« НазадПродовжити »
last seventy years has been to cut these deductions down to as narrow a margin as possible ; and, in particular, they have refused any deductions analogous to those allowed the former for tenants' profits.
This was not always so; in a case decided in 1830 (R. v. Joddrell) the distinction between rent, costs, and tenants' profits was clearly drawn, and the Court held that just as a portion only of the gross produce of the land, i.e., the rack rent, pays rates, in the case of nine-tenths of that produce, so only a portion of the remaining tenth should be rated. If deductions both for costs and tenants' profits are allowed in one case, analogous deductions should be allowed in the other.
In accordance with this decision the clergy claimed, and in numerous cases secured for the next six years, very considerable reductions. But in 1836 was passed the Parochial Assessment Act, the object of which was to secure a uniform basis of rating throughout England and Wales; the Act adopted the standard of the net annual letting value which has already been explained, —a curious clause being inserted that nothing in the Act should be "construed to alter or affect the principles or different relative liabilities (if any) according to which different kinds of hereditaments are now by law rateable.” When the Act was passing through the Lords, Archbishop Howley at first attempted to obtain the complete exemption of tithe, but this proved impossible, and this clause, intended to secure at any rate the benefits of the recent decision in R. v. Joddrell, the case I have just mentioned, was accepted as a compromise.?
The effect, however, of the clause came before the Courts in the Capel case four years later, when the Courts in effect decided that the clause had no meaning and secured the clergy nothing at all; that the general provision of the Act applied to tithe rent-charge ; that the annual letting value of tithe rentcharge was its full value, deducting only the costs of collection and the rates paid on it, and that no allowance could be made for tenants' profits. One can only say if this is so it is difficult to see why a man should become tenant of a tithe rent-charge at all, unless he is going to make some profit out of it. If I have £100 rent-charge, and costs of collection and rates amount to £10—no one will be kind enough to pay me £90 for it. I may get a tenant at £80; and £80 is the rateable value and not £90.1
11 B, & A. 403.
2 Accordingly, under the Act a proportion equivalent to tenants' profits was allowed to be taken off the tithe at first ; Report of Poor Law Commissioners, 1843, Pt. I., pp. 98–99. For the history of the clause see Hansard, 3 s. vol. 35, 1836, cols. 371—375. See also circular issued by Poor Law Commissioners, 19 September, 1837, quoted in Second Report on Loc. Tax., 1899, p. 16.
3 R. v. Capel, 1840, 12 A. & E. 382. This is to put the parson on an inequality as compared with the lay holder of tithes. See Castle, Law of Rating, 3rd ed.,
Further, in addition to refusing any deductions analogous to tenants' profits, the Courts have cut the actual necessary expenses allowable, which are parallel to the deductions allowed the farmer for the necessary cost of cultivation, down to the narrowest limits.
Deductions have been allowed for
1. All expenses, legal and other, necessary for collecting the rent-charge.
2. First fruits, tenths, and other ecclesiastical dues.
3. Usual tenants' rates and taxes, e.g., poor-rate, lightingrate, public libraries' rate, &c.
Deductions, on the other hand, have been refused for :
1. Taxes which are supposed not to be tenants' taxes, such as land tax and landlords' property tax.
2. For such legally enforceable charges as pensions to retired incumbents ; sums payable to Queen Anne's Bounty for past loans; or payments to daughter churches, meaning thereby churches carved out of an ancient mother parish. It would perhaps be unnecessary to make this explanation had not one of the Royal Commissioners asked whether, in relation to the vicar of the mother parish, daughter churches were churches held by the vicar's sons-in-law.
3. So recently as 1897 the Court of Appeal refused to sanction a deduction for chancel repairs, though, as Mr. de Bock Porter pointed out to the Commission, the obligation is one which it is impossible for the parson to avoid.” (St. Asaph case).
4. Finally, the Courts do not allow any deduction for payments to curates, even though necessary;' or for the personal services of the vicar (R. v. Sherford, 1867).
1 It is suggested that costs of collection are tenants' profits, but surely this is ridiculous. See R. v. Goodchild (Hackney cases), 1858, 1 E. B. & E. 1. In St. Asaph case, however, Lopes, L.J., suggested there might be “
cases where the deductions in respect of tenants' profits might be made," adding that the necessity for deduction on this ground must be proved in each case; 1897, 12 B.,
2 Mr. de Bock Porter described the results of this decision as gross injustice," and perhaps not unnaturally (Q. 11, 100); but logically the case for allowing such repairs to be deducted is no stronger and no weaker than for many other charges mentioned; the parson must pay many charges on his income out of his tithe; is it the necessity or destination of these charges that is to be considered ?
These charges should all be allowed, or a fair and reasonable analogy of the charges allowed to other occupiers ; but the case as it stands is strong enough, and it is neither fair nor politic to strain a claim to cracking point. It is often urged that the clergyman is bound to render his service by law; that he is liable to penalties and removal if he does not; that his rent-charge is paid to him on condition of such service; that all the items I have mentioned are necessary charges, which must be met before any rateable profit arises, and that therefore they are absolutely parallel to the cost of cultivation in the case of the farmer.2
This point is very often forgotten, that the Act lays the burden of the rates on the land; it is because they are necessary to the cultivation of the land that the ordinary tenants' charges are allowed to be deducted. Curates and daughter-churches may be necessary expenses from the vicar's point of view; they do nothing to maintain the land from which he derives his tithe rent-charge. On a broad view of the case, deductions are as equitable in one case as the other. The basis of taxation was meant to be net profits of some kind and not gross profits; but it must not be forgotten that there is a great difference both in the character and destination of the two classes of necessary costs, the farmer's and the parson's.3
III. The ground of grievance one hears urged most often is that it is unfair to rate clergy on their professional incomes. A barrister makes sometimes £10,000 a year: he pays £100 a year for his chambers; he only pays rates on £100: whereas the parson who receives, say, £200 from tithe rent-charge and £50 from glebe is rated on the whole, and pays income tax, like the doctor or barrister, as well. Now this is the argument most often used ; one
sees it reappearing constantly, and at first sight it appears a strong one; but though there is admittedly a disparity in the method by which the parson and the barrister are rated, and in any general readjustment of the taxation of the country this should be borne in mind, yet, as matters now stand, the argument cannot be pressed far; for if tithe should be released on the ground of professional income, so should glebe. Further, the claim to relief on this ground of professional income must involve the total immunity of both tithe rent-charge and glebe from rates. It may be, as urged by several witnesses, that the whole modern system is wrong, that the present localisation of taxation by way of rates on land is a mistake, and that the only logical method of imposing burdens is the income tax, which should all be paid into the Imperial Exchequer, thence to be paid out alike for local and imperial purposes. But this would be a most radical and revolutionary change in our whole system. So long as we have a system of local taxation as distinct from imperial, viz. rates, and these local taxes are laid on land, it is only fair that both tithe and glebe should contribute something towards the rates : that a parson's income should be derived from land is a present misfortune which he shares with many others, and no amount of emphasis on the word professional will really answer the objection. Finally, one word with regard to the measure of relief passed
The Act deals only with clerical owners of tithe “ attached to a benefice,” and is only to remain in operation during the continuance of the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896, which has still two more years to run. The Royal Commission on Local Taxation, on whose interim report of last year the Act is based, felt the difficulty of adjusting relief according to the actual necessities of each case. An alternative method of relief often suggested was to enumerate the specific deductions mentioned above, for chancel repairs, curates' pensions, and personal services, and to declare they must be allowed off; and this would have been the sounder course; the Act, however, arrives at much the same result, but by a more rough and ready process. Supposing that the rent-charge is £500 and the rates ls. in the £, instead of making statutory deductions, which, though varying
? I understand that energetic supporters of the claims of clerical tithe owners, such as Mr. Peterson, look on the present Act as an instalment only, by which the parson has merely been put on the same level as the owner of agricultural land was placed by the Act of 1896 : and that further deductions for the necessary charges, curates' salaries, chancel repairs, &c., must now be won from the Legislature.
in different cases, would probably amount to about 50 per cent., i.e. £250, leaving £250 to be rated, which would thus produce £12 10s., the Act says the rates shall be raised on the full £500, amounting, that is, to £25, but the clerical tithe-owner shall get half of this £12 10s. back from the Imperial Exchequer. Though the first method is more logical, the latter is possibly more simple, especially as the measure is intended to be temporary and experimental. There is no doubt, however, that in any final readjustment of taxation in the country, which must ere long be taken in hand, the clergyman's claims, admitted temporarily this year, will demand and secure more permanent satisfaction.