HC Deb 19 March 1824 vol 10 cc1290-3

On the order of the day for going into a committee on this bill,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that as he understood that the counsel who was to have been heard to-day was prevented from attending by indisposition, he proposed now to go into the committee, merely to fill up the blanks, that it might be put into an intelligible shape, and that on Monday, when the counsel hoped to be able to attend, they might go into the committee again.

Mr. Hume

wished to represent to the chancellor of the Exchequer the serious hardship upon individuals in this trade who had large stocks of silk, which though not strictly uncut, were in pieces of 30 or 40 yards in length. These dealers would suffer great loss; because, if simply a pattern was cut off, the drawback could not be obtained on it. He had heard of an individual who had a stock of 50,000l., of which 30,000l. consisted of cut pieces.

The House having resolved itself into the committee,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved to fill up the blanks, with the intention, on Monday, to hear counsel on the Bill, and afterwards to propose the amendments he had himself to offer, and to hear any that might be offered by other gentlemen. He suggested this as the preferable course, as it was quite unnecessary to hare two discussions in committee.

Mr. Ellice

said, he was perfectly ready to concur in the suggestion of the chancellor of the Exchequer; but he was anxious that the right hon. gentleman should give some explanation to prevent what be had now thrown out from being misunderstood. From the anxiety which prevailed on the subject, he hoped he would now state, that he did not intend to vary, in any material degree, the measure now before the House.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he was quite ready to state again, that it would not be expedient to introduce into the bill any changes other than those which he had already mentioned to the House, The bill with the blanks filled up and those amendments introduced, would be in the state in which, according to his view, it ought to pass.

Mr. Hume

wished to know whether the chancellor of the Exchequer intended to exclude the consideration of the question of cut goods? He hoped not. As the public would pay so much in the way of drawback he trusted that injustice would not be done to a few individuals, by a regulation which would prevent them from receiving the compensation on their stock which others received. He thought some rule should be adopted to give the drawback to all cut pieces of not less than a certain number of yards, say 30 or 40. The rule had, in fact, been already laid down in respect to ribbons; all pieces exceeding 18 yards receiving the drawback.

Mr. W. Smith

thought it would be better that the chancellor of the Exchequer should go into the committee, unshackled by any such pledge as that which the hon. member for Coventry wished to exact from him. Let them go into a committee on Monday, and then do what seemed just.

Mr. Ellice

explained, that it was by no means his intention to prevent the chancellor of the Exchequer from yielding in any particular point on which reasons should be offered. He merely wished it to be clearly understood, that the chancellor of the Exchequer did not intend to give up his measure in any material point.

Mr. Baring

said, he perfectly understood the declaration of the chancellor of the Exchequer to go to that extent only. It would certainly be absurd to say to any petitioner "you shall not convince me;" though he was persuaded, in point of fact, that they would not persuade the chancellor of the Exchequer. As to the question of the cut goods, he knew that the allowing the drawback upon them would augment very considerably the sum to be paid by the public; but the more he looked at the question, the less he saw any reason to resist the claim of the holders of this species of goods. The small dealer who had a few hundred, or a thousand pounds worth of silk, consisting of cut pieces, was injured as much, in proportion to his means and fortune, as the great manufacturer, and was just as much entitled to compensation. The shopkeepers seldom had whole pieces of silk, because on fancy goods, large quantities of one kind would be inconvenient. To say that the drawback should not be allowed to them, therefore, was to say, that the large dealers should have compensation, and the small ones none at all. The shopkeeper, as the bill now stood, would have the cheap goods of the manufacturer, to whom the duty had been remitted, poured forth in competition with his goods, on which the duty had not been remitted. A question which he wished to put, as to the words of the resolution, was—as to the meaning of the term "new and uncut," which had puzzled some of the manufacturers. [Mr. Herries said across the table, "Uncut, merely"]. In that sense, all the old and unsaleable rubbish, lying in the corners of shops and warehouses, would be poured in to receive the drawback. As to the term uncut, too, there were some difficulty; for all pieces of silk were cutout of the loom.

Mr. Herries

said, the term was under stood by the dealers to mean silks made up in the original packages in which the wholesale dealers had supplied them, and not used. He had heard no complaint of the term, which was generally well enough understood.

Mr. Ellice

said, there need be no apprehension of the old and unfashionable pieces of silk being sent in to receive the drawback, because, as soon as the fashion changed, they were usually exported.

Mr. J. Smith

said, there seemed a great injustice in the treatment of the holders of uncut goods. The regulation was extremely hard upon many who held 20,000l.or 30,000l.worth of silk, of which great part were cut pieces, He wished to know whether their representations had been heard.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that though he had not himself seen the individuals interested in the drawback on cut silk, their case had been fully stated to his right hon. friend (Mr. Huskisson) at the Board of Trade, and, without now going into the case, he would say, that they did not seem to him to have established their claim to have the drawback returned on all their remnants; for to that extent must their claim, if admitted, go. It was not consistent with the principle usually acted upon in the return of duties, nor was it morally possible for the government to receive all the remnants that might be sent in by the little shopkeepers in country towns.

Mr. Littleton

thought it would be impracticable to allow the duties on the cut pieces. The holders of mixed goods would, however, be considerable sufferers by the change of duties. One of his constituents, for instance, was a large holder of silk twist; on which the duty was not returned, though twelve parts of thirteen of its composition was silk, the other thirteenth being mohair. If it was practicable, surely an allowance should be made to persons similarly circumstanced.

Mr. Alderman Wood

called the attention of the committee to the case of those wholesale dealers in silk who sent travellers round the country, and who were in the habit of cutting off small pieces as patterns to shew the colour. Now, these persons, though they might not have sold a yard of their goods, could not get a return of the duty, because they were "cut." Many of his constituents were in this situation, and had from ten to 25,000l.of stock in this condition. As to the country shopkeepers, there need be no alarm on their account, as they were obliged to keep a stock in their shops, at this time of the year. Even if the return of duty were offered them, they could not send much of their goods to the warehouses.

The blanks were filled up, and the House resumed.