedientÂ’ of borrowing). Finally he came to his own plan. An income tax of 7d. in the pound on incomes over £150 p.a. was to be imposed for three years. This would turn the deficit into a surplus. With that surplus Peel proposed to undertake ‘a complete review, on general principles, of all the articles of the tariffÂ’. No duty should ever again be prohibitive. Imports were to be categorized (the word ‘consolidatedÂ’ was not mentioned but might not have been out of place) into raw materials, semi-finished articles, and manufactured products, which were not to pay more than 5 per cent, 12 per cent, and 20 per cent respectively. Duties were reduced on 750 out of the 1200 articles in the tariff (Hansard 3, 61.422–76). It was Peel's finest hour; the crisis of the century was met by the fiscal reform of all the centuries. The budget brought the resignation of the duke of Buckingham, and Peel recalled that ‘these changes Â… were not effected without great murmuring and some open opposition to the Government on the part of many of its supportersÂ’ (Memoirs, 2.100–01). But in fact it was a wonderfully ambiguous measure. He had rationalized the tariff: he had taken a step towards free trade. He could still move in either direction.' [John Prest in ODNB].
      [Bookseller: John Drury Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2017-04-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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