HC Deb 05 December 1803 vol 1 cc87-9
Mr. Corry,

pursuant to his ma ice on Saturday, rose to move for leave to bring in a bill to indemnify the lord lieutenant, and such as had; acted under the authority of his proclamation, issued in October, prohibiting the distillation of spirits from oats, which had been laid before the house by his right hen. fiend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would be necessary for him to state the cause and circumstances of the proclamation, before he should submit his motion to the house. The prohibition had arisen from a supposed failure of the crop of potatoes, in consequence of the extreme drought of the season. Potatoes constituted the chief support of the mass of the people of that country, and the failure of a crop had the same effect there as the failure of a crop of wheat would have in this country, or of a crop of oats in the northern part of it. The active vigilance of the Irish government, had ascertained that there was a deficiency in the crop of potatoes, in three out of the four provinces of Ireland, and therefore, it became die wisdom of his excellency to provide for the supply of this deficiency, by prohibiting the use of oats in distillation. This be had done by a proclamation, issued in October, in which he had exceeded the powers which the law allowed him; and the object of the bill he should move for, was to indemnity him for having done so. He trusted, the house would consider the conduct of the Irish government, on this occasion, rather as deserving approbation than censure, for the laudable attention it had manifested in providing for the support of the people. He trusted the house would not object to the measure, and he proposed, it the house should accede to his motion, to introduce into die bill a clause to enable the lord lieutenant, or other chief governor of Ireland, to prohibit, for a certain lime, by proclamation, the distillation of spirits from oats. He was aware of the effect such a measure might have on the landed interest, and the revenue, but he trusted there would be no difficulty or objection to trusting such a discretionary power to the lord lieutenant, who would have every inducement to forbear from the exercise of it. He should not trespass further on the house, but move, that leave be given to bring in the bill, &c. and the question being put, and the proclamation entered as read.

Mr. Francis

did not mean to oppose the motion, though an enemy to every exercise of power contrary to law; he was inclined to approve of it in the present instance, where it had been evidently directed to secure the country from famine. The lord lieutenant, he thought, had acted right, and of the descriptions of power, the one proposed to be committed to him, by the present measure, was least likely to be abused. He should not be sorry if greater powers were given, or if the distillation of oats were altogether prohibited, for, he was confident, that much serious mischief was caused by the use of that pernicious liquor, whiskey, so made,

Mr. Carry

took the opportunity of the hon. gentleman's observations, to throw out a remark, for the purpose of quieting any apprehensions that might be entertained by another body of men, the distillers, whose interests concurred with the interests of the revenue. For that purpose, therefore, he threw out, by way of notice, that regard would be had to their interests, by a regulation of revenue.

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