§ Mr. G. Moore
said, he had several Petitions to present against the proposed scale of Stamp Duties. One was from a meeting of Bankers held in Dublin, comprising men of all parties, and which was most respectably attended. These petitions pointed out how very injurious that measure would be to the interests of society, and they stated their conviction, that as a measure of finance its practical result would be, not the improvement of the Revenue, but the distress and dissatisfaction of the people. They represented also the inevitable consequences of the proposed alteration in the Corn-spirit duties, as involving the ultimate ruin of the Irish distilleries, and as calculated to give a fatal blow to the agricultural interests of Ireland. They stated their cordial satisfaction at the relief afforded to the people of Great Britain by a considerable remission of taxes; but they could not help deprecating the endeavour to supply the deficiency of revenue attending that relief, by imposing additional burthens on Ireland, at a time when she sustained with difficulty those already pressing upon her. They therefore prayed the House not to sanction any measure calculated to increase the taxation of Ireland. He should next present Petitions to the same effect from several of the municipal bodies of Dublin, and he must be permitted to say, that, from the unshaken loyalty to the British Crown, and firm attachment to British connection which have always characterised these portions of his Majesty's subjects in Ireland, he had a right to claim from every friend to both an attentive consideration of 1197 their feelings and opinions. The first was a Petition from the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Commoners, and Citizens of Dublin, in Common Council assembled. This Petition breathed the same spirit, expressed the same feelings and opinions on the proposed measures, and concluded by imploring the House not to sanction a perseverance in them. Another to the same effect was from the Corporation of Smiths, who expressed their reliance on the justice and wisdom of the House, to save Ireland from the threatened increase of taxation. A similar one came from the Corporation of Stationers, directed more particularly against that part of the proposed assimilation which was to increase the Stamp Duties on Newspapers and Advertisements, and the Excise Duties on the paper manufacturers and trade of Ireland. He had one also from the Corporation of Goldsmiths, complaining especially of the proposed enormous increase of duties on the manufacture of gold and silver plate; one also from the manufacturing Gold and Silversmiths of Dublin to the same effect; on this subject he had already entered somewhat fully, on the occasion of presenting a Petition from the Inhabitants of St. Audeon's parish. The last Petition he had to present was from the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Dublin; on this he must observe, that though on ordinary occasions the petitions of this body were signed only by their principal officers, yet so intense and general amongst the commercial community of Dublin was the feeling against the assimilation of duties, that a public meeting of the Chamber was held especially for the purpose, at which this petition was unanimously agreed to, and signed immediately by between 300 and 400 gentlemen of that body, which he might with truth assert, contained a large portion of the commercial wealth respectability, and intelligence of Ireland. This petition drew the attention of the House especially to the injurious effects on all the commercial interests of Ireland, which must inevitably flow from the proposed increase of the Stamp Duties; and in one paragraph, which he would take the liberty of reading to the House, it pointed out with distinctness and with truth, that the only just basis of an assimilation of burthens between the two countries, was to be found in an assimilation of the condition of their people. Having stated shortly the nature of these 1198 petitions and their claims to the attention of the House, he should not feel himself warranted to enter more fully into their details. This, however, he must say, that if there was one part of the proposed scheme of taxation in which they all concurred in feeling more strongly than another, it was that which affected the newspaper press of Ireland. He said that in all the feelings and opinions expressed in these petitions he fully concurred; and should an occasion arise requiring his strenuous support to the object of their prayer, he trusted he should not be found remiss. But still he could not abandon the hope, that when his Majesty's Government became duly, impressed with the strong and universal sensation excited throughout all Ireland against the further progress of these measures, he could not, he said, abandon the hope that they would be ultimately relinquished.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
supported the prayer of the petitions. The proposed Duties were not assimilating duties, but Revenue annihilating duties; and he was surprised that so soon after passing the Act of Emancipation, the Ministers, most of whom had been Secretaries in Ireland, should make this attempt upon the pockets of the Irish people.
§ Mr. Bright
wished to know when it was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to give the House the proposed Stamp Act, as it would require several days' attention before the House could be called on to give its decision on the subject. When the Stamp Act came under discussion, he should feel it his duty to move that two penny, three penny, and sixpenny stamps should be repealed, as they were found most vexatious by the poorer classes of the country. He also objected to the Act because, as he understood, it re-enacted all the former penalties which were most oppressive.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he was perfectly ready to submit the measure on any open day; but he really had not yet had any opportunity of bringing it forward.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
said, that he had received a letter from Dublin that day, respecting communications that had been made by some one to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and which stated, that the Petition presented from the Chamber of Commerce did not really represent the sentiments of that body. He had also 1199 been informed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had written, in reply, to thank his informant. He should be glad to learn from the right hon. Gentleman, whether he was rightly informed on the subject.
§ Mr. H. Grattan
receiving no reply said, I shall conclude the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had such a correspondence.
§ The Petitions were ordered to be printed.