HC Deb 23 August 1831 vol 6 cc455-6
Mr. Alderman Thompson

presented a Petition from the ship-owners of London, complaining of the Quarantine Fees paid by ships, which, in some cases, amounted to 5 l. 14s. 6d. each, which was a heavy tax upon the shipowners. They otherwise suffered heavy losses by the detention of their ships, being obliged to pay the wages of the masters and crew, and the delay frequently prevented a second voyage to the Baltic, so that the ship earned only two-thirds of what she ought to do. A few years since, a law had been passed to relieve the shipping from many heavy imposts, and probably, at that time, the fee now complained of escaped observation. The number of vessels which arrived from the Baltic amounted to above 2,000, and the whole sum which would be drawn from the pockets of the shipowners would in this year amount to nearly 16,000 l. Every one acquainted with the subject complained loudly of these fees, which, if paid at all, should be paid by the public, for whose benefit the quarantine laws were intended.

Mr. Alderman Copeland

said, that he heartily concurred in the prayer of the petition. It was high time that some alteration should take place in the payment of quarantine fees. He had no doubt that the quarantine laws were necessary for the safety of the public; but then the public, and not individuals, should be made to pay for the general security of all. Some change was necessary, and should be effected without delay.

Mr. Hume

said, he felt bound to support this petition, as he had one himself to present of a similar description from Dundee. He regretted, that this petition had been presented when none of his Majesty's Ministers were in the House, as these observations might not reach them. The whole of the quarantine system required alteration, and certainly no part of it more immediately than the fees. He had heard an instance of a small vessel having been placed in quarantine, and the fee to which it became liable thereby, amounted to nearly one-third of the freight.

Mr. George Robinson

said, that the quarantine was intended for the benefit of the public, and the public should pay the expense rather than the ship-owners, who were already very heavily taxed. He regretted, that the petition had been presented in the absence of any member of his Majesty's Government.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

said, he did all he could to bring this petition forward on Friday last, during the presence of Ministers, but discussions had taken place upon the presentation of other petitions, which precluded him from having an opportunity. He concluded by moving for papers to shew to whom the fee of 5 l. 14 s. 6 d. was paid, and for what purpose. He would further give notice of his intention to propose a Resolution on Thursday next, declaring that that fee should be abolished.

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