brought up the report of the committee of Ways and Means, upon the propositions moved yesterday by sir John Newport.—The resolution being read respecting the duty on Sugar,
said, that the rt. hon. baronet had proposed a temporary duty in order to provide for the interest of a permanent loan, which was not only a novel, but, in his opinion, unwise mode of proceeding. But if he understood the meaning of the rt. hon. baronet correctly, he seemed to think that it was not necessary to raise any taxes for the payment of interest as long as there was any surplus revenue. The surplus revenue of Ireland, over and above the joint contribution, was only about 700,000l. applicable to the payment of the whole of her separate charge, and the rt. hon. baronet seemed to think that as long as any of this surplus remained, it was not necessary to impose any new tax. If the rt. hon. baronet did not 57 mean that, upon what principle was it that he proposed a temporary duty to pay the interest of a permanent loan? This duty upon Sugar in Ireland was proposed in consequence of a similar duty being laid on in this country, but the duty in Great Britain would cease with the war, and then the duty in Ireland must cease also.The rt. hon. baronet was introducing an entirely new principle, and it was a subject that deserved consideration, because they were now coming rapidly to that period when the debts of the two countries would bear that proportion to each other that they must, according to the act of Union, be united. He by no means contended that the whole of the supplies for Ireland should be raised within the year, but certainly taxes should be imposed to pay the interest of the loan.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that he did last night, in the most distinct manner, protest against any such interpretation being put upon what he had said as that now attempted by the rt. hon. gent. He had never stated that he would not propose any taxes while there remained any surplus revenue; but that as there were measures in contemplation that, he hoped, would very materially improve the revenue, and as he had been but a very short time in office, and had not an opportunity of fully considering the state of the country, he wished to propose taxes that should press as lightly upon the people as possible. With respect to raising the supplies within the year, why did not the rt. hon. gent. opposite to him (Mr. Foster) do it when he was in office? That rt. hon. gent. had had ample opportunity of knowing the state of the country before he came into office, whereas it was impossible for him (sir J. Newport) to obtain the necessary information, not being able to visit the country during the short time he had been in office. It was admitted that this duty ought to be laid on in consequence of the duty imposed in this country, but it was said that it would not be productive; he certainly did look to it for produce; but gentlemen ought not to press that as an argument against him, when they admitted that he was bound to propose this duty, a similar one having been laid on in this country. He might, he was sure, if he had thought proper, have estimated the other taxes higher than he had done; but he wished to be within bounds, But, surely, it would not be contended that if all the taxes together produced the sum wanted, that each particular one must produce the sum at which it was estimated; and he had not the smallest doubt 58 that the taxes he had proposed would produce more than the sum he had estimated them at. The taxes in Ireland were all annual, and if any of them were not productive, parliament of course had the power to repeal, alter, or amend them, or to substitute other taxes in their room. It had been said, that the price of Sugar never could reach the point where this duty would attach, but he had in his hand the price current of Sugar, and it would be seen that the average was above that at which the price would attach. He had heard nothing to induce him to alter his opinion respecting this duty, and he should most certainly adhere to it.
said, he had been asked why he had not, when he was in office, attempted to raise as much of the supplies as possible within the year: the answer was, he had done it, he had proposed taxes to the amount of 1,450,000l. a year. He did not blame the Budget of the rt. hon. baronet, because he had not been long enough in office to obtain full knowledge of the state of Ireland; but there was one observation which he wished to make: the loan for Ireland, made this year in England, was two millions; the annual amount of the debt of Ireland, due in England, was two millions; so that the whole of the loan would remain here to pay the interest of the debt. No country could go on long at this rate; and the debt of Ireland, it would be found, unless proper measures were taken, must be ultimately consolidated with that of this country, as the debt of the former was increasing in a much greater proportion than that of the latter. The proportion ought to be as one to seven; whereas, by the two loans of this year, it was four and a half to eighteen. Such a circumstance required the attention of this country, which must ultimately feel the weight of those impolitic measures.
§ Sir J. Newport
begged leave to state a few facts in answer to what had fallen from the right hon. gent. respecting his having raised so much of the supplies within the year. In the last year the joint charge of the two countries was 42 millions, and in the present year it was 43 millions: last year, when the rt. hon. gent. was chancellor of the exchequer, there were four millions British borrowed; this year there were two millions British, and two millions Irish, borrowed. After this short statement, he would ask, whether he had not done as much towards raising the supplies within the year as the rt. hon. gent? But the rt hon. gent, had not stated that, when 59 he came into office, there remained 800,000l. of the loan of the preceding year not drawn for, and that he had called for the power of raising 500,000l. by Treasury Bills; and the rt. hon. baronet said, that he hoped that he should not have occasion to issue bills to above half that amount. Besides, as he had stated last night, the Ways and Means which he had proposed exceeded the supply by 200,000l. With respect to the revenue produced by the taxes laid on by the rt. hon. gent., he wished to state a few facts: he would not, for the purpose of making a comparison, take a year that had been remarkably unproductive, but he would state the revenue of Ireland every year since the Union. In the year 1801, the revenue was 2,345,000l. in 1802, 3,254,000l in 1803, which was a remarkably unproductive year, and which the rt. hon. gent. had selected for the purpose of his comparison, it was only 2,741,000l. which was 500,000l. less than the preceding year; and in 1804, with all the rt. hon. gent's additional taxes, it was 3,220,0001.; and last year, 3,322,000l. The year 1802, was a year of peace and internal tranquillity in Ireland, and in that year the revenue was within 70,000l. as high as it was last year, after the rt. hon. gent. had imposed taxes to the amount of 1,200,000l. a year. Another reason which operated on his mind was, that he had seen the failure of the rt. hon. gent., who, in some instances, by very much increasing the tax, had actually diminished the revenue. This was the case with the duties upon Wine and Tobacco. Under all these circumstances, the house would, he was sure, consider him as justified for not having followed the advice of the rt. hon. gent. He was ready, however, to do the rt. hon. gent. justice; he certainly had projected regulations which would have very much improved the revenue; these regulations it was his intention to follow up, and he had no doubt that when the revenue of Ireland was collected in a fair and proper manner; when the collection was assimilated, as far as possible, to the collection of the revenue of this country, it would be found infinitely more productive. Until these exertions were made, he did not feel himself justified in calling for new taxes, when not above two-thirds of those now imposed were collected.
§ Mr. Corry
said, he trusted the house would indulge him with a few observations upon what had fallen from the rt. hon. gent. opposite to him. The tendency of the observations of the rt. hon. gent. (Mr. Foster) 60 was to make the house believe that when be came into office he had found the revenue at 2,700,000l. and that he had added taxes to the amount of 1,200,000l. a year to it. It was true, that in 1803, the year before the rt. hon. gent. came into office, the revenue of Ireland was only 2,750,000l. but that was a year in which, from obvious causes, the revenue had failed very considerably. The year before that the revenue was three millions and a quarter, and within 70,000l. as much as it was last year, with all the rt.hon. gent's, new taxes. He trusted the house would forgive him for taking up their time, but the rt. hon. gent. was so much in the habit of making these statements, certainly not intentionally, that he felt himself called upon to state the real facts. With respect to the raising the supplies as far as possible within the year, it certainly was desirable if it could be done; but the rt. hon. gent. who had not done it himself, had no right to call upon the present chancellor of the exchequer to do it. When he (Mr. Corry) was chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland, he had prepared a very strong measure for raising a considerable part of the supply within the year, and, if he had remained in office, he should certainly have submitted it to parliament; and his opinion and his plan, upon that point, remained upon record in the office. With respect to this duty upon Sugar, he begged to make one observation, and it appeared to him to be of considerable importance. A rt. hon. gent. (Mr. Rose) had stated, that the chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland was bound to lay on this duty, because it had been imposed in Great Britain. It was very true that when Ireland was admitted into a share of the colonial trade, she was bound, by what was called the Colony Compact, to lay on the some duties upon colonial articles as Great Britain; but he contended that the colony compact was merged in the union, and that Ireland now shared with Great Britain in the sovereignty of the West India Islands; and therefore the chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland had a right to use his own discretion upon the subject.
admitted that the colony compact was done away by the union, but the spirit of it still existed, for it could not be contended that Ireland should have a preference over Great Britain in her own colonies.
Lord De Bloquiere
complimented Mr. Foster for the exertions he had made when he was in office, and said he would have. 61 done a great deal more if he had not been thwarted.
said, he was happy to find that the rt. hon. baronet meant to adopt the regulations he had proposed;as he was sure they would prove beneficial.
§ Sir J. Newport
protested against the produce of the present year being taken as the criterion of what it would have been under the regulations of Mr. Foster, for though he meant to adopt the greatest part of them, he also intended to superadd many and important new ones.
§ Mr. Lee
referred to some documents in his hand, which would, he said, shew, that there was a considerable defalcation last year in the produce both of the excise and customs, though the stamps produced more than they did before. He contended, therefore, that instead of an increase of 1,200,000l. which Mr Foster took to himself the merit of having made in the revenue, compared with some former years, it would not exceed 500,000l.
said, there prevailed in Ireland a strong disposition to resist the collection of the revenue; he wished for the concurrence of all the gentlemen best acquainted with the subject, in devising measures proper to induce the people to submit to the necessary means of rendering them productive.
said, that the chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland had very great difficulties to contend against, and he thought the two rt. hon. gentlemen who lately held that office (Mr. Corry and Mr. Foster) entitled to great credit for their exertions: the former, he knew, had prepared a very strong and extensive plan for increasing the revenue of Ireland. The hon. member concluded with paying several compliments to the rt. hon. baronet who at present filled. the office of chancellor of the exchequer of Ireland.— The resolution was then agreed to. The resolutions respecting the Distilleries being read,
said, he did not mean to oppose this resolution, but he merely meant to state his reason for continuing the bounty upon the 500 gallon stills; it was because he conceived that there was a kind of compact upon the subject between the government and the distiller.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that when 200 gallon stills were allowed to be worked by law, it was right to give a bounty upon 500 gallon stills, to encourage the use of large ones; but when 200 gallon stills were prohibited, and that 500 gallon stills were the smallest 62 that could be legally used, he did not think they ought to have a bounty.—The resolutions were then agreed to, and bills ordered to be brought in upon them.