The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12
Land Tax. — Speech in Parliament (Hansard.)
Speech in Parliament (Hansard.)
Mr. Woods.—Mr. Speaker, I beg to move:—
"That in the opinion of this House—
"1. All land, whether alienated or still in the possession of the Crown, should bear a fair proportion of public taxation.
"2. That a direct tax should be imposed on all alienated lands, such tax to be progressive, increasing by one unit of taxation per acre for every 1000 acres owned by any individual.
"3. That land to the extent of 640 acres, in the possession of one individual, be exempted from general taxation and subject only to local rating.
"4. That 3d. per acre be recognised as one unit of taxation."
I have, in addressing myself to this question, to ask, at the outset, the indulgence of honourable members, because I am suffering somewhat severely from a sore throat. I will, however, endeavour, in view of the importance of my subject, to make myself heard as well as possible. I may observe, in the first place, that proposals for the taxation of the public lands of the colony have been made to Parliament on two previous occasions only. The first was in 1859, when I proposed the imposition of a uniform tax of 6d. per acre upon all the alienated uncultivated lands of the colony; and the second was when, in 1864, one of the present representatives of Richmond (Mr. Smith) proposed a resolution of a somewhat similar character. In both instances the motions were withdrawn, so that up to this moment Parliament has never had an opportunity of recording its opinion upon this most important political question. Taking the subject as it stands—as one affecting the taxation of land, and to that extent altering the basis of our social interests in respect to taxation—with all page 7 its train of consequences, I think it is impossible not to regard it as of such prominent importance that it ought to be in the first, rank of the political topics with which the country has to deal at general elections. I may here state that perhaps I appeared guilty of inconsistency in respect to the present motion, of which I had previously given notice, when I voted against the proposal of the honourable and learned member for East Bourke Boroughs, that the alienation of Crown lands by sale should forthwith cease, and that they should in future be only let on lease. My action in that regard will, however, admit of a very simple explanation. The honourable and learned member's propositions included the disposal of the leases of land by auction, and I cannot support the auction system in any way in connection with the disposal of Crown lands. You may adopt the system of drawing lots for land, or exercise the right of choice, in fact, anything but the auction system, which is infinitely worse than any of them. For that reason I did not support the motion of the honourable and learned member, but I hope the day is not far distant when the question which he raised will be tested on a fairer basis, and perhaps with a different result. I was surprised during the debate on the third reading of the Land Bill to hear it stated that land was to be regarded as chattel property. The idea appears to me to be one that cannot be seriously entertained for a moment. I deny that any man has a chattel property in land. In the same debate the honourable member for the Wimmera compared the earnings of a professional man with the investment of another man in land, and told us that, if one was made the subject of taxation, the other was equally entitled to become so. But the two cases are not parallel. The chattel property of an individual is something wholly different from the property which a man has in land, and which is defined by his title-deeds. The whole question hinges on this point—Has the State the right or the power to sell the lands of the country as chattel property is sold? Have the people the power to authorise the State to do so? I say "No." The people have not the power to authorise the State to alienate the public territory for ever, and therefore the people's mouthpiece—the Government—cannot exercise a power which does not belong to those they represent. Authoritatively we are told—"Ye shall not sell the land for ever; for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." The assumption that there is any power on earth to sell land for ever, unconditionally, is a monstrous absurdity on the face of it. It is, for instance, within our common every-day knowledge that private lands, no matter to whom they belong, may be taken up for railways, or canals, or any other public purpose. But there is no occasion for me to look for evidence on this point. It is sufficient for all purposes to adduce the page 8 simple fact that the State does not, and cannot, utterly alienate the land of the territory, and, that being the case, the notion of chattel property in land must at once cease. It cannot be entertained in reason, because the land belongs to the people, and the Government can do no more than that which is within the power of the people collectively. The existing generation have, for instance, a simple life interest in the land. Were the case other than what I represent it to be, the Government might sell Hobson's Bay with a sufficient landing frontage to the Emperor of Russia. The Government, in dealing with every acre of land, are supposed to be doing so in the interest of—whom? The individual purchaser? No; in the interests of the whole community. Whenever that is not the case, whenever the land is put by the Government beyond the reach of all those whose right and title to it in the first instance equal the right and title of any one else, it is at least supposed to be so disposed of in the interests of all. Unless such is the case, that Government cannot represent the people. I was under the impression, until I heard the arguments used in connection with the Land Bill, that the idea of a divine right in anything, from an acre to a kingdom, was confined to the Bourbon family; but it seems I was wrong. There are some who appear to conceive of a sort of divine right to acres; for as no human power can confer such a title, nothing short of a divine right would meet the case. Governments deal with land and dispose of the exclusive right to occupy land in the interest of the whole community. Where this is not the case, where class or individual interest has been held paramount to the public welfare, then, to that extent, the manner of dealing with the lands by the Government is equally vicious in principle with the sale of our harbour to an enemy, and, as far as it goes, equally open to modification.
Mr. Smith.—Mr. Speaker, the sufferings of the honourable member for Crowlands, in speaking, are so obvious that I beg to call your attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present.
A quorum was formed.
Mr. Woods.—I could not do better at this point than, in order to fully express my meaning, quote from the writings of John Stuart Mill. In an essay written for the Land Tenure Reform Association, one of the last things he ever wrote, occurs the following passage:—
"Rights of property are of several kinds. There is the property which a person has in things that he himself has made. There is property in what one has received as a recompense for making something for somebody else, or for doing any service to somebody else, among which services must be reckoned that of lending to him what one has made or honestly come by. There is property in what has been freely given to one, during life or at death, page 9 by the person who made it, or honestly came by it, whatever may have been the nature of the gift, personal affection, or because one had some just claim on him, or because he thought he would use it well, or as he would wish it to be used. All these are rights to things which are the produce of labour; and they all resolve themselves into the right of every person to do as he pleases with his own labour, and with the produce or earnings of his labour, either by applying them to his own use, or exchanging them for other things, or bestowing them upon other persons at his! own choice.
"But there is another kind of property which does not come under any of these descriptions, nor depend upon this principle. This is the ownership which persons are allowed to exercise over things not made by themselves, nor made at all. Such is property in land; including in that term what is under the surface as well as what is upon it. This kind of property, if legitimate, must rest on some other justification than the right of the labourer to what he has created by his labour. The land is not of man's creation; and for a person to appropriate to himself a mere gift of nature, not made to him in particular, but which belonged as much to all others until he took possession of it, is prima facie an injustice to all the rest."
If landed property is to be regarded as property in the same sense as chattel property, then the declaration of the French political economist, quoted the other evening by the honourable and learned member for East Bourke Boroughs, that "property is robbery," is true to the letter. Property in land is something totally different from property in the produce of one's labour—in that which a man can build up or destroy. Houses and ships, for instance, are property. I can pull down the one and burn the other; the land remains for ever. As I said before, landed property is something that a man can only have a life interest in. One of the objects of the resolutions that I propose is to burst up the large estates in this country. I do not seek to deny or disguise that fact in the least. The taxation I propose comes easy to estates of moderate dimensions, but increases in proportion as the estate increases. I will give a few of the results in figures. Take an estate of 1000 acres, for instance, and deducting the 640 acres which I do not propose to tax at all; the taxation of 3d. per acre on the residue amounts to an average of about 1d. per acre only upon the whole. On the other hand, following the progressive system laid down in the resolutions, the average taxation per acre upon an estate of 50,000 acres would be 6s. 4½d. per acre all round. I reckon that about 7,000,000 acres would be subject to taxation, and that the sum derivable under present circumstances from that source would be £251,300 per annum, half of which I propose should go to the local bodies, page 10 whom I would call upon to collect the whole. I have said that my object is to burst up the large estates in the country, and why? Because of the tendency to national degradation that always follows in the wake of a system which has for its basis the distribution of the territory into a few hands. Wherever we look, we see that is the rule. If I look to England or France, or in fact to any country in the world where the land has been held by a few individuals, I find that the general mass of the people have been debased and degraded. Like causes produce like results, the world over. Individual rapacity is accompanied by national degradation, and the wild outbursts of revenge which have reddened the pages of history have followed national degradation as an inevitable sequence. Take France, for example. Before the revolution of 1798 Franco had been groaning for centuries under a despotic or rather a tyrannical Government—the tyranny of kings, priests, and nobles. The people of that country were reduced to a condition more to be pitied than a toad under a harrow. That was the result of a policy on the part of the dominant class which may be summed up in one very significant sentence which has been used by the wealthy, and which will be used by all those who oppose a land tax, with every variation which the vocabulary of selfishness can suggest. In the language of a late member of the Legislative Council, we shall be asked—"Do you think we are going to tax ourselves?" To show the miserable state to which the people of France were brought by that policy, I will quote one sentence from La Bruyere, who, writing in 1687, said:—
"One sees certain wild animals, both male and female, scattered about the country, grimy, livid, and roasted by the sun, bent over the soil which they scratch and dig up with invincible persistence; and when they stand upright, they display a human face, for in truth they are men and women. At night they retire to their dens, where they feed on black bread, water, and roots."
This is exactly what the system we are pursuing here did for France. It is exactly what it did for Ireland, though not precisely the same in results. No doubt we can take pretty good care of ourselves here; but I think it is the duty of this colony to set an example to older countries in reference to land taxation. We have already led the way in several social and political reforms, but this is one of the greatest of all social and political reforms. This proposal to tax the land in proportion to the quantity held by any one individual is a proposal which lies at the basis of a new political party, between whom and other political parties opposed to a land tax no compromise will be possible. It lies at the bottom of the very principle which we have been asserting in the whole of page 11 our land legislation. What have we said in our land legislation, from the time the first Land Bill was introduced into Parliament? We have said to the individual—"We think you can only manage 320 acres (or whatever the quantity might be) efficiently and beneficially to the State, and therefore we will not let you have any more." It is this principle which has been running through the whole of our land legislation from its commencement to the present time. Beginning with the quarter of an acre held under a miner's right, the system expanded, after a great deal of trouble, into the occupation licences, and thence through various stages up to the present proposal of 640 acres? What is the meaning of that? The meaning of it is simply limitation of areas and conditions of holding, just what is meant by the resolutions which I have submitted. These resolutions make no distinction of persons. They don't pick out a man because he is poor, and say—"You shall only have so much land;" but they say to every man—"If you acquire more than a certain quantity of land, you must contribute an increased proportion to the public taxation." Such restrictions have been rendered necessary by the organised, systematic, and, I may add, scientific fraud that has taken place in connection with the land legislation of the colony. The ingenuity of Governments and of members of this House has been taxed to the utmost in order to invent methods of doing what? Of assisting the honest man? No; but of repressing the rogue; and I am very sorry to say that, notwithstanding all our attempts to prevent evasions of the law—notwithstanding the fact that we have hemmed in and hedged round the selection of land with restrictions of a grave and penal character—frauds are still committed wholesale. In fact, the colony has men possessed of money who are prepared to descend to any depth of meanness and turpitude in order to monopolise that which belongs as much to me as it does to the best man amongst them. This has been the case in England and in France—especially in France. But what has occurred recently? For the first time in the history of England we find that the English farm labourer has become a member of a trade society for his own protection. The landlords hare always had the making of the laws, and I think I am correct in saying that the beginning, middle, and end of every landlord-made enactment in this colony, in England, or anywhere else, is—"Do you think we are going to tax ourselves?" I know that cry will be repeated here with all the variations imaginable, probably not so much in this House; but it certainly will be in the other, where there will be the greatest possible unanimity in kicking out these or any kindred resolutions, if submitted in any other form than that of a Money Bill. I repeat that it is a fallacy to suppose that any human being can have a chattel property in page 12 land. This is beginning to be understood in England, where trade societies have recently been formed for the first time amongst the farm labouring population, and no one can tell where the movement will end. In England about five per cent, are rendered disgustingly rich, and as disgustingly callous to the wants and necessities of their fellow-creatures. A few more may not inappropriately be called "candle-holders to the devil"—pickers of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. About eighty per cent. of the population, whose fate it is to live on or by the land in England, are—not in one generation alone, but from age to age—in a condition that it would be a gross libel to describe as being one remove from pauperism. A statement recently made by the honourable and learned member for East Bourke Boroughs as to the increase of pauperism in England was challenged at the time, but I am in a position to deal with the case, although I do not wish to do so now. I could show, from a speech made in the House of Commons by Mr. Goschen, and from a report presented to the Imperial Parliament, that, notwithstanding anything which may be said to the contrary, pauperism in England is steadily on the increase.
Mr. Burtt.—In spite of emigration.
Mr. Woods.—I was going to allude to that fact. "When we talk about pauperism in England, we forget that during the last twenty or thirty years the population of America has more than doubled itself; and where have those millions gone from? Were it not for the safety-valve of emigration there would be a revolution in England in a month; and yet we in this colony are slavishly and foolishly following the policy of England with reference to the land. I may just allude to Ireland to show the result of the land being under the sole control of one dominant class. There is no necessity to go to France to see the effects of that system. In Ireland alone, during the space of twenty years, 70,000 human beings were thrust out of their homes, "roofless and shivering," to perish by the wayside; and within our own time—during the last sixteen or seventeen years—the evicted of Donegal were reduced to an attempt to maintain life on seaweed. The same causes are at work here; but we have become so accustomed to gigantic frauds, to swindles, and to organised hypocrisies to get hold of the land, that we take little or no notice of them. We are doing the colony an injury by the way in which we are allowing the present state of things to continue. Fortunately the means of remedying it has not yet gone out of our hands. The chains are not riveted to our wrists with anything like the tightness that they are on those of older and bigger communities. I trust that by a good and united effort we may be able to shake them off altogether. But page 13 still we are going on the track of older nations; we are building up for ourselves a kind of—save the mark—aristocracy! A sort of pinchbeck, brummagem aristocracy, without either birth, education, or intelligence. I am sorry to have to refer so pointedly to these owners of large estates, but really matters are coming to a point, and the truth must be spoken. We are endeavouring to encourage the existence of members of this kind of pinchbeck aristocracy amongst us, who will be the curse of this colony as their set have been the curse of every country wherever they have put their foot. I must say, however, that with the amount of freedom of thought, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression that there is now abroad, there is very little chance of their getting too great a footing here; but I think the time has come when we ought to make an effort in the right direction. That effort is to say to the proprietors of large estates:—"We don't want to tax your land at 5s. 6d., 7s., or 8s. an acre; we know it is too much; we will be very well content to take a very much smaller amount of taxation, but you must be content with a much smaller quantity of land. We are putting on this tax not simply for revenue, but from a clear and deliberate policy, which has been expressed in every Land Act we have passed, that no man can effectively manage more than a certain quantity of land, and therefore we are determined either to have revenue from your large estate, or that it shall be cut up and support population." This free thought—this free way of handling sacred matters—is no doubt very inconvenient, especially to the owners of pieces of parchment. Those sacred documents, held more sacred at any rate by us than the five books of Hoses or the records of Christianity, I mean the title-deeds of property, are just now being subjected to a closeness of scrutiny and to a keenness of criticism, at which the great barons of a past generation would have stood aghast in speechless indignation. Depend upon it that, both in the old world and everywhere where landlordism is rampant, it will come to the question whether the individual human being or the piece of parchment is the greater title of the two. That is the object and will be the effect of these resolutions. Two or three objections have been raised to Parliament either refusing to sell land—to grant any title to the land—or, what is tantamount to precisely the same thing, using the power which it retains to tax land, it may be for State purposes, or it may be with the avowed object I have mentioned, namely, that of bursting up unwieldy estates which are not managed for the benefit of the whole people. The honourable member for Collingwood (Mr. Vale) contended that if the sale of land in fee-simple were abolished we should put an end to that spirit of industry, energy, and enterprise which characterises the free selectors of the colony, who, I may say parenthetically, possess what would be the wealth page 14 of any country, namely, brains and muscle. Another objection was, that if the sale of land by the State is discontinued, the value of that already alienated will be increased threefold. I ask honourable members to test these theories by the light of facts. Has this possession of the Crown grant—this proud title of proprietorship—brought to the surface all the great social virtues of industry, energy, and enterprise in proportion to the quantity of land held by the individual? If it has, we have nothing more to expect—and though it might still be necessary and advisable to put a tax on land for revenue purposes, the tax ought not to have the penalty attached to it that my proposal involves, which is to make large estates too hot for the fingers of the owners to hold them. If the land is yielding its proper increase, we have no right to interfere with it in the way of breaking up large estates. But what are the facts? Mining is an occupation which requires a great deal of capital, as well as vigour and energy for its development. Upon what tenure is mining land held? I will refer, for example, to the district of Stawell, with which I am perhaps most familiar. In Stawell alone on an area smaller, I believe, than the smallest sheep station in the colony, large sums of money are invested. The property occupied by various mining companies at Stawell on an area of about 1000 or 1200 acres is valued at £20,000,000. That property is held on a title very far removed from an absolute possession; but what is going on there shows that it does not require a Crown grant in order to encourage industry and enterprise. In the search for gold the Ballarat men have sunk one shaft 1300 feet. This certainly looks like enterprise. Another company, the North Cross Reef Company, are taking 1000 tons of stone per week from workings varying from 600 to 000 feet from the surface. They are in a hurry to get it all out before their lease expires; to this end they have employed the best artisans that they could engage for money, and the most cunningly contrived machinery. They, however, have only a lease for fifteen years. This development, this enterprise, and the employment of labour and capital, are the result of the desire to get out the gold before the tenure expires; and these facts disprove the statement of the honourable member for Collingwood, that a Crown grant is necessary in order to bring forth the great social virtues to which he referred. I deny that any Crown grant, or any other instrument, even if it be signed by fifty kings, can alienate an inch of land in the way alluded to by the honourable member for St. Kilda (Mr. Smith) the other night. Let us contrast what is taking place on the twenty acres of land occupied by the North Cross Reef Company with the use to which say any 20,000 acres of the land belonging to Mr. W.J. T. Clarke are put, and which form only a very small portion of that gentleman's estate. What page 15 does he do with the 20,000 acres? Does he cultivate them? Does the land under his management yield its increase? Are the people of the colony any better or any richer because he has obtained the Crown grant in return for the £1 per acre, or whatever the price may have been, which he paid for the land in the auction room? Has the possession of the Crown grant in his case brought out any of the noble qualities which it is supposed to encourage? The very reverse is the case. A wilderness when he walked into possession, it is a wilderness still. He is allowed to consider that it is a chattel property, that he may do with it what-ever he likes—feed sheep or grow thistles upon it. But the Legislature has a right to say to him:—"This land shall be turned to profitable use; if not, you shall pay so much an acre in proportion to the quantity of land you hold, and, if you do not choose to do that, we will seize the land in satisfaction." I will simply content myself at present by moving the first of the resolutions of which I have given notice, omitting from it all direct reference to Crown lands, so that the resolution will read as follows:—
"That, in the opinion of this House, all land should bear a fair proportion of taxation."
In connection with the question of alienated land bearing a proportion of public taxation, I cannot do better than refer to the example of other countries, although it is not an example which we must follow. For instance, in England, as I have already said, the landlords have made the laws, and they have made them to suit themselves. They have invariably acted on the principle—"Do you think we are going to tax ourselves?" What is the result? I will quote an extract from a speech delivered by Mr. Goschen in the House of Commons on the 28th of February, 1871:—
"I think that if the honourable baronet will look to foreign countries, or examine the history of his own, he will find that at no time has it been held that the taxes upon land are the same as upon other kinds of property. Many countries in Europe derive their chief taxation from the land, and it is thereby burthened with a weight of taxation quite unknown in this country. Now, putting land and houses together, what do they contribute towards taxation in this country? In England they contribute 10½ per cent.; in France, 29 per cent.; in Prussia, 15 per cent.; in Holland, 22 per cent.; in Belgium, 37 per cent.; in Austria, 26 per cent.; in Hungary, 38 per cent. . . . . . . I wish next to ask the House how much they think that land, exclusive of houses, pays towards Imperial taxation in the United Kingdom, as regards both amount and percentage? With respect to amount, land by itself pays only £3,000,000 out of £65,000,000 of taxation, and the percentage is 5½ per cent.page 16
"An Honourable Member.—Land and buildings.
"Mr. Goschen.—These figures apply to land as separate from houses, and are taken from the schedules of the income tax . . . . .I will now state the percentages paid by land only towards the total amount raised by Imperial taxation. The amount paid by land alone in England is 5½ per cent. in Holland 9 per cent., in Austria 17½ per cent., in France 18½ per cent., in Belgium 20½ per cent., in Hungary 32½ per cent. These facts prove that, as regards Imperial taxation, land in England is in an infinitely better position than land in any other European state."
There is small doubt of it. As I said before, the landlords have had the making of the laws, and they have taken very good care to act on the principle—"Do you think we are going to tax ourselves?" Mr. Goschen also quotes what has been said by Mr. John Stuart Mill in reference to taxes on land to the following effect:—
"In most countries of Europe the right to tax, as exigency might require, an indefinite portion of the rent of land has never been allowed to slumber. In several parts of the Continent the land tax forms a large proportion of the public revenues, and has always been confessedly liable to be raised or lowered without reference to other taxes. In England the land tax has not been varied since the early part of last century." It is admitted by all political writers to be a perfectly proper thing that taxes on land should be increased if necessary for State purposes—that is, from a revenue point of view; and that, after all, is a justification for the adoption of my resolutions. It is, however, not only from a revenue point of view that we are entitled to get at the large estates. In considering the question of taxation, we should remember that we have been living rather fast lately—we have been spending a great deal of money. We have raised loan upon loan, and incurred debt upon debt. If we go on much longer in the way we have been doing lately, the robe of Victoria, like the caricature of the coat of the Shah on his return to Persia, will be covered with pawn tickets. What have we to show for our debts? The chances are that our public works, if sold tomorrow, would not realise one-fourth of what they cost, because the majority of them were constructed in the dear times, and could be carried out now for one-fourth of the money. With this fact before us, and remembering also that the day is not far distant when the whole of our present revenue will be swallowed up in special appropriations, without leaving a shilling for Parliament to deal with in any national emergency, unless we raise new taxes or loans, the adoption of a system of land taxation becomes necessary not only for the purpose page 17 of bursting up the large estates—those huge land monopolies—but also from a revenue point of view. It should be borne in mind also that the loans which the colony has raised have been expended in improving the value of the alienated land, while that land has contributed nothing towards the repayment of the interest or principal of the loans. The primary object of these resolutions is that the land shall be put to a proper use; but we have another justification for land taxation in the fact that we are using more money than any community in the world of equal number is using, and that our wants are increasing, which involves the necessity of making wider and fresh provision for supplying those wants. A proposal for land taxation is, at all events, a feasible proposal. It is acknowledged by all authorities that land is a proper object of taxation. I admit that my proposal is an experiment, but I think this is the fairest field on the face of the earth for such an experiment. The systematic and scientific frauds by which vast areas of land have been obtained are matters which must be fresh in the recollections of honourable members and of the whole people of the country. It has been stated by the honourable member for Ripon, and the statement stands uncontradicted up to present moment, that 2,000,000 acres of land have been obtained by fraud. With these facts before us, I think there is very good reason for the adoption of such resolutions as I have brought forward. It is my intention to go to a division on each resolution separately, so that all honourable members may support the proposals as far as they are inclined to do. I presume that there will be a good deal of unanimity about the first resolution. I don't suppose that any honourable member will deny the truth of the proposition that "all land should bear a fair proportion of public taxation;" but when we come to deal with what I call the bursting-up resolutions, will be the time to test the real feeling of honourable members as to land taxation. My experience shows me that it is a difficult thing to break into the strongholds of either individual or class selfishness. The efforts at reform which have been made both in this colony and other countries have convinced me that the leaders of the forlorn hope invariably come to grief, but the citadel is won. The land reformers in this colony of 1859 and 1860 are a notable example of this. Politically speaking, their bodies simply served to fill the trenches; others have walked to honour and to victory over them. Every Government which has existed for more than six months since 1859 and 1860, when from the corner of the House in which I now sit liberal land legislation was preached under the leadership of Wilson Gray, has been built on the foundation of those who left their bodies in the trenches, and who constituted the forlorn hope at that time. The bread cast upon the waters in 1859 and 1860 is page 18 seen to-day, and will unquestionably be seen for many days to come. My second resolution declares:—
"That a direct tax should be imposed on all alienated lands, such tax to be progressive, increasing by one unit of taxation per acre for every 1000 acres owned by any individual."
Of course the quantity may be more or less than 1000 acres, but that is exactly the quantity to which I would apply one unit of taxation. The third resolution says:—
"That land to the extent of 640 acres, in the possession of one individual, be exempted from general taxation, and subject only to local taxation."
When I come to deal with this resolution, I will endeavour to show that I propose to commence taxation exactly where Sir James M'Culloch, in 1871, left off. Sir James M'Culloch commenced his tax with the poor, and tapered it off to nothing as it came to the wealthy. I propose exactly the reverse—namely, to commence the heaviest taxation at the top, and gradually come down to nothing where the income does not exceed say £300 a year. I, in fact, propose a taxation of land as distinguished from the proposal of Sir James M'Culloch, which was for a tax upon industry. I will show what amount of taxation estates, of different areas, would have to contribute annually to the State under the system I propose:—1000 acres, at 3d. per acre, is £12 10s.; 2000 acres, at 6d. per acre, £25; 3000 acres, at 9d. per acre, £37 10s.; 4000 acres, at 1s. per acre, £50; 5000 acres, at 1s. 3d. per acre, £62 10s.; 6000 acres, at 1s. 6d. per acre, £75;7000 acres, at 1s. 9d. per acre, .£87 10s.; 8000 acres, at 2s. per acre, £100; 9000 acres, at 2s. 3d. per acre, £112 10s.; 10,000 acres, at 2s. 6d. per acre, £125. These figures being added amount to £679 10s., or 1s. 4 1/3d. per acre average, always omitting £8 as the amount exemptd on 640 acres in the first 1000 acres. I propose, however, that 640 acres of the land in possession of any individual shall be subject only to local taxation; so that the amount of general taxation which the owner of 10,000 acres would have to contribute would be on an average Is. 4¼d. per acre for that quantity. I think that is dealing very mildly with the proprietor of such a large estate.
Mr. Smith.—The honourable member for Crowlands (Mr. Woods) is suffering so much from sore throat, that it is evidently extremely painful for him to proceed. I will, therefore, with his permission, move that the debate be adjourned until Tuesday next.
Mr. Woods.I am entirely in the hands of the House. I can only speak with great difficulty, and I thank honourable members for having listened to me so patiently, when it must have been as painful for them to listen as it is for me to address the House.