HC Deb 10 February 1813 vol 24 cc431-4
Sir John Newport

asked, whether the hon. Secretary for Ireland meant to bring forward to-morrow the measure, of which notice had been given, to prohibit the exportation of Starch from Ireland? the answer to which question would determine, whether he should bring forward some resolutions concerning the Act of Union with Ireland, which he conceived would be violated by that measure.

Mr. Peel

having answered in the affirmative,

Sir J. Newport

said, that by an article in the act alluded to, it was enacted, that after the first day of January, 1801, all bounties on, and prohibitions of, any exports from one of the United Kingdoms to the other, should cease and determine. This solemn agreement between the two countries, he contended, should not be departed from on account of any temporary expedients. If it were once departed from, how could the people of Ireland, who only returned one-sixth of the members of that House, be secure against any encroachments? In proposing what he had to propose, he was actuated by no other wish than that of preserving harmony between the two kingdoms; but he felt that the only means of preserving harmony would be to mete out equal justice between them. Because it was found convenient to prohibit the manufacture of an article in England, it would follow, according to the principles of the Bill he alluded to, that the exportation of it should be prohibited in Ireland. In the case of the distillery prohibitions, there was a plea set up that there was a dissonance in the different parts of the Act of Union on the subject: in this case, however, no such reason could be adduced. He did not conceive that the hon. Secretary had any deliberate intention of violating the Act of Union, but that the measure proposed was a violation of a main article of it, was evident. The commercial advantages which Ireland possessed, she was entitled to as a right, as she had in return given up her independent legislature. If the Act of Union was constantly to be violated, it would be better to secure the harmony between the two countries, by restoring to Ireland an independent legislature.—To prevent the unhappy consequences which would result from the infractions of the Act in question, he should propose two Resolutions: 1. "That, by the 6th article of the Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland, it is enacted, that, from the 1st of January, 1801, all prohibitions and bounties on the export of articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of either country to the other, shall cease and determine; and that the said articles shall thenceforth be exported from one country to the other without any duty on such export:—2. That the above exemption from prohibition cannot be altered or infringed upon without a manifest violation of the compact then entered into between the several parliaments of the two parts of the now United Kingdom."

Mr. Peel

rose to explain his reasons for giving the notice of the measure in question. In the beginning of the session, when notice had been given of the continuance of the prohibition of the manufacture of starch from articles of food, he had given notice to the manufacturers of starch in Ireland, that a similar measure would be extended to that country. Representations, however, were made by them, that as that article was employed to a considerable extent in the manufacture of linen, the prohibition of the starch manufacture would seriously affect that of the staple commodity of Ireland. This, on reference to the linen manufactures, turned out to be founded in fact, in con- sequence of which, and of a memorial with numerous signatures from the north of Ireland, the government was induced to abandon it. It was true, as had been stated by the right hon. baronet, that he had no intention to violate the Act of Union, as the measure which he had to propose was solely for the benefit of the country which possessed the least number of representatives. But would it be quite fair to allow the Irish manufacturer to supply that article to this country, which British manufacturers were prohibited from supplying?—The hon. gentleman then referred to an article of the Act of Union, which he conceived justified the prohibition, by which it was provided, that the enactment above mentioned, should not affect the regulation of the exportation of corn flour, of which latter article starch was exclusively manufactured. He concluded by moving the previous question.

Mr. Ponsonby

said, that he should have no objection to the previous question being moved, as he thought the subject might be better discussed when the Bill was brought forward. As to the construction which had been put on the article respecting the export of flour, &c. it would not bear examination, for it would be easily perceived to what extent such an explanation might be carried.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the measure of which his right hon. friend had given notice, was wholly in favour of Ireland. Great Britain laboured under two prohibitions; for while no starch was permitted to be manufactured, it was impossible to export any; while Ireland was not prohibited from manufacturing, but only from exporting. If this measure were not adopted, the prohibition of the manufacture in Great Britain would be nugatory, as the British merchants might carry on the manufacture in Ireland with British grain, and import the produce into this country. He contended that the clause as to the export of grain, &c. applied to starch, as the House had sanctioned the application of it to spirits.

Sir John Newport

replied. By the explanation which had been given of the article concerning grain, the Act of Union might be rendered entirely null. He appealed to the House, whether this clause had been applied to spirits, as in that discussion an entirely different plea had been set up. Alive as he was to the interests of the linen manufacture, he was persuaded that if one infringement was suf- fered on the Act of Union, pleas would never be wanting for any infraction of it. The bond lay before them; it was to the litera scripta of the bond, and to the meaning which had been attributed to it by its proposers, and not the glosses now put on it, that he should appeal. He had no objection to the discussion coming on at a future time, but he had thought it better to oppose the measure in limine, which opposition being recorded, he should not divide the House.—The previous question was then put and carried.