HC Deb 07 October 1831 vol 8 cc347-8
Mr. Goulburn

presented a Petition from the West-India Planters and Merchants of Liverpool, praying inquiry into the propriety of admitting foreign sugar for the purpose of being refined in this country. The petitioners asserted that it was well known that the quantity of foreign sugar exported was by no means so great as the quantity imported, although the law only allowed it to be imported in consideration that an equal quantity was exported. This caused some competition against our own colonial sugar in the market, with the monopoly of which our own planters had been flattered, but which there was now strong reason for believing was a delusion, in consequence of a new discovery having been made by the means of which molasses could be manufactured into refined sugar of an inferior quality. This was sent abroad, and the foreign sugar refined was retained for home consumption. He had seen the article manufactured from molasses, which had removed all his doubts upon the subject. He therefore considered the matter well deserving the attention of Government.

Mr. John Wood

admitted the great wealth and respectability of the petitioners, but he believed they were deceived by a cast-off clerk from the establishment of a sugar-refiner. They had no means at present of verifying the fact. These bastard sugars had been tried, but it did not appear that any of them had been entered for the purpose of cancelling the bonds of the refiner. The main allegation of the petition fell to the ground. He knew it would be said that molasses with an undue quantity of sugar within it, was imported to evade the law, as was set forth in this petition, but he believed the truth was, such an article was imported only to avoid the duty on sugar. Complaints had been frequently made against the large drawbacks that were made, but he believed the West-India planters benefitted most by these drawbacks. To refine sugar was the work of several months, and he trusted the House would feel it highly inexpedient to throw difficulties in the way of an advantageous branch of manufacture.

Mr. Goulburn

was glad to hear the observations of the hon. Member. The question was simply, whether the present refining system cut up the monopoly which the planters claimed as a right, by allowing bastard sugar to be made from molasses by persons who had no bonds to cancel. The present petition brought that question completely to issue between the refiners and the West-India planters, and the sooner inquiry was instituted into the subject the better, for without such inquiry neither of the parties would be satisfied.

Sir John Newport

inquired how it was the petitioners had not brought their statement forward at an earlier stage of the Bill?

Mr. Goulburn

had no doubt he should be able to give the right hon. Baronet an answer on the second reading of the Bill.

Petition to be printed.