HC Deb 09 April 1812 vol 22 cc252-5

Sir John Newport observed, that he had given notice of this motion last session, but owing to the delay which generally took place in the printing of papers relating to Ireland, he had not been able to bring it forward at that time. He then went into a minute statement of a transaction which had taken place in Ireland, in the year 1810 An individual had, at that period, introduced a cargo of Martinico sugars, for which he was required to pay the foreign, instead of the British colonial duties, as he had been led to expect by the Custom-house officers at Martinico. On this he presented a memorial to the lord lieutenant, stating his grievances, and praying for a remedy. The sugars were then allowed to be warehoused; and after a considerable time part of those sugars were allowed to be sold for the home consumption, the rest being liable to the foreign duties. The right hon. baronet censured that constant interference of the Irish executive government in revenue affairs, instead of referring them to the treasury, as was uniformly the case in this country. This interference, he maintained, would ever prevent any proper Older in the administration of revenue in Ireland. He concluded by moving the following Resolutions: 1. "That, on the 31st of December 1810, a Petition to the lord lieutenant of Ireland for admission of a cargo of Martinico sugars, on payment of British colonial duty, was referred to the board of customs, who reported that they could not be admitted to entry but on payment of foreign duty, conformably to the 49th Geo. 3, c. 61, as stated by the attorney general to the board. 2. That, on the 11th of January, 1811, the said sugars were landed on bond and stored, in conformity to the order of the lord lieutenant. 3. That, on the 6th of February, a Petition for liberty to dispose of 40 hogsheads of the said sugars, alleged to be damaged, and of the remainder of the said cargo, on payment of British duty, was referred to the board of customs, who reported, on the 13th of March, that, in conformity to the attorney general's and board counsel's opinion, "that the said 40 hogsheads, and such other part of the cargo as the merchant thought fit, might be disposed of, on payment of British colonial duty, provided a sufficient quantity remained in store to satisfy the higher duty, should the same be thereafter required," they had ordered the said sugars to be entered accordingly. 4. That, on the 8th and 9th of March 250 hogsheads, part of the said sugars were entered on payment of 1l. 7s. per cwt. in place of 2l. 9s. 5d. the foreign duty to which they were liable, making a difference of 2,965l. which balance was not paid in to the revenue of Ireland until the 14th of January following. 5. That, on the 15th of March, the lord lieutenant's order was signified, to suspend the execution of the said order, which had been already carried into effect on the 6th and 9th of the said month. 6. That, on the 26th of April, another application for discharge of the rest of the said sugars, on payment of British colonial duty, was referred to the board of customs, and, on the authority of the attorney general, negatived, and payment of the balance of duty on the former sugars directed to be enforced. 7. That all these orders were conveyed from the lord lieutenant to the board of customs by the under secretary in the civil department without the intervention of the board of treasury, although the 35 Geo. 3, c. 28, s. 22, Irish statute, by which that board is established, entrusts to it the duty of superintending and controuling the collection and management of the revenue of Ireland in all its branches. 8. That, from June 1811 to March 1812, when the remaining sugars, 200 hogsheads, were entered for exportation on payment of foreign duty, the whole proceedings in this case were directed by the board of treasury, communicating with the board of customs, according to the intent and meaning of the last-mentioned act of parliament."

Mr. W. Pole

said, he certainly should not take up the time of the House by following the right hon. baronet through the details into which he had though proper to enter, particularly as the right hon. baronet had admitted that, since the month of April last, all the steps which had been taken in this business had met with his approbation. With respect to the delay which took place last session, it arose from the unfortunate illness of the right hon. baronet himself, and not because the pa- pers were not produced. The simple facts of the case were, that the person alluded to by the right hon. baronet had imported a large quantity of Martinico sugar into Ireland, under the idea that he should only be charged the British colonial duties, not the foreign duties, and upon finding that he bad been misinformed with respect to the law upon the subject, he had applied to the executive power for redress. The right hon. baronet had contended, that the lord lieutenant, by means of his secretary or under secretary, ought not to have interfered, but that the interference with the revenue board, if it was necessary should have been by the treasury. This was the first time he had ever heard it stated, that if a person applied to the executive government, praying for relief, that the application ought not to be attended to. He agreed with the right hon. baronet, that when the interference did take place, it would have been better if notice had been given to the treasury, because, in all cases of this kind, he was of opinion that the treasury ought to be consulted, or to have notice given to it of the transaction. With respect to the present case, he was at a loss to conceive what it was that the right hon. baronet complained of: the revenue had sustained no loss, for he himself admitted that every farthing of the duties had been paid. When the individual first applied to the Irish government, the opinion of the attorney-general was taken upon it, and upon that opinion the sugars were allowed to be landed. It was true that a pan of these sugars were allowed to be taken out of the stores, and sold for home consumption, paying the smaller duties, and he would state the reason of it. When this person imported this large quantity of Martinico sugars into Ireland, he had entered into several engagements which he meant to liquidate with the produce of these sugars, and in consequence of an application from him, he was allowed to sell a part of the sugars; but enough was received in the king's stores to cover the whole of the foreign duties, not only upon what was sold, but upon what was retained in the stores. If this permission had not been granted, the man must have become a bankrupt, and it appeared very hard to place a man in that situation, when he had property to so large amount in the king's warehouses. Upon the whole, he was at a loss to conceive what was the complaint which the right hon. baronet intended to make against the government of Ireland. The case of this individual had been examined with the greatest care and attention, and it was not pretended that the revenue had sustained the slightest loss. Under these circumstances, he should certainly oppose the motion.

Mr. Parnell

condemned generally the policy on which the financial concerns of Ireland were conducted.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, this was the most extraordinary motion he had ever known to be attempted to be brought before the House. No ground had been laid before them, no character had been given to the resolutions either of praise or blame; and as so much of the time of the House had been already taken up to no purpose, he felt it his duty to move the previous question.

Sir J. Newport

insisted that a character had been given to the resolutions. One of them particularly complained, that the regulation of the duties on excise and customs bad been assumed and acted on by the executive power, without any application to the board of treasury, to which department they belonged. That when be shewed this to the late Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer he was absolutely amazed at the transaction, and could scarcely bring himself to credit it: but the fact was, that of which another of the resolutions complained, namely, that the right hon. Secretary had a preponderating influence in Ireland,—that he was the sole organ of government, and no other person had any will under it. The right hon. gentleman himself had frequently proclaimed it to the House, and it was now folly evinced. He was therefore surprised the right hon. gentleman should have slept in with the previous question.

A division then took place on the original question. For the Resolutions 11; Against them 36.