HC Deb 05 June 1805 vol 5 cc770-2

On the order of the day for the third reading of this bill,

Lord Brooke rose to move a clause, by way of rider, proposing to exempt from the Alien Duty five other ships, which sailed from Milford Haven, and were freighted with oil fur that marker, provided, they should ar rive before the 3Ist of December; these, in addition to five other ships already exempted by the bill from that duty, amounting to about 22,000l. Provided they arrived within a given period.

Mr. Rose decidedly opposed the clause, as claiming an indulgence detrimental to the revenue in favour of persons who were by no means entitled to such an indulgence upon any ground. He explained the nature of this claim. It had been thought expedient about nine years since, to give encouragement to forty families to settle at Milford Haven, on the condition of their fitting out ships in the fishery, and instructing our seamen in their skill for taking such fish; and the consequence was, that, instead of complying with the conditions to which they had pledged themselves, instead of fitting out ships in the fishery, and improving our sailors in the art, and extending thereby our great nursery for seamen, the business had dwindled down to the exertions of a single family, who amassed a considerable fortune by it, and instead of fitting out ships for the fishery, they purchased the whale oil from the American fishermen, in American ports, and imported it into England as the produce of the British fisheries, and thereby eluded the alien duties, which were the principal barriers for the encouragement and protection of the British fisheries, the rapid improvements of which, within the last few years, were owing, not at all to those settlers, but entirely to the spirit of our own merchants, and the skill and adventure of our own seamen; against whose interests and encouragement it was now proposed, by another ex-emption of five ships cargoes from the alien duty, to throw 25,000l. into the pocket of a single family. He therefore decidedly opposed the clause.

Sir Charles Price also opposed the clause upon the same ground. He observed, that the claimant, whose name was Roche, was forced to fly from France in the tyranny of Robespierre, and was encouraged, upon the conditions mentioned by the right hon. Gent. To settle in this country. He had also adventured in America; so that he was a whaler of each country, and now wanted to claim exemption from the alien duties in favour of cargoes not procured by promoting the British fishery, and the important naval objects therewith connected, but purchased in American ports, from American whalers, at a moderate price, and brought into British ports exempt from the alien duties, and to be sold at double the original cost. The more oil could be brought into this country by any and all means, legal and illegal, the more advantageous would it be to him in the line of his trade; but he could not so far desert the rights of British seamen and British merchants in their own market, as. to suffer the produce or foreign fisheries to enter their ports upon equal terms, and reap the advantages due to them from their country.—The question being put, the clause was rejected; and the bill was read the third time, passed, and ordered to the lords.—Adjourned