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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

The Inhabited House Duty

The Inhabited House Duty.

In the Almanack for 1876, and previous years, five pages were devoted to a compilation from Mr. Locke King's Return No. 384 of Session 1872, giving an "Account of the Number of Dwellings assessed to the House Duty in each County, Division of a County, City, Borough, and Parliamentary District of Great Britain, the Kates of Assessment, and the Amount paid in each in the year ending April 5th, 1871," to which were added the entire number of Dwelling Houses, inhabited and uninhabited, assessed and unassessed, and building according to the Census of 1871. For these five pages there was substituted in the Almanack for 1877 the following Summary:—

Houses Assessed At £20 p. an. Between £20 and £30. Between £30 and £50. Between £50 and £100. Between £100 and £150. Between £150 ant £200. Between £200 and £250. Between £250 and £300. £300 and up. Total No. Assessed. Amount of Duty. £ Total No. of Inhabited Houses. No. of Houses. Uninhabited. Building. England 85,299 188,762 240,373 150,103 37,500 12,548 6,729 3,268 8,950 733,532 1,114,896 4,311,564 247,677 35,664 Wales 3,137 3,952 5,385 2,755 462 83 39 27 33 15,863 20,055 245,745 13,665 1,639 Scotland 4,180 14,258 15,351 9,653 2,385 549 180 55 134 47,057 76,808 419,365 23,381 2,108 Totals, Great Britain 92,922 206,972 261,109 162,511 40,347 13,180 6,954 3,350 9,117 796,452 £1,211,759 4,976,674 284,723 39,411 Ireland (Exempt)

A Parliamentary Return of 1883 enables us to compare the figures with those of the last Census, and with the assessments of 1882.

Number of Houses Assessed. Number not Assessed.
England and Wales 1,037,070 4,059,262
Scotland 74,316 719,254
Totals for 1882 1,111,386 4,778,516

Among the exemptions are 16,740 charity premises, 17,990 places used solely for business purposes, and 4,375,280 houses below the £20 limit of assesment. Of the houses below the £20 limit in 1882, it is important to note that 3,124,115 were even below a £10 limit.

In Ireland there were, by the Census of 1881 some 914,108 inhabited houses; but the following Statistics show that 40,665 of these were single rooms built of mud, a description of inhabited house that we certainly do not consider a fitting vehicle of taxation:—
4th Class (i.e., mud cabins of one room) 40,665
3rd Class (mud houses with 2 to 4 rooms and windows) 384,475
2nd Class (farmhouses or town houses, with 5 to 9 rooms) 422,241
1st Class (houses of a better description) 66,727,
Total 914,108

Such facts shew the room there is, and the necessity, for a thorough revision of the House Duty, preparatory to a proper system of Taxation. At present the duty is evaded in many thousands of instances by fixing the rental just below the £20 limit; assessments in numberless instances are defective, and not seldom grossly collusive. In the great towns there is many a single building assessed at a higher figure than a dozen or score of palatial country mansions. Duke, Baron, or Squire has his steward or his bailiff, and his tenants on the Board of Guardians, or other rating authority, and all are naturally anxious to "make things pleasant" for their superiors.

page 170
Customs. Excise. Income Tax. Stamps. Other Taxes. Totals.

Duties and Taxes-Repealed or Reduced, Imposed or Increased—from 1840 to 1885 Inclusive.

The effect of these Tariff Reforms may be gathered from the following pages of this Almanack, viz.:—
  • Page 175.—Where may be seen the growth of Rent in the assessments to Schedule A of the Income and Property Tax, as well as the growth of Profits in Schedules C and D.
  • Page 117.—Where are recorded the figures of Food Consumption per head of the population. This table, telling of the gradual incoming of plenty to the once-starved labourer, is perhaps the most eloquent within our covers.
  • Page 104.—Where the reader may see the reduction of Crime by 63 per cent., though population has increased by nine millions.
  • Pages 101—102.—Where the reduction of Pauperism is strikingly set forth.
  • Page 159.—Where the figures of Wheat and Flour Importation since Corn Law Repeal are recorded.
  • Page 171.—Where the same particulars are given for all kinds of Food Imports.
  • Pages 158-9.—Where the effect of Abolished Duties on Trade and Shipping is shown to be marvellous.
  • Pages 157-8.—Where another result of free trade is seen to be an enormous expansion of the staple manufactures and trades of the country—Cotton, Wool. Coal, and Iron.
  • Page 122.—Where from the Clearing House Returns some notion may be gathered of the vastness of our National Monetary transactions.

And finally in the following record of national prosperity such as no other country in the world has ever been able to show:—

Imports. Exports. Exports. Imports and Exports Proportion per head of Population U.K. British Produce Proportion per head of Population U.K Foreign and Colonial Produce. British. Foreign, and Colonial Produce. Proportion per head of Population U.K. Years. Total Value. Total Value. Total Value.

Real Value of Imports & Exports of Merchandise (Exclusive of Bullion & Specie) from 1854 to 1885.

page 171
1840. 1883. 1884. 1885. Animals living, viz.—Oxen, Quantity. Value. £ Number and Quantity. Value. £ Number and Quantity. Value. £ Number and Quantity. Value. £

Food Imported in 1840 and in 1883, 1884, and 1885.

Sir Stafford Northcote's Return, No. 469 of Session 1863, from which the figures of 1840 are taken, includes pigs amongst the things prohibited in that year; but these interesting creatures are not mentioned, either in the Finance Accounts or the Statistical Abstract. All the articles above enumerated were duty free in 1870, excepting Cocoa, Coffee, Currants, Raisins, Sugar, and Tea. Sugar was liberated in 1874, and the sooner the other five articles are set free the better it will be for the country, and the nearer we shall be to real Freedom of Trade.