in presenting a petition against the duty upon Coals, which, he said, he was extremely solicitous to have repealed, as it pressed with excessive severity on the poor, wished to take that opportunity of asking the hon. member for Limerick whether he intended to bring forward his promised motion upon the subject; for if he abandoned it, other persons might take it up.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, that under the present circumstances, he felt it would be improper to give any answer to the question, for whether he replied in the negative or affirmative., it might lead to inferences which he should not be prepared to support.
§ Mr. Ormsby Gore
said, that in North Wales and in Ireland, the duty was very oppressive, and he hoped that it would be repealed. He thought that the continuance of the tax in Ireland was a violation of the Union.
supported the petition, and declared, that if the hon. member for Limerick gave up the task of moving for the repeal of these duties, that he would undertake that business after the Christmas recess.
§ General Gascoyne
thought the question 827 could not be in better hands than those of the hon. member for Limerick.
Sir R. Bateson
said, that the tax was a grievous injury to the Irish manufacturers and prevented them from thriving and extending the employment they could find for the poor. There was another tax—that on window glass— which was a great hindrance to the Irish peasant acquiring a love for comfort, and a great cause of the filthiness of their habitations, and of the diseases which prevailed amongst them. If these two taxes were repealed, the repeal of the Union would not be much in favour.
§ Sir T. Acland
expressed a hope that the hon. member for Limerick would, if possible, persist in his motion on the subject; and pledged himself to take the matter up if the hon. Gentleman should consider it his duty to abandon it.
§ Mr. O'Connell
was glad to hear it acknowledged that these duties were a violation of the Union, and was ready to bear his testimony to the injury they inflicted on the manufacturers of that country. With respect to the duties on window glass, they enhanced its price so much that it was quite beyond the means of the peasantry to purchase it. They were obliged to exclude both light and air from their cabins, and were made the victims of disease by the taxes of the Government.
§ Mr. Brownlow
also bore testimony to the injurious effects of these taxes and expressed a hope that the hon. member for Limerick would not give up his intention. If the coal-duty were repealed, the vessels that bring cattle and corn from Ireland and go back empty, would take coals which would be a great advantage to the shipping interest.
§ Mr. Calcraft
took occasion to deprecate the combination existing among the great coal-owners of the North to keep up the price of the article, and stated his fears that a remission of taxation on coals might prove more beneficial to those monopolists, who would scarcely fail to put the amount in their own pockets, than to the public.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
assured the hon. Member that there existed no grounds for his apprehensions. The competition between the coal-owners was sufficient to prevent the price of the article from being too high, and he had no doubt, that if the duty were taken off, the public would enjoy the entire benefit of the repeal.
suggested, if the present tax, yielding 800,000l., could not be given up, that a tax of 1s. a chaldron should be levied at the pit's mouth which would yield 700,000l. and would be much less injurious and partial than the present tax.
§ Petition to be printed.