HC Deb 19 March 1830 vol 23 cc623-4
Lord W. Powlett

presented a Petition from Arkengarthdale, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, complaining of the low price of Lead, of the great importation of foreign Lead, and of various other things from abroad, while the foreigner would take none of our commodities, and praying that a duty might be levied on foreign Lead. The place from which he presented the Petition was, he said, from its vicinity to the Lead Mines, of great importance. There were upwards of 20,000 people in that neighbourhood whose subsistence altogether depended upon these mines. He was certain that the importation of foreign Lead, of which the petitioners complained, was a serious evil, and he was anxious to know whether the Government contemplated an augmentation of the import duty on foreign Lead, or meant to allow of this competition proceeding unchecked. At a time when distress pervaded all ranks, Ministers should, as far as possible, look to the welfare of the working classes. He expected every day to receive a petition from Sunderland, exhibiting in a striking manner the great distress which he knew to prevail there, and which he did not wonder at, since he knew the vast quantities of timber, and of almost all other foreign productions, that were continually brought into the country. He requested to be informed what were the views of Government respecting the importation of foreign Lead.

Mr. Herries

said, that this subject had never been lost sight of since he had the honour, at the Board of Trade, to receive a deputation from the north of England, but he would not say that the Government had decided according to the wishes of the petitioners. He did not see how it was possible for the Government, when he considered how much Lead was used in our manufactures, to interfere with the competition in the market, and dictate an artificial price for an article of such extensive consumption. Even if it were possible to protect the English miner, as the practice of imposing a duty on the foreign miner was called, he did not see how that duty would give the petitioners the advantage they sought for. To the imposition of a heavy duty on a mineral that entered so largely into the manufacture of various articles, the superiority of which in the market it was our business to maintain, there were so many objections, that he believed it would be impossible for the Government to comply with the petitioners' wishes. He was not aware, however, what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would think ought to be done.

Petition printed.