commenced by observing, that in 1802, five shillings covered all the expenses to which the maltsters were liable for their licences. Afterwards a gradual increase had been made in the price of them, until they now cost 4l. 10s.; and, by the last act, every maltster was compelled to take out a separate license for every malthouse which he had, unless it happened to be contiguous to another, which was also in his possession; so that instead of having 4l. 10s. to pay for his license, he might have to pay ten times that sum. The effect of this act, which was miscalled a law, and which had been smuggled through parliament in a very strange manner this session, had been highly grievous to the persons interested in the malt trade. As it would be an absolute scandal upon legislation to allow such an act to remain on the Statute-book, and which had obtained a place in it without sufficient consideration, he asked leave to bring in a bill "to repeal so much of the Excise licences act of the present session, as regards the carrying on of trade in more than one place."
§ Mr. Bright
thought the motion of the hon. member was of a very important nature, and that the country was deeply indebted to him for bringing it forward. It appeared to him to be only necessary to bring the act in question before the House to obtain the repeal of it. He particularly, complained of the manner in which it had been smuggled through the House.
§ Mr. Lockhart
said, that in consequence of what had occurred with regard to this bill, it was his determination to move, next session, that it be a standing order of the House, that no bill, authorizing any taxation, or the regulation of any taxation, should be read a second time without being previously printed.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
contended that the act in question had not been hurried though the House, and declared that nothing could be farther from his intention upon any occasion than to take parliament by surprise. He was glad that there was a clause in this act enabling the House to reconsider it this session. The object of that clause, he would frankly confess, was, to make the tax local as well as personal.
§ Mr. W. Smith
insisted that the bill had been smuggled through the House, like several others introduced by the Treasury.
denied that the bill had been improperly hastened, and said, that at the desire of the hon. member for Bristol, the third reading had been suspended for a week, as he wished to have an opportunity to look into its provisions, and yet he allowed the bill to pass in silence. The bill went to prevent harassing suits, and the hon. member for Bristol would find, that if it were repealed, his constituents would be in a worse condition than before.
§ Leave was given to bring in the bill.