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It is the distinguishing feature of the excise tain the duty accruing due on the different system, that any sum once charged as duty in a goods manufactured, and to collect the amount ; “ voucher,” must be either discharged by a and of the establishment in Edinburgh, to ex. magistrate's warrant, or satisfactorily accounted amine and control the proceedings of the district for; and it is from this document, therefore, officers, and ultimately to make out the general that the collectors in the first instance, and ulti-account of the commissioners. mately the commissioners of excise, are placed in charge.
RECEIPTS AND PAYMENTS. At the time of making up this voucher, an The points under this head, to which we abstract of it is framed and forwarded to the col. deem it necessary to call your Lordships' atlector, and this officer proceeds twice in each tention, are, quarter to the different market-towns to collect Ist. The period at which the excise vouchers the money.
| are made up, and the duties consequently If any trader omits to bring the sum due from charged and received in the different districts. him, the magistrates are applied to, and the 2d. The oaths required from certain traders, amount, if not paid, is ultimately levied by after these vouchers are framed. distress.
| 3d. The system of receiving and checking The collector sends to Edinburgh every week the license duties, the annual duties, and the an account of his receipts and payments, and a hereditary revenue. general account every six or seven weeks, at the 4th. The system of paying, checking, and close of each period or “round."
bringing to account, the excise drawbacks, and From this statement it will be apparent to the bills drawn on account of the army and your Lordships, that it is the business of the navy. excise officers in the several districts to ascer. I
Excise Vouchers. The period to which the excise vouchers were made up, in the different districts in Scotland, originally stood as follows ; viz.
First period or “round,” from 6 July to 24 August.
25 August ... 5 October.
23 November. Fourth ditto
4 January. Fifth ditto
5 January ... 22 February
23 February ... 5 April.
5 July. During our stay in Edinburgh, these dates were altered, with reference to the quarter days in England, as follows:First round from 6 July
6 January ... 22 February Sixth ditto
23 February ... 5 April. Seventh ditto ... 6 April
24 May. Eighth ditto ... 25 May
5 July It appears to us very desirable that the period be extended a day or two, to charge those goods at which the excise duties are to be charged, and with duty; or if, on the contrary, the officer be the accounts made up, should be the same disposed to favour the trader, the round may throughout the United Kingdom; at present, in be shortened, and the goods brought into the England it is altogether undefined, and the ensuing account, to the delay of the crown's district officers, in consequence, have it in their duties. The exercise of this objectionable dis. power to increase or diminish the number of cretion will cease, if the day for closing each days in the different periods or “rounds." It round be settled; and we recommend for that follows, that if a trader has nearly finished a purpose the following division of the year, as on considerable quantity of goods, the round may the whole the most convenient ; viz. First period from 6 January to 19 February .... /
22 August ......?
We think also it would tend to a more efficient
License Duties. check over the collector and other officers, if the The license duties are the only portion of the "Fouchers," when made up at these dates re-excise revenue the collection of which is not spectively, were sent to the board as soon as checked from a voucher previously made up; at examined by the supervisor, instead of remain present, this document is frained after the money ing, as at present, in the custody of the officers has been received, and does not therefore, as in until the collector arrives.
every other case, form an effectual check on the Immediately connected with this subject, is proceedings of the collectors. This very objecthe period allowed to elapse after the close of tionable departure from the excise system has each “round," before the collector of excise no doubt arisen from the state of the law, which proceeds to receive the duties. This is at does not require from the excise traders any present uncertain, and special directions are previous notice of their intention to discontinue therefore annually necessary for the guidance of a license : the receipt of the duty in consequence every collector in this respect.
becomes uncertain, and it has not therefore been We think it advisable, as well with a view to considered desirable to form a charge voucher. supersede the necessity of these directions, as In our opinion, it is of great importance that to enable the traders to ascertain with more every excise trader, who does not propose to precision on what day the collectors will require renew his annual license, should give some them to satisfy the crown's demand, that a notice to the excise officers, as well to enable certain time should be fixed at which the dif-them to make inquiry whether the parties really ferent excise collectors in the United Kingdom intend to relinquish business, as to frame a nay commence their receipts, and on inquiry voucher by which the collection of the duties we are satisfied, that if ten days be allowed to may be checked. If a notice of this description expire after the close of each round, and the were imperatively required, it would become the collectors be required to proceed on the Monday duty of the excise officer to send to the board a next afterwards, it will on the whole be satis- regular voucher, containing the names and sum factory to the excise traders, and convenient to to be paid as license duty by those traders the officers of the revenue.
whose licenses are about to expire, and by those
additional traders who required licenses. The Oaths.
voucher thus formed would enable the officers It will form a part of our inquiry into the at Edinburgh, as well as the several collectors, English department, to ascertain whether the to ascertain with precision what ought to be reentry of the quantity of goods manufactured, ceived; and at the same time the different DOW required on oath, from different excise traders would be brought into charge for the traders, after the vouchers are framed, may not duty in a way that would tend very much to be dispensed with, and precautionary regulations prevent fraud or evasion. After sending the substituted ; a substitution, where practicable, voucher, it should be the duty of the excise always to be desired in the collection of the public officer to fill up the proper form of a license from revenue : in the mean time, however, the number the license book, to remain in his custody; the of oaths taken by the following traders may with license so prepared to be checked by the superconsiderable convenience to the officers, and visor, as in other duties, and the collector to do without risk to the revenue, be immediately di- nothing more than receive the money at the minished one-half, by directing them to be admi. proper period, and sign his name to each license nistered only at the expiration of each quarter as an acknowledgment of his having done so. (at which period the books of the officers are The license duties will thus be, closed, and returned to the head office), instead Charged by the officer, of once in each round, as at present : viz.
Checked by the supervisor, and Brick and tile-makers.
Received by the collector, in the same manner Calico printers.
as all other excise duties. Candle-makers.
The notice to be given by a trader of his inDistillers.
tention to discontinue a license ought not to be Glass-makers.
less than a month; and its omission should Paper-makers.
subject the party to the full year's duty (a me- stainers.
morandum to this effect being printed on the Soap-makers.
license), unless that omission be accounted for Stone bottle-inakers.
to the satisfaction of the board of excise. Tanners.
Individuals requiring a new license should Wire-drawers.
be compelled to give a similar notice, and should We cannot but hope, if the revenue at present be in like manner subject to the duty; being at derive any security from these oaths, that liberty, if they desired it, to commence business security will be increased by a regulation, which, immediately, and have their license dated on the reducing the number so considerably, cannot but day of their notice. have a tendency to increase the respect due to There is another point connected with this this solemn obligation.
duty, to which it is also desirable attention
should be directed. Under the existing law, by 1 Curriers,
Tobacco manufacturers, There is a second class of licenses, less nu Vinegar-makers, merous, which expire on a given day; a regu. On the 1st of December in each year. lation obviously more convenient. It appears, If any one of the above traders should require however, that if at any time after that day a a license at an intermediate period, we recomelicense is demanded, the trader is compelled to mend that he be allowed to have it, paying the pay a whole year's duty, a proceeding certainly duty for each month unexpired at the time the not founded in justice, and, when the amount application is made, unless where the first year's is considerable, having the effect, either of pre- license duty is inconsiderable ; in that case the venting that trader from commencing business at reduction of duty is unnecessary. the most convenient period, or of placing him in It will give facility to this mode of charging an unfavourable situation, when compared with and collecting the license duties, if the form those individuals who are enabled to trade the of the license be in every case the same, changwhole year with the same license.
ing only the description of the trade, and the The licenses for retailing spirits, wine, and amount of the duty paid ; and as its object is sweets, form an exception to both these rules, similar in each case, we think this may be done they expire on the 10th October; and if after without objection, by the adoption of the form. the 5th April in any year a license be demanded, I (Appendix, No. 26.) the party is only required to pay duty in proportion to the time unexpired.
Annual Duties. It was our intention to have suggested, with When the legislature, by the act 38 Geo. III. a view to remedy these evils, and render the c. 60, thought fit to make the land-tax per. system uniform, that all excise licenses should manent, with a view to its redemption, it was expire on a certain day; and that traders requir- deemed expedient, that a certain portion of the ing a license at any intermediate period should duties on malt, sugar, tobacco, and snuff should have one to that day, and pay a duty in pro- be continued for one year only, and their grant portion. It has been stated, however, that if be submitted from thenceforth annually to par. all licenses were to be renewed on the same liament. day, it would occasion a great accumulation These annual duties have since that period of business to the excise officers; and to re- been altered, and when the portion of thetn quire the tax from traders of all descriptions charged on malt was finally repealed by the act at the same time, might render its payment of 3 Geo. IV. c. 18, the additional duties of less convenient.
excise on brandy, spirits, and sweets or made A division of the year, therefore, into at least wines, originally granted during the war, were two periods, for the purpose of granting these substituted. licenses, appears to us desirable ; and as the The division into annual and permanent magistrates in Scotland grant their licenses to duties has been carried so far in the excise publicans in the month of May, and the excise department, that the two are received and aflicenses to these individuals depend altogether terwards dealt with in every district, as separate on the magistrates' license, we propose that the and distinct duties, requiring separate calelicenses for selling
lations and accounts. This proceeding is very Beer and ale,
inconvenient, and does not appear to us by any Wine,
means necessary. If the district officers lave to Spirits and tobacco,
collect a permanent duty of 38. and an annual which are very numerous, should be granted on duty of 1s. per pound on tobacco, one amouant, the 1st of June; and the remainder, viz. at the rate of 48. per pound, is sufficient for Auctioneers,
every practical purpose. The accountants in Brewers,
Edinburgh may without any difficulty make the Calico printers,
division, and certify to the Exchequer was Chandlers,
portion of the amount arises from the annual
and what from the permanent duty. If, there- | merchant should give a notice at the nearest ex. fore, it be necessary to continue to grant these cise office; an officer is then directed to attend, duties annually, the separation in the districts whose business it is to see that the goods menshould at least be discontinued ; it appears to tioned in the notice are packed, and to grant a us, however, that the circumstances under which certificate of the quantity; this certificate is they were originally declared annual, have so far either sent to the shipping officer at the port ceased as to render their consolidation with the from whence the goods are to be exported, or it other excise duties without objection ; and as is given to the trader, to be by himn produced to this measure will tend not only to simplify and the shipping officer; the exporter is required improve the excise accounts, but those of the | also to give a written notice of the day the goods Exchequer and the annual finance accounts are to be shipped, and previous to the shipment presented to parliament, we cannot hesitate to to make oath that the duties have been duly recommend it for adoption.
paid. In pursuance of the notice so given, an
excise officer attends and takes an account HEREDITARY REVENUE.
of the goods, and causes an entry to be made In our Eleventh Report we have explained of the quantity, and of the drawback due, the circumstances under which that portion of in a book, called an “ Export Leger.” At the the revenue of customs, which in Scotland is expiration of a month after the ship has sailed, reserved for the separate use of his majesty, a document, denominated a “Debenture," is and also a portion of the fines and seizures, are prepared from this entry, and is delivered to the paid annually for the use of his majesty's civil exporting merchant, on his making oath that list in that part of the United Kingdom ; and the goods have been exported, and that no part we have recommended, as well with a view to of them has been re-landed; this debenture is the simplification of the accounts of the Scotch payable in cash, provided the collector of excise, customs, as to render certain the amount to be to whom it is produced, has sufficient money in paid by one department, and to be received by his hands ; if not, he certifies that he has not the other, that, as in England, a fixed sum money, and it is paid in Edinburgh. should be paid every year to the civil list, in lieu Our first objection to this practice is, that as of and as an equivalent for the present payments. the collectors of excise do not in general receive
The reasoning in that Report applies in a the duty on excisable articles until seven or great degree to the hereditary revenue of excise eight weeks, and sometimes until a longer period in Scotland. The inconvenience arising from after their manufacture, it frequently happens, the special appropriation of his majesty's share | that when the foreign demand is extensive, mer. of fines and seizures also, is as great in the ex chants find it desirable to export the goods be. cise as in the customs; and we feel justified, fore the duties are in point of fact paid, though therefore, in recommending the same course in the necessary account has been taken by the of. the two departments.
ficers, and the traders legally placed in charge. On an inspection of the accounts, (Appendix, It is obvious, that under these circumstances, No. 19,) we think the annual sum of £38,000 the merchant has only an option between subwill be a fair average of the excise receipts un- mitting to the inconvenience, and often to the der the different heads, and we therefore recom- loss of a market, resulting from the delay, or of mend that sum to be paid out of the excise reve committing perjury by swearing that the duties nue to the Scotch civil list, by four equal quar have been actually paid, when in fact the crown terly instalments, as equivalent to and a full has not received the money. compensation for the excise hereditary or tem- If the object contemplated be to prevent the porary revenue, and his majesty's share of fines payment of the drawback on goods clandestinely and seizures; the separate accounts and appro- manufactured, that object would be equally se. priation of these receipts to be in the excise, as cured if the exporter were only required to swear in the custom department, henceforth disconti. that the duties have been " duly charged.” II Tused.
it be to prevent the merchant from receiving the DRAWBACKS.
drawback until after the duty has been actually The policy or impolicy, as well as the amount paid, or, in other words, to prevent the crown e the different drawbacks payable on the ex from being in advance, that object is much more portation of excisable goods to foreign countries, effectually provided for by the enactment that depending as they must on the duties in the first delays the issue of the debenture until a month instance levied, will occupy our attention in our after the vessel has sailed, a period that in almost inquiries into the English excise; and our pre- every case prevents the payment of any draw. sent remarks will in consequence be confined back until after the receipt of the duty. It is solely to the regulations which affect their pay- | by regulations of this description, which place ment.
the interest of the merchant in direct opposition According to the existing practice, when goods to the oath required from him, that the proveron which the excise duties have been paid are bial disregard to the revenue oaths has probably about to be exported, it is necessary, in order / arisen, and undoubtedly a better feeling cannot to obstain the return of those duties, that the be hoped for, whilst attempts are made to interfere with commercial operations, in other respects a certain number of days' sight, on the cashier or fair and reasonable, by prohibitions depending collector in Edinburgh, sending up to the board solely for their effect on this species of security. forthwith the documents, in order to enable them
On fully considering the subject, it appears to to direct the bill to be paid. us, that the first oath may be altogether dis- Whatever balance is permitted to remain due pensed with, without any risk to the revenue, from the collectors should be deposited in some by adding to the oath now required at the time one of the banks through which the remittance of taking out the debenture, the words, “ that of the revenue is made, and the payments to in“the duties on the goods mentioned therein have dividuals should be made by check on that bank; “ been duly paid.” It will be a subject for our any interest accruing on the sum whilst in the future inquiry, whether this latter oath also may banker's hands should be carried to the account not be superseded, by requiring from the parties of the revenue, not that the amount of this intea certificate to the same effect, and by the intro- rest, under the regulation to which we have reduction of an enactment, subjecting them in case ferred, can be considerable; but its receipt under of a false certificate, to a penalty equal to any circumstances by public officers would be double the amount of the drawback thus frau. contrary to the principle to which we have ad. dulently applied for ; in the mean time, howeverted in our Eighth Report, and to which we ever, as the alteration we have suggested will attach great importance; viz. “That the money reduce one of the many oaths at present taken, “ of the crown should not, in any case, be made and remove a temptation to perjury, which is at “ directly or indirectly the source of private present in daily, and we fear extensive opera. “ emolument.” tion, we recommend it for immediate adoption. The two alterations we have suggested will,
The second objection is, that although the we trust, remove every existing objection on debentures are nominally payable immediately the part of the merchants to the payments of in cash, yet as the collectors of excise are required excise drawbacks; our remaining observations to remit daily, whenever their receipts amount will therefore apply to the security of the reto any considerable sum, it seldom happens that venue. they have money in their hands to pay a large On the transfer of the import duties of the debenture; the merchant is in consequence excise to the customs, which your Lordships obliged to send such a debenture to Edinburgh, directed to take place from the fifth April last, where the existing regulations require that, be the export business will, we apprehend, come enfore its payment by the cashier, it should be exa- tirely under the direction of the officers of the mined in the accountant's office, certified by the latter department; it will, however, still be different check officers, and ultimately signed by desirable, that the debentures entitling the the hoard. The delay and inconvenience of parties to a return of the duties on excisable this to the exporter it is unnecessary to point goods exported should, when made out and out.
signed by the proper officers of the customs, be The regulation which requires that the col. paid by the collectors of the excise, as that lectors of excise should, from day to day, remit revenue will continue to receive the home conall the money in their hands, without reference sumption duties, and its officers can alone be to the payments to be made, has probably re-able satisfactorily to check the drawbacks apsulted from the complicated system upon which plied for. their accounts are at present kept, and to which It is with reference to this change, as well as in the progress of this Report we shall call your to check some existing frauds, that we recomLordships' attention ; it appears to have been mend the adoption of the following regulations ; found impracticable accurately to check the viz. balances in their hands, and it has therefore been lst, That the officer of excise who witnesses determined that none should remain, whatever the packing, and grants a certiticate of the might be the exigencies of the public service. quantity of goods, should at the same time state
Where the law requires public officers to make in that certificate the precise amount of the payments, it is evident the necessary funds drawback due: should be provided for that purpose, and we re- 2dly, That he should enter in a proper book commend, therefore, that as soon as the change an account of all the goods packed and certifiwe propose in the manner of keeping the col-cates granted : lectors' accounts has been carried into etfect, the 3dly, That this duty should not be done by board of excise should be directed to consider the any officers specially to be employed, but that ordinary and usual payments which it is proba- the ordinary establishment of excise officers ble every collector may be called on to make, and should be sufficiently numerous for the purpose; to fix such a sum as it would, in their opinion, these officers to be subject to the inspection of he desirable for each at all times to retain. It the supervisors at the time the packing is going will not be necessary that this permanent balance forward, precisely in the saine manner as if should be considerable, if authority be at the they were charging a duty : same time given to the respective collectors, l 4thly, That each half quarter or “ round" when the sum is large, to draw a bill or bills, at these officers should raise from the book