Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: May 2016

3 - More Credible Platforms, More Taxes



In the previous chapter, I documented four important changes in how the taxes-for-platforms trade between Crown and Commons operated after the Glorious Revolution. First, before the Revolution, virtually all platforms had been royal (embedded in royal documents); afterward, they were almost exclusively parliamentary (embedded in the appropriations clauses of statutes). Second, before the Revolution, MPs’ threats to deny supplies typically affected small amounts relative to the Crown's permanent income; afterward, thanks to vigorous exploitation of the “for longer time” clause of the Bill of Rights, the amounts involved were much larger. Third, before the Revolution, the Commons had no effective means to hold the Crown's advisors accountable for their advice; afterward, ministerial responsibility developed into a credible system. Fourth, before the Revolution, the Crown might have chosen any number of avenues through which to approach the Commons; afterward, there was only one constitutional route – through the ministers – who emerged as the monopoly brokers of the taxes-for-platforms market.

In this chapter, I consider the consequences of the reforms just noted. The most important consequence was that a lot more taxes were granted, once MPs had more credible assurances about how the resulting revenues would be spent. More broadly, the entire market – in which platform-selling Crown met tax-granting Commons – worked much more smoothly.

However, in those parts of the British budget that remained purely royal, there was no revenue growth. In other words, state revenues grew where, and only where, platforms became more credible.

Another vital consequence of Britain's budgeting revolution was the regulation of the fiscal common pool. I elaborate this accomplishment by comparing Great Britain's experience after the Revolution with that of France's Third Republic (a case to which I return in Chapter 10).

Proximal Consequences

The most direct consequences of England's budgetary revolution were that the volume, variety, and efficiency of trade surged. Let's consider each point in turn.

The Volume of Trade

One can estimate the volume of the taxes-for-platforms trade by the aggregate taxes granted. During the Restoration, notwithstanding the many improvements in tax collection (Roseveare 1973; Brewer 1988), tax receipts showed a shallow decline from 1665 to 1685, averaging £1.53 million. After the Glorious Revolution, tax receipts more than doubled the Restoration average by 1695 and tripled it by 1700 (see Figure 3.1). By 1815, taxes had risen sixteen-fold.