HC Deb 01 July 1831 vol 4 cc601-2

On the motion of Lord Althorp, the House went into a Committee on the Excise Acts, the noble Lord moved the following Resolution, "That the duties on Candles in Great Britain and Ireland be repealed."

Mr. Herries

was of opinion, that it would be more advantageous to take off a part of the duty on soap, than to adopt the present measure.

Mr. Hume

thought, that the duty on soap as well as on candles ought to be abolished. If, instead of the existing duty on soap, an additional duty were imposed on all tallow imported from Russia, there would be a saving to England of 600,000l., a sum which Russia now obtained at our expense.

Lord Althorp

would be glad to adopt the suggestion of his hon. friend, if it were practicable, but, on the best consideration of all the circumstances of the case, it appeared to him, that if the tax on tallow imported from Russia were paid to a higher scale than that which at present existed, an end would be put to the trade altogether.

Mr. Goulburn

considered, that such an increase of duty would not only put a stop to the trade in tallow, but likewise raise the price of candies and soap.

Mr. Protheroe

said, that the present: duty on soap obliged the traders of Bristol to have recourse, to persons not regularly licensed.

Mr. George Robinson

earnestly recommended the adoption of an equitable tax upon all property, as the best mode of affording effectual relief to the oppressed industry of the country. At present, funded property and other property escaped taxation, which fell with a pro-portionably heavy weight on the property which was engaged in feeding the productive powers of the community.

Mr. Paget

approved of the proposition for laying an additional tax on Russian tallow. It would be a great relief to his constituents to have the tax on soap repealed. That tax was injurious both to health and industry, and ought unquestionably to be done away with.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

was decidedly adverse to any proposition for taxing tallow, in fact, that was imposing a tax on a raw material. He wished to ask the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon what ground it was, that he had so long postponed the taking off the duty on candles?

Lord Althorp

thought, that the course he had pursued was the safer one, for this reason: a quarter's duty was lost to the revenue upon the articles of wine and cotton, and, therefore, it was deemed advisable, that the duty on candles should be continued for a corresponding period, in order to make up the deficiency.

Mr. Maberly

concurred with the hon. member for Worcester (Mr. Robinson), as to the expediency of imposing a property-tax. That would save a great expense in collecting the revenue, and would at once relieve the national industry.

Colonel Sibthorp

thought, that an absentee tax would be attended with great benefit to Ireland as well as to England. He had himself never been absent from the country since he retired from the service.

Mr. Hunt

said, the hon. member for Lincoln was disposed to punish absentees, forgetting that many of them had left their native country, not so much from choice, as with a view to avoid the heavy taxation which residents in England had to sustain. He regretted, that the noble Lord had deferred till January, a boon for which the poor felt and expressed themselves grateful. With regard to the tax on soap, he trusted, that the noble Lord would remit, not a portion, but the whole of it. He assured him that its remission would be one of the greatest blessings that it was possible to confer on a large part of the community, which suffered more from the "poverty of filth" than could be easily conceived. To that class, it would be of incalculable benefit if the soap duty were removed. We had heard a great deal of cholera mores; sure he was, that one of the best methods of putting a stop to that disease (should it visit us), and preventing infection, would be to enable the poor, among whom such disorders were generally most prevalent, to cleanse their clothes and persons.

Resolution agreed to, and the House resumed.