HC Deb 22 March 1815 vol 30 cc0-316

The order of the day being moved, for going into a Committee of Ways and Means, to consider of the regulation of the duties upon Tobacco in Ireland,

Sir John Newport

opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair. He said, he had a radical objection to this mode of laying on taxes by piece-meal, without the intervention of a proper time for considering the general state in which they stood. The right hon. gentleman might be right in proposing the line of taxation for which he was about to move, but it was to the principle of the proceeding that he had so decided an objection. The House was in this manner called to lay on particular taxes, without a fair discussion as to the general state of the revenue, of which they were to- form a part. One sum was moved for at one time, then followed another at a different period, and the general financial statement did not make its appearance until so late a period of the session, that no attendance for its discussion could be expected. To the plan pursued in the Ways and Means he had in particular an objection, because in his opinion, the entire wants of the country should be laid before them, instead of this partial disposal of them. He would prefer, that a real estimate of the revenue of Ireland, compared with the expenditure of that country, should be fairly produced. The idea was delusive of raising additional sums there, when it was avowedly unable to meet its own debt. He could have no objection to Ireland paying her fair proportion of the public burthens, but this mode prevented his really ascertaining what that proportion was; he therefore hoped the Fight hon. gentleman would defer his measure until a future period.

Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald

said, that if any delusion prevailed with respect to the financial situation of the country, that delusion was not imputable to him. He, on the contrary, had always stated to Parliament the circumstances in which Ireland was placed, and had not concealed from Ireland the sacrifices that she would be called upon to make. He had desired to make no partial statement; but he apprehended that the course which, with the approbation of the House, his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for England, had proceeded on in this country, was equally open to him to follow; nay, he took blame to himself that he had not followed it before. Were not the votes of supply, were not the military and naval votes granted for the joint service of the United Kingdom? Was not the admitted deficiency of the Irish revenue, was not the statement of the right hon. baronet himself, a sufficient justification of the proceedings? It was idle to deny it. What now was he blamed for? He would anticipate, if he were permitted, the sitting of the committee for a moment or two, and would mention the nature of his resolution. He had some time since mentioned to the right hon. baronet, that he had new duties of customs in contemplation; that which he was about to pro- pose was, a duty on tobacco equal to that lately laid on in Great Britain, Parliament having recognized the principle of assimilation; and he was only anxious that the resolution should bear this date, that the importing merchant in Ireland might know the duty he would be liable to pay from this date, upon the passing of the Bill, and not have to complain of any surcharge of which he had not full notice. Would not this be preferable to waiting until after the importation from the United States, and being obliged either to take stock on hand, or to allow the vender to raise the price of his commodity by the full amount of the new duty which the public, as consumers, would pay, and the revenue receive nothing? In compliance with the expressed wish of the right hon. baronet, he had declined moving this duty when the English duty was imposed: but the ratification of the treaty with America, had made it necessary to lose no farther time, if we would have a productive source of revenue. The right hon. baronet had wished for an exposition of our resources before he voted any thing. Did be then think that we had a redundance? Did be not himself tell the House, on a former night, the fearful amount of our deficit? Did be not know that no budget could be brought forward for Ireland until after the English budget was stated—until the estimated expenditure of both countries was ascertained, and the share of Ireland's contribution to the joint account fairly stated? If the right hon. baronet wished to defer it for the purpose of having full discussion, he apprehended that he was affording him the means of that discussion, by not waiting until that time arrived. He had only one other point to notice, which he would take this occasion of doing; that, sensible as he was of the great importance of a review of our finances, and far from wishing to create delusion or prolong it, he would now give notice, that either he, or his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of England, would, probably on the first day after parliament met again, propose the revival of the committee of finance, in the hope that they would be able to present to the House a fair view of our resources and of our wants, in which he should be glad of the right hon. baronet's assistance.

The House then resolved itself into the committee.