HC Deb 24 February 1824 vol 10 cc370-1
Lord Milton

said, he had a petition to present from a numerous body of his constituents, from the woollen manufacturers of Saddleworth, praying for some modification of the duties upon Foreign Wool. He was sure it would be satisfactory to the House, at least to that part of it who took liberal views of commercial subjects, to hear the opinions which the petitioners expressed. They expressed their hopes that now, when his. majesty's government were taking sound and enlightened views of the commercial interests of the country, the woollen manufactures would not be neglected. He read this passage, with a view to show the House of Commons and the government, that when they took sound views of the interests of the country, their conduct was not misunderstood, nor their endeavours misinterpreted. He had felt great gratis fication, last evening, at that part of the chancellor of the Exchequer's statement, which related to the commercial regulations of the country; but he bad felt much disappointed, and he was sure the country would by no means be satisfied, at the amount of taxation that had been reduced, or the articles that had been selected. He thought, that by the reduction of the duty on coals, a most undue preference had been given to the city of London—that portion of the community who stood least in need of it, because they possessed the concentrated wealth of the country. He knew the argument upon which the reduction rested; but, with all due respect to those who supported that proposition, he must take leave to say, that it would have been much wiser to have selected a tax of more general pressure, and more open to objection £hear!].

Mr. Stuart Wortley

said, he wished to make a few remarks on the subject of the duties upon foreign wool. On several occasions he had taken a decided part in that question, whenever it was brought before the House, and now, after having bestowed considerable pains on the examination of the subject, his opinion remained unaltered. The House was aware that there were two courses that might have been pursued; the one was, to have continued the tax upon foreign wool, and the other to have allowed a free export trade; and he would have infinitely preferred the continuance of the tax. And now, before the country and the House, he protested against the alteration of the law which was proposed last night by the chancellor of the Exchequer. If the protection were taken away, which the woollen manufacturers had so long enjoyed, it would be an act of extreme injustice, to prevent them from being heard. On the part of the manufacturers he demanded, not as a favour but as a matter of right, that before so important an alteration was carried into effect, they should be heard either before the government themselves or the House of Commons. A greater blow was never aimed at the prosperity of the woollen manufacturers than that which was contained in the proposition of the chancellor of the Exchequer.