§ Lord Althorp
said, he would not enter into any details, as the subject had already been before the House. The Resolution he should first put was, "that it was the opinion of this Committee, that the duty of Customs upon Coals, Culm, and Cinders, carried coastways, should be reduced as from the 1st of March last."
could not object to this Resolution, after the expectations that had been held out to the country upon this subject; but he wished to remind the House, that the noble Lord had withdrawn all those taxes by the produce of which he had intended to make up for the deficiency of revenue arising out of this diminution of the duty upon coals. The noble Lord would find, in consequence of the reduction of duty on coals, and the other reductions effected by him since his accession to office, that there would be a defalcation in the revenue, which he would find great difficulty in making good.
§ Lord Althorp
begged leave to remind the right hon. Gentleman, that though he had anticipated and admitted, that his proposed reductions would effect a diminution of revenue to the amount of something about l,200,000l., he had not taken credit, as he might, and as he would presently show he was warranted, for the increased consumption consequent upon a reduced duty, as tending to reduce that deficiency. By taking into account the amount of increased consumption consequent upon the reduced duty, it would be seen that the falling-off, was much less 593 than the hon. Member supposed. For instance, if they compared the current half-year's consumption of Excise and Customs articles on which the duties had been reduced with the half year of 1830, they would find the falling-off less than might have been expected. The amount of Excise duties reduced on Excise articles, taking the half-year of 1830 as the standard, was 2,076,000l., while the actual deficiency in the current half year was but 914,000l.; showing, therefore, an increased consumption in the present year of, in round numbers, 1,100,000l. Then in the Customs the reduction was560,000l., while the actual deficiency was 252,000l., showing an increase of consumption of 308,000l.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
observed, that a great portion of the increase the noble Lord had adverted to, was derived from an increased consumption in malt, and he therefore urged the expediency of reducing, or wholly abolishing, the duty on malt.
§ Mr. George Robinson
took that opportunity of asking the noble Lord, whether it was his intention to persist in the alteration in the wine duties? The subject was one of considerable importance, and had excited great interest out of doors, and the indecision of Ministers had occasioned much inconvenience and uncertainty in the trade.
inquired of the noble Lord, whether bonds were continued to be entered into for the payment of the coal duties, in case Parliament should not sanction the proceedings of Ministers with respect to their repeal.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the Resolution for the repeal of this duty was sanctioned by the House last Session, and the coal-merchants continued to enter into bonds in case the present Parliament should not confirm the Resolutions agreed to by the House formerly.
wished to know from the noble Lord, whether it was meant to reduce the duty on tiles as well as on slates? To reduce the duty on the latter, while it was left on. the former, would be ruinous to the manufacture of tiles—a commodity which, even under present circumstances, could not compete with slates, save in inland markets, unfavourable to the carriage of slate.
§ Lord Althorp
had already explained to a deputation of gentlemen interested in the making of tiles, the grounds on which he had proposed a reduction of the duty on slates; and that was, that that duty was collected in the manner, and under the same management, as the duty on seaborne coals; and as it was intended to repeal the duty on sea-borne coals, they should have to keep up the several offices and officers necessary for that purpose, unless they also repealed the duty on slates.
would rather that the amount of duty (30,000l.) derived from tiles were levied on some other article, than that so great advantage should be conferred on the slate trade, to the detriment of the trade in the other commodity.
Mr. Alderman wood
agreed with the hon. member for Middlesex, the rather as slate was an article that required no protection, its prime cost being in fact nothing. On the contrary, making bricks gave employment to a great number of persons, particularly in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, who would be seriously injured by the alteration. He did not wish the duty on slates to be continued, but the manufacturers of tiles to be placed on an equal footing with them.
again repeated, that the case of the tile-manufacturers was a hard one, and they ought to be placed in the same favourable condition as the slate-quarry owners. Slates being lighter than tiles, the timber used for the roofs was cheaper and lighter for slates than for tiles. It was to give the tile-makers protection that Mr. Pitt laid a duty on seaborne slates, and he must entreat the noble Lord to place the tile-manufacturers in as favourable a situation as the slate-manufacturers, by removing the duty from the former.
§ Lord Althorp
did not think the disadvantages under which the tile manufacturer laboured, so great as they were represented by the right hon. Gentleman; at the same time he wished to do nothing that would injure them.
observed, that the slate-quarries were in the hands of a few persons, and the continuance of the duty on tiles would enable such persons to pocket a large sum of money, by keeping up the price, at the expense of the rest of the community.
§ Resolution agreed to.595
§ Lord Althorp
said, his next Resolution related to the reduction of duties on coals exported. His Lordship moved the following Resolution:—"That all duties upon coal, culm, and cinders, exported into foreign countries, shall cease and determine, and that the following duties shall be substituted in lieu thereof: that is to say, upon all coal exported in British ships, into all British possessions, excepting Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, and Man, a duty of 8d. per ton. That all coal exported into foreign parts in British ships, shall pay a duty of 3s. Ad. per ton. That all coal exported to foreign parts in ships, shall pay a duty of 6s. 8d.perton. That all culm or cinders exported in British ships into all British possessions, excepting Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, and Man, shall pay a duty of 4d. per ton. That all cinders exported into foreign parts in British ships, shall pay a duty of 2s. per ton. And that all culm and cinders, exported into foreign parts in foreign ships, shall pay a duty of 4s. per ton."
thought, that when the duties were reduced, the difference between coals carried in British and foreign vessels should be in the same proportion as before, so as to continue the protection to our own shipping. He found, however, a difference in the present rate, and that brought forward in the last Session, in favour of foreign ship-owners, to the extent of 6s. in 12s.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, the wish of the Government was, to maintain the present proportion between the duties, and that could not have been done, if the Resolution proposed last year, had been adhered to, in which there was obviously a mistake.
Was one who thought that it was the duty of the Legislature not to facilitate the exportation of coals, but to prevent it by restrictive duties as much as possible. The reason he would impose a high duty on coals, was, that as a time would come when our present mines would be worn out, it was our policy to confine their use as much as possible to our own domestic purposes.
had to congratulate the hon. Member on his conversion to the doctrine of the expediency of a restrictive system of trade in certain cases. As the hon. Member had admitted the principle of an exception to his favourite free-trade principles in this instance, it was to be presumed he would see that the system of 596 commercial polity which he (Mr. Herries) and his Colleagues had acted upon, was founded upon expediency.
§ Mr. George Robinson
was by no means an enemy to free-trade principles, but to the system which had been hitherto pursued in their application—namely, admitting foreign competition, duty free, in certain cases, or in regard to certain commodities, gloves, for example—the manufacturers of which were but very partially represented in that House, while they left untouched the great necessary of life—corn, the growers of which were the makers of the laws; to that system he objected. Ministers were very ready in their application of free-trade doctrines to minor and weak interests, but had not the courage to face the House of Commons, as hitherto constituted with a proposition for a repeal of the Corn-laws. And yet all free-trade doctrines, till that repeal was made, was but beginning at the wrong end.
§ Sir H. Parnell
would be prepared to show, whenever hon. Members pleased to moot the question, that the more rigidly and universally free-trade principles were applied, the more the general interests would be promoted: and that neither gloves nor coals were an exception.
§ Mr. Warburton, in explanation stated, that he had always been opposed to limitations in free trade for the benefit of individuals, and classes of individuals, and not for the benefit of the public.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
was happy to find, that there was at last a considerable reaction in the public mind against the doctrines of free trade.
said, that the question before the Committee was, whether any duty ought to be laid on the export of coals; and if the Committee said a duty ought to be levied, then the next question was, what ought to be the amount of that duty. He was opposed on principle to placing any duty on the export of coals, because he thought it politic to facilitate rather than to impede the transfer of that article. His principle of free trade was, to exchange every thing which was of no or of little value to himself, and was of considerable value to others, for articles which were of little or no value to others, and would be useful to him. To lay a tax of this nature upon coals, was to lay a tax upon an article necessary to manufactures; and every tax of that description hurt the lower orders, by keeping 597 them out of employment. He must object to the duty, unless the noble Lord was prepared to show, that it would not be injurious to the employment of the people. If a duty were to be imposed, he would not pretend to say, at present, what the amount of it ought to be.
§ Lord Althorp
admitted the principle laid down by his hon. friend, but he did not think this small duty on exported coals would cause one chaldron the less to be sent out of the country.
wanted to know why the inhabitants of the Isle of Man, when the import duty was lessened in all other parts of the United Kingdom, were to pay a higher duty on the import of coals than they had done hitherto?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had mistaken the effect and meaning of the Resolution, when he asserted that the Isle of Man would have to submit to increased taxation.
wanted to know what reason induced the noble Lord to deal so hardly as he did with our colonies by this Resolution? They were many of them in deep distress: why then should he lay a tax upon coals, which were wanted by some of them for the boiling of their sugars?
§ Sir M. White Ridley
thought the tax so small, that it would only place the manufacturers on the continent, who required our coal, in a proper situation in regard to our own manufacturers. With respect to the stock of coals being exhausted, he gave no credit to the fears of the hon. member for Bridport for he believed that our coals would last as long as the world itself.
§ Resolution agreed to.