HC Deb 30 May 1809 vol 14 cc785-7
General Gascoyne

proceeded at some length to comment upon the inequality of the Duties imposed upon the importation of British and foreign salts into Ireland, which he contended went to discourage the efforts of the British manufacturer, by giving an undue advantage to the foreign market. He admitted the excellence of the Bay salt, but insisted that the British Salt would with proper encouragement very shortly arrive at a comparative degree of excellence. The British manufacturer had a right to every encouragement from Ireland, and he thought this would be best done by an equalization of the duties. He concluded by moving, That the house do resolve itself to-morrow into a Committee, for the purpose of considering the propriety of equalizing the Duties on British and Foreign Salts, imported into Ireland.

Mr. Foster

said, that the British salt was made by the operation of fire, and what was called bay salt was made by the operation of the sun. The British salt was employed only prior to the packing of the beef, and the bay salt in the packing, so that there were no sort of competition in the Irish market between the two kinds of salt, as they were both employed for different purposes, or at least in different branches of the art of salting beef; the British salt would not be fit in packing the beef, because that kind of salt having undergone the process of boiling would be apt in warm countries to melt and slip from between the interstices of the beef, and so fail in the object of keeping the beef; in fact, what had made the Irish beef so famous in different quarters of the world for keeping so well in any climate, was the virtue of the bay salt with which it had been cured. The bay salt had been formerly 80 pounds to the bushel, while the British salt was but 56 pounds to the bushel, so much as to the inequality of the duties, since the measures of each bushel were rated at 56 pounds, and then the duties were on the one 1s. 5d. per bushel, and on the other 2s. the bushel. Any subject, however, that excited so considerable an interest in so respectable a part of the community as the town of Liverpool, he should be at all times ready to pay every attention to. But it was now just at the end of the session, and too late to get the necessary information from those in Ireland who were so interested in the question. He should be willing at an early period in the next session to agree to its being brought before the house, but he did not think the present the proper opportunity for discussing it.

Mr. Hutchinson

agreed with the right hon. gent. who had just spoken, on the propriety of postponing to the beginning of next session a question of such importance.

Mr. Jacob

entered into a chemical analysis of the nature of salt, and shewed, that the slower the process of drying the salt the slower the evaporation, the stronger the salt, and, that of course, if the process by fire was contrived to be as gradual as that by the sun, he did not see that the salt made by the fire, might not be as serviceable as the foreign bay salt.

Mr. Foster

said, in explanation, that he was aware that an atttempt had been made in Lymington to make bay salt, and that it had failed. He said, that it was called bay salt, because made by being exposed to the sun in inlets or bays in Portugal.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that he trusted his hon. friend who brought forward this motion would now be satisfied that it had met with as favourable a reception from his right hon. friend near him as circumstances could possibly admit of. He hoped, therefore, that the motion would not at present be pressed any farther, with understanding that the question would meet with every attention from that house early in the next session.

Sir John Newport

said, that, the evidence at present was but ex parte evidence, and they ought to wait until they heard the sentiments of those in Ireland interested in the subject, before they decided either upon lowering the duties on British salt or augmenting those upon foreign salt.

General Tarleton

said, that England had been on all occasions bounteous and indulgent towards Ireland, in giving her every fair advantage in her trade; and that if it was made out that the British salt was as effectual in curing provisions as the foreign salt, he thought Ireland should not object to the equalization of the duties. The bay salt was the cargo under which brandy in general was smuggled: and perhaps it might be owing to this method of disguising smuggling that the gentlemen in Ireland were able to drink such good wines. He had often been indebted to them for a very hospitable portion of their excellent wines; and he knew them to be very select in their wines in general, indeed they drank it much cheaper and better than gentlemen in this country were able to do; and that they did so, might be owing to the Irish market being pretty abundantly supplied in this way.

General Gascoyne then consented to withdraw his motion.