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THE TABLET A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER AND REVIEW

ESTABLISHED 1840 REGISTERED AS A NEWSPAPER

VOL. 173 No. 5164

LONDON, APRIL 29th, 1939

SIXPENCE

IN T in s ISSUE

CONSCRIPTION AND DIPLOMACY

An Editorial on Britain in Europe

TH E CHURCH IN MEXICO

Impressions of a recent visit by Evelyn Waugh

YUGOSLAVIA BETWEEN THE AXIS POWERS

By Our Central European Correspondent

CATHOLIC PACIFISTS

By Christopher Hollis Full List o f Contents on page 540.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK The Budget

With a nicely calculated effect Sir John Simon introduced the Budget on Tuesday, with a reference to Mr. G ladstone’s Budget o f 1853, a matter o f £53,000,000. This year’s Budget has to arrange for £922,000,000. In a country of 40,000,000 people this is equivalent to £23 a head a year, over nine shillings a week, or £115 a year per household of five. By comparison with most household budgets in this country—around £3 a week—-the proportion is extremely high, and most o f it is needed for defence, or to pay the interest on the loans by which the last war was chiefly financed. Such a budget is in fact only possible because average figures conceal the existence of a small but, as the world goes, rich halfmillion. Income-tax payers produce just over a third of the revenue.

The National Debt, painfully reduced little by little, is now rising again above the £8,000,000,000. The income tax is not being increased this year, except in the surtax category. There are important psychological reasons against increasing this particular tax, the most visible and constantly felt o f all the taxes, and the one that injures trade the most, but its great merit is th a t it does take the money from the quarters where a surplus exists, whereas indirect taxation often presses on people in necessity. The surprise of the Budget was the severity of the new taxes on motor cars and on tobacco, the luxuries o f the rich and the p o o r ; but only £24,000,000 is being raised by this taxation.

When we entered the last war, a century of virtually unbroken peace in which the Crimean and South African wars stood out prominently as periods of discomfort and trial, separated us from the long struggle with Napoleon. The National Debt had been steadily reduced and stood a t £240,000,000. Another war would begin with a debt o f £8,000,000,000, and an annual interest charge which is about one-third o f our present Budget. Most o f this is held internally by the income tax paying c la s s ; with their war loan warrants they meet their income tax demands. It is an internal debt, and the S ta te’s creditors can always, by taxation, be made to return what the State pays them. Many years ago Disraeli said “ taxation is called civilization, and confiscation is called barbarism, but they amount to much the same thing in the long ru n .”

Defence needs are now estimated not at the earlier figure o f £580,000,000 but at £630,000,000, as compared with £400,000,000 last year and £265,000,000 the year before, and o f the £630,000,000 one-third is to be covered by taxation. Defence loans will provide the other two-thirds, which will be borrowed at a rate happily much below the old war-time five per cent. Danzig

We go to Press on the eve of Herr H itle r’s reply to President Roosevelt. Whatever th a t speech contains, the relations between Germany and Poland are at the moment the field in which tension is most felt. The great departure in the British policy, the acceptance o f commitments in Eastern Europe, the granting to Poland and Rumania what we would never consider before last year in Central Europe, took place in deliberately wide terms. The Poles become the judges o f attacks on their independence, and though we hope to see the future o f Danzig and the Corridor settled by negotiation, we have no means o f ensuring that the issues will be so settled.

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