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After much hesitation the leaders of the great Conservative party" are gradually committing themselves to the proposition for repealing the Malt Tax which has so long been advocated by a portion of their followers. To some extent, perhaps, the conversion was inevitable. Conservatism had only one leg to stand upon while it defended Church-rates, and that support has become so evi- dently rotten that additional assistance was felt to be indispensable. The most enthusiastic Tory would hardly like to face an intelligent constituen- cy with no other title to its vote than his belief in Archdeacon Denison's Shorter Catechism." The day when Nonconformists can be put in limbo for the non-payment of a tax on conscience is evidently fast expiring and a candidate for the most venal of boroughs would scarcely venture to re-echo the celebrated speech of Mr. Church- warden Hoare. A change of policy on the malt question may, however, work more happily. A shout of "cheap beer" may have an excellent effect on the poorer class of voters, whose views of the obnoxious Church Tax are much more decided than satisfactory. The relief of the farmer" is a cry certain to go down in the counties, and may catch a vote in a few districts where parties are evenly balanced. Lord Derby might wince at the prospect of having to advocate this movement in Parliament; but his lieutenants have probably convinced him that otherwise there is no hope of a Conservative triumph next election and so his lordship has reluctantly given way. We draw this conclusion from the fact that Sir Fitzroy Kelly was sent down to the Leicester meeting on Satur- day with a brief to support the abolitionists, and his speech evidently foretokens the general conver- sion of his colleagues. There is no reason that the Malt Tax should be made a party question and it is highly probable that many of our Liberal readers would as gladly see the impost abolished as any of our Conservative friends. It would be discreditable to Mr. Glad- stone if he dealt with this or that tax in his annual Budget, not because of the policy or impolicy of the burthen, but because of the manner in which it had been treated by his opponents. If there be any matter on which politicians of all parties should concur in rendering their best services to the coun- try, such unanimity surely ought to ,be displayed in devising the best system of taxation. It is not, therefore, because the repeal of the Malt Tax is mainly advocated by Conservatives that we wish the scheme to be resisted. Whoever may be its enemies, we think it can be shown that the aboli- tion of the impost would fail to answer the ends expected from it in every point of view, and that the proposal is consequently unworthy of support. The argument of the Anti-Malt Tax party hang so badly together that a very brief examination of them discloses some ugly difficulties. The repeal is advocated at one moment in the interest of the farmer, and at another in the interest of the con- sumer, which interests are evidently antagonistic. The repeal of the Corn Laws, Sir Fitzroy Kelly tells us, demands that the farmer should be per- mitted to perform the operations of agriculture unshackled." With the existing heavy tax no man can grow barley unless he can grow it of the highest quality, because "if he grows inferior barley he knows it will become a drug on the market." In other words, Sir Fitzroy Kelly means to say that inferior barley is at present very cheap, and he wishes to make the country pay more for it. When he looks at the question in the working man's light, however, he discovers that beer would be enormously cheapened by the re- peal of the tax. It is admitted, we believe, that the malt duty is equivalent to a tax of less than a half-penny per quart upon beer. By abolishing the tax, however, Sir Fitzroy Kelly contends that a "quart of beer of the ordinary average quality now sold at 4d., could be produced for 2d. The difference between Sir Fritzroy's statement to blind the farmer and his statement to blind the labourer is wholly irreconcileable the two arguments carry with them their own refu- tation. If the tax were repealed the price of beer would probably be lowered. But the farmer could derive no benefit from the measures unless the price of barley were raised. There would, of course, be an increased demand for barley, for a reduction in price, however small, would certainly augment the consumption; but that increased demand would be satisfied by in- creased cultivation. Sir Fitzroy Kelly asserts that the due rotation of crops is prevented at present by the pressure of the tax but this fact-which he strangely urges as an argument for the abroga" tion of the duty-rather shows that the price of barley is now artificially raised by the bearing of the tax, and that its abolition would produce so vast a quantity of home-grown barley as to pre- vent a further advance. A season of scarcity might certainly arise, and we might be even unable to procure supplies from abroad. But if the farmer thus procured higher rates, is it not obvious that the price of beer would rise; and thus the increased demand would be repressed, and the price of barley fall back again ? The mistake of the political supporters of the Anti Malt Tax Association arises" from their viewing the landed interest in the gross, and not discriminating between different sorts of grain and different sorts of soil. The great change produced by the repeal of the corn laws has been the reduction m the price 01 wheat. ror a reason which will be made. plain enough in a minute or two, we may be sure, in spite of Sir Fitzroy Kelly's assertion, that every farmer has grown barley whose land enabled him to do so. The fact is, the grower of barley has sustained no loss from what has so seriously affected his wheat- growing neighbours. On comparing the prices of British wheat and barley for the fifty years ending 1842, we find that the price of barley was then in general about half or less than half the price of wheat. In 1820 the wheat average was 67s. 10d., that of barley 33s. lOd. In 1841 wheat was 64s. 4d;; barley 32s. lOd. But when we come to the period subsequent to the repeal of the Corn Laws a very different range of prices prevails. In 1849 wheat was 44s. 3d., barley, 27s. 9d. in 1853, wheat was 53s. 3d., barley, 33s. 2d. in 1857, wheat, 56s. 4d., barley, 42s. Id.; 1860, wheat, 53s. 3d., barley, 36s. 7d. in 1863, wheat, 44s. 9d., barley, 33s. lid. Instead, therefore, of barley having fallen in price since the repeal of the Corn Laws, it has more than maintained its position and instead of being only half the price of wheat it is now about three quarters that price. Thus the repeal of the malt duty would be putting the plaster on the wrong place. If any one requires relief it is the growers of wheat, whereas the bene- fit of the proposed alteration is expected to fall on the growers of barley. We have principally confined ourselves to con- sidering the subject in an agricultural point of view. Regarded in that of a consumer there is not much that need be said. Sir Fitzroy Kelly's picture of a working man brewing his own beer, and saving as much out of the money he weekly spends on liquor as actually to allow his family "'a bit ofmeat"(!) may have tickled the fancy- of a few Leicester enthusiasts, but will be set down by the working classes themselves as the sketch of a person grossly ignorant of their man- ners and position. There is no direct tax on beer, as there is on every other intoxicating drink and if the Malt Tax is to be regarded as an indirect tax, its abolition, while it would have a serious effect on the revenue, would powerfully affect the duty on spirits. To some extent, no doubt, the moral effects of favouring the less injurious bev- erage would be important. But we must remem- ber that beer has already been greatly favoured by the abolition of the direct duty upon it; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is bound not to un- duly overweight any interest by unfairly under- weighting another. Briefly, the tax produces nearly six millions a year, and it is impossible to discover one which would be at once so lucrative and so ungrudgingly borne by the people ?