HC Deb 13 June 1823 vol 9 cc973-5

The House having resolved itself into a committee on the Barilla Duties acts,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was not his intention to establish a permanent law imposing a high duty upon barilla for the purpose of encouraging the manufacture of kelp. His measure was merely temporary. There were peculiar considerations belonging to this case which induced him to extend to the kelp-makers such relief and protection as was practicable. He owned that the distress among them was extremely great: not less than from 80,000 to 100,000 persons were, in some way or other, employed in this branch of trade; and, from motives of humanity, it was necessary to do something for them. He therefore proposed n resolution for raising the existing duty on barilla from five to eight guineas; the new duty to begin on the 5th of January 1824, and to continue for five years.

Mr. Denison

wished that sufficient time should be allowed to the soap-makers, to receive consignments of barilla contracted for under the duty of five guineas.

Mr. Campbell

strongly supported the resolution, observing that if it were not carried, 2,000 persons on his own estate only would be thrown out of employ.

Mr. Calcraft

felt himself called upon to support the resolution. Want and misery would be entailed upon the kelp-makers if it were not carried. He objected to high duties in general, but thought that in this case the injury to the merchants, &c. would be less than to a large population on the west coast of Scotland.

Mr. K. Douglas

thought it would be better to defer the measure till the next session, and that the kelp manufacturers would not suffer any material injury in the meantime.

Lord A. Hamilton

said, that much injury had been occasioned by the vacillating policy which had been pursued with respect to these duties. He thought that the measure could not be pressed too rapidly.

Mr. Ricardo

contended, that the only ground on which the resolution could be supported was that of humanity. The same reasons that now induced this augmentation, would exist at the end of five years to warrant its continuance. He objected to temporary expedients of this kind, and to the principle on which they were established.

Mr. T. Wilson

opposed the increase of the duty.

Mr. J. P. Grant

supported the proposition.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

said, that every statement he had heard confirmed him in the opinion, that the re-imposition of the duty on barilla would be of little or no benefit to the kelp-growers, and would, as necessarily increasing the price of soap—one of the most material articles of common life—be one of the most shameful measures that could have been devised. He held in his hand a paper which had been directed to be delivered to Scotch and Irish members only; but he trusted the English members would do their duty to their constituents and not allow this bill to pass.

Lord Binning

denied that the benefit was imaginary. On the ground of humanity he claimed this increase of duty, though it might be in opposition to the cold rules of political economy. He did not care one straw for political economy in a case of this kind.

Mr. Marryat

condemned the variable policy out of which this proposition arose. It put all property to hazard, and sported with the capital of the country. He could not consent to a fresh change without due notice being given to the parties interested.

Mr. Hume

said, that since the duty on barilla had been taken off, the price of kelp had risen. Unless the chancellor of the Exchequer, in a committee up stairs, could make out his case, he could not vote for the resolution.

Lord F. Gower

felt himself bound to support the proposition.

General Hart

would vote for the proposition, which he considered necessary for the support of a great part of the population of the north of Ireland.

Mr. Grey Bennet

thought previous inquiry absolutely necessary. Much had been said on the score of humanity, but he feared there was a great deal of self-interest mixed up with that appeal. The property in kelp manufactured had doubled since 1792, whilst every other species of property had decreased. He had a suspicion that this case, if investigated, would resemble the case of the Scilly Islands, which had been brought under consideration some years ago, and had taken a large sum out of the pockets of the people.

The committee divided: Ayes 100. Noes 20. Majority 80.

List of the Minority.
Calcraft, J. jun. Proby, hon. G. L.
Cradock, col. Parnell, sir H.
Douglas, W. K. Palmer, col.
Denison, W. J. Pares, T.
Gordon, R. Philips, G. jun.
Grenfell, P. Ricardo, D.
Gurney, Hudson Rowley, sir C.
Hume, J. Thompson, ald.
Maberly, J. L. jun. Wilson, T.
Marryat, J. Wood, Matthew.