§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, he would take the liberty of informing the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was his intention to move for certain Returns respecting the Press of Ireland. He wished the right hon. Gentleman to consider well before he proceeded further in his proposed measure of taxation; and he hoped he would see reason to abandon it altogether. In saying this, he begged to be understood, not as contending against, but in favour of, an increase in the Revenue. And he was anxious to impress it upon the English Members, and on the right hon. Gentleman himself, that in proceeding with this subject he would not only lose revenue, but extinguish revenue altogether, and also take away the means of existence from a large class of his Majesty's subjects; for, in fact, the Press of Ireland could not survive the new duties. The hon. Member concluded by moving for a return of the amount of Stamp duties received for Newspapers in Ireland during each of the last twenty years; and also for a similar return of the Duties on Advertisements.
§ Mr. O'Connell
was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman was misinformed respecting the state of Ireland when he proposed to augment the Stamp duties. He was fortified in this opinion by the statements respecting the distress prevailing in that part of the kingdom, which had been made during the Session. The present measure was, in his opinion, decidedly calculated, though he hoped not intended, to extinguish the expression of public opinion in Ireland. Within a few years the duty on Newspapers had diminished from 25,000l. to 14,000l. As respected revenue, therefore, the duty was as impolitic, as it was unwise with respect to public opinion.
§ Sir J. Newport
expressed his sorrow at perceiving that it was the intention of government to add to the duties already existing in Ireland. The system of increased duties had been tried in Ireland, had failed, and been abandoned. He believed that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer should persist in his measure, he would reap, not a harvest of revenue, but only a harvest of discontent. He had on a former occasion proposed a reduction of the rate of duty, with a view to increase the revenue, and his expectations had been fully answered. When the duty on Spirits was 5s. 6d. per gallon, it yielded 800,000l.; last year, when the duty was only 2s. 6d. the revenue was 1,400,000l. Nothing could be more obnoxious to the people of Ireland, than any measures which tended to injure the Press, and he was sure that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer pressed his proposed measure, he would create for himself a host of enemies.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer, said it was not quite fair, when a notice was standing on the books for a discussion on this subject, to introduce it after the present fashion. He would try to reserve what he had to say upon the matter until it was brought before the House in the regular course of business.
§ The Returns ordered.