HC Deb 01 June 1814 vol 27 cc1036-8

Sir G. Clerke presented a petition from certain distillers in Scotland, praying for the continuance of the suspension of the intercourse of spirits between Great Britain and Ireland.

The Petition having been read,

Sir G. Clerke

moved, that it be referred to the committee appointed to consider the subject of the intercourse of spirits between the two kingdoms.

Sir J. Newport

said, that the prayer of the petition was, to establish a permanent infringement of the Act of Union, by which the importation of Irish spirits into England was stipulated for. It would be a more manly course, if the people of any part of Great Britain were dissatisfied with the Act of Union, to instruct their representatives to move for its repeal altogether, than to petition for the evasion of those parts only which were beneficial to Ireland. The petition wished for an establishment in Ireland of the regulations on distilleries in Great Britain. On what ground was such an application justified? Might not the manufacturers of any article in Ireland be as much justified in coming forward to demand an assimilation to their own practice, of the same branch of trade which was carried on more beneficially in England. It was true, that under the Act of Union the Irish spirits could come into the English markets at a price inferior to the spirits manufactured in Great Britain; but it was an advantage guaranteed to them by the Act of Union; all suspensions of which he always had opposed, and ever should oppose.

Mr. W. Dundas

supported the prayer of the petition.

Mr. W. Fitzgerald

agreed with the right hon. baronet (sir. J. Newport); and observed, that the measure of 1809, which the petition supported by its prayer, had been acknowledged to be a violation of the Act of Union. The only reason why the non-intercourse had been continued, was, that by a full inquiry into the subject all future difficulties might be obviated, and not from the conviction that it was beneficial as a permanent measure. The petition could not be supported on the strength of the Act of Union, when its first prayer was for a continuance of the violation of that contract.

Mr. Western

supported the prayer of the petition; and said, that the question was, whether Irish spirits should come into this country at half the duty paid by those manufactured in this island?

Mr. R. Shaw

, of Dublin, opposed the prayer of the petition.

Sir G. Clerke

said, that in 1786 a measure had been adopted, with respect to the intercourse of spirits between England and Scotland, precisely similar to that, for the adoption of which, with respect to Great Britain and Ireland, the petition he had presented prayed. By that measure, the spirits of one country were not allowed to be imported into the other, unless they were manufactured in distilleries subject to particular regulations. This measure had not been thought hostile to the Act of Union with Scotland, which, as to freedom of trade, was the same as that with Ireland. The object of the petition was, to obtain a continuance of the suspension, with a view to a full enquiry into the subject.

Mr. W. Smith

thought the matter of too much importance to be cursorily passed over; and he must protest against the doctrine he had heard, that there was the slightest desire to interfere with the principles of the Union: such a false representation should not be suffered to go abroad; at the same time, he, for one, would be unwilling that the manufacturers of this country should be ruined, and transferred to the other side of the water.

Mr. Shaw

hoped gentlemen would not allow their minds to be misled by the idea that the Irish manufacturers were enabled to export their spirits at half the usual duty. But when the Irish spirits were imported, the English distiller was by no means ruined. He considered the question to be one in which the empire at large was interested; and he had no doubt it would be so fairly considered, that each part of the empire might derive proper advantage from the measures that would be introduced.

The question for the petition to lie on the table was carried.

General Gascoyne

presented a counter-petition from the distillers of Liverpool; observing, that as the subject had just been exhausted, he should offer no remarks on it.—This was also ordered to lie on the table.