HC Deb 22 March 1824 vol 10 cc1309-10
Mr. Agar Ellis

presented a petition from Tipperary, against the proposed plan for taking away the Bounties upon Linen. Seeing the chancellor of the Exchequer in his place, he wished to ask him whether it was not possible to defer the measure in contemplation for ten years? Nobody was more in favour of a liberal system of trade than he was; but there was an obvious difference between the situation of England and Ireland, and in legislating for both countries that difference ought never to be lost sight of. There was little or no capital in Ireland; and the slightest check to the coarse linen trade would be fatal to it, in its present comparatively infant state.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

replied, that if he could persuade himself, that the course recommended would promote the real welfare of Ireland, he should be ready to sacrifice a rigid adherence to sound principles to the consideration of the peculiar circumstances of the case. He could not, however, bring himself to believe, that any abstinence on the part of government in dealing with these bounties would be productive of advantage to Ireland. The announcement of the intention of ministers in this respect might have produced some alarm and inconvenience; but he was satisfied that nothing was more likely ultimately to prejudice the extension of the linen trade of Ireland, than the continuance of the existing bounties. His proposition was, that they should be reduced gradually, at the rate of one fifth every year; thus accommodating his plan, in a degree, to the wishes of the petitioners. The reduction was to commence in January 1825.

Mr. Agar Ellis

observed, that what was contemplated, was rather a hard measure upon the South of Ireland. In the north, toe bounty had operated for thirty years, and had been roost beneficial; and it was still required in the South, to encourage a growing manufacture.

Sir John Newport

objected to any thing like a rapid reduction of the bounties. They ought to be preserved as long as possible.

Mr. Hutchinson

called the attention of the chancellor of the Exchequer to the strong impression made by this measure in the neighbourhood of Cork. Those hitherto connected with government, and most anxious to support its measures, were alarmed at the proposition, and determined to resist it. The bounty had been extremely beneficial in fostering an infant manufacture; the partial success of which had spread comfort, though not prosperity, through a district, formerly the scene of much disturbance.

Sir R. Fergusson

trusted, that the chancellor of the Exchequer would persevere in his intention with respect to the abolition of the bounties. The manufacturers of Scotland were persuaded that the linen trade could support itself without the bounties.

Mr. Calcraft

said, that in Scotland the manufacturers had enjoyed the benefit of the bounty so long, that they were now out of danger; but the question was, bad not the bounty contributed to the placing them in that state? How long had the manufacturers of Scotland been in such a state, that they could disregard the bounty? Bounties, no doubt, were bad in principle; but, when persons had been induced, under the faith of them, to invest their capital in an infant manufacture—when, by means of the manufacture so encouraged, districts had been preserved in tranquillity in the midst of disturbed counties, and when it was most important to the tranquillity of Ireland to provide, even at some expense, for the occupation of its large population, it was worthy of consideration, whether they should repeal them at the present moment.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

said, that the supporters of the bounty did not contend for its indefinite continuance, but for its continuance at the present time, on account of the infant state of the trade, and of the particular circumstances of the part of Ireland where it was fostered.

Ordered to be printed.

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