Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

12 articles on this Page

I THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.…

News
Cite
Share

I THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER. I At the moment of writing by far the most important man in England is Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, who holds the finances of the country in the hollow of his hand, and whose slight indisposdtion3 and the consequent postponement of the Budget declaration is doubtless intensely tantalising to the thou- sands of commercial giants, who are for the present living in a state of nervous trepida* tion lest their commodities are doomed to bear an enhanced share of the burden of the war. By the time these lines are in print, however, it is hoped the "glorious uncer- tainty" which now prevails wi!l be dissi- pated, and the stern realities of the new tax- ation laid bare. Monetary mandate though it is, there is nothing sordid in a Budget. It is mammon on a mammoth scale—the £ s. d. of a great nationr-its pronouncements are blasted instanter to all the corners of the earth, and at its echo the commercial kings of the universe catch their breath and pale. It is equally the nightmare of the necessi- tous and the monster of ill-omen to the miserly millionaire. Notwithstanding the great office which he holds, and the still greater office which he has held-for he has been the leader of the House of Commons—Sir Michael Hicks-Beach is not really well known outside political circles. His star has for years shone cold, clear, and steady; still, his personality IS not surrounded by that halo of glamour,, that fascination, which so often brings men like Chamberlain and Lord Rosebery into great prominence. Sir Michael is the representa- tive of a line of topical countiy gentlemen and squires of the old school—worthy MEN who have not distinguished themselves very greatly, but have lived good and honourably lives, and who have ever been ready, both with their influence and with their wealth, to assist both their country and their poorer brethren whenever the opportunity occurred. The Hicks-Beaches of Gloucestershire are, in fact, exactly the sort of people Mr. Cecil Rhodes must have had in mind when he was writing that remarkable will of his- In be. queathing the Dalham Hall Estate to his brother, the Collosus of South Africa made mention of his belief that the greatness of England lay largely in her county families; and of these there are none more typical than the ancestors of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Nine of them have been baro- nets; good, solid,, old fellows, too; farming and sport, stout Tories and the gen- eral benefactors of all round them. The last of the race to disappear was Mr. Bramston Beach, the late "Father of the House of Com- mons, who was a true gentleman of the olden time, and in whose person the merits of the clan were fully centred. He was an JR 11 boy, a Christ Church man, a yeomanry officer, a landowner, a lord of the manor, A PATRON of livings, and a regular habitue of the House of Commons, and in his young days WAS AN ardent cricketer and sprint runner, AN<* enthusiastic patron of the Hunt. Just such another is the Chancellor 0 P1.6 Exchequer outside hie onerous duties U nancier to the British Government. T^16' hia first vision of this world was not AT which greeted nearly all his forbears, for, instead of looking out upon the grassy & 8 and richly-blossoming orchards of terehire, Sir Michael's first idea °' country was drawn from a view of THE~IRY walls and sordid surroundings of I*0. street, London, where he was born 8 year of the Accession of the late QueeJJ VIC- toria. Like nearly all the male MEMB* of the family, Michael went in due COTIF?6,^0 the great public school on the banks 6 Thames near Windsor, and later on 11& pro- ceeded to the University situated in E in the upper reach of the same stream; and about the same time his 'A, died,and he became a baronet. At ^•OR<| he did well, taking a first-class in the. FM School of Law and Modern and having in 1861 attained ,R M..A. degree, turned his ATT^ to Westminster, which tie for the first time in July, 1864, as for East Gloucestershire, fiver since a period of thirty-eight years—Sir M1 has sat in the House, and has in the interests of hie party, in good and bad. He has filled many IMP^J .° positions, served on lots of Royal CoØlmJ:. I sione, and in June, 1885 he was GI*E? TV Chancellorship of the Exohequer WI^1 leadership of the House of COMMON?' &NO continued to fulfil the dual roles TINT1 F Gladstone once again ousted the Torico front power. But it is as the keeper of the purse, and as a sound, UNSOPHISTICATED absolutely reliable financier, TH^* *R Michael's name will live longest. HI^-FL gets are worked by no eccentricities OR gruities—all his calculations worked out with 6UCH unfailing ACCURAL foresight, that when onoa they pounded all the King's horses and I?6 King's men can never suceeed in Michael to go ba«k «& hia dictuH1' _R. Chancellor spares no pains in the IROP^" and just manipulation of his. FIGUR^* when he gives them to the world« he, L •' ie fully convinced that no man could work better than he does it. Sir has never been drivejj from office, a say Lord Salisbury and Mr. ChaxnJlerlaln hoped he would be, and his last P^dget marked by far the most oanaidemblp 'ntel- lectual achievement of the 8eseion. PQW presented his nintfc Budget, and.^ *r> QWlatoaft only totalled elcron a larg* > DWTINE<LRT+^ ALTAR JM EMAIL SPFTOE jn THE. ap yet, history of th* last «uartflf Sir Ifichael's ftdpto HAV*. be*a ^hiefty characterised hy the persiste!*6 which he runs up the income ta*- nret statement of the National I made in 1885, when he raised the income tax from sixpence to eightpence. He found it at the same figure when he returned to his post ten years later, and he kept it there till 1900, when he raised it to a shilling. Last year he added another twopence, and the man of limited means is asking his neighbour just now whether Sir Michael intends to give an. I other turn to the screw. No other Chancellor in the last fifty years, save Mr. Gladstone, has presented so many Budgets as Sir Michael. Sir Stafford Northcote produced six, Lord Goschen and Mr. Lowe five each, Sir William Harcourt four, Mr. Disraeli three, and Mr. Childers two. The post of Chancellor of the Exchequer is, of course, at all times one of great respon- sibility and anxiety, but during the last six years it has been especially so. The demands on the National expenditure are ever-increas- I ing, and the sums disbursed for the nation's I needs have grown in a most remarkable de- gree. Sir Michael, moreover, had to find money for the war, and to his credit, be it I said. he has found it without stint. What- ever charges may be levelled at the Govern- I ment-and they are pretty numerous—it can never be said that the Chancellor has been niggardly or penny wise and pound foolish in providing the war, funds. In the first two years of the war, Sir Michael had to borrow no less than £ 127,000,000 for the purpose of the war alone. He claims, and justly 80, that r that enormous sum was obtained by him with less disturbance in the money market, and with less injury to the credit of the country, than has been known on any previous occasion that could be compared with it. Sir Michael also claims to be something of a temperance advocate, although the British public does not usually regard him in that capacity. Besides borrowing huge sums for the war, Sir Michael has to resort also to increased taxation, and the Chancellor's attention quickly alighted on beer and spirits as a good subject for consideration. So up went the duties on these articles, and, though great was the chagrin of "the trade," the effect has been demonstrated to be entirely bene- ficial to the country and salutary to the people. The fact is that the brewers trans- ferred the burden of the increase to their customers by reducing the strength of their liquor, but as the drinkers have not yet dis- covered the difference, it must be admitted by "the trade" as well as by the advocates of teetotalism, that the tax on beer and spirits was an extremely good idea, and one for which all parties must be indebted to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. The Chancellor also saw fit last year to put some part of the burden of the war on the coal interests of the country, in the shape of a new export duty. Of course, what Lord Rosebery would call a "terrible hullabaloo" was raised, but in face of violent opprobrium and lots of deputations, Sir Michael was adamant, and refused to with- draw the tax. The coalowners said the trade would be ruined, but six months after the imposition of the tax the Board of Concilia- tion in Northumberland, which is composed of representatives of both owners and miners, stated that they were unable to trace any effect on the price of coal. The "ruin" of the coal trade was a bogie, which disappeared like smoke immediately it was found impos- sible to get the Chancellor to withdraw his tax. But the burden which weighs most heavily upon the people is the income tax, and Sir Michael professes to see in the way the in. crease has been borne, the unfailing patriot- ism of the people. By a remarkable coinci- dence, the "Fathership of the House of Com- mons" fell to Sir Michael on the death of his cousin, the late Mr. Bramston Beach, before mentioned. This is, of course, in con- sequence of his having sat in the House un- interruptedly for the last thirty-eight years. but it is rather singular that the mantle of the venerable Sir John Mowbray should have fallen to a comparatively young man like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is only lixty-five. and a youngster in comparison with several other members of the House. When Sir Michael became the Commons' "Father," Mr. Spencer Charrington was still sitting at the age of 83, and Sir F. Mappin "86 but a year younger, while nearly a score members had passed the "allotted span." Save at this time of the year, Sir Michael is not much in evidence, but when the April showers of the Budget are over, and the financial fruit of the summer are gathered, it is pretty freely admitted that it would be a difficulty, indeed, to discover a man in the whole of the Commons with a more marked genius for mastering the nation's millions than Sir Michael Iffieks, Beach. FREDERICK ANNESLEY.

[No title]

LITEBARY BUREAU.

Advertising

THE FARM AND GARDEN,j

SWANSEA Y.W.C.A. -

Advertising

A BLAZE OF GLORY.

[No title]

::::.:.-.::: KATE GREENAWAY…

Advertising

[No title]