Mr. S. Rice
presented a petition from the merchants and traders of Dublin against the Dublin Coal bill. The petitioners considered the measure proposed by the hon. member for Dublin to be most injurious to their interests.
maintained, that the bill was calculated to remedy a system of gross fraud and injustice, which had been long carried on in the coal trade of Dublin.
§ Mr. Curwen
presented a similar petition, signed by four hundred merchants and ship-owners, trading between Dublin and Whitehaven.
observed, that the opposition to the measure was by no means general. On the contrary, he believed, the bill met with the approbation of a majority of the persons interested.
§ Mr. Curwen
was surprised to hear the observations which had fallen from the noble lord. A petition against the bill would shortly be presented from Whitehaven, in which the same sentiments would be still more strongly enforced.
Mr. S. Rice
said, that this measure had created the greatest interest in the city of Dublin. The chamber of commerce, and other most respectable bodies, had petitioned the House against the bill, and not a single petition had been presented in its favour.
§ Mr. Dawson
maintained, that the bill was calculated to rescue the inhabitants of Dublin from the fraudulent and iniquitous system on which the coal trade was conducted in that city.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that if the hon. member would look to the signatures of the petition, he would find that it had been signed by the principal merchants and inhabitants of Dublin. He believed, in his conscience, that the bill had no other object than to legalise the exactions of the corporation of Dublin.
said, that the tax on coals levied by the magistrates was equal to 395 more than double the amount of the king's taxes on that commodity. The ship-masters and other persons interested in Scotland, were unanimous in reprobating this measure, and he should certainly give it his decided opposition.
, in moving the second reading of the Dublin coal-trade bill, said, that the great object of this measure was, to remedy a system of unheard of frauds in the sale of coals in that city. Most of the petitions against the bill came from a class interested in the continuance of that system, with the exception of the petition from the chamber of commerce, which was, undoubtedly, entitled to serious consideration, and some of the suggestions in which he had himself adopted. The coal trade in Dublin had been regulated by an act of parliament, brought in by his distinguished predecessor, the late member for that city, Mr. Grattan, and most of the provisions in the present bill, which was supposed to have excited so much alarm, were the same as those which had been suggested by that distinguished statesman. That bill, however, had been inoperative, in consequence of the impossibility of carrying into effect the severe penalties which it imposed, and it bad become necessary to introduce new regulations on sounder principles of commercial policy. The right hon. member for Waterford had expressed his conviction, that the real object of this bill was to legalise the exactions of the corporation of Dublin. He could only say, that if such had been the object of the bill, some other person must have been found to bring it forward in that House. He would no more lend his aid to the object of legalising the exactions of the corporation of Dublin than the right hon. baronet. So far was this, however, from being the object of the bill, that the effect of it would be, to diminish very considerably the power of the corporation. The real objects of the bill were three—first, to secure the quality of the coals sold, and to prevent them from being sold under false denominations; a species of fraud which was carried to a great extent in the city of Dublin. This would be effected by regulations requiring a strict designation of the port from which the coals came. The second object of the bill would be, to provide that the due weight of coals should be sold to the consumer. The third object which he bad in view was, to regulate the sale of 396 coals to the poor by carters going about through the streets, and what was proposed was, to compel those persons to carry certificates of the quality of the coals, under a penalty of 40s. If in the progress of the measure it should be found to contain any objectionable clauses, it would be open to any gentleman to oppose them on the third reading of the bil.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, the hon. and learned gentleman had made an allusion to a bill which had been introduced by his father; but the House must perceive that, although the penalties of that act were severe, it was very far indeed from conferring the summary powers which were proposed to be granted by the bill now before them; such as empowering the Lord Mayor, without bail or mainprise, to commit persons to prison. The proposed measure would throw impediments in the way of all the coal-dealers in the country, of the corporation of the city of Dublin, or of the hon. and learned gentleman who was their organ; but he thought that the House ought not to consent to a measure for the purpose of gratifying a party from which neither the country at large, nor the city of Dublin, would derive any benefit. He should therefore move that this bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Mr. Dawson
said, he would take upon himself to affirm that this bill was looked forward to, with great expectation and satisfaction by the most respectable citizens of Dublin. The poor of Dublin were at present completely at the mercy of the coal-factors. The law gave them the power of going to the vessel's side to purchase coals, and also allowed the appointment of coal-meters, but he thought it would be a great advantage if the duties were confined solely to the coal-meters. Now, this was proposed to be accomplished by the present bill.
§ Sir H. Parnell
read an extract from the petition of the chamber of commerce, which stated that every clause in the bill contained a restriction, and every restriction was accompanied with severe penalties. This statement fully marked the objectionable character of the measure.
thought the measure most unwise, for it went to restore all the old prejudices of trade, against which the House had been so long contending. It proceeded upon the principle, that all the coal-dealers were knaves, and all the 397 buyers fools. It would have been much better for the learned gentleman to have adhered more closely to the principle of the bill of the late Mr. Grattan. Instead of repealing that act, the learned gentleman now proposed a measure which was more objectionable in every respect.
§ Mr. Curwen
said, that as the learned gentleman had abandoned three-fourths of his bill, he would recommend him to abandon the remainder, and leave whatever regulations were necessary to the committee on local taxation, from whom it would be much more suitable that the bill should originate.
§ Sir R. Shaw
said, that although there were some clauses in the bill, to which, in their present state, be might object, still, with the explanations that had been given by his learned colleague, he thought it would be desirable to go into the committee.
§ The House then divided; For the bill 34. Against it 47.—Majority against the bill 18.