HC Deb 05 March 1805 vol 3 cc709-10

On the motion that the Speaker do leave the chair; in order to go into a committee op the salt duty bill,

Mr. Johnstone

rose, not, he said to-repeat the general arguments on this measure, which the house had heard so forcibly urged yesterday, but to call the attention of gentlemen to the operation of the salt tax in Scotland. When this tax was imposed in 1795, it was reduced in Scotland from 6s. 6d. to 4s. per bushel. This reduction took place in consequence of a consideration of the peculiar circumstances of the people of that country. Now, he wished to understand how it was proposed to draw the additional tax contained in this bill from a country so circumstanced. If in 1795 it was incapable of paying more than 4s. per bushel, why was it now deemed capable of affording 9s.? Considering, indeed, the situation of Scotland fully and fairly, it was his opinion that it. would be much wiser to remit the salt duty in that country altogether. That duty produced but 47,0001. per annum, and there was a bounty allowed from the excise amounting to 29,000l. which, with a considerable; bounty from the customs, exceeded the produce of the tax. For these reasons, he submitted, that a repeal of the duty as to Scotland would be not less advantageous, to the revenue than to the people of Scotland. If so, then, bow could ministers justify the imposition of a farther salt tax upon that country?

Mr. Huskisson

stated the reason for the former reduction of the salt tax in favour of Scotland to be this, that as the Scotch people manufactured their salt from sea water, they were subject to an increased expence for fuel. On that account this allowance was made, which it was still proposed to continue, and he contended, there, fore, that the people of Scotland had no reason to complain. As to the produce of the revenue arising from the salt duty in Scotland contrasted with the bounty, he admitted that it was not considerable; but then its reduced amount proceeded from the frauds that were known to exist, and the smuggling with Ireland, If, however, the hon. gent., would look into the, bill before the house, he would see that such provisions were introduced into it as were calculated effectually to prevent those frauds in future.—A. division took place upon the motion, ayes, 128; noes, 58 5 rnajority,70.