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London by land (London down to 1824 paid as much as 7s. 6d. a ton); 1825 the abolition of the salt excise, which had always been a burden on the poor consumer and now in addition was a handicap on the manufacture of soda for bleaching purposes. Other of the remissions were in the interest of the revenue itself, being intended to repress smuggling and illicit manufacture. Thus in 1823 Robinson reduced the duties on Irish and Scotch spirits with such success that two years later the revenue from them was greater than before. In 1825 he reduced that on English spirits, finding it impossible to prevent smuggling across the Scotch Border and the Irish Channel, when the rates of duty were widely different. Incidentally, the sale of whiskey, now the chief drink of Scotland, was legalised in England, where it had hitherto been illegal to sell it until it had been rectified into gin. In 1826 he reduced the tobacco duty from 4s. to 3s. per pound as the result of a 'strange mischance' in the Customs Consolidation Act of 1825, but he found the reduction so effective in bringing illicit tobacco under duty that he continued it.

The remaining remissions were pursuant to the trade policy of which Huskisson, as President of the Board of Trade, had charge. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was only interested in them to the extent that they involved loss of revenue; and as Great Britain supplied from her own factories nearly the whole of her industrial consumption and excluded foreign manufacture by prohibitions or prohibitive duties, it was only on raw or semifinished materials that the loss was important. Huskisson made a clean sweep of prohibitions and prohibitive duties, substituting moderately protective rates and setting 30 % as the upper limit beyond which protection would be thwarted by smuggling. Silks, hitherto protected by prohibition, were allowed the full 30%; linens, threatened with the loss of their old bounty, 20% woollens 15%; cottons, the strongest of the textiles, 10%, which was no more than an offset to the duty on raw cotton. To strengthen the manufacturer against foreign competition the duties on many raw materials of the textile and metal industries were lowered. In line with these reductions on imports, the remaining export prohibitions and bounties on export were withdrawn. The Corn Law of 1814 had made the export of corn free at all times and abolished the corn bounty. Huskisson applied the principle elsewhere. In 1824 he repealed the law against the emigration of artisans (5 Geo. IV, c. 97) and in wool he substituted for prohibition of export an export duty of Id. a lb. (5 Geo. IV, c. 47). He would have liked to repeal the prohibition on the export of machinery, but considering the great alarm which pervaded the manufacturing districts on this

subject,' 1 he had to be content with authorisations under licence from the Board of Trade. He abolished the bounty on exported silks, reduced those on Irish linens and the herring and whale fisheries, earmarking them for destruction later.

All these changes in the import and export tariff were effected in 1824-5; and in 1825, with the assistance of J. Deacon Hume, the head of the Customs Department, he crowned the work of tariff revision by a codification of the Customs. A thousand and more separate Customs Acts were repealed, and the statutes which remained were codified under eight heads: (1) Management of Customs, (2) General Regulations, (3) Smuggling, (4) Navigation Law, (5) Registration of British Vessels, (6) The actual duties in the Tariff, (7) Warehousing, (8) Bounties and Allowances. The consolidated tariff which came into effect in January 1826 was a single tariff for the whole United Kingdom. For though Great Britain and Ireland were united politically in 1800, their public revenues were not united till 1816, and they had different Customs duties until 1823. But in that year they were equalised as a prelude to the inclusion of Ireland in the British tariff scheme.

Section 7. Summary

Huskisson prepared the way for Peel, as Peel for Gladstone. Free trade, like factory reform, was accomplished by stages. Huskisson's work touched every phase of fiscal policy, national and imperial, agricultural, commercial and industrial, and he combined a mastery of economic facts with a genius for lucid exposition of economic principles. He failed when he met the stone wall of agricultural protectionism, but he carried the commercial and industrial community over an initial nervousness into confident progress along the new way. He liked a fight, a chase after the smuggler or a breeze with America when America in his judgment was arrogant. He desired the British merchant marine to be supreme, but he declined to take the shadow for the substance. Therefore he dismantled the ancient framework of the Navigation Laws and erected in the gaps a structure of reciprocity which would carry British shipping into foreign harbours. He brought order and simplicity into the administration of the Customs, and killed fiscal prohibitions. But in one thing he stood almost alone. He had a vision of empire which his Tory friends could not understand and to which his Whig opponents were cold. Like his intellectual master, Adam Smith, he was a liberal imperialist.

1 Speeches, II. 425.


PEEL, 1788-1850

Section 1. Peel's Career. Section 2. Reform of the
Section 3. Tariff Reductions and the Income Tax.
Laws (1828-1846) and the Anti-Corn Law League.
plicity of Economic Problems in the Forties.

Section 1. Peel's Career

Excise by the Whigs.
Section 4. The Corn
Section 5. The Multi-

SIR ROBERT PEEL, the son of a wealthy cotton manufacturer, educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, carried Great Britain safely through a period of acute social stress. Haughty and reserved by nature, he spent himself in the public service, giving to duty what he denied to enthusiasm. Like Huskisson, he was for ever learning-in his study, in the committee room, in his office, in the House. Though he compelled his party to be the instrument of a great popular reform, he did not court the popularity of the crowd, nor did he make supporters and rally: waverers by the gift of honours. In the five years of his great ministry (1841-6) he recommended the creation of five peerages only, all for pre-eminent public service, and he did not make a single baronet. He had a middle-class mind in the sense that he sought always to steer a middle way and to see eye to eye with the reasonable business man, but there was not in him a trace of mediocrity. Moderate at all times, he was a strong man in a crisis. He might have spared himself party hatred and the charge of inconsistency by resigning rather than repeal the Corn Laws; but believing that repeal was necessary to the public safety and knowing that he alone could carry it, he declined this easy way of escape. The Duke of Wellington, who knew a man when he saw one, stood by him; and so did Queen Victoria. Once she had loved the Whigs and mistrusted Peel, but when it was a choice of Peel or Lord John Russell in December 1845, she wrote to Peel, 'Whatever should be the cause of these differences (sc. in the Cabinet), the Queen feels certain that Sir Robert Peel will not leave her at a moment of such difficulty, and when a crisis is impending.' 1

The prestige with which Peel entered office in 1841 was well earned. At the age of 24 he became Chief Secretary for Ireland, and for six years, 1812-18, handled that turbulent country with the firmness of Mr. Balfour in 1887-91. To restore order he established the Royal Irish Constabulary, which were therefore

1 C. S. Parker, Sir Robert Peel, III. 239.


named Peelers' or 'Bobbies'; but his final judgment on Ireland was that 'mere force, however necessary the application of it, will do nothing as a permanent remedy for the social evils of Ireland.' From 1818 to 1822 he was a private member of Parliament, and as plain Mr. Peel (for his father did not die till 1830) he presided over the Committee which recommended the Resumption of Cash Payments. The Act of Resumption was therefore sometimes called Peel's Act. As Home Secretary, 1823-7 and again 1828-30, he took part in the reform of the criminal law and gave to London the Roberts of which it is so justly proud. 'I have been again busy all the morning about my police. I think it is going on very well, the men look very smart and a strong contrast to the old watchmen.' 2

Thus Peel to his wife, October 10, 1829. But in this period of his life there was one action of ill-omen to agricultural protection. After leading the opposition to Catholic Emancipation, he changed face and carried it in 1829, believing that this alone would save Ireland from rebellion.

In the thirties he was in opposition, slowly rebuilding the discredited Tory party. In 1834, when the Sovereign for the last time dismissed a Government with a majority in the House of Commons, Peel took office and retired a few months later, in Lord Rosebery's words, the foremost statesman of the country.' For he showed consummate skill in the difficult situation of a minister in a minority and introduced measures of religious enfranchisement and tithe reform which the Whigs carried on returning to office. He might have come back in 1839 but for a disagreement with the young Queen over the appointment of Ladies to the Bedchamber, but two more years of Whig rule strengthened his position by exposing the essential barrenness of Whig finance. Not daring to reimpose the income tax, Sir F. T. Baring in 1840 crudely added 5% to all articles in the Customs and Excise, but the revenue showed little resilience and the deficits in the budget continued.

Peel became Prime Minister in 1841 at the head of a united party and a cabinet of exceptional strength. In it, in addition to himself, were five premiers, past or future: Wellington, Goderich (Prosperity Robinson'), Stanley (Lord Derby), Aberdeen and Gladstone. At the Home Office was his friend and economic ally, Sir James Graham, once a Whig.

1 C. S. Parker, op. cit. III. 65. Peel to Graham, Oct. 19, 1843.
2 Geo. Peel, Private Letters of Sir Robert Peel, p. 117.

Section 2. Reform of the Excise by the Whigs

Between 1830 and 1841, when the Tories were out of office, the tariff remissions were nominal, but useful changes were made in the Department of the Excise and in the method of keeping the public accounts. In securing these the leading spirit was/ Sir Henry Parnell, once the champion of agricultural Ireland and now a free trader and financial reformer. In his treatise on Financial Reform' (1829) he showed that there were three interconnecting roads to that goal-increased consumption (to be obtained by repealing all duties on the raw materials of manufacture and that part of the duty on luxuries which was excessive) retrenchment: and an income tax. In 1832 he was appointed one of three Commissioners of Inquiry into the Excise, and the twenty reports published by them between 1832 and 1836 reinforced with a mass of detail the strictures of his earlier treatise. In 1836 he was made Paymaster-General, a new office created with a view to the better control and co-ordination of expenditure, and, holding that office to his death in 1842, he introduced changes in administration which on committee or commission he had previously recommended.

As we have seen (pp. 29 and 36), Walpole and Pitt relied as much as possible on the Excise Department for the collection of duties on imported goods which were easily smuggled-tea, wine, spirits and tobacco. The Department had also its proper work of collecting the excise duty on beer, spirits and certain other articles. The combined tasks necessitated a great army of excisemen and irksome restrictions on traders. At the head of the army were the Collectors, fifty-five in all in 1835; under them the County Supervisors; under them the Ride Officers for country districts, the Footwalk Officers for towns, the Special London Officers for London. Every dealer in an excisable article had to take out a licence for it and to enter every sale in books provided by the Department. No articles subject to excise could be removed, except in very small quantities, from one place to another without a written permit. Once a month the office took an account of the stock of every retailer. By 1832-6, the years of the Excise Inquiry, the time was ripe for relaxation. For the building of docks with bonded warehouses, the patrolling of the coast line by an efficient peace-time Navy, and the general stabilisation of the country through the commercial reforms of the 20's had diminished both the opportunity and the desire to smuggle. Moreover, certain of the surveys were now unnecessary. For the wine duty was removed altogether from the Excise in 1825 and the tea duty in 1833. And the beer tax was

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