HC Deb 14 December 1830 vol 1 cc1124-6

The Sheriffs of the City of London, presented at the Bar, a Petition from the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, against the Duty on Sea-borne Coals.

Mr. Alderman Wood

moved, that the petition be brought up. He said, that the duty against which the petition was presented fell with peculiar severity upon the citizens of London, and all who resided in the neighbourhood of the metropolis. The operation of the tax was most partial and oppressive. It yielded about 800,000l., of which 400,000l. was paid by the metropolis. He wished, too, that coals should be sold by weight instead of by measure.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

assured the House, that no boon could be more acceptable to the City of London, and the inhabitants of the metropolis and its neighbourhood generally. There were many parishes in which it had been most bitterly complained of. A reduction of the expenditure to the amount of 1,000,000l., would be sufficient to allow of the abolition of this tax, and therefore he hoped it would be abolished.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

supported the petition, and said, that the tax pressed with peculiar severity on the poor.

Mr. Briscoe

said, that if a shilling duty were charged upon coals, at the mouth of the pit, it would yield quite as great a revenue as the present duty, and the arrangement would be highly beneficial to the public. Whenever the member for Devonshire brought forward a motion for the repeal of the duty, it should have his cordial support.

Sir R. Wilson

said, that sooner or later they must come to a Property-tax, and the sooner the better, in order that the public might be relieved from the pressure of taxes, affecting industry. Every possible retrenchment ought first to be made, and every unequal and injurious tax removed, and then a tax ought to be laid on to reach all property, including that of minors, misers, and absentees, and be easy and cheap in the collection.

Mr. Hume

said, that one-half of the duty was paid by the people of London and Middlesex. It was a heavy and oppressive charge, and one that ought to be immediately removed. He saw no reason why the Scotch should be entirely free from it, and the Irish pay only half a duty, and why the English should alone be the persons to suffer.

Mr. Ward

also supported the petition, and observed, that the people had not derived any benefit from the last reduction of the tax on coals, in consequence of their first delaying their orders, and then making a run on the coal-market.

Mr. Hothouse

said, that the Property-tax, suggested by the hon. member for Southwark, might be a very good thing, but it had nothing to do with the present discussion. The tax complained of was one which affected one of the first necessaries of life, and it ought to be got rid of instantly.

Mr. Warburton

wished to call attention to the Report made by the Committee which was last Session appointed to inquire into the subject of sea-borne coals, for the purpose of observing, that a sentence had been interpolated, which ought not to have been, in the Report. It might be altered, as it implied that the House of Commons required the consent of the City of London to do what it had the power to do of itself.

Mr. F. Lewis

, the Chairman of the Committee, admitted that the sentence in question ought not to have been in the Report; he knew not by what oversight it had got in. There could be no doubt that steps ought to be taken to remedy the imperfection, as neither he nor any other person in the Committee had ever thought it at all necessary to ask the consent of the City of London. The paragraph related to local fees, and the City might bring in a private bill to regulate them if it pleased, but if it did not he would bring in such a bill.

The Speaker

observed, that, in justice to the clerk, he was bound to say, that the proofs of the Report were sent to the Chairman—that he made some corrections —that the omission of the sentence in question was not among those corrections —and that the Report was circulated as it came from the hands of the Chairman.

Mr. F. Lewis

was willing to take his share of the responsibility, but not more than his share. As the Committee agreed to the Report, so it was presented to the House; and, he must observe, that the proof of the Report was never sent to him nor seen by him.

The Speaker

said, that the proof that was brought before him had Mr. Lewis's corrections preceding and succeeding the paragraphs in question; and it was represented to him that those corrections were in the hand-writing of the Chairman of the Committee.

Mr. Cutlar Ferguson

said, that he would support the repeal of this tax, though it would be of no benefit to Scotland; but, at the same time, he thought that no tax ought to be repealed without considering how the deficiency was to be filled up.

Petition to be printed.