British Budgets 1887-88 to 1912-13

By Bernard Mallet | Go to book overview

SIR W. HARCOURT'S BUDGETS.

FIRST BUDGET, 1893-4.1

April 24, 1893.

THE "miserable mouse of a surplus" which Sir William Harcourt had to announce should have satisfied so stern a censor of the recent surpluses. That it had come out at £20,000 instead of £200,000 as estimated, was due to a great increase in the education vote, and to supplementary estimates (an "abyss which no plummet can sound") for this and for the past year (£199,000), an excess only revealed at the last moment. There had been borrowed for the expenditure of the year, under various Acts, £2,016,000, which Sir William Harcourt added to the total of £90,375,000 making the real expenditure of the year, as he said, £92,431,000. Mr. Goschen's reply to this line of argument, which would have turned some of his surpluses into deficits, was final and conclusive. He twitted the Chancellor with being compelled to "shy" at the word surplus. The subjects on account of which borrowing had taken place had over and over again been treated as capital expenditure, and it was an extraordinary doctrine that borrowing for capital expenditure should involve

____________________
1
The first of this series. His first budget belongs to the year 1886, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer for the first time.

-69-

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