Mr. Hart Davies
presented a Petition from the Merchants, manufacturers, and Dealers in Tobacco in Bristol, against the measure for imposing so small a duty as 1s. 8d. per pound upon homegrown Tobacco. The petitioners stated that the expense of cultivation had been over-rated, and was not such as to entitle home-grown Tobacco to the protection this low rate of duty would afford it, and they prayed that it should be made liable to the same duty as Foreign Tobacco.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
observed, that the statement of the petitioners, as to the small expense of cultivating Tobacco at home, could be only attributed to their ignorance on the subject. The expense of cultivation was very great, and he knew himself an instance where the expense of cultivating one acre of Tobacco, in the county of Wick low, amounted to 10l. If the proposed measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should pass into a law, it would be fraught with greater injury to Ireland than any measure that had been enacted these fifty years. That cultivation, at present, afforded considerable employment to the peasantry of Ireland, and to talk of exporting the Irish peasantry because they wanted employment, while employment was to be taken from them by taxation, was a legislative absurdity. The greatest excitement prevailed on the subject in Ireland, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not think of carrying into execution a measure fraught with ruin to that country.
§ Petition laid on the Table.
§ Mr. G. Moore
, in presenting a Petition from the cultivators of Tobacco, residing in the town of Enniscorthy (county of Wexford), praying that no duty might be levied on Tobacco grown in Ireland, and signed by nearly 100 gentlemen of respectability observed, that he had felt it his duty to make inquiries into the subject of growing Tobacco in Ireland, and he had not met with a single person who was not convinced that the amount of duty was such as would amount to a total prohibition of the cultivation. The petitioners stated, that they were ready to bring forward evidence to prove this point, and they observed, that to prohibit that culti- 35 vation would be very injurious to Ireland, for it employed a great number of persons, particularly young persons, for whom, otherwise, no employment could be found. Another fact, of considerable importance, was, that since the cultivation of Tobacco in Ireland, smuggling Tobacco, which formerly existed in the county of Wexford to a great extent, had entirely ceased, and it was to be apprehended that a duty would revive that demoralizing practice. He was also prepared to contend, that such a duty as would amount to the prohibition of the cultivation of Tobacco would be contrary to the Act of Union, which prohibited the levying any duties on the produce of Ireland, but such as were just and reasonable. The petitioners prayed that the House would not legislate on the subject without examining witnesses, whose experience concerning the growth of Tobacco would enable them to give the House satisfactory information.
§ Mr. O'Connell
supported the prayer of; the Petition, and declared that the duty would annihilate the cultivation of Tobacco in Ireland.
§ Petition to be Printed.