§ Mr. T. Wilson
presented a petition from the importers and dealers, praying for the reduction of the Duties on Wine. In doing so, he wished to ask the chancellor of the Exchequer whether it was his intention to move at all in the question during the present session; because, from the uncertainty prevailing on the subject, no business at all was doing in this commodity?
§ Mr. Warre
said, he did not ask the chancellor of the Exchequer to look at the subject with a view to any relief to 1311 the consumer, but he begged him to consider, whether, from a reduction of the rate of duty, he might not fairly expect, through an increased consumption, a benefit to the revenue? The increase of the rate of duty, it was well known, had actually lessened the revenue; as the produce of the tax was greater in 1801, with the lower, than it now was with the higher duty. He wished also to ask whether the right hon. the Master of the Mint was disposed to take up the subject in the committee on foreign trade?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that by the discussion that had taken place on this subject, he was placed in the difficult situation of having his silence and his declarations alike misconstrued. If, however, there had been any inconvenience resulting to the trade from the expectations existing respecting the remission of the Wine duties, he could say that the gentlemen engaged in that trade had gratuitously and entirely brought the inconvenience on themselves. Nothing which he had said in that House, nor in his communication with those gentlemen, from whom he had derived most valuable information, could have justified an expectation that the matter was to be taken up by him, at least as a matter of course. He had, it was true, never disguised the opinion which he entertained, that the productiveness of the duties was not commensurate with the rate of them, and that therefore a prima facie case was made out, why those duties should be reduced; but he had always persevered in reserving the expression of an opinion as to the fit time for altering them. It was to be recollected, that in touching these duties, they were affecting a very material branch of revenue; and though in time the increase of consumption might make up the loss to the revenue, there was no doubt, that, from the allowance that would be necessarily made on stock in hand, there would be, for the time, a considerable loss. At that moment, therefore, when they were dealing with other branches of the revenue, and making, in various ways, a considerable sacrifice, he considered himself justified in withholding any expression of his opinion on the subject. Government could not do every thing at once; and even if they could suffer the loss arising to the revenue, it would not be desirable, by so general a change, to throw all trade into confusion.
§ Mr. Wallace
said, that if the subject 1312 were referred to the committee on foreign trade, it would, of course, occupy itself with the subject. But he begged to slate, that there was no hope that it could do so in the present session; as the committee was engaged in the investigation of several points affecting general trade, which would fully occupy its attention.
§ Ordered to be printed.