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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

44.—The Tax an equivalent for the abolished Revenue from Tenures

44.—The Tax an equivalent for the abolished Revenue from Tenures.

This conclusion is further supported by the probability that this land tax was intended as some adequate compensation for the withdrawal of the feudal profits from the service of the State. In which case, as the feudal profits, from the very nature of them, were growing profits, it could never have been intended to substitute a scale of compensation based on stationary, not growing profits, the effect of which would be to substitute a nominal in the place of a real compensation.

The assessment of a fixed rate on the true yearly value of real and personal estate at this time, without fixing a limit to the amount in any one year to be raised therefrom, would certainly appear to have had reference to the establishment of a new and permanent annual revenue from land and other property, as a compensation for the exemptions which had been made by the 12 Car. II. c. 24, without any equitable equivalent having been granted; and the more especially as a land tax has been granted annually from 1689-90 to the present time. The six monthly assessments granted at the commencement of the reign of William and Mary t were evidently granted as an extraordinary aid on account of the then exigencies of the country; but the property tax of 4s. in the pound was undoubtedly a reimposition of the peace establishment assessment, which had been levied in the latter years of the Commonwealth, in lieu of knight service, and the other feudal incidents, which had been abolished. We have no means of ascertaining the rate in the pound at which the various land and property tax assessments were levied in England and Ireland during the Commonwealth, but as the official valuation on which the quota for Scotland was levied has been preserved, we can speak with certainty on that point. The valuation of Scotland is considered by Sir John Sinclair and other inquirers to have been fairly and bonâ fide made at the time, according to the true annual value. The land rental was returned at £317,018, and as the Royal Burghs were rated at one sixth, the rateable value of property would be £369,851. Thus the maximum assessment of £12,000 a month for 12 months was equal to 38 per cent.; and as £6,000 a month, or £72,000 a year, or 19 per cent., was the ordinary peace establishment contribution from Scotland, it follows that, allowing for the expense of collection, at least 40 and 20 per cent, or 8s. and 4s. in the pound had been levied under the respective circumstances. From this it would appear that 4s. in the pound was considered the minimum commutation in lieu of the exemption from the performance of the feudal conditions on which the land had been held. And considerable as that may now appear, it is undoubtedly trifling to the benefit conferred on landholders for the relief from so many onerous and vexatious obligations.

(l) Sect. 4; but sect. 3 in the Record Commissioners' edition of the Statutes.

(m) Sect. 8; but sect. 5 in the Record Comm, edition of the Statutes. In the common printed editions of the Statutes this is the only one of the land tax acts of which more than the title is printed, a circumstance which favours the common notion that it forms the basis of the present land tax.