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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

Financial Reform Almanack For 1887. — Preface

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Financial Reform Almanack For 1887.


Since the last Financial Reform Almanack was completed, two General Elections have taken place, the political results of which (compared on pp. 28 to 38) will be found a leading feature of this Twenty-third issue.

The House of Commons returned in June, 1886, has been carefully analyzed (on pages 18 to 27), whilst its short-lived predecessor—elected too late for inclusion in last Almanack—was amply dealt with in our supplement of February last.

With the main political issue of the past year this publication does not interfere, having many warm friends and supporters upon both sides of the great question pending in Ireland, and being principally concerned only with such aspects thereof as affect Taxation and Expenditure.

A recent declaration of Mr. Gladstone to the effect that his influence must, for the remainder of his days, be confined to securing self-government for Ireland deprives us of a hope, long entertained, that this great statesman—the son of Liverpool—would with his own hand crown that Free Trade edifice of which his noble talents and unique opportunities long combined to promote the erection. In what direction then must we look for a successor to the enlightened exchequer traditions of 1860 to 1866? for trade is still fettered, and Direct Taxation—declared by Mr. Gladstone in 1859 to be a question between the rich man and the poor man—only very partially achieved. The Financial Reform Association, whilst prepared to accept from any Government extensions of that beneficent principle for which it has thirty years been educating the public mind, cannot expect anything from the party at present in office. Are not the Cabinet leaders the very politicians who in 1885 ousted Mr. Childers for attempting to rectify the Death Duties: the very men that asked an increase of the Tea Tax? Are not some of them the revilers of Cobden and Bright: the exponents of a Reciprocity Craze not yet exorcised? Should the Government prove sincere and successful in its attempts to reduce expenditure (as we cordially hope) it is pretty certain that the masses will not receive boons in proportion to the classes. On this point of Expenditure three considerations may be urged upon Parliament, viz:—
1.That no really large reduction can be made in the National Armaments until public opinion is strongly roused in that direction: and sufficiently so to overbear the spending interests.
2.That opinion cannot be adequately aroused whilst taxation is dishonestly wrapped up and hidden in order to conceal from the working class the injustice of the quota demanded from them: not to mention the wasteful method of its extraction.
3.That the co-operation of the Landed and Governing few will never be heartily secured for Economy of Administration until, by some replacement of their constitutional liabilities, this class is made to feel more acutely the pressure of National Expenditure.

For a description of those liabilities the reader is referred to pages 183-200 of this book, where is reprinted a legal argument, of much power and precision, obtained in 1842 by the Anti-Corn-Law League, and having the most important bearing upon questions of Taxation and Land Tenure.

Our Statistical matter has been enlarged and revised, though the late publication of the Irish Land Commission Report and Mr. G. W. Balfour's "Taxes and Imposts" Return (formerly Mr. Slagg's) compels us to omit two leading features of importance.

By the deaths of Mr. Samuel Morley, Mr. Francis Boult, and Mr. Hugh Mason, we have lost this year three most consistent and earnest supporters of this publication. The likeness of Mr. Boult, reproduced on our present cover, will serve to remind many of this leading promoter of our Association, whose services to its Committee—rendered daily ever since the inception of our movement—leave us under no ordinary debt of gratitude.

We again insert (pp. 41-2) the tables of new Electoral Anomalies compiled by Mr. J. R. Carter, F.S.S., and are indebted to the same gentleman for a companion table (on page 38), showing at a glance the Poll results of the 1886 Election. The statistics of Local Taxation will be found largely amplified, the dates concerning various questions considerably added to, and several new tables of importance introduced. Not a few matters prepared with considerable labour, have had to be excluded for lack of space, and should there be discovered in this work those occasional errors of detail (insepar-able from publications of its class) the Editor esteems it a kindness on the part of the reader to have them pointed out.