brought up the report of the commit tee upon the Irish revenue acts. On the first resolution having been read,
rose to submit to the House some observations upon the resolutions which had been reported to the House. It appeared to him necessary to do so, in order to convey to the House a knowledge of the principle upon which the schedule was formed. He would be as succinct in his statement as was consistent with clearness of explanation, because it would be impossible to enter into a detailed discussion upon the subject, until the schedule was printed, and in the hands of the members of that House.—There were two preliminary observations which he wished to make, viz. that the provisions to carry this schedule into effect belonged to the bill into which this schedule, if approved of by the house, would be afterwards introduced; and here he wished to observe, that according to the principle always pursued with regard to the duties upon certain articles relating to the manufactures of Ireland, particularly the linen trade and the dyers, though it was intended that all those articles should remain in the same state in which they were, yet the freedom from those duties was not contained in the schedule, but would be introduced in the bill.—The other observation he wished to make was this, that the limitation in point of time, if any such limitation should bethought fit, would be the subject of a clause in the bill. 688 It would be, therefore, unnecessary for him to dwell upon these points at present, because the proper time for discussing them would be in the committee on the bill. This schedule, which was calculated to promote the convenience of the merchants, and to facilitate the better collection of the revenue, divided itself into eight heads. The 1st related to the imports the 2d to die import of American articles, pursuant to the American treaty; the 3d the export duties upon all native articles of Ireland; the 4th related to the tonnage duty; the 5th to the bounties on imports and exports; the 6th contained the inland excise; the 7th to the drawbacks of excise and the 8th, to the countervailing duties, pursuant to the Act of Union and the Acts passed since. The schedule related only to the foreign trade of Ireland, and did not touch upon the trade between G. Britain and Ireland, which was regulated by the Act of Union. Pursuant to the principles of the Act of Union, all foreign articles imported into Ireland through G. Britain, paid the same duties as if imported directly into Ireland. This was a departure from the old system in Ireland. There used to be a certain rate of duty retained in G. Britain upon foreign articles imported through this country into Ireland, therefore the duty was less than upon the articles coming directly into Ireland; but this since the Union had been abandoned. He mentioned this, because the foreign column in the old schedule would not appear in the new one. It would be found in this schedule of rates, that many obsolete articles had been omitted, some articles were taken from the English book of rates, which were not in the Irish book.—So much as to the form of the schedule. The object of the schedule was a consolidation of the subsisting duties, and not an increase of revenue. He did not mean to say, that there was no increase upon some articles, and diminution upon others; but the object of the schedule was not an increase of revenue, but a consolidation of the subsisting duties, with a view to the case of the merchant, and the better collection of the revenue. In cases where there were two duties upon articles, for instance of 6d. each, they were consolidated into the duty of Is. On some articles there were duties ad valorem, and rated duties, in which case the merchant was obliged to make a double entry. To prevent this trouble, the duty was brought to one denomination, viz. either an ad valorem duty or a rated duty.—Another thing to be observed was, that all fractions of a penny were charged to the nearest integer, that is to say, if the duty was l£d, it was reduced to 1d. 689 if it was a 1½ d. it was raised to 2d. The duties of customs were those subsisting under the following Acts, viz. the 10 Geo. 3d, the 41 Geo. 3d. c. 33, which related to tea, coals, and sugar; the 42 Geo. 3d. c. 117, which was the 3½. per cent. Act, laying duties upon the import of foreign articles into Ireland; and the 43 Geo 3. c. 92, imposing of 10 per cent. These Acts contained the whole of the import duties.—The second column contained the drawbacks relating to the transit trade of Ireland: he meant foreign articles imported into Ireland and then exported. The amount of this trade was very small, and did not ordinarily exceed 250,0001. or 300,0001. a year. Of this, 150,0001. consisted of the articles exported to G. Britain, tad the remainder to foreign countries. The principles adopted with regard to drawbacks, were two: the 1st. was a principle that prevailed in Ireland before the Union, which was a principle of a full drawback of all duties; and so far as the duties of 1800 were consolidated, the old principle of drawbacks was adhered to. There was another principle of drawback, arising out of the Union; it had been adopted by Parliament as a principle of sound policy, that whatever regulations either country might make internally, with regard to its trade, taxes, or manufactures, yet with regard to their trade with foreign countries, a principle of equality should be maintained as tar as it was practicable, in order to give both countries an equal chance for the transport of their produce and manufactures. The new duties laid on since the Union were not drawn back, because there were corresponding duties laid on in this country. In the last session there was a duty laid on in this country of 12½ per cent, winch as it was considered as a war tax was not drawn back: there was also a duty of 10per cent, laid on in Ireland, which was a permanent tax appropriated 10 the payment of the interest of the debt, and it was proposed to give a drawback for this 10 per cent.—Without troubling the House farther upon this subject, he would now proceed to make a few observations upon the articles contained in the schedule, and he had the satisfaction to think that, with a very few exceptions, he had met, by anticipation, the wishes of the mercantile people of Ireland. He had received communications from the merchants of the cities of Dublin, Cork, and Waterford, and it was a great satisfaction to know, that, generally speaking, their wishes had all been complied with, even by anticipation. he had already slated where there was an ad valorem and a rated duty upon the same ar- 690 tide, they were reduced to the same denomination; in these cases the skill of the officer making the calculation had been relied upon, and if any mistake should appear, it' certainly was open to conviction. Some foreign manufactures would be found to be raised, such as cotton, muslin, and things of that sort, in order to protect the British and Irish manufactures in the consumption of Ireland. There was one article of importance, upon which he wished to say a few words he meant the Newfoundland fishery, with regard to which the import duties were greater than those in this country. But now the Newfoundland fish came into Ireland not only duty-free till IS08, but received a bounty till May next. The duties upon the importation of oil and blubber were greater in Ireland than in G. Britain, but they were now made the same, and it was his intention to propose that this trade should be put upon the same footing with respect to both countries. It would be observed that the duty upon coffee was nearly doubled, but that arose from this circumstance: the Custom duty was 6d. and the Excise duty 6d. but as the litter was badly collected, the Custom duty was raised to 11d. leaving the Excise duty only 1d. for the purposes of regulation. Drugs were an article of great importance, and from the smallness of their bulk, and the greatness of their value, afforded great opportunities, of smuggling: the duty upon them was from 150 to 200 per tent., that duly was now reduced in order to take away the temptation of smuggling. The drugs imported for the purpose of the manufactures and the dying trade, would, in the provisions of the bill, be perfectly free from duty. With respect to the article of wood, the duties were merely consolidated, and not raised. The rates were not extended in point of duty, but in point of the specifications of the dimensions. In the article of staves there was a reduction, as it was much used in the provision trade of Ireland. This trade, he was sorry to state, now stood in need of assistance, but he hoped that the languor of it was only occasional, and not permanent.—With regard to the article of foreign salt, the House would perceive that the rate of duty upon salt was charged in Ireland by the bushel, which was less than the Winchester bushel. This mode of discharging that article admitted of great variation in different ports, and great advantage could be given to the importer by having it pressed and heaped in the measure. This was not only the case in different ports, but sometimes there was a considerable difference in the admeasurement even in the same 691 port, perhaps, from the incorrectness of the officer. It was now proposed that it should be discharged by weight, and not by measure. The weight of the Winchester bushel was 8416. upon which there was a duty of 2s. it was now proposed that it should be discharged by the bushel of 561b. in the same manner the British salt imported into Ireland. With respect to saltpetre, it stood as it did last session, when the duty was reduced from 7s. to 3d. the cwt. Py the 43 Geo. III. there was a duty laid on the article of provisions going to foreign countries of 4 per cent.: to this duty British provisions were subject. But previous to this duty, there was an old subsisting duty upon the export of provisions from Ireland, so that in fact, there was a greater duty upon Irish provisions than upon British. This inequality it was now proposed to reduce, so as to put both countries on equal term?.—The object of the next article of the schedule was, to carry into effect the American treaty, and the regulations were the same for both countries, with this exception, that the countervailing duties laid on American tonnage in this country was not adopted in Ireland. The old export duty on the export of native articles from Ireland was made in general the same, to all parts of the world, and I the bounties on imports and exports remained the same.—With regard to the draw backs upon sugar, it was necessary to observe, that the sugar duties in England were made annual, in lieu of the land tax, which was sold; and this was done upon a constitutional principle, to ensure the frequent calling of Parliament. The sugar duties varied sometimes, and of course so did the drawbacks; the duty upon this article in Ireland was founded upon the same principle, and was therefore voted annually, and could not be introduced into the schedule, which related only to permanent duties.—The duly upon malt would not be found in this schedule, because it was proposed lo vote it annually in Ireland, upon the same constitutional principle to which he had before adverted, and therefore must form the subject of a separate bill. The duty on licences was in some degree changed. The grocers licences were formerly 3l. for cities, 2l. for market towns, and 1l.. for the rest of the kingdom, it was now proposed to make them 3l for cities and towns returning members to Parliament, and 2l. for the rest of the kingdom. Factors dealing in homemade spirits were subject to a licence duty; it was now proposed to extend that duty to dealers in foreign spirits.—The next article of the schedule related to the drawbacks of 692 Excise Duties, and upon these there was no change proposed. The next head related to the countervailing duties it was proposed to consolidate the duties under the Act of Union, and those of the 43d Geo. III. cap.92—He had now stated the principle of the measure, and he hoped it would meet with the approbation of the mercantile people in Ireland, which he was sure would be a strong recommendation to that House. Any proposed alterations or amendments he should be very ready to listen to, and he was sure that that house and ministers would do every thing in their power to guard and protect the trade of Ireland, which they had always watched over with the most paternal and tender solicitude.—He concluded with stating, that lie hoped the printed schedules would be in the hands of the members of that house by Monday, and that in a few days he should be able to bring in the bill, or bills, upon these resolutions.
said, he did not mean to enter into any observations upon the subject then, but he wished the horn gent, would lay before the house a list of such obsolete articles as had been left out of the schedule. He was glad to hear that the merchants of Ireland were so well satisfied with this schedule, because he inferred from thence, that the duty upon the export of linen, which had been so much complained of in Ireland, was abandoned.
§ Mr. Corry
expressed the satisfaction it would have given him, had any alteration of this kind been practicable, but that no such alteration was contained in the schedule. He was sorry he had not made himself more intelligible to the rt hon. gent. No person could be more anxious than he was to be favourable, to Ireland, particularly when its first and most important article of export was in question; but he thought it would be unfair and inconsistent with the principles of the union, if the articles of the one country did not leave the ports of the other precisely under the same circumstances as they would do the ports where such articles were manufactured. It was fair that articles of cotton manufacture should go from the ports of Ireland with the same duty as from this country. Indeed none of the manufactures of this country were free from the export duty. Would it then be reasonable that Irish linen going out with British linen should be free from the export duty while the British linen was subject to it? In this case the British manufacturer must labour under an almost insuperable disadvantage, a disadvantage of not less than 4 per cent. But the great object was to raise the taxes within the year, and not to be 693 running in debt to this country, as the practice had hitherto been; and in order to avoid this evil, which was certainly the greater of the two evils, some inconveniency must be submitted to, which ought to be less felt when it is farther considered that this duty only operated as a war tax, and that consequently it would terminate with the war.—But. it was still less to be complained of when it was considered that every article used in the different stages of that manufacture comes in free of duty, and that a bounty likewise is given on its exportation.—The rt. hon. gent, here begged leave to put a case: suppose linen of Irish manufacture and linen of English or Scotch manufacture were to leave the same port, and were destined for the same market, would not the British manufacturer have a right to complain were he to pay a duty from which the Irish manufacturer was not only exempted, but enjoyed the additional advantage also of a premium, and of the free import of his raw materials? He would appeal to any Irishman, however indifferent he might be to the interests of his country, if he would not think himself entitled loudly to complain did the converse of such a proposition really exist? Mow, therefore, could we require from others what we should be unwilling to concede ourselves? He would be sorry in any degree to disappoint that rt. hon. gent, or to meet his disapprobation in this measure, whose care he knew had been uniformly directed to the support and prosperity of that manufacture. Rather than incur disapprobation, indeed, he flattered himself that he also would be considered as its warm supporter, and as a coadjutor to those who were its best friends. He would be happy, indeed, to exonerate that manufacture from the duty in question, but found that it could not be done consistently with the other interests of the country, and without the greatest injustice to the British manufacturer. As an honest man, therefore, he was decidedly of opinion, that no such exemption could be made.
was not disposed to enter into any argument on the. subject; nor did he give his opinion whether such a duty should or should not be laid on that manufacture. He had only concluded, from the face of the right hon. gent's, statement, that that duty was to be removed. If he had been led into an error, it was with the right hon. gent, himself that that error originated; for he had certainly stated that the schedules he had submitted to the House, had met with the approbation of the manufacturers and merchants, whose approbation, from what he knew of their sentiments, was not to he obtained by a continuance of the duty. He 694 was sorry it was not taken off, but he did not mean to enter into the propriety cither of doing or of not doing so.
§ Mr. Corry
begged leave to put the right hon. gent, right. He had not really used the words to which the right hon. gent. had alluded. He had only expressed his hops that it would meet the approbation of all the mercantile interest of the country. He had received letters from the merchants of Cork, stating certain circumstances and certain requisitions that would be acceptable to them. All these he had complied with in the schedule by anticipation, and hoped they would therefore be pleased. The merchants of Belfast had desired the measure to be postponed, and for this reason he had delayed it for some time; but they had come forward with no requisitions whatever. Io letters from Dublin a drawback on salt had been requested, and this was one instance, and, except another of very Utile moment, the only instance, in which he had not complied with what he knew to be the wish of those who were concerned.
complimented the right hon. gent, on the perspicuity and clearness with which he had expressed himself, and thought that his statement ought in this respect to give general satisfaction; but said, that on his return home after the last session, he was very much blamed by his constituents for not opposing the tax when it was imposed. His silence, he confessed, was owing entirely to ignorance, as he was not aware that such a duty had been imposed. He was one of those who had opposed the Union; but as soon as that act of the Legislature had passed, he had done all in his power to make it as palatable as possible. He was sorry, there fore, to see one of the first acts of the united legislature have so great a tendency to depress the staple commodity, and almost the sole manufacture of Ireland. Such, a step, he thought, must make the union still more unpopular than any thing that had hitherto been done.
did not see why the North, of Ireland should be exempted from any of those duties that were necessary to support the government, more than any other part of the empire. He thought the situation of the state required some exertion, and did not apprehend that the linen trade was at all suffering under the tax. No class of labourers in Europe were better paid than those connected with the linen manufacture in Ireland, and therefore none, he thought, were better able to contribute to the support of the state. It would be enough if they were relieved from the tax when the situation of the country could admit of it.
§ Mr. Atkins
said, he did not think there were any grounds for taking off this duly; there were between thirty and forty articles employed in the linen manufacture of Ireland, imported duty-free, which was not the case with English manufactures.
§ Mr. Hawthorne
thought the tax in question could be no reasonable subject of complaint, when it was considered that it was not a permanent tax, but intended to continue only during the war. Upon this principle it met with his concurrence, though, otherwise, he confessed he should have been disposed to oppose it.
§ Lord De Blaquiere
maintained that, notwithstanding the tax complained of, they still go to market with advantage, as had been fully explained by his right hon. friend. The duty his lord-hip considered not as a burden, but rather as a subject of glory, that they were called upon to pay their quota in support of the country in the present crisis.
did not wish that it should go abroad that the linen trade was taxed more than it could really bear. The truth was, that the tax as in every other article of manufacture must fall not on the manufacturer, baton the consumer. he great question was, whether the tax was of such a nature as to prevent the manufacturers going to a foreign market, or if it was of such an extent as to operate as an embargo on the export of the article? But if the tax was of such a nature, his lordship maintained, as not to shake the export nor to harrow the circulation of the article in a foreign market, there could be no reasonable objection to its imposition, particularly when justified by other circumstances. Other wise his lordship allowed that that tax would certainty be impolitic. Another question that would naturally occur on this subject was, whether the export during the operation of the tax. was greater or less than in former years, when unencumbered with the tax? The duty fell at all events so moderately on the linen traders, that they were not entitled to complain, unless it could be shewn that it affected in any material degree their usual rate of exportation.
§ Lord De Blaquiere
did not understand that there were any particular complaints in Ireland on the subject. The opinions of the people here were not particularly hostile to he measure.
stated, that in regard to the linen board, to opinion had been asked of them, nor had they entered into any resolution, or given any opinion on the subject. He understood it, however, to be the general desire of people in Dublin to 696 have the tax removed. The question still he before the linen board in a state of indecision. He would wish, he said, to have the different statutes on the subject laid before the House.
§ Mr. Corry
ackowledged that resolution had been entered into at the meeting to which the right hon. gent, alluded, but that that meeting had been called merely to explain the grounds of the tax. At the same time there was no disapprobation expressed, and considering the attention which the right hon. gent, himself had given to the subject, he was willing to consider his not expressing positive disapprobation as a tacit acknowledgment that the measure was justifiable, for he was certain that if that right hon. gent, regarded the measure as incompatible with the public good, he would not have hesitated to have given it his most decided and peremptory negative. Since this was not the case, he was willing to construe his silence into approbation. With respect to the motion of laying the different statutes before the House, he would accede to it with the greatest satisfaction, but it would necessarily require some time.—The report was agreed to, and a bill ordered to be prepared and brought in accordingly. Alter which,
them moved for some accounts relative to the real and official value of the exports and imports of Great Britain to and from Ireland.—Agreed to.—Also, that there be laid before the House copies or extracts of the divers proclamations which have been made in Great Britain or Ireland, respecting corn, meal, or malt, Indian turn, rice, Or potatoes, &c. since the union, to the latest period the same can be made up. Ordered.
moved, that there be laid before the House, an account of all linen imported from Great Britain or Ireland, distinguishing that which was manufactured in Ireland since the union, to the 5th of January 1804, distinguishing each year. Ordered.