PENNY-POST BILL. February 25, 1816.
Mr. C. Long proposed a resolution to the committee, to consider of the conveyance of letters by the penny post. He stated, that as the law now stood, letters sent by this conveyance from any part of the city of London or Westminster, the borough of South work or the suburbs, to any other part thereof, were liable to pay one penny; but if sent from the city of London, &c. to any place out of that city and suburbs, another penny was payable. In like manner he proposed an additional penny should be payable upon letters put into the penny post office out of the city of London, &c. and conveyed to any place within the cities of London, Westminster, or suburbs. He said, that the object in laying the additional penny in the manner he proposed, was to defray the additional expense which would be incurred, by increasing the number of deliverers of letters by the penny post, which he said were in future to be delivered six times a day instead of two; and that the regulation was to take effect as soon as possible.
Mr. Sheridan observed, that this was a comical sort of Irish tax, or penny-post, where a man was to pay two-pence for it. He objected to this as a new tax, under the title of regulation of an old one; and that although the case was trivial in itself, yet the principle on which it proceeded was wrong; for that the regular conduct of finance should be, first, a supply was to be agreed upon to a certain amount, and then, after time being allowed to consider the case attentively, the ways and means for raising that supply were to be proposed; and again, some time was to be given to the house to consider on the mode of raising that supply; and the whole being determined, there could not after that, regularly, be an additional tax for that year. The present proposition was not a new tax in point of form or name, but was so in point of fact; for it proposed an additional tax on the carriage of certain letters under the title of the penny-post. This he contended, ought to have been brought forward in the ways and means of the year; for at that time the public ought to have known all the burthens they were to bear for the ensuing year.