HC Deb 17 March 1830 vol 23 cc457-60
Mr. Spring Rice,

in rising to move that certain accounts relative to Coals and Spirits be laid on the Table, said, he would take the opportunity, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in his place, of recommending to such of his official colleagues as were, the propriety of abolishing the duty on Coals carried to Ireland. He did not object to the increased tax he proposed to levy on that country, because he admitted that a case had been made out which justified that course, but to continue the duty on Coals, would be against the principles of sound policy. When the right hon. Gentleman was about to levy an additional tax on Ireland of 150,000l. it was not too much to ask him to give up 50,000l. The tax on Coals was most unequal in its pressure, and had a most mischievous effect in preventing the increase of manufactures in Ireland. It would be for the interest of England, therefore, that the tax should be repealed. More opportunities would be afforded for investing capital in Ireland,—more employment would be found for the people at home, and England would have less reason to complain of the sufferings inflicted on her labourers by the influx of Irish, with which Gentlemen from all parts of the kingdom frequently entertained the House.

Mr. Hume

said, that he knew no tax which pressed so unequally on the public as the Coal-tax, nor could he conceive on what principle the consumer of Coals in London was taxed at the rate of 6s. the chaldron, in Ireland at 1s. 8d., in Wales 1s., and in Scotland allowed to have his Coals without paying any tax at all. To him this appeared so unfair that he thought the claim for the removal of the tax altogether could not be refused. He hoped, that his hon. friend, or some other Member, would press this subject on the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sir Christopher Cole

took the same opportunity to express his dislike to the tax, which, as the preceding Members had stated, pressed very unequally on different persons. He thought it extremely unfair, that sea-borne Coals should be subject to this duty, while all Coals carried by land were exempt from it. That occasioned a great hardship in many cases to the poor man, whom the House ought to bear on as lightly as possible. He would, therefore, request that the hon. Member for Limerick would bring the subject under the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Wodehouse

also expressed his satisfaction to find this subject taken up warmly by hon. Members, for there was no tax that was more oppressive than the tax on Coals.

Sir Thomas D. Acland

concurred with other hon. Members, in thinking that this tax ought to be repealed. He knew no tax the removal of which would give greater satisfaction.

Mr. Liddel

said, that he, too, was determined to unite himself with those who should propose to have this tax repealed. To abolish it, would confer considerable benefit on several classes of the community.

General Gascoyne

was also of opinion, that no tax was so oppressive as the tax on Coals. It was extremely unjust that a difference of a few miles should make such a difference in this tax; that one man might have his Coals without paying any tax, while the other would have to pay 6s. a chaldron. It was to be observed too, that the tax was levied on the Coals where they would naturally cost most. He earnestly hoped, therefore, that the House would co-operate with any Member who should bring forward the subject, and press the Chancellor of the Exchequer to abolish it.

Sir John Newport

said, he was glad to see so strong a feeling manifested against the Coal-tax, because he was persuaded that to give it up would be of no importance to the Government, on the score of revenue, while the gain to the public would be immense. He had heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on Monday with great pleasure, because he was convinced that the abolition of the duty on Beer would be a great benefit to the labouring classes; but since England was to obtain so much relief, and a little additional burthen was to be thrown on Ireland, he should have been happy if the abolition of the Coal-tax in Ireland, which did not yield above 50,000l., had formed part of the scheme. He should not object to assimilating the taxes in England and Ireland, but there were two ways of accomplishing it, and he liked only one of them. The assimilation might be brought about by raising the taxes of Ireland to a par with those of England, or by lowering the taxes of England to the level of those raised in Ireland. Unfortunately, of these two ways, the Chancellor of the Exchequer always preferred the former; and, as unhappily, he always preferred the latter. He did not wish to see the taxes in Ireland raised as high as those of England, but should like to see the assimilation accomplished by lowering, as much as possible, the taxes of England. Since the Chancellor had augmented some taxes in Ireland, he hoped that he would now give up the odious tax on Coals,

Mr. Heathcote

was of opinion, that Ireland, since she was placed on a footing with England as to civil and religious rights, ought to bear her equal burthen of the public expenses. She had no Assessed Taxes to pay, nor any Land-tax, both of which fell heavy on England; and he therefore thought, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done quite right in in-creasing, to a small extent, the share Ireland contributed to the general revenue.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the hon. Member forgot one material circumstance, which made a great difference between the two countries. Ireland paid from 4,000,000l. to 7,000,000l. in rent, which were spent out of Ireland, and principally in England. If that sum were spent in Ireland, it would increase her capital, encourage her manufactures, and call forth some of those natural advantages which she possessed. Ireland could then be taxed in her own wealth, and the Irish would not object to that; but now she was taxed in her poverty, and to that she had many objections. England, possessing immense resources, had obtained a remission of taxation to the amount of 3,400,000l., while Ireland, poor and harassed, instead of any relief except the small relief derived from the repeal of the Leather-tax—and, owing to the poverty of her children, that will not be much—Ireland is to have an additional burthen of 150,000l. He hoped, however, that the relative situation of Ireland to England would not long remain as at present.

Colonel Davies

said, he, like the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Newport), would not assimilate the taxes of the two countries, by raising those of Ireland, but by lowering the taxes of England. If there was a large portion of rent from Ireland spent in this country, let it also be recollected, that England afforded, at all times, a ready market for the produce of Ireland. If it were possible that the ports of the two countries should be hermetically sealed against each other, Ireland would be a great deal worse off than at present.

Motion agreed to.