HC Deb 20 February 1822 vol 6 cc509-10
Mr. Lockhart,

in presenting a Petition from the owners and occupiers of land in Scarsdale, in the county of Derby, complaining of Agricultural distress, observed, that the petitioners were of opinion that excessive production was one of the causes of the present distress, and that this was one of the strongest reasons why that production should not be increased by foreign importation. They were utterly unable, however, to comprehend the doctrine which had been recently broached in that House, that taxation was not the cause of their distress, and were firmly persuaded that unless the strictest economy and retrenchment were enforced in every department of the state, not only the agricultural interest, but every class of the community, would be inevitably involved in ruin.

Mr. Jones

thought the measures proposed by his majesty's ministers were insufficient to afford effectual relief to the agricultural interest. The reduction of 1s. a bushel in the malt tax might afford a partial relief to the barley-growing counties, but it could not operate as a remedy for the distresses under which the agricultural interest laboured. If the duty on salt, which, next to water and bread, was the most essential article of life, had been taken off, a much more effectual relief would have been furnished to the farming interest. He trusted ministers would not be influenced merely by the opinions of county members, expressed in that House, but that they would listen to the sentiments of the country, as they were expressed at county meetings, unequivocally and unanimously, except on the subject of parliamentary reform, and that they would at length feel the necessity of applying some effectual remedy to the distresses of the country. The duty on salt, amounting to one million and a half, and the duty on leather, might be taken off with great benefit to the public. The duty of 6d. per pound on leather pressed with peculiar hardship on the poor man, who was compelled to wear shoes of the thickest leather, while the leather applied to the manufacture of ladies' shoes was of the finest texture, and consequently paid less duty. He trusted that the hon. gentlemen who had recently joined the ranks of administration, would be ready to carry into effect a measure, of which they had uniformly urged the necessity on the other side of the House; he meant, the reduction of the lay lords of the Admiralty. He hoped also, that the system of aiding the revenue by lotteries would at length be abandoned by ministers. It was disgraceful to the government of the country, that ministers should come down to that House of propose a lottery, while at the same time the Statute book prohibited gaming. It was, in fact, inviting the poor to come and loss their all by the scheme of the chancellor of the exchequer, while the rich were prevented from ruining themselves at the gaming table. If gaming were to be encouraged at all, he did not see why it should not be made a source of revenue, as in other parts of Europe.

Ordered to lie on the table.