The tariff schedule of England is an outstanding example of a system in which entire consideration is given to the fiscal aspects. This result was achieved, however, only after a long process of evolution. England was one of the first countries to use the tariff as a form of revenue, and developed it extensively during the seventeenth century. The growth of the mercantile doctrines had a strong influence during the eighteenth century. Import duties were generally increased, some to rates which were prohibitive.
The Revolutionary War and the French wars caused further increases in many of the duties until, at the close of the War of 1812, most of the rates were excessively high, and applied to a large number of commodities. During this long course of development little objection developed to the gradual expansion of the duties, and the list of goods to which they were to apply. Only two periods of reaction were noticed, and these were so brief and ineffective as to be relatively unimportant.
Early in the eighteenth century, when the continually increasing rates were accompanied by a falling off in revenues, many began to question the efficacy of the tariff system then in force. The agitation which arose soon began to produce results, and about 1820 duties were removed to some extent from raw materials and food products. Again, in the early 'forties, rapid strides were made in the reduction of duties, and the final work was completed by 1860. Since that time attention has been directed to the fiscal considerations, with the result of securing practically as much revenue as before the reduction of duties, The list of taxed objects is small, and the system works in coordination with the excise taxes by which duties are levied upon materials which are also of domestic production. Import duties are levied upon a few other commodities which are not produced at home, such as tea, coffee, raisins, wine, and tobacco. The majority of the revenue is secured from liquors and tobacco. As a whole, the system is simple and productive, and has received but a small amount of criticism.