§ Mr. George F. Young
objected to going into the Committee at that late hour (past one), and without explanation of the object of the Bill.
was not prepared to vote for the large sum of money this Bill proposed to give without first looking into the title of the City of London to these duties, and ascertaining the amount the House would be justified in bestowing.
Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, he would explain the object of the Bill, it was twofold; to relieve the trade of the port of London and the country generally from a heavy imposition, and to take away a considerable charge upon the revenue of the country. These dues were of ancient standing; they had been given by charter of Charles 2nd., confirmed by Acts of Parliament, and were the undoubted property of the City of London. It had happened that the right of the city had been disputed; an action was tried, and the result was, that the right was fully confirmed, and the obligation of payment on the merchant was distinctly recognized. So much for the right: then as to the dues themselves. They were, in the first instance, insignificant, but at the close of the last war they had become onerous, 431 and they acted as an embarrassment on trade as well as a burthen. It was no small inconvenience that the trade of London should be so embarrassed; but there was another point of great importance. Mr. Bates, in his evidence before the Committee on trade, had stated that he knew of upwards of a hundred cargoes of sugar and other articles which would have been brought to London and bonded here if this tax had not existed. He knew of similar instances; they were of daily occurrence. The repeal of these dues would have no prejudicial effect on the reciprocity system, and if it had any effect on British shipping, it would be a beneficial one; for foreign cargoes, when they were bonded here would be carried to the Continent, for which they were intended, in British shipping. With respect to the revenue part of the subject, the average annual amount of these dues was 14,836l. of which the amount paid by Government in the last three years was 11,000l. yearly. Suppose the Legislature gave for them 162,000l. there would then be an interest paid of 4,000l. a-year; and, allowing for a sinking fund, there would be an annual saving of 3,000l. or 4,000l. a-year.
§ Mr. George F. Young
observed, that this explanation should have been given on the second reading. It was, however, full of fallacies, and he should persist in moving the adjournment of the House.
§ The House divided on the Question of adjournment—Ayes 6; Noes 69: Majority 63.
thought, that the House ought to be made fully aware that the claims of the city for these dues were strictly just before they agreed to vote away 160,000l. of the public money, and for that purpose he would, therefore, move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
Mr. Poulett Thomson
would have no objection to that Motion if he were assured that the Committee would not delay the Bill. He, however, stated, that the course which had been adopted with the Bill was perfectly in accordance with the ordinary practice of the House in cases of a similar description, particularly in the case of the repeal of the butlerage and prizeage dues by a Customs' Bill relating to the Duchy of Lancaster. He thought that, under the course proposed by the hon. Member, if the Committee entered into a full inquiry into the Charter of the City of London, with a view to ascertain- 432 ing their legal right and title to the dues, so much time would necessarily be consumed as in effect to throw over the Bill until the next Session. He would, therefore, propose that the evidence to be offered to the Committee, if that course should be adopted should consist of the documents upon which the bargain had originally been entered into by the Government, which would be found to contain all that would be requisite for the purpose of such a Committee.
supported the Motion for the Select Committee on the ground that the inquiry into the title of the City in the mode referred to was highly necessary.
§ Bill referred to a Select Committee.