HC Deb 16 February 1831 vol 2 cc613-6
Lord Althorp

moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the Excise Acts.

Mr. Wilson Patten

took that opportunity of putting a question to the noble Lord. In consequence of what it was supposed the noble Lord had said, in answer to a question from the hon. Alderman opposite, a great panic had arisen among the exporters of cotton manufactures, from the idea that the drawback was to be refused on exportation. That idea had caused many of the Merchants of Liverpool to withdraw their orders, and he now wished to ask the noble Lord, whether it was his intention immediately to alter the law with respect to the drawbacks.

Lord Althorp

said, that in the answer he had given to the hon. Alderman opposite, he had confined himself to making allowances to the holders of stock for the goods in hand. He would now, however, add, that he had no intention to deprive the parties of the benefit of the drawbacks allowed by law, until all the arrangements he proposed were finally made. Those arrangements could not be completed at once, as it was necessary for him to communicate with the persons interested in the trade; for he repeated what, he had before said, that he considered this tax as a commutation tax.

Mr. Herries

observed, that the interests of all the persons connected with trades likely to be affected by the noble Lord's measures, required him to come to a decision as soon as he could.

Mr. Hume

hoped the noble Lord would persevere in withdrawing the duty on calicoes, and would not persevere in imposing the duty on, raw cottons. He thought they might save this, and some other duties, if they would reduce the expenses of our military establishment.

Sir J. Graham

observed, that his Majesty's Ministers were fully convinced of the necessity of coming to a speedy decision, but there was a difficulty in doing this, for the delicacy of the interests in question had prevented his noble friend from obtaining any information from persons connected with the trade, until his measures were publicly announced; for any previous declaration of this nature might have been extremely injurious. Since that announcement, he had been attended by many of the parties interested in this question; and after having received their statements, the Ministers would make up their minds as speedily as possible, and, having fixed their determination, would announce it at once. After all that had been said lately about keeping faith with the public creditor, he wished to take that opportunity of saying, that Ministers would take no step that would place the punctual payment of the public creditor for one moment in doubt. The only remaining point for him to notice was, the recommendation of the hon. member for Middlesex to reduce the military establishments of the country, and by that means to reduce the public expenditure in such a manner as to preserve the promised reductions in taxes. When the Estimates came before the House, the Ministers would be prepared to vindicate the grant which they would have to ask from the House, and he should be deceived if that House was found wanting in acceding to any grant that might be required for the maintenance of the honour and dignity of the country.

Colonel Tyrell

wished to put a question to the noble Lord, relating to the repeal of the duty on Candles. He wished to know, whether the determination of Ministers was irrevocable, or whether they would consent to alter their proposition so as to repeal the duty immediately, and not to delay it until the 10th of October. The immediate repeal would be a saving of a penny in the pound to the poor. To postpone it would cost the candle manufacturers a considerable sum, and he hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would be ready to immediately repeal it.

Lord Althorp

replied, that he had had communications with large numbers of persons connected with the trade, who had entreated him not to take off the duty until the 10th of October. These persons had assigned such good reasons in support of their entreaty, that it was his intention to persevere in the course which he had proposed to take.

Mr. Calcraft

was extremely well pleased, that the tax on printed calicoes was to be removed. He knew no tax in the whole circle of taxation that was so extremely obnoxious to him. Perhaps, however, his objection to the tax to be imposed on raw cotton was quite as strong. He believed that it would be easy to find a substitute for the tax on cotton, and he would strongly recommend the noble Lord not to persevere in imposing it. He must also take that opportunity of stating his strong objection to the tax upon Steam-boats. He thought that many preferable objects of taxation might have been found. He certainly should oppose it if it were pressed.

Sir E. Knatchbull

must also express a hope, that the noble Lord would not persevere in that tax. He would merely put it to the noble Lord to consider what a great advantage this tax would give to the steam-boats of foreigners over those of our own country.

Mr. Tennant

would take this opportunity of suggesting to the noble Lord the imprudence of pressing the proposed tax on the export of coals. It would operate, in fact, as a prohibitory duty, and militate considerably against the interests of the coal-owners in South Wales.

Mr. P. Thomson

observed, that the duty on the export of coals would be lower hereafter than it had been. As to the duty on steam-boats. Ministers would be most happy to avail themselves of the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Calcraft) in finding a preferable substitute: they only regretted that he had placed himself in a situation which rendered it impossible for them to enjoy the benefit of his great experience.

Mr. Herries

asked, if the proposed duty of 10s. was not on the long chaldron, and would it not, in fact, be 5s. on the ordinary chaldron?

Mr. P. Thomson

answered in the affirmative.

Mr. Callaghan

would oppose the tax on cotton, which quoad Ireland was an increase of burthens, and no relief.