HC Deb 28 May 1824 vol 11 cc933-5
Mr. T. Wilson

rose to move for leave to bring in a bill for regulating the Butter,) Trade of Ireland. He said the necessity of the bill arose out of the extensive frauds that were practiced by persons engaged in importing butter from Ireland. There was a regular practice of putting false brands and false names on the casks, which had produced great loss to the London importers.

Mr. Hutchinson

urged the necessity of giving time to allow the bill to go to Cork in order to obtain the opinion of his constituents upon it.

Sir H. Parnell

was surprised that no member of his majesty's government had given an opinion upon the motion, as the object of the bill was clearly at variance with all those principles upon which they professed to act. The proposed bill was to correct frauds in the butter trade, by enacting new regulations; while the real cause of the frauds were the impolitic regulations of the existing law for regulating the butter trade. The true remedy for the frauds complained of, was to repeal the act of 1812; for this act, by requiring the branding of the quality of the butter on the cask, enabled the exporting merchants to use false brands, and impose upon the foreign merchant. These evils he had foretold, and it was not his fault that they had occurred, as he had divided the House upon the act of 1812. He had received a petition within a few days from the gentlemen farmers of the Queen's County, concerned in the butter business complaining of the regulations of the act of 1812, and desiring the repeal of it and making the trade quite free. They complained of the vexatious oppression of placing their property at the disposal of tasters and weight masters, and of the heavy expenses and losses attending the sale of butter. This act of 1812 was full of injurious regulations. Nothing could be more unjust and absurd, than to require the value of butter to be fixed by a public officer, supposed to have most extraordinary powers of taste. The delay of weighing all the casks at public scales was attended with the greatest inconvenience and loss to farmers, by keeping them away from their homes. The regulation about the weight of butter to be put into a cask was equally unjust, and a source of loss, to the farmer; for if more was packed in a cask than the law allowed, the buyer could not pay for it, The limiting the kinds of wood of which the casks were to be made, was very injurious in a country where trees were scarce, and where, other wood, besides those allowed, was fit for casks. The whole of the act was founded on the falsest and most generally exploded principles. He hoped the House would go with him in opposing the bill of the hon. member, which had for its object the upholding of the act of 1812 by new regulations, and that they would prefer a bill which he should move for on a future occasion, for repealing the act of 1812.

Mr. Huskisson

was quite ready to admit that the existing regulations were contrary to all sound principles, and that they must necessarily be attended with all the practical inconvenience which had been mentioned. He thought the subject ought to be fully inquired into next session. In respect to the proposed bill, he understood it went to correct some particular evil arising out of the general law, and as such, for the purpose of providing a temporary remedy, he was not disposed to refuse permission to bring it in, but he begged to be understood as not in any degree pledging himself to support the bill in its future stages, or to take any part in continuing the existing regulations.

Mr. S. Rice

was disposed to take the same view with the hon. baronet. He believed great practical injury was sustained by the farmers, and that it was well worthy of the consideration of the House, whether or not the whole of the existing regulations should be repealed.

Sir J. Newport

defended the act of 1812, by saying, that the state of society in Ireland, and the description of persons engaged in the manufacture of butter, made it necessary to protect the buyers of butter from frauds. These had been practised to a great extent before the act of 1812, particularly in the districts of the county referred to by the hon. baronet; and unless the regulations were continued, every description of fraud would be again practised by the persons engaged in making butter.

Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald

said, that these regulations had been productive of great vexation in the county with which he was best acquainted, and hoped that the president of the board of trade would carry into effect next session, the inquiry so much called for.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.