§ Sir John Newport
moved the order of the day for the house to resolve itself into a committee on this bill. The house having resolved itself accordingly, on the resolution being read, that there be granted a duty of 28s. a ton on iron,
said, he had not supposed the right hon. baronet meant seriously to persist in the proposed duty on iron, after a similar tax had been rejected in England, on account of its impolitic pressure upon all the manufactures. of the country, and its consequent extension to the poorer classes of the community. If this was found to be a weighty consideration in England, how much more ought it to operate, when the comparative poverty of Ireland was contemplated! This proposed duty would cause an increase of twenty per cent. in the price of iron, and prove almost ruinous to the infant manufactures of that country, as no countervailing duty was allowed on their introduction into England. A drawback was provided, in the case of the small duty of 3s. per cwt. on sugar; and yet to countervail the much more material tax upon iron, no increase of drawback was allowed. The measure, if carried in its present shape, would defeat itself, as not a shilling of revenue would be derived from it,: as it was only calculated to produce 15,000l., he hoped the right hon. baronet would adopt some of the many preferable means that presented themselves of raising that sum, and prevent the dissatisfaction that would ensue in Ireland, if, whilst in this ample and opulent country, the tax upon iron was abandoned as oppressive, it should be inflicted there.
thought it was impossible the right hon. baronet could press the tax, as even in case of providing a sufficient countervailing duty, if the manufactures of Ireland were like those of England, the mixture of foreign with native iron would prevent its being embraced. He was sure the tax would produce nothing; and he was also of opinion, that in estimating the duty on sugar, the right hon. gentleman had calculated upon a greater average price (50s. per cwt.) than it would be found to bear. It was altogether a new and extraordinary measure, to make a provision of temporary war taxes to pay a permanent loan; and even the provision made would fall greatly short of what it was estimated at.
§ Sir John Newport
said, that from the observations made by the right hon. gen- 332 tleman opposite to him (Mr. Foster), it might be supposed that the tax now proposed on iron was exactly similar to the duty which had been proposed on iron in this country; but the fact was directly the reverse. This was not an excise duty;— this was not a tax upon native iron, but on foreign iron. It was contended, that if this duty were laid on, there ought to be a countervailing duty in England. In answer to this assertion, he begged to ask, how it happened that no less than five duties had been imposed upon iron in this country, without any countervailing duty being imposed in Ireland? These several duties amounted to no less than 2l. 10s. per ton; and when duties to such an amount had been laid on in England without any countervailing duty in Ireland, he did not think it now fair to call for a countervailing duty in England, when a duty of 1l. 8s. was proposed in Ireland. If he had any doubt upon this subject, he was enabled to resort to the best possible assistance, for he had the right hon. gentleman's own authority. The year before last, the right hon. gentleman had proposed an, alteration of the duties, by converting the whole into British currency, with the exception of the imports from Great Britain. Now, it was impossible to deny, that this was an alteration of the duty to the amount of 8⅓ per cent. without any countervailing duty having been proposed. Here then he had the right hon. gentleman's authority for what lie was now doing. It was true, that in the instance he had alluded to, the sum was small; but that was of no importance; the principle was established, whether the sum was large or small. But if Ireland had an absolute right to call for this countervailing duty, for this additional duty of 1l. 8s., undoubtedly Great Britain had an equal right to call for a countervailing duty in Ireland, in consequence of the duties to the amount of 2l. 11s. per ton, which had been imposed in Great Britain. These cases certainly did not escape the attention of the legislature at the time of the union. It was enacted, that countervailing duties should be imposed in each country, and the articles are specified in the schedule No. 1; but in that schedule, iron and hardware are not mentioned; they are included in schedule No. 2, which contains a list of articles which are to be subject to a fixed duty for 20 years. Considering, therefore, that this subject was fully within the contemplation of the Persons 333 who framed the act of union, and considering that no countervailing duty had been called for in Ireland in consequence of the additional duties in this country, he did not think the right hon. gentleman's objection intitled to any weight. With respect to the objections made by the other right hon. gentleman, respecting sugar, and by the other right hon. gentleman (Mr. Rose), he begged to re-assert what he stated on a former occasion, that all the duties in Ireland were annual. The legislature never had felt itself bound to continue the duties of the former year, but altered or repealed them whenever it thought proper. He wished the right. hon. gentleman had stated his reasons for asserting, that this duty on sugar would not produce any revenue. The average during the last year was 50s.; the tax would certainly then have attached, and he saw no reason why it should not attach now. But the right hon. gentleman had accused him of not making provision for the interest of the loan: to this assertion he should give a very short answer. The charge for the loan, not including the interest that might become due upon treasury bills that might be hereafter issued, was 268,666l., the provision he had made was 333,244l.; which exceeded the charge by above 64,000l.; and consequently ample provision was made for the loan, It was true, that he had stated the amount of the charge, on opening the budget, at 313,000l.; but this was because he had done what none of his predecessors had done, viz provided, by anticipation, for the interest that might become due during the current year. This he certainly was not bound to do; and consequently the ways and means exceeded the regular charges, as he had before stated, by 64,000l. and even if the duty on sugar, which he had estimated at 60,000l. did not produce a single farthing, still there would be a surplus of 4000l, But he begged that it might not for a moment be supposed that he admitted the position of the right hon. gentleman, that this duty would not produce any revenue. The right hon. gentleman had formed his opinion upon the price of the day; but he had formed his calculation upon the average of one or two years. Upon these grounds he should certainly persevere in the tax.
said, that the situation of England and Ireland, was such, that, although the former could afford to relinquish the advantage of a countervailing 334 duty, the latter was not in a condition to forego the protection of it, and allow this country an advantage. The doctrine of the right hon. gentleman, that because an article was not found in the first schedule of the act he had quoted, a countervailing duty was not to extend to it, was quite new, and extremely dangerous.
§ Sir John Newport
said, he did not mean that it was not competent to parliament to extend that duty; but he would ask, since the right hon. gentleman seemed so strenuous for the countervailing duty, why it had not been called for in the case of the duty on cotton wool, which had been imposed since the union?
said, that the duty was only a penny per pound, and not an object of great consequence, and he thought no omission ought to be pleaded as a precedent for not now pursuing the right course.
§ Mr. Corry
said, he was glad to see the principle of the union so well agreed upon. Undoubtedly, a countervailing duty ought to be laid in either country, for a duty imposed on the other; and, therefore, the tax now proposed would have the effect of equalizing what, by the increase of duty is this country, since the union, without a countervailing duty in Ireland, had been made unequal. He hoped the right hon. baronet would make the duties in Ireland perpetual, instead of annual and uncertain, as they now are.
spoke at some length on the necessity of immediately remedying any breach or omission of the enactments of the act of union. He thought the tax on iron would have the effect of destroying the produce of the duty already imposed.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, he was not a friend to the duty upon Iron; but he submitted to it as the best in the choice of evils. When gentlemen objected to a tax because it affected the manufactures, and condemned the measures by which the right hon. baronet was to raise a considerable revenue, would they be so good as to point out what course of taxation could possibly be adopted, by which the manufactures of the country would not be affected? He would not accede to the duty on iron, if it violated a principle of the union; but it did not appear to him to do so. The duty on sugar, as sufficient was provided without it to cover the loan, was imposed because a duty was also imposed, in England; and he 335 considered it to be intended as a security for the future interest of the loan, in addition to the faith of parliament. He admitted, the iron duty was rather a strong measure; but he did not know any that would be less severely felt.—Sir William Young, Mr. Parnell, and Mr, Huskisson, said a few words in opposition to the taxes.—On account of a verbal omission which Mr. Foster pointed out, the committee did not proceed in the bill; but the chairman reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again to-morrow.