HC Deb 12 March 1824 vol 10 cc943-4

Colonel Trench moved for "a return of the weekly sales of Linen at the different markets in the provinces of Munster and Connaught, for the last ten years."

Mr. Brownlow

hoped that the chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the expediency of delaying the repeal of the linen bounties until the month of July, 1825.

Mr. Maberly

could assure the right hon. gentleman opposite, that owing to the circumstance of his not having duly considered the propriety and expediency of repealing the bounties upon the linen trade before he had come down to the House the other evening with his proposition upon that subject, he had occasioned, in some parts of the kingdom, very great inconvenience and distress. He had no hesitation in saying, that in consequence of the right hon. gentleman's exposition of his plan for rescinding the bounties allowed upon Irish linensr—which bounties upon the low-priced linens amounted to 20 per cent OH the value—upwards of 40,000 hands had been suddenly thrown out of employ. He mentioned this fact only to show the chancellor of the Exche- quer how improper it was, to promulgate any scheme of this nature, without having first well digested it, and availed himself of every information upon the subject that could be obtained. Never, surely, had any public measure been so little considered before its promulgation, as that of taking off the bounties upon low-priced linens. Its effect had been, to put almost a stop to the trade which furnished the support of so many of the poorer classes in Scotland and Ireland. It was to be hoped that the right hon. gentleman would allow himself more time in the preparation of extensive measures which were to affect such large interests. In the present instance, he seemed to have proceeded most unadvisedly. It was also to be observed, that by reason of the high duty upon hemp, the low-priced linen-manufacturers were compelled to use flax. The duty upon hemp was as high as 36s. per cwt. upon the value. Now, the right hon. gentleman should have known, that if he proposed, by withdrawing these bounties, to benefit the trade, he ought at the same time to have remitted the whole of the duty upon hemp. The House might rest assured, that, in point of fact, the bounties in question were no more than drawbacks, to which these manufacturers were as much entitled as any other description of manufacturers could be. At present he would say no more, because he should shortly have to present a petition to the House, connected with the important topic to which he had been adverting.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, there could be no objection to grant the returns which had been moved for, but he had really no idea that any such motion was to be made, and had still less anticipated the discussion it had occasioned. If the right hon. gentleman wished him to give any answer to his observations upon the proposed alteration respecting the linen bounties, he would observe that that answer would most properly be given in the committee; in which those hon. gentlemen who were not satisfied with the intended arrangements would be enabled to state the grounds of their dissent. For himself, he would confess, that at present he was hardly prepared to go into the subject.

The motion was agreed to.