[Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated.] Autograph Rough Notes, titled 'Parliamentary | Miscellaneous', for a House of Commons debate on Customs and Excise duties, with reference to 'the Brandy act of last year'.

Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), Tory Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer [William Pleydell-Bouverie, 3rd Earl of Radnor [Lord Folkestone] (1779-1869); Customs and Excise duties]
Publication details: 
[Houses of Parliament. 1808.]
SKU: 21815

On both sides of a 37 x 24 cm piece of paper (i.e. half a 'pinched post' folio leaf), with 1806 fleur-de-lys watermark. Folded twice, to make eight 24 x 9 cm panels (four on each side), in seven of which Perceval has written his notes in a close and neat hand. The eighth panel forms the outside of the folded paper, and on this Perceval has written 'Parliamentary | Miscellaneous'. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn. Dennis Gray, in his biography of Perceval, states that he 'took particular interest in the customs and excise where “not the smallest part of the public money could be expended in extraordinaries, without its being submitted to his consideration”'. The document, which is not signed, consists of Perceval's rough notes for a parliamentary debate (there are references to 'Ld. Folkstone [sic]' and the Committee of Ways and Means), and can be dated to 1808, as at one point in it Perceval writes: 'Instance in Brandy act of last year – See Back', this being a reference is to a panel headed '47. G. 3. C. 27 – passed 17. M. 1807 | = | take place on all foreign Spirits on wh. the whole of the Duties shall not have been paid before the 19: Feb. or which shall on or after the 19. Feb. be in any warehouse under lock of Officers of Customs or Excise'. The act referred to here is 47 Geo. III. c. 27, 'For granting to His Majesty, until twelve months after the Ratification of a Definitive Treaty of Peace, certain additional Duties of Excise on Brandy in Great Britain', passed 17 May 1807. At one point Perceval includes the heading: 'The Expost [sic] Facto Law', following this with a panel headed: 'Retrospect - | This an objection, not founded on any [virtue?] in the word expostfacto | - But founded on an important principle of fundamental justice in Legislation | - which applies differently as to the subject matter - | if penal Law - | heighth of injustice, to impose punishment by retrospect on an act innocent at time; | as to financial Law | Injustice must consist either in this – that by imposing a duty on article after I have speculated in it, - It may be that you may disapprove at my speculation, & that I would not have, manufactured, produced, or imported it, but in the hope of being able to sell it without the [burthen?] of duty. | This objection not only apply to expostfacto, but to contemporaneous – that is to every duty which can be imposed either of Customs, or Excise | - and should require that you should give [?] opportunity of getting rid of all his stock before the duty should attach - | does not apply to this more than to any other duty.' Further on he writes: 'Let me ask whether the same would not exist in this - | Suppose importation of Articles on Monday & Tuesday next & Act to pass on Wednesday with no retrospect, | Would not importer of those articles charge the tax on his Sale, just as much in the instance of its being a Custom Ho duty, as an excise one -'. And elsewhere: 'This gives up the whole argu[men]t on the Excise -', and '- all these objections applying Equally to Excise, as to Customs, wish to know what remains of difference but the name? | Hon Aldn. [?] left unexplained. | May be said in objection to Minister that Foreign Merchant defrauded in expectation of finding Market unchanged -'.